I think happy thoughts

Mindfulness and How it Works

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Mindfulness is something that sounds easy at first but then takes a lot of practice once you truly understand what it is. It’s the purposeful observation and noticing of the environment without passing judgment. The reason this is so hard is because we as humans are trained to make judgments all the time. It is often helpful to us in making decisions. The problem is that sometimes our judgments can lead us to negative thinking instead of just taking in the information.

An example of this would be sitting in a chair. Your fist thought might be “this chair is uncomfortable.” That is a judgment and an example of mindfulness would be “this chair has a hard seat and a straight back.” Just noticing the qualities of the chair without determining if it’s good or bad. The same would go for taking a walk outside. “It’s a nasty day out” is a judgment and “It’s raining and the sky is a gray color” is using mindfulness. When you talk about the qualities of what you see you start to notice that making a judgment can lead your thinking to be either positive or negative.

By taking a step back and noticing the environment you allow yourself to be more present in it and take it in without it being good or bad. Allowing yourself this extra time to notice the environment helps you to gain control of your thoughts. It also helps to ground you. Sometimes thoughts take on a life of their own and seem to spiral out of control. In reality you do have the ability to control your thoughts. This is a great power and very helpful when you want more positivity in your life.

The challenge in gaining control over your thoughts is to catch yourself in the process of making a judgment and stop yourself. Then take a step back and think of how you could describe the situation in factual terms. Practicing this just a few minutes each day helps to provide more grounding in your life and a sense of control over the environment you live in.

The easiest way to practice is to start by the chair you are sitting in. Take a few minutes to describe everything about the chair and the room you are in. You will be surprised at how many judgments you try to make. Being able to notice this and practice moments without judgment (Mindfulness) puts you in a more powerful situation. The practice takes time but does become easier the more you do it. Working out your mind is the same as physical exercise the more you practice the better you become at it and the easier it is.

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Author: Hattie Carroll-Ratliff

I am a licensed counselor and have been working in community counseling for more than ten years. I am a working mom and love to give back to others. I get a lot of satisfaction and joy from my work with families because I am passionate about helping as many people as possible feel successful and happy in this important part of their lives. I have a private practice on the main line in the Philadelphia Metro area. Please contact me if you would like more information. hattie.counseling@gmail.com

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