What is mindfulness about?

The following opinions expressed by Scott M. Erickson are his own and do not officially represent the views of the American Counseling Association or the Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board. The expression of these opinions does not constitute a real or implied counselor-client relationship.

It is true that mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword in our culture recently and has been touted as having curative properties ranging from relief for chronic pain patients to increased test scores in school.  Though I do not believe in any sort of panacea or silver bullet to improve emotional well-being, mindfulness has become a foundational practice and core skill that I am trying to establish as a rhythm in my life and that I recommend to each of the clients I have the privilege of working with.

In its most basic sense, mindfulness is the practice of turning off auto-pilot and interacting with ourselves and the world intentionally and without judgment.  Formal mindfulness practice consists of setting aside time and paying attention to the present moment; meditation, mindful movement like yoga, and contemplative prayer can be examples of formal mindfulness practices.  Informal mindfulness practice consists of bringing single minded attention to whatever activity we are engaging in and doing just that one thing in the moment.

As you research mindfulness, you will find several ideas and practices that may or may not fit for you.  Practicing mindfulness can bring a sense of gentleness and acceptance to our lives and it is ironic to me that some mindfulness “experts” seem to take an extremely prescriptive and judgmental stance in teaching how we should practice.  Be cautious as you explore how to add mindfulness to your life, particularly as you interact with people and organizations who seem to be interested in selling you something or inviting you to a paid mindfulness subscription.  There is enough free information and guided practice out there at this point that even a serious student of mindfulness can often find what they are looking for without a lot of investment of financial resources.

The free skills class we do on Saturdays will likely be doing a three to four-week module on mindfulness at some point this Fall.  If you are interested in learning more about what kinds of mindfulness are out there and some basic how-to information, feel free to come and connect!

Scott M. Erickson is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Kemmerer who has provided counseling services in southwest Wyoming for the last eleven years. Erickson’s mission is to “be a dynamic catalyst helping you to empower your best self.” He can be reached at his website www.scottthecounselor.com or his Facebook page: Erickson Counseling & Coaching LLC.


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