If you have been poking around the internet looking for a therapist you have probably come across the word mindfulness a couple of times. Mindfulness is a hot topic in therapy today, and It something that I have used often in helping people on their path to change.

You might wonder “What is mindfulness and how it can help me?” The practice of mindfulness is something that is not foreign to us and is in fact a natural part of the mind. At it’s core it means to be grounded in the present moment with the sights, sounds, thoughts, and other sensations that are in front of us without judging them. In our ordinary lives we have a tendency to move away from our current experience. It is not an easy thing to do sometimes to stay with where we are at. We tend to do this as it is often uncomfortable to relate with difficult situation. It happens when we feel anxious or are in pain or irritated. Often it happens when we are bored. It even happens when we are excited about something good.

We have a lot of ways that we cover over our discomfort. This takes many forms. We might grab another cookie, numb out on Netflix bingeing, getting caught up in negative thinking or blaming our partner, etc. It’s not that these things are inherently bad, but over time they don’t work so well. We try, but the extra cookie doesn’t take the background discomfort that we feel. We tend to need more of them in order to cover our discomfort over time and then usually we have another problem.

The practice of mindfulness is pretty simple at it’s core. Instead of getting hooked into the same old patterns where we reach for something again we just come back to where we are and learn not to judge. It sounds simple but in fact it is often really hard to do. Particularly if you have been through trauma as your system tends to be on alert most of the time. Mindfulness happens in the moments when we notice the ordinary world around you.  

​The smell of tacos, the dirty laundry that has been sitting on the floor, how pissed you are, your neighbors laugh, or the sound of rain on the window. We just let what happens be that way. This takes a bit of courage to remain present. Instead of the constant wheel of anger, shame, doubt, worry and fear you recognize that you don’t have to be hooked by them. You could take a mini break from them and they wont mind at all.
 If you are looking for help you understand the challenges and pain that life can bring. Our suffering can be crushing at times and wanting to heal from it takes a lot of bravery. Mindfulness, as well as kindness toward oneself can be the foundation for the change you need by providing a basic tool where we can interrupt our usual pattern of moving away from what is troubling us. With mindfulness we interrupt our anger and fear. Our impulse to blame or run can be strong but we can transform our feelings into flowers of love and patience with ourselves and others.

​There are many mindfulness techniques and in my practice and I blend them in a way that will be most beneficial for you. These generally take the form of sitting meditation, equine therapy, art, and Japanese flower arranging. I have found that it has been useful for many people and along with developing insight into your issues and is one of the core skills across a lot of different types of therapy.
Sometimes it is not enough to only talk about something and mindfulness afford us an avenue to take action in a simple way to change our state of mind in the moment. It has been shown in modern research what people have known for thousands of years. Paying attention in the moment is important. Mindfulness has shown to be effective in helping people with trauma, depression and many other concerns that people have. It combines mind, body and spirit together and has the power to rewire your brain as well as change how you see yourself in your world. Along with talk therapy and other activities such as yoga, exercise and connecting with others it can be a large part of your healing and growth. ​

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By: James P Clifford 

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