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The most important and fundamental skill to learn for mindfulness is how to deeply relax. Even if learning to deeply relax is the only thing we learn, we have achieved an incredibly useful skill for these chaotic and complex times. Through physical and mental relaxation we become “psychologically safe,” and are able to respond rather than react to our world.
Once we truly know how to relax, only then can we learn to work with “monkey mind,” – the untrained mind that wanders off repeatedly, distorts reality, and creates anxiety. We learn how to be present in our lives in a way that is deeply fulfilling.
Some of my most successful clients have learned to make good use of mindfulness skills during the course of our working together. Mindfulness can be quite helpful for building other skills to manage stress, enjoy life, regulate emotions, and work with challenging experiences. It is a type of recalibration that leads to a friendly kind of curiosity that is open to new experiences, an attitude that can serve you well not only while working with me but in other areas of your life.
It is a skill that needs to be developed in order to be useful.
Mindfulness can be practiced on the spot. However, the most efficient way to cultivate mindfulness is through meditation. Mindfulness meditation strengthens the ability to focus narrowly. At the same time, there is an increased capacity for more panoramic awareness. Both abilities are important in challenging situations.
You simply start where you are. For most people, this means starting with (what can be) the daunting experience of a chaotic and undisciplined mind. A busy mind like this is normal and extremely ordinary. The key to learning mindfulness meditation is to practice meditation long enough to give it a chance to train your mind. It takes perseverance and faith that the effort will pay off. Working with a teacher can be helpful too because meditation can be quite difficult to learn on your own. If you would like assistance in finding a meditation teacher please let me know. I might be able to help.
I recommend working up to at least 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation per day, starting with 5 minutes and building up the amount of time slowly. Even 5 minutes is a valuable amount of time to do it.