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Posts tagged Mindfulness

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We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.
Thich Nhat Hanh

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The Benefits of Mindfulness

1. It helps us to let go of the tiredness, stress and negativity that clutters up our mind. That then frees us to be still, and get in touch with our true self.

2. It helps us get in touch with our feelings and emotions - so we’re able to respond, and not simply react. 

3. It helps us get in touch with our empathy - so we’re more able to listen, understand, connect and get inside the world of other people in our lives.

4. It keeps our focus on the present - so we’re not trapped by the past, or the pain and regret that can stop us moving on. Or, by concerns about the future, which haven’t happened yet!

5. It helps to keep us grounded in who we really are. That can increase our self confidence and self esteem, and we’re able to access and draw upon our strengths.

6. The body and mind are closely intertwined. Thus, if we’re careful to attend to our mental wellbeing it’s like to be good for our physical health, too.

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Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation is a mindfulness practice that allows you to “let go” and be present in the moment. In the fast-paced world that we live in, we often do not take the time to clear our heads and be truly present in our surroundings. This can be especially true for if you live with mental illness, because we often experience high levels of anxiety or constantly racing thoughts.

There are numerous meditation techniques, which often work in combination with one another. Meditation, or sitting quietly in the present moment, can require a small time commitment of just five minutes up to, if time allows, even hours. Meditation takes practice; retraining your mind to let go does not happen immediately, but if you take the time to practice once a day or a few times a week, it becomes increasingly easier to access a meditative state. Making meditation a part of your life can lead to lower levels of stress and anxiety and a greater level of personal connectedness. Try the steps below to begin your meditation practice.

1. Find a quiet place where you can be alone and away from distractions such as the conversations of others, the television or the radio.

2. Sit down, either on the floor, a cushion, grass or a chair. Keep your shoulders back and your head upright. If sitting in a chair keep your back straight. You can also lie on your back. Wherever you decide to sit make sure you are comfortable.

3. Rest your hands flat on your legs or clasp them together, laying them on your waist. Again, do whatever is most comfortable for you.

4. Stay still. You can close your eyes or lower your gaze, letting your eyes de-focus on the tip of your nose or an inch or two in front of your face.

5. Focus on your breathing, feel your surroundings, feel the air brushing against you, the ground or the object you are sitting on.

6. Clear your thoughts. Your mind will naturally begin to wander when meditating; it is inevitable, especially when you are first starting. Instead of fighting these thoughts, simply try to let them go and return back to your meditative focus and correct body position.

7. The more you practice the easier it becomes to get into and stay in a meditative state. Start with five minute sessions. As you become more comfortable increase the amount of time you put aside to meditate.

Source: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=mindfulness

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Some Benefits of Mindfulness

1. Mindfulness distracts us from habitual thought patterns – which keep us stuck, and generally lead nowhere.

2. Mindfulness takes us out of ourselves (so we stop thinking about our anxieties, pains, the people in our lives …. And anything that is, basically, “me-focused”).

3. Mindfulness turns the boring and ordinary into something that has meaning, or serves a worthwhile purpose. It is living in the moment with intentionality and curiosity.

4. Mindfulness frees us from the weight of judgment, or the fear of humiliation and shame.

5. Mindfulness enables us to make wise choices, as our thinking is clearer, non-reactive and unbiased.

6. Mindfulness opens our hearts and minds so we can give and receive in relationships.

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15 Meditation Tips

Meditation is the art of focusing 100% of your attention in one area. Below are some practical recommendations to help beginners get past the initial hurdles and integrate meditation over the long term:

1) Make it a formal practice. You will only get to the next level in meditation by setting aside specific time (preferably two times a day) to be still.

2) Start with the breath. Breathing deep slows the heart rate, relaxes the muscles, focuses the mind and is an ideal way to begin practice.

3) Stretch first. Stretching loosens the muscles and tendons allowing you to sit (or lie) more comfortably. Additionally, stretching starts the process of “going inward” and brings added attention to the body.

4) Meditate with purpose. Meditation is an ACTIVE process. The art of focusing your attention to a single point is hard work, and you have to be purposefully engaged.

5) Notice when frustration creep up on you. When this happens, really focus in on your breath and let the frustrated feelings go.

6) Experiment. Be experimental and try different types of meditation. Try sitting, lying, eyes open, eyes closed, etc.

7) Feel your body parts. Take notice of the body when a meditative state starts to take hold. Once the mind quiets, put all your attention to the feet and then slowly move your way up the body (include your internal organs).

8) Pick a specific room in your home to meditate. Make sure it is not the same room where you do work, exercise, or sleep. Place candles and other spiritual helps in the room to help you feel at ease.

