TOBY MIZZI, COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGIST, STRONG MINDS PSYCHOLOGY
My previous blog described a mindfulness meditation practice that utilised multiple points of focus for awareness, including thoughts, breathing and sensory experience. This week, our mindfulness practice will target relational experiences. That is, you are encouraged to practice mindfulness while engaging with another significant person(s) in your life. Technically, this is not an example of mindfulness meditation but it is a good way to practice informal mindfulness. And you can always spend some time reflecting on the exercises afterwards too, which gives it more of a meditative flavour.
Focus: no specific focus, whatever is happening in the current experience
Time: no time specified, do so for as long as you feel is necessary
Body: will vary depending on what you are doing
Technique: the basic aim here is to take some of the skills we have discussed thus far and apply them during a time where you are interacting with someone else. This might be your children, a partner, a friend or some other significant other. It doesn’t even need to be a ‘significant’ other, it can even be a colleague or any person(s) you have the opportunity to interact with over the next week or so. The point is, during your interaction, you should aim to bring your entire awareness to whatever it is you are doing. I’ll use the example of playing a game with a child, but you can of course apply this approach to other people and activities as well. During the game, be fully aware of what is happening both within yourself and between you and the other person. Notice your own thoughts and experiences (e.g., this might include being distracted by thoughts of needing to do something else) and also notice how you and the other person communicate and interact. Bring your awareness to their experience too; what do they appear to be feeling? How do they interact with you? How does your presence affect them? If engaging in a game (again, this is just the example), be fully aware of the game and the ongoing interaction occurring. The aim is to notice when you get distracted; as we have discussed, this is likely to occur but that point it that you notice when it happens. There is no need to act on this. For whatever amount of time you decide to practice, be fully and completely aware and engaged with the activity and the other person(s). Spending quality time with people, particularly children, where we are fully aware and engaged is extremely important. The term proximal abandonment refers to parenting that is emotionally unavailable. While we may be physically close, we can get so caught up in our own head (worries, plans, anxieties, stresses etc) that we are not properly tuning into our children (or other significant people in life). Hopefully, this activity will give you the opportunity to practice being completely emotionally available by applying mindfulness to our key relationships.
About the Author:
Toby shares his time between the Strong Minds Psychology team, Swinburne University, and his young family. He is passionate about providing individualised support, and empowering people to enhance their mental health. Toby provides counselling and therapy for children, adolescents, adults and couples – helping with depression, anxiety, self-esteem, relationship difficulties, grief & loss, and family conflict. Mindful Mondays will be a regular blog on our website and Facebook page.
If you would like to discuss how the Strong Minds Psychology team can support your mental health needs, complete the form below or call us on 0417 389 941.