Spirit Well |  Willow Rose, Licensed Professional Counselor
Mindfulness and Contemplative Based
Practices

We have countless mind states available to us.
To which ones do we gravitate?

When we engage in mindfulness meditation, we practice being with what ever is occurring at the moment without doing something to try to change or escape it. We pay attention to how things are rather than how we want them to be.

Sitting still while watching the shifting inner dance of thoughts, sensations and emotions, we become aware of our personal hooks: those places where we find ourselves caught in old habits or patterns.

Accepting first, what is present is the first step in choosing what is next. Observation allows us to discover that each breath affords an opportunity: to support our self with kindness, take the next breath and begin anew.

These practices are not about fixing or changing distressing symptoms. Instead, we discover through increased awareness and self compassion, we can experience a gentle dropping away and easing of what creates suffering in us.

The Eastern and Western traditions hold numerous forms of meditation and contemplative practices. Many forms, by design are non- religious and require no spiritual inclination or beliefs. Even new meditators report a number of benefits directly derived from their practice. These include improved concentration, relaxation, and enhanced ability to manage stress, more balanced emotions and feelings of calm or peacefulness.

Concentration is an essential foundation for mindfulness. There are countless practices used to focus attention and include nearly anything that can be perceived. Examples include a visual object, a sound, often the breath or another sensation in the body that is at rest or in movement. Awareness in the mind may also be used such as visualizing an image or sacred picture, or a sound in the mind, such as a phrase or prayer or a spoken word as in chanting.

Frustration is common when beginning these practices and so it is helpful to remember that it is the nature of the mind to wander. The key to engaging and learning from concentration practice is to discover the right balance of effort and self-kindness as you return over and over again to the object of concentration.

Mindfulness is supported by concentration but is a step beyond it.

Mindfulness is a state of awareness.

It is a presence of mind supported through the lens of acceptance, curiosity, and compassion. Mindfulness is beneficial to incorporate into all aspects of life.

While there are meditation practices designed to empty the mind of thought, this is not the aim of mindfulness practices. Rather than eliminating thoughts, mindfulness fosters the ability to notice that thoughts are just thoughts rather than believing they absolutely represent reality. As we explore this distinction, we realize we can choose responses rather than react to whatever is distressing us.

Mindfulness is also not about becoming emotionally numb; in fact it allows us to more fully bear the wide range of emotional experience without being overwhelmed by emotions. It is not about only seeking bliss, but rather about accepting all of our experiences, not just the pleasant ones.

Mindfulness is not about withdrawing from life; in fact it aids us in attuning to others and helps us feel more connected. At the same time, it creates an appreciation for respectful communication, boundary setting and individual responsibility in relationships. Mindfulness helps us learn to accept our self, others and our environments with a curious and friendly attitude.

Because Mindfulness is a state of awareness, Mindfulness practices support a deepening of relationship with our own religious or spiritual tradition and an opportunity to clarify our own moral and ethical truths. I have worked with clients from many religious backgrounds and find that practices related to awareness, contemplation, loving-kindness and compassion are accepted and beneficial no matter the personal spiritual belief.

Our ability to be present with whatever arises is also a foundation for meaningful psychotherapy. Because awareness is the doorway to change, I frequently offer meditative and awareness practices from the beginning of therapy and reinforce them as appropriate throughout our work together.

Your own meditative or contemplative practices are welcome! If requested, or you do not have a practice that is helpful to you, I will provide instruction in some form of meditation or contemplative practice to support your goals.

I often suggest easing into a practice such as just fully noticing a single, ten-second breath or committing to five minutes each day of mindful breath awareness. Even this brief daily practice can create a positive impact in many areas of life.

I intermittently offer Mindfulness Practices in a small group format. Contact me for further information. You may also check the Groups and Workshops page for current offerings or Resources page for reading suggestions.

Willow Rose became interested in meditation in her early teens and went onto study and engage in meditation and contemplative practices from many religious and spiritual traditions. She continues her practice each day. In the 1990’s she was introduced to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s method of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Sharon Salzberg’s work with Loving Kindness. Willow has continued her studies of Mindfulness and Meditative Based Practices and their integration into the therapeutic process with Jack Kornfield, Rick Hanson, Sharon Salzberg, Frank Ostateski, Chris Germer and others. She profoundly believes in the benefit of these practices to support all aspects of life.


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