Mindfulness is a therapeutic practice that brings ease and calm in our mind and body also leading to a kind and honest acknowledgement of all that is happening currently. Mindfulness means to simply be aware of all that we are experiencing in the present moment. We all might have noticed at one point of time or another that whenever we need to do any challenging tasks like exercise or washing clothes we feel resistance and want to avoid that activity. However, we understand we have to complete such important tasks so by all means we give our best shot. In such moments we realize that it was not the task which was the source of difficulty but our continuous stream of negative thoughts. When we constantly think about all that which is yet to be done we begin to feel anxious and resistant because either we are feeling lazy or perceive lack of time to be able to complete those tasks. Many people on such occasions use a 5 sec rule where they are supposed to count back from 5-4-3-2-1-0 and as soon as they reach 0 they are supposed to simply act or jump on to the in hand activity. I myself have used this practice to wake up early and as soon as my alarm rings I have to count and immediately come out of the bed as soon as I reach 0. This helps in dealing with procrastination as we tend to postpone things which in our perception are difficult. When we simply indulge in an activity without being concerned about the next task in our to-do list, the task itself becomes very light and smooth. This is because we are mindfully attending to the task at hand and focusing on executing it rather than thinking about how demanding it is. Mindfulness is therapeutic because it eliminates unnecessary cognitions regarding our life as it is a tool for us to align with only one thing which is important right now, rather than reflecting on the regrets of the past or dreams of the future. Thinking too much about the past mistakes leads to guilt and thinking too much about the future desires leads to anxiety as it often makes us think of whether we will be able to achieve them or not. However, when we keep ourselves aligned in the present moment we are automatically free of all burdening emotions as thoughts follow feelings and by being in the present we are fully consumed by what is happening currently. Therefore, practice of mindfulness allows us to generate more healthy and comfortable emotions like love, empathy, compassion, inspiration and joy etc. There are various ways of practicing mindfulness and one of the way is to be honest to whatever we are feeling and each time we notice our mood changing or going towards the negative side instantly ask ourselves “ How am I feeling right now?” And then give a specific name to what we are feeling e.g. Shameful. Then ask what makes me shameful. The answer supposedly comes as “It is because I believe I could not achieve that much success that was expected of me”. Now the purpose of mindfulness is not to avoid, ignore or push our negative feelings but to embrace all that comes out of us. However, negative feelings are to be understood and then replaced with positive ones as we never like to continuously feel bad about ourselves. In this situation we need to communicate to our minds like we would have conversed to a best friend/family member. Probably I am not asking to reject what we are feeling but instead just slightly shift the viewpoint and look at it more holistically. So, here we can tell ourselves of our small achievements and redefine the meaning of success. Do I have something which I can call as my success?, even if it is as simple as helping a friend. We need to ask ourselves what will happen if I keep feeling shameful. Probably I won’t be able to achieve anything in the coming future. In order to ask ourselves more empowering questions we need to tell ourselves that no one has ever achieved anything by feeling negative. To be successful now, what all actions I need to execute? What all planning is involved? What all possibilities I have right now. So, by being mindful we can only focus on NOW WHAT? All of that is done now. What am I supposed to do now? The slight change of questions won’t eliminate the guilt/ shame in the background but it will slowly begin to fade away. This is the time to reframe our negative beliefs. Earlier it was, “I am not successful”, now it is “I am on the path of continuous growth” and then to take actions in the real world to make it true.
There is a beautiful exercise that we all can do with all our family members to play with the practice of mindfulness. Take a jar and fill it with 3 color sparkle that sinks down in the bottle. Let’s suppose blue color represents thoughts, golden color represents feelings, and silver color represents behaviors. So, whenever someone is stressed we can show them this jar and ask few questions: “What happens inside of us when we are stressed?” Let’s assume that the bottle represents our mind which is a very important part of us. Still we are separate from our mind. Now swirl the jar a little and show them how our thoughts, affected our feelings and that created our actions. Since, we are disturbed it’s all chaotic in the jar. So, now in order to settle the sparkle the only way is to simply keep it aside where it can be still. No matter how much we struggle to change this, we can’t settle the sparkle so whenever our mind it disturbed we must allow it to be and not try to control anything. Simply observe and gently intervene when it’s ready to listen like we did in the story above. After a while go to the jar and see that by now all sparkle has settled down without our doing anything in other words just meditating and being an observer. Our mind is a bundle of impressions and in order to take charge of it we simply need to accept whatever happens inside of us and then using our discernment gently make required changes using the techniques of Mindfulness.
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