We tend to spend our lives thinking about the past or future, living in our thoughts instead of the present moment. The practice of mindfulness exposes us to the reality that the only time we have is this moment. When our mind is constantly tethered to the past or future, we find that we spend significant mental energy planning, solving imaginary problems, and fantasizing. Even more common, we find that an alarming amount of our mental energy goes toward negative thinking and self-criticizing. If we connect to the present moment, as mindfulness teaches, all of this falls away. We find ourselves with an influx of mental space and energy, within which we can find peace, inspiration, fulfillment, and happiness.
Mindfulness teaches us how to connect to the present moment in various ways. Connection to the present moment can consist of various common techniques:
- Breathing. We cannot breathe our way into the past or the future. We can only breathe in the present moment. When we place our attention on the breath, we are automatically anchored in the present moment. Different styles of breathing are not only grounding but provide various physiological benefits as breathwork soothes the nervous system.
- Meditation. While there are many styles of meditation out there, meditation is essentially the practice of clearing the mind. Meditation is the practice of expanding the space between thoughts and getting to know the observer self, which helps us lessen the control that our thoughts have over our wellbeing and behavior.
- Grounding skills. Mindfulness focuses on getting us to ground into the present moment. There are many ways to go about grounding, but most of them have to do with cultivating body awareness. Like breath, the body cannot exist in the past or future. The body can only exist now, in the present moment. By tapping into body awareness, we are automatically more present.
Mindfulness practices have been proven to treat many different mental health struggles with lasting recovery. Mindfulness significantly helps conditions related to stress, anxiety, pain, depression, insomnia, and trauma. It can also help with various physiological conditions, especially those related to the immune system. Those who practice mindfulness techniques often experience benefits quickly. The benefits of mindfulness are extensive, but generally include higher immunity, improved attention, better sleep, enhanced communication, less stress, improved digestion, inspiration, inner peace, and a sense of fulfillment. Ultimately mindfulness enhances our overall quality of life.
Mindfulness in a therapeutic setting involves acknowledging when you are living in the future or the past, then reorienting yourself to the present moment. This practice entails deliberately focusing on the present moment from a non-judgmental perspective. By recognizing the past and present are not your current reality, you have new space to work through your emotional experiences. By practicing acceptance versus judgment, we shift from constant “doing” to the refreshing state of just “being.” As we connect to a state of being, we gain clarity and insight into emotions and patterns that lead to overall unhappiness or dissatisfaction. Mindfulness gives us the opportunity to reexamine our life experiences through a clear lens. Typically, in such clarity, we can choose to move forward with positivity and resilience — even through life’s challenges.
Colorado CBT is a Denver clinic which offers mindfulness as a treatment approach. To learn more about how mindfulness can support what you’re going through, reach out to make an appointment!
We are often able to offer love, kindness, or gratitude toward others, but can struggle to apply this same compassion toward ourselves. Compassion is defined as the ability to have empathy, love, care, and concern for others. We often entertain an incorrect belief that extending these feelings toward ourselves is selfish or over-indulgent, but in fact, self-compassion is a powerful practice we can invite into our lives and healing journey. Self-compassion can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, and low self-worth. If we are able to work toward self-acceptance and self-compassion, we are able to navigate life’s challenges with more ease and resilience.
The reality is that life will always offer up unexpected and challenging experiences. As human beings, we are all prone to mistakes. Making mistakes is a critical part of our learning experience, and thus is imperative in our growth. But instead of understanding that mistakes and challenges are inevitable, we tend to judge ourselves for how we handle things. We don’t give ourselves much room to breathe, nonetheless room to error. This kind of suffocation is responsible for much of our suffering, and when this suffering builds, people can find themselves facing mental health concerns. Self-compassion is the practice that creates space on our growth journey. Within the practice of self-compassion, we do our best, but allow ourselves to make mistakes and struggle. With self-compassion, we acknowledge that we are simply doing our best. And this realization is often all that is needed to alleviate suffering and pain. Self-compassion is like the grease which helps all things run more smoothly.
As mentioned, self-compassion encourages the practice of kindness toward yourself. Instead of harshly criticizing yourself, which likely leads to worsened self-esteem, self-compassion is the ability to be kind to yourself when faced with challenges, in order to learn and grow from these experiences. Self-compassion also encourages individuals to acknowledge their own humanity or imperfection. As you realize that no one individual is perfect, you are able to have more grace for yourself and your experiences. Mindfulness techniques are a part of self-compassion therapy. Incorporating mindfulness results in more awareness of your thoughts and experiences, enabling you to cope with them in a grounded and intentional way. Self-compassion therapy helps you move toward acceptance of who you are, leading to the improvement of mental health symptoms and overall quality of life.
In a therapeutic setting, self-compassion will be emphasized to help you navigate your life’s difficulties with more ease. It is natural that many of us are lacking self-compassion skills, as it’s not something highly valued in our modern culture. Your therapist will help you develop strong self-compassion. As you do so, you’ll find that your growth process becomes less challenging, and may even be enjoyed. When you start treating yourself with the same kindness that you give others, a healthy balance is achieved. The benefits of self-compassion are helpful in treating all mental health conditions.
Colorado CBT is a Denver clinic that utilizes holistic practices such as self-compassion and mindfulness alongside evidence-based treatment. To get started, reach out to make an appointment!