Internal or External ?
According to Mindful.org, mindfulness is defined as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” (www.mindful.org)
Psychology Today states that mindfulness is “not taking things for granted and returning to the present moment”. (www.psychologytoday.com)
Melissa’s definition prior to last week? Sitting in the lotus position with hands-on my knees slightly humming or channeling my inner Julia Roberts on her Eat, Pray, Love journey in India. I would teach my grad students how to utilize the techniques, but never truly implement any with my clients. Mindfulness? Yep – I am not into that.
A twenty-minute conversation last week changed my view and over the next few weeks/months I hope that I can inspire each of you to see the beauty of mindfulness in ensuring that you can remain ethical, clinically competent, and avoid (or delay) burnout. Who is this person that changed my view in a short conversation? I will save that for next week to keep you guessing!
The question the impacted me the most in that short twenty minutes is “where is your focus?” Um, what? I am focused on talking to you. Duh. I was re-considering not sleeping in longer at this point. Are you mindful of where you are right now? Are you heart-centered and internally focused? or are you focused on the external world around you?
Ouch. I was listening, but in all honesty, I was waiting for the sales pitch, a $37 program that will transform my practice all while watching the clock to make sure I could make it to my next client. Once my ego recovered, all screens were closed, time was no longer a focus and I was all in.
Pause for a minute….where are YOU focused? Where is your brain right now? I am sure that you have a million details swirling around you, planning for the day (or next day) and scrolling through social media to delay the tasks you have in front of you.
The definition that I like the most for mindfulness comes from Jon Kabat Zinn, who enjoys significant global renown for his work on mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR):
“The awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”. (Kabat-Zinn, in Purser, 2015).
Intentional, in the moment, transparent, authentic, nonjudgemental listening to your client. Yes, I know, that is the ethical thing to do with every client. But we all know that there are some days that we are exhausted, stressed with issues at home, and let’s be honest – crispy. On those days we have to fight to hear the words that are being said, the pain that is present, and the process that is occurring with your guidance. On those days are you aware of what is occurring internally with you? or are you focused on what your to-do list looks like for the next day? Is your self-talk negative or positive?
As we will learn moving forward, our internal process will have a direct impact on how we view our clients, how we view our jobs, and even how we view ourselves as instruments of change. Having the energy to consistently show up, be ‘right here, right now, and practice wholeheartedness is rough.
But oh the rewards and the magic that will happen with your clients.
Check in next week to learn more about my new guru, the impact of mindfulness on your clinical work, and how this all circles back to stepping into your arena. You are not alone in your struggles and what you feel is normal. Sometimes supports needs to be formal in the venue of a therapist or a coach to give you the empowerment to make the changes that you know at your core you want to make. And so you do not feel so alone – groups specifically for clinicians will be starting in June of 2021! Together, we will build a tribe that you can allow to see beyond your smile.
If you need help working embracing who you are as a human, as well as a professional – let’s chat! I provide online therapy in Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, California, and Pennsylvania. (and soon Texas!) I’m proud to offer online therapy for helping professionals, online therapy for busy professionals, and Therapy for Therapists™. I specialize in treating imposter syndrome, burnout, and anxiety using The Daring Way™ and offer online workshops to clients who want to overcome shame. Contact me today and let’s be rockstars together!
As always, take care of you and know that you are not alone –