Mindfulness Meditation Gainesville FL
Don’t believe everything you think!
We have all had the experience of having thoughts, feelings, and sensations that seem out of our control. Sometimes we have repetitive or ongoing moods (e.g., depression, anxiety, anger), thoughts (e.g., worry, a sense we’re no good, belief some should be different), or sensations (e.g., tenseness, pain) that we can’t shake or deal with effectively.
It’s not enough to know intellectually that we “shouldn’t” be having the thought, feeling, or sensation. We need ways to really work with those experiences. This is where mindfulness and meditation come in. They can help us work with our minds in ways so that we gain more freedom – so we don’t have to believe everything we think!
Why learn about mindfulness and other meditation practices?
Meditation and mindfulness are tools that can help us gain insight into how our mind works, and can help us change our experience and take charge of our lives. They are tools that can help us increase our skills in self-awareness and self-management, and improve how we relate to others. In short, meditation and mindfulness offer techniques and practices that can help increase our emotional intelligence and life satisfaction.
Mindfulness and meditation skills can help you take back your life, improve your resilience and happiness, and increase your effectiveness. And they are tools that you can practice anywhere and apply in all parts of your life.
What is meditation?
Meditation offers time for relaxation and heightened awareness in a stressful world where our senses are often either overstimulated or dulled.
Generally, meditation is taking a specified time of contemplation, usually for the purposes of pursuing some benefit or goal, such as relaxation, increased awareness, intellectual fulfillment, or spiritual meaning. “Meditation” is a broad term and encompasses many different practices, all of which train you to direct or use your attention in some explicit way – typically for the purposes of personal insight and development, or for the relief of suffering and increase of happiness.
Generally, there are two broad kinds of meditation
- Meditations that are concentrative (narrowing your awareness to return over and over again to some topic of attention, e.g., focusing on a thought, word, or feeling)
- Meditations that mindfully open up awareness (staying in the e.g. being aware of whatever is happening inside or outside of you without judgment).
All forms of meditation require some combination of the processes of focusing down and opening up, but some types of meditation emphasize one of these two processes more than the other. Concentrative meditations tend to be stabilizing and promote serenity. Opening up meditations tend to provide insight into how we operate and unhook us from that experience.
- Concentrative-based practices tend to emphasize focusing over and over on some particular experience, idea, feeling, or perception (e.g., focusing on a word/thought, focusing on kindness toward yourself or others), but this requires a degree of open mindfulness to allow other thoughts, feelings, sensations to arise and pass so that attention can be returned to the topic of focus.
- Mindfulness-based practices tend to emphasize nonjudgmental awareness of our ongoing experience (e.g., letting our thoughts, feelings, sensations be there without changing them), but this requires focus in that we return over and over again to open perception of what is happening in and around us.
Mindfulness is both a method of (sitting) meditating, and mindfulness is also a way of interacting with your experiences in daily life (being open to what is happening without judgement). Thus, we can talk about mindfulness meditation, or we can talk about being mindful in one’s everyday life. These, of course, can overlap.
Meditation and mindfulness is and can be practiced in secular ways that are not attached to particular religious or spiritual traditions. In fact, mindfulness and other forms of meditation are often viewed as psychological and cognitive tools that can benefit both recovery from distress as well as methods to build resilience and self-regulation. This, in fact, is commonly how these tools are taught in many stress management and mindfulness classes, as well as in counseling and therapy. Mindfulness and concentrative meditations are tools you can learn that help you work more effectively with your brain and mind – so you can feel better, happier, and live freer.
How are mindfulness and meditation used in counseling and therapy?
Meditation and mindfulness techniques are heavily researched and have been incorporated into counseling and psychotherapy in a variety of ways – and to help people with many different kinds of struggles. The use of meditation or mindfulness in therapy may range from learning breathing techniques or relaxation skills, practicing mindful awareness, or focusing on a particular experience (e.g., an idea, kindness for the self, acceptance) to develop certain qualities or build stability and resilience.
Meditation and mindfulness and their benefits have been the subject of substantial research – and have been integrated into several forms of educational and therapeutic programs, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
What are the benefits of meditation and mindfulness?
Meditation is particularly useful in easing the distress of both depression and anxiety, and people with post-traumatic stress may be able to reduce intrusive thoughts and flashbacks with meditation. Those struggling with substance abuse may find that meditation helps reduce their cravings, focus on healing, and increase self-awareness and self-esteem. Meditation can also potentially help reduce asthma, allergies, high blood pressure – and are also very useful in the treatment of pain (e.g., back pain, migraines) conditions.
Research also suggests that meditation has the potential for more than just temporary stress relief, but can offer very positive changes in our lives, experience, and sense of self over time. Meditation can, over time, improve our physical wellbeing and emotional health. Meditation and mindfulness have been shown to reduce rumination, reduce stress, decrease pain, boost memory, reduce emotional reactivity, and increase cognitive flexibility and relationship satisfaction.
In addition, over time, we find ourselves less reactive and more at ease, developing an expanded vision of ourselves and the world, and becoming more able to experience the moment and act spontaneously.
Meditation, Mindfulness, Body, and Personal Development
Note that body psychotherapy typically integrates awareness practices (e.g., learning to feel what you feel without judgment or trying to change it). Meditation – mindfulness or otherwise – is really just a more structured way to practice and learn awareness skills, and meditation is a practice that you can do on your own, anywhere!
Mindfulness and other meditative practices do sometimes play a role in a person’s larger view of themselves as being (and wanting to tap into) something deeper and broader than their everyday experience or sense of self. Thus meditation and awareness practices may also play a part in the lives of people who have interests in other psychospiritual practices – or in experiences that fall in the domain of transpersonal psychology and therapy (e.g., consciousness, integral development, spirituality, the nondual).
If you want to take back your attention, take back your life, increase your happiness and effectiveness – and you want to learn how meditation, mindfulness, and therapy can help – schedule an appointment with Dr. Charles Martin.