9)  Commit for the long haul. Meditation is a life-long practice, and you will benefit most by NOT examining the results of your daily practice. Just do the best you can every day, and then let it go!

10) Generate moments of awareness during the day. Finding your breath and “being present” at various points throughout the day is a wonderful way to evolve your meditation habits.

11) Make sure you will not be disturbed. For example, if you have it in the back of your mind that the phone might ring then you will not be able to attain a state of deep relaxation.

12) Do NOT stress. No matter what happens during your meditation practice, do not stress about it. This includes being nervous before meditating and angry afterwards. Meditation is what it is, and just do the best you can at the time.

13) Do it together. Meditating with a partner or friend can have many wonderful benefits, and can improve your practice. However, it is necessary to make sure that you set agreed-upon ground rules before you begin!

14) Meditate early in the morning. Without a doubt, early morning is an ideal
time to practice: it is quieter, your mind is not filled with the usual clutter, and there is less chance you will be disturbed. Make it a habit to get up half an hour earlier to meditate.

15) Be Grateful at the end. Once your practice is through, spend 2-3 minutes feeling appreciative of the opportunity to practice and your mind’s ability to focus.

Source: http://zenhabits.net/meditation-for-beginners-20-practical-tips-for-quieting-the-mind/ (Abridged)

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How to Listen to your Heart

1. First, quieten your rational mind as it has a tendency to hush, distort or quash the intuition of your heart.

2. Practice mindfulness. This is grounding yourself in the present moment, and being aware of all the sights, sounds and sensations that are happening in the here-and-now.

3. Go with the flow. Don’t try to force your heart to speak to you. Instead, simply “be” and allow your heart to speak in its own time, and in its own way.

4. Get into the habit of paying attention to every nudge and whisper from your intuition. We are taught to silence those inner tugs and pulls – so begin to notice, and to listen to, them.

5. Trust and act upon your intuition. It’s important to treat those inner messages as valid, and then follow your instincts – and notice where they lead you.  

You’ll find that life is more rewarding if you listen to your heart – as well as listening to your rational mind.

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The Benefits of Mindfulness

1. It helps us to let go of the tiredness, stress and negativity that clutters up our mind. That then frees us to be still, and get in touch with our true self.

2. It helps us get in touch with our feelings and emotions - so we’re able to respond, and not simply react. 

3. It helps us get in touch with our empathy - so we’re more able to listen, understand, connect and get inside the world of other people in our lives.

4. It keeps our focus on the present - so we’re not trapped by the past, or the pain and regret that can stop us moving on. Or, by concerns about the future, which haven’t happened yet!

5. It helps to keep us grounded in who we really are. That can increase our self confidence and self esteem, and we’re able to access and draw upon our strengths.

6. The body and mind are closely intertwined. Thus, if we’re careful to attend to our mental wellbeing it’s like to be good for our physical health, too.

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Worry and Anxiety Self-Help Tip: Practice mindfulness

Worrying is usually focused on the future—on what might happen and what you’ll do about it. The centuries-old practice of mindfulness can help you break free of your worries by bringing your attention back to the present. This strategy is based on, first, observing and then letting your worries and anxieties go. It can help you identify where your thinking is causing problems, while helping you get in touch with your emotions.

·         Acknowledge and observe your anxious thoughts and feelings. Don’t try to ignore, fight, or control them like you usually would. Instead, simply observe them as if from an outsider’s perspective, without reacting or judging.

·         Let your worries go. Notice that when you don’t try to control the anxious thoughts that pop up, they soon pass, like clouds moving across the sky. It’s only when you engage your worries that you get stuck.

·         Stay focused on the present. Pay attention to the way your body feels, the rhythm of your breathing, your ever-changing emotions, and the thoughts that drift across your mind. If you find yourself getting stuck on a particular thought, bring your attention back to the present moment.

Using mindfulness meditation to stay focused on the present is a simple concept, but it takes practice to reap the benefits. At first, you’ll probably find that your mind keeps wandering back to your worries. Try not to get frustrated. Each time you draw your focus back to the present, you’re reinforcing a new mental habit that will help you break free of the negative worry cycle.

Source: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/anxiety_self_help.htm

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Relaxation Techniques

The secret of dealing effectively with stress is learning how to take control of your mind:

1. Live in the present as much as you can – A lot of our thoughts are fearful, anxious thoughts – worries about what’s going to happen next, and what could go wrong, and what that means for us But concerns about the future only makes us feel much worse – they doesn’t influence the outcome of events. So, focus on the present and what you’re doing now.

