My therapist is good. Really good. She's managed to get me further toward recovery than either previous therapist. Oddly enough I felt more closely connected, emotionally, than with her.
Two things she is always talking to me about is Mindfulness and Self Care.
I've not done very well with wrapping my brain around those concepts. In the last 24 hours I've had 2 conversations where I saw people struggling and realized the hints given to me would be of help to them. In explaining it to them .. a switch was clicked in my brain. I got it! (guess that's why the say teachers tend to learn more than students?)
Mindfulness ..keeping your mind in the here and now. What is in front of you. Mindfulness is being researched a lot these days. UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center has much to say about Mindfulness.
What is Mindful Awareness?
Mindful Awareness - the moment-by-moment process of actively attending to, observing and drawing inferences from what one experiences. Mindful Awareness (also known as mindfulness) is an ancient concept with over 2,500 years of history and development that has recently been brought into health settings and has shown to have a powerful role on overall health promotion and healing for a variety of physical illnesses including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, auto-immune disorders, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
My therapist has given me a few exercises on it but it wasn't until today, explaining it to a friend just what it's meant. How to do it. I was reaching for a way to explain it, realized I needed to find something she could relate to ..ironically, it was also something *I* could relate to and it 'clicked' for me.
Coffee ... she and I both love coffee.
So, I told her to
Pick up the coffee cup.
Observe the coolness of the empty ceramic. The smoothness (if it is in fact smooth) of the cup, the texture, how heavy it is, what it FEELS like in the hand.
Fill the cup with the coffee. Notice the sound of the liquid pouring into the cup.
Pick up the mug, now feel the changes in the warmth of the mug. It's warmth escaping the mug to your hand, the steam warming your face.
Smell the coffee it's rich brew. What color is it? Dark, medium or maybe what my husband refers to as "newspaper coffee" (so weak you can read a newspaper through it)
Take a small taste (yes, even if you don't drink it black. Or maybe, especially if you don't drink it black)
Feel the liquid as it makes it's way down your throat
What muscles are used?
What does the bitterness taste like, pleasant? Unpleasant?
then go ahead and flavor the coffee with whatever you use to flavor it. Pay attention to the sound of the spoon in the cup as you stir it in.
Then taste it, what makes it different than black. Feel it warm your mouth and your throat as it makes its way into the stomach.
Breathe deep while doing all this ... Breathing in to the count of 4, holding for 4 and breathing out for the count of 8.
Paying attention to each step, each sensation (involving all of your senses) keeps you in the here and now. Not worried about if your child got off the bus with all their homework. What is for dinner 12 hours from now? Did I get everything done on yesterday's to do list? How can I possibly do everything on today's to do list?
For that few minutes ... you're there with a cup of coffee and nothing else matters.
It's healing for the mind
Try it ... you'll be pleased with the result.
If you find yourself in the muddle of day to day worries or in a crisis ... you'll find that participating in a few minutes of mindfulness ... a few times a week ...or a day ... will bring peace.