Moving Toward Mindful – On living a spirited, authentic, and lucid life

November 19, 2014

mindfully pregnant, mindfulness, mindful, mindfullyBy Joan French, MA, NCC, LCPC

Mindfulness is an exciting movement which is capturing the attention of many who work in the field of mental health and holistic health treatment. The definition, according to The Greater Good website is:

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance; meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them – without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”

There is notable research which indicates that practicing mindfulness produces mind and body changes, such as improved memory and brain function, reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, improved relationship satisfaction, and enhanced ability to share compassion with self and with others (among other benefits.)

Sharing Nourishment

A chef I know spoke about taking time during a busy dinner service to ‘drink in’ and enjoy watching the eaters gathered in his restaurant – savoring the food he thoughtfully designed and prepared. He reflected on how it was satisfying to be attuned to his customers’ enjoyment, and even addressing occasional dissatisfaction. He excitedly shared his creative culinary skills for others’ delight and sustenance. He took that moment to appreciate the sounds, smells, and sights with a conscious awareness. He was taking that moment!

You can share nourishment by ‘seizing the second!’ Take a moment to compliment and appreciate a lovely gesture, offer a hug to someone who may need comfort and support, reflect upon guidance received by respected mentors in your life, and write them a note identifying why you are grateful. Make your loved ones the macaroni and cheese they adore (sans onions – just as they prefer), and watch them greedily enjoy it!

Acknowledging Truths

Facing that which is true can be a very difficult endeavor. Of course, truth is also relative to the individual. Being closely connected and familiar with your values, and living your life carefully in accordance with those values, is key! In my work with clients I very often encourage them to become reacquainted with their core value system, and to ask themselves if difficulties they are facing in their life are related to not living in congruence with their truths and values. Living and behaving in harmony with your value system is living with integrity. Here is a delish quote I’d like to share:

“Within the depths of authenticity lives integrity; waiting for our return. When we arrive we are met with effortless joy, abundant living, peace and wholeness – nothing lacking, nothing broken. This is soul equanimity, the state of pure alignment-with will of Source; and will of Self.” – LaShaun Middlebrooks Collier

Accepting and living your truth is also about being yourself – as you are. Accepting your own metaphorically bruised and mushy patches, and/ or accepting your past scrounging around the bottom feeders in polluted ponds. Accept also your glittering essence, the glorious kernel; a seed which was gifted to you at your conception… your immaculate core; your heart center.

Lifetime Learning

Being mindful is being planfully engaged and captivated by the moment. If one is mindfully experiencing – one modulates the frequency of the information being broadcast to the world, and simultaneously monitors internal responses. Being present in the now can teach much about the world. This may have gone unseen – lurking and veiled in the dark unconscious. Paying attention to the ‘now and here’ fosters a life examined and known – a life wishing to know more! Be a ‘lifetime learner’!

Investing Self Wisely

In nurturing and accepting the self – an appreciation of self occurs and you can attend to your own powerful and glorious endowments. Those gifts of goodness that you choose to share with others will be duly respected and protected by your own innate sense of entitlement, and by an intimate familiarity with being resourceful with ‘self’. Resourceful in how to preserve and honor your innate grace.

Being actively involved in poisonous relationships and engaging in venomous exchanges is not an investment in goodness. I might not know you, but I know your soul is dazzling and delightful. Selfishly protect your inner-core from aggressive and contemptuous invasion. Your shield is your own capacity to recognize your essential worth, and to also recognize that “hurt people hurt people.” Committing to being mindfully aware of that which is injurious, and refusing to engage, is not only esteem-enhancing, it’s also affirming your own wonderful life. You are of worth!

Facing Conflict

Many of us attempt to avoid conflict at any cost – which can include costs to relationships and much more. We can also avoid delving into conflicts we might be experiencing intrapersonally when our behaviors are out-of-sync with our core value system. This incongruity can cause much emotional turmoil and may lead to behaving in self-devaluing or self-destructive ways.

A trusted mentor once shared with me that he believes it to be very important to,  “Listen to the silence”. By that he meant to face feelings of loneliness and boredom. To bravely face imbalance and inconsistency between our values and behavior. He shared that the, “silence speaks to you”. Just as physical pain speaks to us of attending to our bodies’ needs and responding accordingly, psychological pain does the same for our mind, spirit, and life energy!

Many choose to invest in distraction, such as chaotic relationships, substance abuse, or any number of pernicious behaviors that serve to drown out the noise of silence. When you begin to reflect upon and face conflicts in your life – you attend to and mindfully show yourself loving kindness.

Practicing Mindfulness

In my personal path to goodness and in practicing mindfulness I’ve discovered it takes practice, and is something that needs to be attended to. It isn’t something one can do and expect to have dramatic life-altering revelations overnight, and to become cured of turmoil miraculously.

No, this process is one that needs tending to – rather like a summer garden. If the weeds aren’t yanked and cleared they can overwhelm your plot, and may begin to choke your good work and intentions of producing a bountiful harvest. You can easily become lost and unacquainted with that which you planted. On the tilled path to goodness you will soon gather the fruits of the spirit.

Click here to take the Mindfulness Quiz. And click here to find a free ‘Loving Kindness’ audio meditation.

Hoover & Associates’ team of licensed psychologists, counselors, and social workers is here to offer you help and guidance. We’ve been providing mental health services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago since 1985. We’re conveniently located at 16325 S. Harlem Ave., Suite 200 (2nd floor), Tinley Park, IL, 60477. Our offices are conveniently located near Orland Park, Orland Hills, Homer Glen, Mokena, Frankfort, Matteson, Country Club Hills, Flossmoor, Homewood, Hazel Crest, Markham, Oak Forest, Midlothian, Crestwood, Palos Heights, Palos Park, and Palos Hills. Call to make an appointment: 708-429-6999.