NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Friday, August 9, 2013

The Mind-Body Connection: Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation:
When you're overwhelmed by stress, you might experience anxiety-related problems, such as difficulties concentrating, memory problems, or problems with insomnia, to name just a few possibilities. On a physical level, if you're under too much stress, you can become physically exhausted and your immune system can become compromised, causing you to get sick.

Mind-Body Connection: Mindfulness Meditation

This is why it's so important to learn ways to take care of yourself on a regular basis to keep your mind and body calm.

Why Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is one way that many people find helpful, not only to stay calm, but also to become more aware and develop insight about their inner emotional world.

When you practice mindfulness meditation, you allow whatever thoughts and feelings that arise to come up and you just notice them. You don't try to control them. You don't make judgments about them. You're simply observing what's happening in your inner world. Everything and anything that comes up is welcomed in mindfulness meditation.

The intention of mindfulness meditation is to be aware and awake to what's going on inside you. You're developing the ability to become a impartial observer of your own internal experience.

Mindfulness can be used in just about any area of your life. You can eat in a mindful way. You can walk in a state of mindfulness. You can engage in your relationships in mindful ways.

People who practice mindfulness meditation over a period of time often become insightful about themselves and others.

How to Begin Mindfulness Meditation:
As a psychotherapist, I usually recommend that clients begin with a guided mindfulness meditation CD (see resources below).

As a beginner, you can start by just paying attention to your breath, feeling what it's like to inhale a refreshing breath and what it's like to exhale, letting go of stress. It helps to close your eyes to keep your eyes and mind from wondering.

You an also look down at a point close to you if you don't feel comfortable closing your eyes. I also usually recommend that people sit up when they do meditation because it's easy to fall asleep if you're lying down, and this is not the purpose of doing meditation. Usually, a chair where your spine is straight and comfortable is best.

Mind-Body Connection: Mindfulness Meditation

Everyone is different as to when they like to do meditation. Some people find it most helpful to do in the morning before they start their day. It sets the tone for their day. Other people prefer to do it at night before they go t sleep. And others prefer to do it some time in the middle of the day. To be consistent, it's helpful to have a regular routine for meditation.

Some people who begin mindfulness meditation, find it helpful to concentrate on how their abdomen expands and contracts when they breath. You can begin by practicing for 5 minutes a day and work your way up, over time, to 20 minutes or more.

You don't have to be spiritual to practice mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation can be done in a secular way (see resources below). And if you are spiritual, you will probably find that it will enhance just about any spiritual practice.

As a beginner to mindfulness meditation, you can expect that your mind will probably wonder. This is normal. The important thing, rather than getting frustrated with yourself, is to bring your attention back to your breath each time, even if you must do this countless times. It gets easier over time if you persevere.

Resources for Mindfulness Meditation:
Any of the books and CDs by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD., are especially helpful.

Mind and Life Institute:

Mindfulness CDs:
CD for Beginners: Mindfulness for Beginners - by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Wherever You Go, There You Are - by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness - by Jon Kabat Zinn

The Mindful Way Through Depression (includes CD) - by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness meditation is one way to de-stress and become more aware of your inner emotional world. In future blog posts, I'll discuss other ways.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist, and EMDR therapist.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.