The Case for Mindfulness

Even Celebrities Are Doing It

I’ve been noticing that mindfulness is becoming more and more popular – more in the mainstream. The practice of it is spreading like wildfire – schools, hospitals, therapy offices, professional sports teams, actors, musicians, politicians (obviously not all who could use it, but some), businesses, the military, large companies, governments, etc., are finding ways to bring the benefits of mindfulness into their structure.

Celebrities like Ariana Huffington, Goldie Hawn, Kobe Bryant, Richard Gere, Anderson Cooper, Oprah Winfrey, the late Steve Jobs, Jennifer Aniston, Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, Ringo Starr, Sting, Angelina Jolie, Tina Turner,  Senator Tim Ryan, have acknowledged that they believe in or practice some form of mindful meditation, and that they swear by it. I even saw Jimmy Fallon the other night practice mindful meditation for a couple of minutes with his guest Andy Puddicombe – who is the creator of a cool meditation app called Headspace – and with millions of viewers watching and presumably meditating along with.

Most everyone who takes even a couple of minutes to simply breathe and pay attention to body sensations that occur when focusing on breath, acknowledge that they feel good. Today, after only five minutes of mindfulness practice, one client said to me that he felt he had more space in his head that had opened up and he stopped feeling like his head was ready to explode. Another woman told me she felt for five minutes that she didn’t have any problems and felt like she was floating on a river. This woman indeed has many threatening problems, but for a few minutes she brought peace and restoration to her mind and body.

Imagine the impact of stringing a few more minutes together in a row, or several times throughout the day and experiencing a longer carryover effect from that. Just being still, and allowing your mind to settle a bit (like mud, shaken up in water and then allowed to sit still), by focusing on your in-breath, and then out-breath, and the space in between, can be replenishing and restoring.

Jerry Seinfeld says “It’s just those 20 minutes midday and me”. Ellen DeGeneres says the regular stillness contributes to her ability to be her authentic self. Tim Ferriss (the author of The 4-Hour Workweek) says 80% of the highest performance people he interviews and learns from, practice some form of mindfulness meditation, as does he himself. I was pleased to hear him say he reads Jon Kabat-Zinn’s ‘Everywhere You Go, There You Are’ or Tara Brach’s ‘Radical Acceptance’ (two of my favorites) as important books about mindfulness, and that the one thing he would say to his younger self is to start meditating earlier in life.

Of course, the fact that everyone is doing it is not a good reason to start some mindfulness practice of your own, unless you pride yourself on jumping on the latest fad. But even if that were your reason for checking into it, I’m sure you would benefit from even the briefest experience with it. Mindfulness, in it’s truest form is not a fad. It is not something that is here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, it is a rich, personal, simple but substantial, life-changing and meaning-based process to gift yourself with, that will connect you to your own integrity, compassion, gratitude, awe, generosity, and help you to feel better in all areas of your life.

When done regularly, it will strengthen the home base within you that allows you to face the difficulties that life inevitably presents. It will help you to feel better about yourself, treat yourself more kindly, improve your relationships, build your sense of acceptance, have more focus, reduce the negative impact of stress, feel more contentment, less depression and anxiety, and free you from the worry and self loathing that typically hold you back. It works below the surface, deeply and meaningfully.

Mindfulness is especially called for in this world where we are bombarded by our devices and all the information they alert us about (or lure us  to). We have an excess of information at our fingertips, but a longing for wisdom in our hearts. Mindfulness helps to reconcile this discrepancy. A meaningful silence is always better than meaningless words.

If you’ve been curious about mindfulness because like many things it’s been touted lately by many as the sure fire way to find happiness, this might be a good time to check it out and see if it actually works for you. If you already know about mindfulness and have a light or sporadic practice you’d like to deepen, or make more regular, or develop more accountability for, this is an excellent time to learn more about it. Mindfulness is a helpful healing practice you can develop and integrate into your own self-care plan as you deal with depression and anxiety, or a difficult relationship, or parenting troubles, or loss.

You might check out the Mindfulness app (see my blog post about how to use it).
or Headspace (Headspace: Guided Meditation by Headspace meditation limited)
or the Simple Habit app (Simple Habit – Guided Meditation & Mindfulness by Simple Habit, Inc.)
or Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield’s Mindfulness Daily both, for getting started tips and for deeper practices.

May you let your curiosity guide you to more Mindfulness in your life, or a sense of re-commitment to something that can be so helpful.

What questions or struggles do you have about mindfulness and how to make it more a regular part of your life? I’d love to hear from you about that.

If you, or someone you love is struggling with feelings of anxiety or depression, please contact me for an individual or couples or adolescent therapy appointment.

For more ideas on how to bring more calm and less worry into your life, click here for a free email course on Mindfulness.

Listening with Heart
Cindi Rivera, MFT
Marriage, Family Therapist
[email protected]
(510) 482-4445

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