Rather than living in our head, immersing oneself in bad news or sinking into obsessive analysis or beating our self up with self-criticism, we can “step out of thought” to give our self a break. That is taking a mental step back from unhelpful thoughts where we mentally create a space between us and our thoughts, becoming a fly on the wall, watching our self having the experience like in a movie, seeing our self as the experiencer. In this way, we reduce the sting of the thoughts, ease the emotions and gain perspectives.
When we make the decision to meditate, one thing is sure: our mind is going to wander! We are not doing it wrong! This is just the way our mind is! When we focus on a routine task… the mind will wander and where it goes is really interesting! Watching our mind wandering, noticing, labelling the content of the mind wandering helps us to get to know our mind better so we can take more control over the direction it takes.
Mindfulness is a general term that we use for awareness. It is the activity of our mind when we are intentionally paying attention in the present moment with curiosity and kindness in an accepting and non-judgmental way. The negative judgments add layers of suffering to our experiences. We gain more ease as we learn to step back, to realize that we are more than our thoughts, emotions or body sensations.
The stress response “fight or flight” is an unconscious and reflexive physiological response when we perceive a challenge or threat. This automatic response from the autonomic nervous system, cause quick changes to prepare the body to deal with stressful events. External situations like a looming deadline or internal event such as worrying about losing a job can trigger an avalanche of stress hormones that produces a group of physiological changes such as heart pounding, muscle tension and fast shallow breathing.
Mindful Self-Compassion is the essence of emotional healing. It is the art of supporting ourselves like a good friend. So as we become aware in the moment that we are struggling, we can begin to respond to ourselves with kindness and wisdom to promote ease, more well-being and better relationships in our lives.
A few years ago “Mindfulness” was mostly unknown or called “alternative” but there has been extensive research in neuroscience which increasingly is showing that mindfulness practices helps us to be more calm, resilient, to enjoy, to have positive relationships at home but also in the workplace becoming more productive, reducing medical cost and overall improving the quality of our life.