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Mindfulness means being reflective and purposefully experiencing what's happening, without distracting oneself or acting out one's felt impulses. This can be hard to do under the best of circumstances, but when severely anxious, stressed, or in pain, it can be agonizing and heroic. It can also pay off big, providing a way out of addictions, compulsions, and a nagging sense of shame and weakness. Meditation is just one path toward mindfulness, and not the only path. Meditation may look peaceful, but for many people who practice it and go deep, there's a war being dealt with in there.

It's easy to see why people view the mind and body as separate entities, because they speak to us in such different ways. For many of us, the mind is our "dominant language," and we value what we think over what we feel. But there is great wisdom in the body and in our emotions, so when you disregard these areas you're doing yourself a disservice. Learning to decipher what you know "from the neck down" can lead to wiser decision-making--because the best decisions often come from an integration of both our rational mind and our felt/intuitive sense.

Mindfulness is an excellent tool to help with body-mind integration, and it's something we can focus on exclusively in treatment, or incorporate into any other therapeutic approach. Mindfulness is both a coping tool and a life philosophy. As a tool, the practice of paying attention to your present experience--on purpose and without judgment--can help you cultivate a greater sense of peace and self-awareness. With repeated practice, you can learn to step back and watch your thoughts and emotions (rather than wrestle with them), and to do so with a kindness and curiosity that makes these experiences less painful and frightening. But mindfulness is also a way of life--a focus on living with intention and presence, and being "awake" about what you do, rather than coasting through life on auto-pilot. Because I practice mindfulness myself, I am well-versed in its trials and tribulations, as well as its amazing benefits. I can guide you through mindfulness practice in sessions as part of our work, and I can also give you guidance for doing this work on your own outside of sessions.

Jason Seidel, Psy.D.
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Kristen Morrison, Ph.D.
The Colorado Center
for Clinical Excellence