“Mindfulness is looking inward, finding balance, recognizing and embracing our fears, worries and anger…”
I have used mindfulness practices for years and found that it helps me be more self-aware, focused and able to function in critical situations. Mindfulness is not mindlessness; rather, a practice that helps you train your brain to function more effectively, connect with others, be able to access your analytical capabilities, assess danger, and maintain awareness of past realities and future possibilities.
Even in normal times, many people tend to be so caught up in their worries about what can or might go wrong that they over emphasize the dangers. This is particularly true for those who struggle with anxiety or who have experienced significant trauma in their lives. Others are very easy going and can be too caught up in the moment and end up being unprepared for things or caught off guard when something goes wrong.
With the current pandemic more and more people are caught up in the angst of the time or angry about how the Covid virus is impacting them. Mindfulness training can be an important tool for addressing these issues and life stressors. Mindfulness can help us find internal balance by embracing our fears and then determining how to sort out what we can control and do something about, from what we have no control over and need to let go of. There are many training apps available to learn or foster mindfulness that will help you develop this ability and it helps to have the support of a knowledgeable therapist who can help guide you through this process of discovery.
Recently I was reminded of the Native American story of wisdom (see the video) because it is a basic study in mindfulness. In the story, the wise elder uses the metaphor of each of us having two wolves inside of ourselves, one that carries the darker human characteristics of anger, anxiety, greed, fear, etc., and the other which carries the lighter human characteristics of peace, love, gratitude, etc., and they are both warring with one another for dominance. There is a simplified version of this story in which the young learner asks the question of the elder, “Which one wins?” and the elder responds, “The one you feed”.
Mindfulness is looking inward, finding balance, recognizing, and embracing our fears, worries and anger so that we feel heard and can take appropriate action to care for ourselves and those we are concerned for. If we are consumed by our negative characteristics, we cannot see the good in ourselves and in others or the world around us. Mindfulness allows one to be aware of both the good and the bad, and to fully embrace ourself in a fulfilling and loving manner.
If you are struggling with anxiety, worry or depression in your life today, I encourage you to get the help and support you need. These are difficult times and we humans do best when we work together to overcome difficulties. It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to ask for help when we are overwhelmed.
M. Div., MA, CADC, LCPC
J. Christopher Pickett, an ordained minister and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, uses his expertise in addictions and grief counseling, conflict management, and use of cognitive behavioral techniques to help those in need.
Chris has significant experience working with ministers in times of crisis and has developed integral strategies for conflict resolution in all relational situations. He is adept in helping ministers, and lay people, understand their own personality traits and how to develop and promote naturally effective leadership strategies and skills.
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