Mindfulness has been a buzz word in the therapeutic community for as long as I can remember. There are books, classes and trainings on it and many therapists choose to focus on mindfulness not only with clients, but also in their personal lives—myself included.
According to Psychology Today, mindfulness is “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.”
Let’s start with the first part of the definition—“a state of active, open attention on the present.” I would also add the word “calm” to this definition, to say—“a calm state of active, open attention to the present.” This means you are able to calmly pay attention to what is happening around you “in the moment” (another therapeutic catch phrase). You are not stuck in the past—specifically negative parts of it that have caused pain and suffering. And you are not worried about the future. You are living your life in a state of calm awareness of what is unfolding right before your eyes.
The second part states: “You carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad.” This means you are able to identify your feelings and process them without immediately categorizing them as good or bad. Now, this does not mean you won’t ever—after observing your thoughts and feelings—come to realize that they are not true, helpful or meaningful. But it does mean you can live in the moment and work through your thoughts and feelings as they come without judgment or resorting to measures that distract you from your feelings (i.e., negative coping mechanisms).
The last part of the definition states, “Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.” We have already hashed out the part about not dwelling on the past or anticipating/worrying about the future. But the other part is beautiful—“living in the moment and awakening to your current experience.” An example that comes to mind in which all of us would want to be fully present in the moment is time shared with a loved one. We all want to “lean in” to special moments with our lovers, partners, children, family members and friends because these are people we highly value and love. I can’t help but think there are many other moments each and every day where if we were fully present and mindful we might glean some beauty from a social interaction, a glance at nature or even a song on the radio.
I will share some practical ways to promote mindfulness in your own life, but for now, if you are struggling with depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue, a fully licensed and seasoned therapist can provide the help you need to get your life back on track and stop living in the past or the future and press into the beauty of life today. Please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.