On Healing and Mindfulness
What does the word “healing” mean?
In the Merriam-Webster dictionary one finds a few meanings listed:
“To make free from injury or disease.”
“To make sound or whole.”
“To restore to original integrity.”
For the past several years, I’ve had the privilege of exploring the meaning of healing with clients, which has only led me to deeper questioning, rather than arriving at concrete answers.
What I've discovered is that healing often looks and feels different for each person, and sometimes we’re not entirely sure of what it is that we’re trying to heal from (although sometimes it’s incredibly clear). And more importantly, we are often surprised by what it actually takes to reach a place of healing that feels authentic, grounded, and sustaining.
Sometimes we need to be seen.
Sometimes we need a break.
Sometimes we need space.
Sometimes we need a different experience.
Sometimes we need to move.
Sometimes we need to stop moving.
Sometimes we need to let go.
Sometimes we need to hang on.
Sometimes we need to forgive.
Sometimes we need to accept.
Sometimes we need to grieve.
Sometimes we need to celebrate.
Sometimes we need to name what’s happening.
Sometimes we need to scream.
Sometimes we need to cry.
Sometimes we need to laugh.
Sometimes we need to be held.
This list could go onto infinity and we still wouldn’t be done with all the possibilities of what we need in each moment of healing.
Often harm is sustained when our needs aren’t met and what contributes to that is not being able to name exactly what it is that we need.
Which brings us back to the age-old practice of (insert drum roll please): Mindfulness.
Merriam-Webster also has some helpful definitions for mindfulness:
“The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”
“Mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
The word mindfulness has become quite the buzzword in the field of psychology, but there’s a good reason for it. It is both accessible and transformative. The ancient traditions of Yoga and Chinese Medicine have always named mindfulness as one of its healing anchors. Our mental, spiritual, and physical health are so inextricably intertwined.
When we can become deeply mindful of what our experience is, it opens up a space for us to make different decisions around our experiences. It actually helps us to build a different relationship to the Self (higher consciousness), and this practice of mindfulness is easier said than done. We live in a world that offers distractions to the nth degree, so it can often feel like such a struggle to sit still and take notice of what our bodies and minds are experiencing "in the moment."
So, if you’re new to the concept of mindfulness, or struggle with it often, remember that it is a practice that is built over time. Baby steps. Here are a few small, quick ways to incorporate slowing down into your daily routine:
- Take 3 deep belly breaths and sigh out the exhales.
- Rub some essential oils (like lavender) into your hands or temples.
- Take a 10-minute walk outside. Put your bare feet in the grass.
- Take a warm bath or shower.
- Lay on your belly for a few minutes.
- Write down your thoughts, stream of consciousness style, for 5 minutes.
- Name for yourself, in your head, 3 things you’re truly grateful for in this moment.
- Listen to a guided meditation.
I hope you’re beginning to notice that none of these things are actually difficult to do. The real work is consistently reminding oneself to incorporate these small mindful moments into everyday life. When you sit down and make an active decision to prioritize mindfulness, you begin to practice these actions, and these actions can turn into life-changing habits.
Therapy is a great place to explore, create, and practice these habits of mindfulness. Therapy itself can be a place of practice. The practice of mindfulness. The practice of showing up for yourself. The practice of making space in the week to process emotions. The place for you to experience yourself differently. The place for you to explore, celebrate, grieve, acknowledge, grow, and so much more. Will you begin this journey of practicing mindfulness today?