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Mindfulness In 5-Minutes

Mindfulness is a rapidly growing philosophy in the field of counseling and mental health. You may have heard of mindfulness before, but there may not be a solid understanding of what mindfulness is. For many people, mindfulness is synonymous with meditation. However, meditation itself can be loaded with preconceived notions and expectations for inner peace, enlightenment, relaxation, and the ability to slow down and think about nothing. While meditations that seek out these outcomes exist, mindfulness makes the process much simpler.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction or MBSR defines mindfulness as “paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” We can simplify that definition even further. Mindfulness is being present and being okay with the present. When we are mindful, we notice what’s happening in our world right now and we allow ourselves to say that what is happening right now is allowed to happen. When we are mindful this way, we allow our mind to speak with us and we learn to listen to it. Our goal in mindfulness isn’t to think about nothing and clear our mind- quite the opposite! Our goal is to pay attention to our surroundings and our present moment, including our thoughts, and learn to put space there and reassure ourselves that despite everything happening in the world right now, we are okay and will keep moving forward.

One of the simplest mindfulness meditations is RAIN. It’s a practice that we can do for 30 minutes or an hour, but it’s also a practice that can be done in less than 5-minutes. It’s a mindful practice that allows us to check-in with ourselves and practice this new way of paying attention to, and being okay with, the present moment.

R – Recognize. Take some time to recognize what is going on right now. What can you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch? How is your breathing? Your pulse? What is on your mind right now? What intrusive thoughts is your mind giving you as you give it this space? Above all else, how are you feeling?

A – Allow. Allow the present moment to just be. As you are recognizing the present, resist the urge to change it or judge it. Tell yourself, “Everything is allowed to be how it is right now.” You may not like how you are feeling, but you are allowed to feel that way.

I – Investigate. We’ve recognized our present moment and we’ve decided to let it be as it is. Now we can investigate it. Why is it the way it is? What events have influenced it, or are influencing it? Is there anything going on with you that needs to be managed? Are you hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? If so, can we address that? What can you do to nurture yourself and take care of yourself?

N – Non-identification and Nurture. Non-Identification means that we separate ourselves from our feelings. You can feel anxious, that doesn’t have to mean that you are anxious. Everything around us is constantly changing, as are our emotions. You may be anxious now, or upset, or sad, or frustrated, or happy, or excited. The one thing each of these emotional states have in common is that they are always changing. No emotion is forever. By recognizing that, we can lower the intensity of our emotion. If I know my stress will pass, I can lesson the burden of being stressed right now. With that realization, we can nurture ourselves. What do you need right now? What’s something you can do after this practice to take care of yourself? Would it help to call a friend, to read or write in a journal, to take a short break or to go for a walk, or maybe to just sit and relax? Take this step and recognize it as you nurturing yourself
n this present moment.

Jacob Johnson, LPC

Jacob Johnson graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2015 with his Master’s Degree in counseling after receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in philosophy there prior. He started his counseling work in the field of substance use and co-occurring disorders working inpatient in Flagstaff and Prescott before moving back to Phoenix where he has worked as both an outpatient counselor and a clinical supervisor.

He is a licensed professional counselor who has worked extensively with adults, adolescents, and families in the fields of substance use, co-occurring disorders, and general mental health utilizing a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, motivational interviewing, and positive psychology.