2. Take control of your environment – Our home and work environment affect the way we feel. For example, if everything is messy it’s hard to relax as that subtly reminds us of all we need to do. That can, therefore, weigh us down and leave us feeling tired and drained. We don’t know where to start as we feel so overwhelmed. In contrast, fresh flowers, air fresheners, a light environment, and photos and pictures tend to make us feel relaxed, and help improve our mood and leave us feeling happier. 

3. Take up meditation – In meditation we actively quieten our mind, and seek to take control of that restless stream of thought that can stop us from experiencing true inner peace and calm.

4. Stop procrastinating – One of the most effective ways to deal with stress is to consciously prioritise the things you need to do – and then to work on the first item you’ve written on your list. That way, you’ll feel you’re making progress (and you’ll feel less guilty, too).

5. Don’t pay attention to what other people think – You can’t please everyone – and that is not your role. You need to be yourself, and to do what you think’s right, and to have your own opinions and your own points of view. Worrying about others, and what they think of you, will only wear you down (and it’s a moving target, too).

6. Make time for yourself – If you’re always available you’ll stress yourself out. You’re only one person and can’t do it all. You need some time for yourself when you can charge your batteries, and unwind, and replenish your energy reserves.

7. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest – If you’re stuck in a rut and keep doing the same things, so life comes boring and monotonous, you’ll start to feel frustrated and lose your zest for life. But trying something new can help restore your energy, and blow away the cobwebs that are settling on your mind.

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729 notes

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation is a mindfulness practice that allows you to “let go” and be present in the moment. In the fast-paced world that we live in, we often do not take the time to clear our heads and be truly present in our surroundings. This can be especially true for if you live with mental illness, because we often experience high levels of anxiety or constantly racing thoughts.

There are numerous meditation techniques, which often work in combination with one another. Meditation, or sitting quietly in the present moment, can require a small time commitment of just five minutes up to, if time allows, even hours. Meditation takes practice; retraining your mind to let go does not happen immediately, but if you take the time to practice once a day or a few times a week, it becomes increasingly easier to access a meditative state. Making meditation a part of your life can lead to lower levels of stress and anxiety and a greater level of personal connectedness. Try the steps below to begin your meditation practice.

1.    Find a quiet place where you can be alone and away from distractions such as the conversations of others, the television or the radio.

2.    Sit down, either on the floor, a cushion, grass or a chair. Keep your shoulders back and your head upright. If sitting in a chair keep your back straight. You can also lie on your back. Wherever you decide to sit make sure you are comfortable.

3.    Rest your hands flat on your legs or clasp them together, laying them on your waist. Again, do whatever is most comfortable for you.

4.    Stay still. You can close your eyes or lower your gaze, letting your eyes de-focus on the tip of your nose or an inch or two in front of your face.

5.    Focus on your breathing, feel your surroundings, feel the air brushing against you, the ground or the object you are sitting on.

6.    Clear your thoughts. Your mind will naturally begin to wander when meditating; it is inevitable, especially when you are first starting. Instead of fighting these thoughts, simply try to let them go and return back to your meditative focus and correct body position.

7.    The more you practice the easier it becomes to get into and stay in a meditative state. Start with five minute sessions. As you become more comfortable increase the amount of time you put aside to meditate.

Source: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=mindfulness

Filed under counselling psychology therapy meditation mindfulness self improvement self help mental illness stress online counselling college

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How Adaptive is Mindfulness?

Psychology Today defines mindfulness as “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Initially, this seems like very good advice, and numerous papers have extolled the benefits of living in the moment, and focusing on now. Also, we create a lot of stress when we fixate on “what ifs” … for most of the time they don’t happen in the end … so our fretting and worrying are just a waste of time.

And we can’t change the past: what’s done is done. There’s nothing we can do to reverse the wheels of time. Regrets just keep us stuck and tied to painful memories. They stop us moving forwards and creating a new life.     

But only focusing on now has certain limitations, too. For sometimes it is helpful to think of what’s ahead. We need a dose of realism to cope with challenges, and to plan the steps to take when life’s chaotic, and a mess.

For example, perhaps you’ve just been told that your mother has Alzheimer’s. That’s going to mean huge changes and require decision making. You’ll want to know the prognosis … and to think through likely needs … and the role that you will play … and other help that she might need. Doing this is empowering as you’re facing the hard truth, and planning in advance how to deal with what’s ahead. But if you focus on the now and all your different thoughts and feelings it will likely interfere with your ability to cope.

Hence, this is one situation where a mindful approach may not be as adaptive as a future-focused one.           

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