Mindfulness – The Mental Massage
by Hollye Hurst, MFT, PhD
Mindfulness – a buzzword we’ve hearing a lot lately. I’ve practiced mindfulness and meditation for 30 years and based much of my work as a psychotherapist on these practices for over 25 years. I’m happy to share this simple but powerful method for healing and growth that offers what I call a “mental massage.”
Mindfulness is whole-body/mind awareness of your experience of living in this present moment. Have you noticed you’re often subtly (or obviously!) leaning forward into an imaginary future or preoccupied with rehashing the past? When we’re habitually spinning our wheels thinking about life, it feels exhausting and unsatisfying. Life rushes by when we’re living “in our head” rather than being fully present in this moment.
Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “Mindfulness provides a simple but powerful way to get unstuck
and back in touch with our wisdom and natural aliveness. I like to think of mindfulness simply as the art of conscious living.”
Jon created Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, a program that for three decades has helped thousands of people across the country find relief from stress and chronic pain. Current research indicates that mindfulness is as effective as antidepressant medication in preventing depression relapses – without unhealthy side effects! Mindfulness also lowers heart rate and improves immune functioning. And its portable – no special equipment or location needed, only a few moments of attention.
I’m grateful that mindfulness and meditation practices have nourished me for 30 years. In the 1980s, while working as a therapist and in graduate school, I experienced the power and promise of mindfulness and decided to make it the core of my integrative work for healing and growth – for individuals, couples and groups. Recently a client said “Mindfulness supports me in being more open in our therapy work and more real, self-aware, and present in my life.” For couples, moments of mindfulness help calm and clear their minds so they can speak from the heart and thoughtfully apply new ways of communicating. One client added: “when sitting quietly together, it feels like my partner and I bond on a much deeper level.”
How can mindfulness support you?
Relieve depression and anxiety
Engage authentically and skillfully in relationships
Transform habitual patterns of thought, feeling and behavior
Adapt to transition and loss
Experience some relief from chronic illness and pain
More creativity and focus
More happiness, self-acceptance, peace of mind, aliveness
Develop emotional intelligence, equanimity, more empathy
Gain clarity, purpose and alignment with higher values
Insight and wisdom
Mindfulness originated in Buddhism but you don’t have to be interested in Buddhism to practice and benefit. Buddhism encourages practice rather than belief. Buddha didn’t teach doctrines about enlightenment but rather how to realize enlightenment - and the way we realize enlightenment is through our direct experience. Through mindfulness we experience life directly and fully in this moment, with no mental filters separating us from being completely present. The sunlight of awareness can then reveal ordinary life as it truly is – sacred.
Hollye Hurst, MFT, PhD (East-West Psychology, CIIS), ordained member of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Zen order
I’m happy to support you in learning mindfulness and other means of healing and growth in my Santa Cruz practice for individuals and couples. I also offer Sandplay Sessions and small groups including The SandPlay Experience, BodySoul and DreamLife – using dreams for healing, creativity and reclaiming inner wisdom. My website is: www.mindfuliving.me
Call me at: (831) 824-7900.