Mindfulness: The Future of Therapy

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Did you practice mindfulness today? Mindfulness is a technique therapists use to promote the practice of good mental and physical health. Mindfulness practice has been said to allow people to be in greater control of their thoughts and actions, rather than being controlled by them.

Mindfulness was first explored in Buddhism and has been spread across Western rituals. It is a process in which we are aware of our present moment experiences. In addition to being aware, it is the ability to maintain openness and acceptance of our thoughts, sensations, bodily states and environment.

Mindless states and mind-wandering has been proven to be maladaptive! Instead, keeping our minds focussed on the present moment is associated with higher psychological well-being (2010, Kilingsworth & Gilbert).

Can anyone practice mindfulness? … YES! However, it is a skill that truly must be practiced till mastered. I am still learning and trying to get the hang of it.

Lets explore 4 things we can do to be a bit more mindful each day.

1. Set an Intention

The most simple step to start is by creating the intention in your mind that you are going to be more mindful. You are making a commitment, so now stick to it! By creating this intention, you are more likely to be aware of your mind wandering and recognize that you should shift your awareness to the present moment.

2. Recognize shifts in awareness

Recognize when your awareness is shifting and your mind is beginning to wander. Correct yourself when your thoughts are beginning to spiral to think about anything but the present.

Many of us tend to think of the past or the future. However, studies show that thoughts that wander away from the present are maladaptive. It can be important to plan for the future, but maybe we don’t need to make “big picture” plans. Look for what we can control and work on presently, this will set ourselves up for the future success we desire.

Therefore, we must learn to recognize when our thoughts begin to shift and quickly learn to shift back and be mindful.

3. Listen to others attentively

How often do you find that when someone else is speaking you are already thinking of what you want to say next? How does that make you an active listener? … It doesn’t!

Listen closely when others speak, this will allow you to pay closer attention as you will truly be taking in what the speaker is saying. Just by listening more closely you will connect better to what is being said and will eventually become more aware of the responses you decide to form. Ultimately this will improve your bond with that person and your communication skills. Listening closely is an important skill for one to stay mindful.

4. Focus on your breath

Breathing is something we naturally do every second of every day without having to think about! When your present mindedness is lost, you may simply refocus by counting your breaths. Focusing on your breath can significantly improve your mind and body connection!

If distracting thoughts arise due to mindless thoughts, try counting your breaths as you inhale and exhale slowly.

Although these are just a few ways of keeping mindful, I do plan to return to this topic again. Let me know in the comments what you do to practice mindfulness and focus on the present!

References:

Hoffman G.S., & Gomez F.A. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety and depression. 10.1016/j.psc.2017.08.008

Killingsworth MA & Gilbert DT., (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science. 330(6006):932. doi: 10.1126/science.1192439.

The Fear of Trying Something New

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Are you a little too comfortable with your current life? Maybe you’ve lost motivation. It’s probably time for you to try something new, maybe something a little different that you usually wouldn’t.

It’s easy to lose motivation and feel comfortable amidst the monotony of daily life. I don’t imagine that waking up every day and doing the same thing over and over is good for anyone. A daily routine puts us in a sort of automation and causes us to lack stimulation.

Feeling extreme comfort within one’s daily life can lead to a loss of interest and happiness. Much like when people get too comfortable in relationships. The initial excitement disappears and more effort is needed to keep the spark alive… This happens in your personal life too!

It can be scary to try something new but it can empower you to experience further growth for yourself. I say this from honest and personal experience. Starting this blog has allowed me to experience greater personal happiness and sense of achievement. I feel excited for every post and no matter the number of readers, I am motivated to continue writing!

How can trying something new change my life?

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Trying new things allows us to create further purpose for ourselves which adds to the meaning of who we are. When we try something that we are usually afraid to, it allows us to step outside of our comfort zone. This will lead to learning new skills and finally breaking the daily monotony. As a result, we will feel emotionally and intellectually more stimulated.

Maintaining a habit of trying new things allows us to be open to different experiences. Pursuing a new hobby or skill will allow you to feel inspired. So don’t be scared! This journey will result in a healthier, happier, empowered and more creative version of you.

The next time someone asks you “What’s new?” be prepared to have an exciting response as hopefully by then you would’ve tried something outside of your comfort zone!

“We Become What we Commit to” – Sam Demma

Image of Sam Demma photographed by Francesca Demma

Sam Demma’s life turned upside down after he endured 3 knee injuries and tore the cartilage in his right hip. He had a full-ride scholarship to a top university in the States to pursue his dream to play soccer. However, it had to be given up as playing the sport became strenuous. He quickly realized that he had lost his path and had been attaching his identity to the sport. “Who am I”, thought Sam, as he had just spent his complete high school career believing he would pursue soccer professionally.

“I felt like I was doing the wrong thing at the wrong time”

Sam Demma

“I felt like I was doing the wrong thing at the wrong time”, said Sam after he spent a month at the University of Toronto to pursue an undergraduate degree. He felt he was following social norms and doing what the rest of the students do upon graduating from high school — A psychological phenomenon called “social proof”.

Sam decided to leave university to pursue his passion for public speaking and is now a board director for the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers.

Image of Sam Demma photographed at DECA Ontario by Brandon Ferg

“The grass is greener where you water it”

Sam Demma

“The grass is greener where you water it”, said Sam, after realizing that the more time he spent public speaking would flourish and create greater opportunities. Sam speaks effortlessly with great confidence and his hard work and small consistent actions have paid off towards his career. Sam’s speeches captivate audiences of all ages and has inspired individuals towards taking steps that will leave an everlasting impact on their lives.

Check out the links down below to listen to my interview with Sam Demma where we discuss habit building, goal setting, perseverance and learn more about his journey to entrepreneurship!

Check out Sam’s website and his 2021 graduation speech linked below!

Website: https://samdemma.com/

Wholesome Habits

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In the past it’s been very difficult for me to form new habits. I have been through many seasons of habit formation which have then been followed by a slow and very unfortunate decline. Very often, I blame this on the fact that “something came up” and I pay less attention to pursuing what I had initially set out to do. Admittedly, sometimes nothing comes up and I just become lazy.

I was recommended in 2020 (by a wonderful person) to read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I had been going through a tough time personally and I wanted to form new habits to achieve greater awareness of myself within a present moment (mindfulness).

This book really evolved my habit formation process. Clear’s mantra is to accomplish small habits daily. By doing this, your new positive habits will become second nature and lead to personal success. This book was a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a positive change.

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So I started doing exactly that. Every day I made my bed, I wrote in a journal, I said a prayer, and created a daily gratitude list. After doing these tasks for 2 weeks it began to feel like second nature. I started looking forward to it and it no longer felt like a chore.

A very important piece of this process that I learned from the book was to create a list of my current habits and then rank them as positive, negative or neutral. After realizing that a lot of my habits were negative (such as waking up and immediately checking social media), I created a list of habits that were closer to the ideal version of who I want to be.

I want to invite you to try and build 2 wholesome habits that you can achieve daily. This may be a challenge but it can be as small as making your bed each morning or washing your face each night. It might help to also create a list and rank your own habits in order to reduce the negative and make room for more positive ones.

Leave a comment down below mentioning 2 positive habits that you will try to endeavour!