Reducing Stressful Thought Patterns with Mindfulness

Stress…..it’s part and parcel of all our lives. Sometimes it comes in roaring like a lion, demanding attention and immediate relief, and at other times, it builds up over time, slowly, until we are finally overcome with our reaction to it. And still, at other times, it ebbs and flows in such a way that we are able to ride it out, so to speak, with mindful attention, so that we do not get caught up and swept away in the storm.

Mindfulness is awareness of what is happening in the present moment without judgment. The judgment comes in when we get lost in the barrage of thoughts that seem to tumble rapidly, one on top of the other, in our minds causing us to misread, misinterpret and many times mistakenly arrive at judgments that are not helpful to us. The result can be adding more stress to our already overloaded day/weeks/months.

I often refer to this as “A to Z Thinking.” Let me give an example of how this works:  If upon waking you discover your shoulder is aching and sore, and you felt great the night before, you might start to focus on the pain thinking what did I do? Is it my bed? Is it how I was sitting last night? Is it going to hurt all day? Will I be able to focus on anything else? What if it gets worse? What if my other shoulder starts to hurt? What will I do if I can’t move it? Should I have an Xray? Maybe I need an MRI? Who will I go to about this?  Why does this always happen to me? I hate myself and my body! This really sucks! What if it is bone cancer? What am I going to do? I feel so lost. Maybe I will just call in sick.

Now this might seem like extreme example, but it is indeed what many of us do. We go from one thought to another to another in such rapid progression that we are unaware of the “thought train” our mind is traveling on!  We go from waking with a sore shoulder to having cancer in sometimes, a very short span of time.

This way of thinking can indeed, catch us by surprise, and make us feel very stressed.

Now, let’s try the same scenario with mindful awareness: Yes, I can feel my shoulder is sore this AM although it did felt great last night. Maybe I slept in an odd position or perhaps it is from something else. I know I can get caught up in over thinking things like this when they happen. So let me just stop and get off the A to Z thinking train right here and right now. I will get up, take my shower, move around and just see what happens as the day goes on.

The biggest difference in the second example is the ability of the aware and present thinking mind to acknowledge the pain, not discount or over inflate it. Making a choice to not get lost in rumination and making a choice to recognize what simply is present with kind and compassionate self talk.

Meditation, which is what I like to tell people is the formal practice of mindfulness, helps us to catch that thought train more and more often so we don’t get so caught up in looking for blame outside ourselves, or making ourselves suffer more by this habituated pattern of thinking. It enables us to learn how to focus our attention so that we react less to life and learn how to instead, respond. Responding instead of reacting reduces stress, allows us to focus more and feel more at ease with ourselves and our life.

So, with meditation practice and patience, next time you catch yourself on that A to Z thought train, acknowledge it in a way that derails the thoughts. Doing so with kind, compassionate self-talk can be tremendously helpful toward reducing any added stress to your day/week/month/year.

 

 

Grief, Loss, Trauma and Mindful Presence Reiki

All of us have heard the expression “life is a process” or “grief is process” and indeed it is, especially for those among us who have  experienced some form of grief, loss or perhaps even some form of trauma. It seems to be part of “this being human” aspect of life that can both bring us to our knees and lift us up in profound and moving ways.  However,  becoming embroiled in the midst of all this pain and suffering can indeed feel overwhelming to even the most hale and hardy of us at times.

It is, at times like these, an especially healing process to work with someone who is trained in the mind/body connection process.

All of us store much our personal emotional history within our bodies. Learning to explore into these places with Mindful Presence Reiki, along with a bit of gently guided meditation can be an opportunity to learn more about yourself, feel more in control and better able to withstand the ebb and flow of human emotion.

It is a process. Leaning into those places that need your tenderness with awareness, kindness and love is indeed so healing. I am reminded of the Leonard Cohen quote “There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.” We often say things like “our hearts feel broken” in times of deep pain, and indeed they do! But knowing too, that through this break, the light can begin to shine in, allowing us to heal ourselves, is so comforting a thought!

Trusting yourself to know what you need, when you need it, is the first step in your wellness process. For many, that means first, working through your emotional pain with a professional trained in trauma therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, especially if the pain, grief, loss or trauma is impacting your ability to feel good about yourself or causing you to feel depressed and withdrawn from life. There is simply no substitute for trained professional help designed to alleviate your degree of emotional distress.

Letting Mindful Presence Reiki and One to One Mindfulness Coaching be one of the many “tools” in your personal healing toolkit along the way to health and well-being,  especially when used in conjunction with the many wonderful, more traditional therapeutic modalities, can be comforting. Being in place of readiness for mindfulness work is so important and I may need to ask for a referral from your therapist/doctor prior to the start of our work together or may ask that you seek out  professional help if you have not done so already.

 

 

 

 

 

June 2017 Mindfulness Workshop at HOPE for NH Recovery

Please join us for FOUR WEEKS in JUNE for this workshop at HOPE for NH Recovery 293 Wilson Street (the beautifully renovated former site of Hoitts furniture) in Manchester, NH.

I will be reading from the book “A Lamp in the Darkness” by Jack Kornfield, PhD. and we will all be listening to some recorded meditations that correlate to the chapter(s) being covered each week. 

Dates are Thursdays JUNE 8, 15, 22, 29. Time is 5PM to 5:45PM.

This is a simply written, yet powerfully inspirational book by one of the world’s most beloved mindfulness/meditation teachers. Let it be a lamp in your life, as it has been in mine, for whenever it is needed most!