Mindfulness – a Step at a Time

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, March 29, 2017
By Alma Lovaton-Quagliato , LMFT
In Zen tradition, we start a mindfulness practice with a “beginners mind.” That is, a childlike innocence towards allowing new experience without expectation or judgment. That refers to EVERY experience of our active awareness becoming brand new each time, each moment. So you become aware of this one moment; there. Then you are in the next, and the previous one is gone. And now you are in the next; and so on. And regardless of how quickly they seem to go by, each moment is completely unique and magnificent in its own way.
Mindfulness practices have been in existence for thousands of years. For Buddhists, it is the way to enlightenment. Enlightenment refers to a state of complete acceptance of what IS, which in its purest form transcends one to a different level of being, or “experiencing.” (Wow, that’s deep!) So the Buddhist Monks seek to attain a state of non-being while being. That is, a disconnect from all that our worldly ego attaches itself to.
“We are spiritual beings having a human experience” (Alcoholics Anonymous).

Ok, I happen to love that one, but don’t worry! Mindfulness practice works equally as well with absolutely no spiritual affiliation whatsoever! Research shows that the parts of the brain that are activated in a consistent mindfulness practice are known to have the effect of lowering the heart rate, pace of breathing, and muscle tension, which are associated with the nervous system response of feeling safe. Our “not safe” nervous system response is fight or flight, which occurs with rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, and increased muscle tension. Stop and think about how often we reside in that state of threat in our daily lives? Our nervous system, being rather primitive, cannot tell the difference between the fear of being late to work and being chased by a saber tooth tiger! Yikes! This is not great news, as we are well aware of the health risks of being in a state of constant stress! So just think of how important it is for us to find a way to engage our nervous system’s safety state, which alerts us “all is well.”
The good news is that, thanks to the always-increasing evidence that mindfulness is effective for so many things, we have a multitude of options available to us to begin a mindfulness practice. Just do an online search in your area!
However, why wait? There is a way to begin an “informal” mindfulness practice right now, which will be helpful in applying mindfulness to daily living.
It is simply this: be mindful of the activities you already engage in on a daily basis. For example:
  • When you are brushing your teeth – brush your teeth. (Notice with your 5 senses all of the experiences, one by one: taste, texture, consistency, temperature and smell. As though you had never done it before)!
  • When you are walking – walk.
    When you are washing dishes – wash dishes.
  • When you take a shower – take a shower.
Thoughts will show up and you will find yourself drifting from the experience, I guarantee it. Just notice them, and GENTLY bring your attention back to what you are actually doing.
You see that’s the secret! We can TURN OUR ATTENTION to anything we wish to at any time! So take it easy on yourself, and begin with ONE SMALL STEP.
Here’s to LIVING mindfully!

Community Men’s Group
Led by Carolina Pataky
February 20, 2017 8PM – 9:30PM

Often in collaboration with other experts, Carolina’s mission for this group is to create a place where men can not only openly discuss their concerns, but adopt a new, richer understanding of the world around them. It’s a place for building trust, unity and authenticity. A place to break free and understand the limiting societal beliefs imposed on men. Through the sharing of ideas and experiences, we explore topics surrounding relationships, careers, transitions, life events, dating and sex. Complimentary.

Meets every other Monday at our offices.