As a counselor and art therapist, I am honored to work with people who are seeking greater happiness, improved health and well-being, and more fulfilling relationships and careers. I often describe my job in the following way: I help people cultivate the optimal conditions for growth and healing to occur. While the conditions are unique to the individual, one of the most powerful practices that I teach is mindful awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Have you been meaning to eat more whole foods? Perhaps you feel you deserve a loving relationship and want to stop dating people who mistreat you? Maybe you want to let go of anger or resentment you feel towards someone who wronged you?
Oftentimes, despite our strong will and determination, we still find ourselves pulling into the donut shop, calling our ex, or seething at the mere thought of that person who brings out the worst in us.
Before we order that donut, dial the number, or vent to our friends about how awful that wrong-doer is, there is a very crucial moment. There is a moment of discomfort. Within this moment of discomfort resides great opportunity! The opportunity is to experience the arising and dissolving of that discomfort.
When we bring our objective awareness to our present moment experience, we notice that a feeling or sensation that seemed to have no end, actually does have a life-cycle, however brief it may be. It will likely arise again later that day or with the very next inhale. With regular practice of mindful awareness, it has been shown that these moments “in-between” increase in duration. We will notice anger or craving... and then notice no anger and no craving. This practice begins to poke holes in experiences that previously felt solid and lasting. We begin to experience (not just in theory, but in practice) spaciousness even in tight places.
By applying objective awareness to pure experience, we liberate ourselves, even for just a micro-moment, of any punitive and shaming inner-dialogues that, while well-intended, actually impede growth and change.
Approaching even the least appealing aspects of our experience with an open-minded curiosity carves out a little space that wasn’t there previously. From this more spacious perspective, we can see new options and choose to act in ways that are more aligned with our values. People report feeling more calm, confident, and competent in handling the inherent challenges of life.
After nearly twenty years in the field of personal growth and development, I can say with confidence that mindful awareness is one of the most empowering tools that I both practice and teach.
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