What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is, at its essence, being fully present. It is being present in a way that is open, attentive, non-judgmental and aware. While its roots remain in the Buddhist tradition, other faiths engage in similar contemplative practices. In recent years, mindfulness as a stress reduction practice has become more of a mainstream, secular practice, while still allowing room for individuals to pursue it as part of a larger spiritual path. When one pays attention to the present moment, thoughts, feelings and other sensations are accepted as they are without judgment. The effect is often described as feeling more open, curious, grateful and relaxed.
There are many other definitions of mindfulness and resources that continue to expand daily. But at the heart of it, is presence.
"Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally."
-- Jon Kabat-Zinn
"Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it."
-- Sharon Salzberg
"You can't stop the waves but you can learn to surf."
-- Joseph Goldstein
How is mindfulness incorporated in your practice?
My intention for having a practice that is grounded in mindfulness grew out of a professional desire to take more time with the clients I serve. Whether I am seeing a child for a psychological or educational evaluation, helping a family in therapy, teaching mindfulness to parents or children or consulting with a school or business, my intention is to be purposeful, deliberate and aware. I often view children, families, schools and businesses as systems that are continuously learning and growing. In order to grow, systems need to pause and be fully aware of the present. I have observed over many years of practice that there is great richness and vitality in the act of pausing.
Where can I find additional resources?
With more and more evidence indicating the benefits of mindfulness, the resources for the general population as well as specific groups continue to expand. I highlight a few resources for children, adolescents, parents and educators and continue to add to them regularly.
Mindfulness sounds good but I'm not sure if it's for me. Do you use other modes of therapeutic support?
What is most important to me is that my clients feel listened to and understood. Each client comes to therapy or to have an evaluation for personal and unique reasons. Once those reasons are explored, we arrive at a plan together for achieving a better understanding of what may be contributing to difficulty in one's life or family as well as what is going well. My approach is compassionate, collaborative and hopeful. For patterns of behavior that have essentially become habit for children and parents, I may use behavioral techniques. I also incorporate cognitive behavior therapy when it will be useful for reaching goals. Because the relationship between the therapist and client is highly important and necessary for growth, I encourage potential clients to have a conversation with me before we begin a formal therapeutic relationship.