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  • Tara Link, LCSW, CADC

To be mindful is to heal.

You’ve probably heard the term ‘Mindfulness’ floating around in yoga class, magazine articles, and in the media… Have you wondered to yourself why this topic is so prominent in today’s world? We as human beings are searching for a better and truer way to live. To feel more connected and alive.

My biggest passion lies in helping others live in a mindful way- to experience life on life’s terms by practicing awareness of the present moment, non-judgment, and compassion.

So how do we tap into this skill to heal ourselves and others?

What is mindfulness?

  • Awareness of the present experience with acceptance

  • The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment (Kabat-Zinn).

  • "Mindfulness is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it." (Sylvia Boorstein)

  • Mindfulness involves non-judgmental inner listening, silent observation, letting experiences unfold from moment to moment and accepting them as they are.

How can I practice being ‘mindful’ in my daily life?

Informal Mindfulness Practices include:

  • Check in with yourself throughout the day (How am I feeling? What does my body feel like? How is my body posture? Is there any tension in my body or mind? Am I ruminating over anything? )

  • Observe your feelings when someone calls you on the phone

  • Deeply listening to others, giving full attention, without multi-tasking or thinking about what you are going to say or do next

  • Listen to music with your heart and pay attention to how it affects you

  • Tap into the senses! *Sight, Touch, Taste, Smell, Hear (Look around you and give attention to 5 different objects. notice their texture, aroma, vibrancy, sound)

  • Notice how your feet touch the ground when walking

  • Mindful Speaking: Pause before speaking and ask yourself “What is my intention by saying this? Is it harmful or helpful?”

  • Be the observer of your thoughts (Am I getting too attached to this thought? How can I let go of this negative thought? Am I talking to myself in a loving or harsh way?)

  • Tap into your breath throughout the day. Slow it down and tune in to the rise and fall of each inhale and exhale.

So why practice Mindfulness?

Remember, mindfulness is the ability to view thoughts, feelings and sensations as passing events in our field of awareness, rather than over-identifying with them or becoming attached, repelled, or overwhelmed by them. Practicing these skills helps us stay grounded and reduces ruminating thoughts about the past or future. As a bonus, when we are centered in the present moment, we become more connected and engaged in our lives and begin experiencing our day-to day interactions as less mundane and more meaningful. Through practicing this skill, you may find yourself feeling less reactive, more stable, and living with a renewed sense of strength.

Mindfulness in Action

-When we spiral into depression we lose touch with what is going on around us. It can almost feel like tunnel vision: our lens is zoomed in to only a small frame rather than seeing the entire perspective. Sometimes its hard to notice the start of this downward spiral until we are very low and really struggling to keep ourselves above water…

Mindfulness helps us to see and understand the patterns of the mind; and to learn how to recognize when our mood is starting to go down. We can ‘nip it in the bud’ much earlier than before through self awareness.

-Sometimes we lose touch with the beautiful moments in life because of being overwhelmed with the day to day routine and responsibilities. When we feel like there is too much to do at work or home we forget to pay attention to the small pleasures around us…

Mindfulness teaches us to be more aware and connected to the joyful moments in life and to also accept the challenges with grace.

-Low mood often stems from negative thoughts about the past or fear about the future..

Mindfulness teaches us to focus on the present moment, rather than dwelling in the past or pre-living the future.

-When we feel difficult emotions we often try to suppress them or pretend they aren’t there..

Mindfulness helps us develop a willingness to experience emotions, even the most painful feelings so they can move through us and not get stuffed in another pocket to eventually pop right back up. It gives us the courage to tackle our feelings head on. It helps us see that thoughts and sensations come and go and the more we are nonjudgmental and compassionate with ourselves, the more we heal.

Life is a duality of both light and darkness. To live authentically, we must surrender to both.

Tara is a licensed Therapist, Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor, Certified Meditation Teacher, and Tibetan Sound Healer. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or just need help feeling more “connected” or “mindful” in your daily life, reach out to Tara today.

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