By Lynn M. Acquafondata, LMHC, D.Min
I sat in a meeting dutifully listening to a presentation when the first thought came.
“What will I eat for dinner tonight?”
“That’s irrelevant right now,” I said to my mind. “Concentrate.”
I did focus for a few minutes. Then the next thought came: “I wonder if a call came in while I was sitting here. I can’t miss an important call.” Sometimes I reach for the phone and glance at it. Mindfulness really goes out the window at that point.
This time I resisted the urge.
A minute later, a moving story from the presentation touches me and I remember a scene from my life. I get caught up in my memories for a split second until I redirect my focus back to the presentation.
It’s another typical day in the brain of Lynn.
It’s also an example of practicing mindfulness, or you could even call it meditation, in an everyday life situation.
Mindfulness doesn’t mean emptying one’s mind of all thoughts and feelings.
It means becoming very aware of one’s full mind (mind-FULL-ness), then learning to focus the mind for beneficial purposes.
Mindfulness takes practice.
A wide variety of approaches can train the brain in mindfulness from traditional sitting meditation, to various breathing techniques, centering prayer and contemplative practices, to yoga practices, walking meditations, dialectical behavioral therapy exercises, or engaging in one of many everyday life activities with intention and focus. I’ve tried all of the above and more.
Some practices work better for one person than another. And one practice may work better at one point in life than another.
Mindfulness practice helps to guide one’s mind in useful ways rather than having it lead you in random and reactive directions that can be counterproductive or even destructive.
These exercises help me to engage more fully in whatever I’m doing at work and at home. In addition to the time I spend developing my mind through meditation, I engage in mindfulness throughout my day.
In my therapy practice I aim to be completely present to each person who comes into my office for a session. I focus on the person in front of me and ask myself these questions: What matters to you? What you are trying to say? What you are dealing with? How are you responding in this moment?
I admit, at times random thoughts come into my head or emotions from a related situation in my life stir up. These thoughts and emotions are part of being human, but because of my mindfulness training I am able to notice and set those thoughts and feelings aside. Some days it takes more effort to focus than other days.
Mindfulness skills are beneficial for people who engage in a wide variety of occupations, as well as for healthy relationships of all kinds as partners, spouses, parents, children, friends, and employees.
Crossbridge Counseling and the Pastoral Counseling & Family Therapy Group will offer open sessions to help you get better at mindfulness. Sessions include brief instruction, followed by a facilitated meditation/mindfulness experience.
You do not need to be a client to participate. All meditations and mindfulness practices will start promptly at the scheduled times. We will not be able to admit latecomers as this will detract from the experience for others.
Schedule: Click here
Lynn Acquafondata will offer weekly lunch hour mindfulness practices from various traditions starting in May. These sessions are open to anyone. Suggested donation: $10.
Wednesdays from 12:15 to 1 p.m.
May 3: DBT mindfulness skills and practice
May 10: Zen meditation
May 17: Christian contemplative meditation
May 24: Breathing meditation
May 31: Walking meditation (weather permitting)