May’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

May’s Mindfulness Exercise:

This month, we are going to engage in expanded breathing. Begin by sitting or standing comfortably, and bring your awareness to your breath. Inhale and notice the feeling of your lungs expanding; exhale and notice the feeling of release. Pay attention to the feeling of air passing through either your nose or your mouth.

After taking several breaths without moving, begin to expand your awareness of breathing by engaging in physical movement. You can start by stretching your fingers out as you inhale, and relaxing them as you exhale. Take several breaths to do repeat this, at your regular breathing rate. Next expand your inhale by lifting your arms, and on an exhale release them. Take several breaths to engage in this practice also. You can continue to engage in this expansion or stretch and release with different parts of the body. After doing so, come back to a still position and return your awareness just to your breath as you inhale and exhale.

What do you notice about your physical self as you engage in this practice? What do you notice about your breathing?

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.

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Q&A with Johanna

You’ve been in private practice for a few years now. What’s changed? What hasn’t?

Well, first off there are now two locations, one in Brighton and one in Webster. Something else that has changed is my own growth as a therapist and deepening interest in areas of specialty, including medical trauma, gender identity exploration, social anxiety, and grief. I also work with more adolescents in my practice than when I first opened.

I’m continuing to also see clients with general anxiety, grief, trauma, and depression, as well as areas of specialty. What has stayed the same is my interest in hearing people’s stories and witnessing positive change in their lives.

What helps to keep your practice sustainable?

Community! While I practice individually and the business itself is just me, I could not do this without community. In my physical office locations, I share community with the other professionals in the space. In the therapist community, I collaborate and learn from other local therapists (and with such varied strengths here in Rochester, there is always something to learn!). And more broadly, collaborating with other disciplines such as spiritual leaders and medical providers is hugely important both for the health of my practice and for the health of my clients.

I would also say continued learning is important. The more I am engaged in learning, the more I can share with my clients the most relevant and recent research on why we do what we do in therapy. There’s always something new to learn.

And finally, focusing on the most important part – the growth and the healing that happens in the office with a client. That’s the best part of the practice, without a doubt.

October’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

October’s Mindfulness Exercise:

This month we are going to continue to explore the basics of mindfulness, with a focus on emotions. To begin, take a nice even breath in and out. Notice the feeling of expansion as you inhale, and release as you exhale. Pay attention to how your physical body is feeling today, as well as the pace of your thoughts as you begin this exercise.

Try to notice sensations, thoughts, and feelings without judgment and without attempting to change them.

As you breathe, pay attention to what emotions draw your attention. Do you feel joy, fear, sadness, contentment, anger, guilt? Are you irritable or stressed out? Notice what emotions bubble to the surface, and notice what your response is. Do you try to push the emotion away, or do you engage in it? Notice if there is a physical space in the body where the emotion resides. What emotions are more comfortable for you to experience?

Continue to breathe and notice what you experience. After engaging in this active accepting awareness for a few more minutes, gently wiggle your fingers and toes, bringing movement back into the body.

We develop patterns in how we respond to various things, including our own emotions. It can be helpful to increase our awareness of our emotional responses and what we do with those responses.

 

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.

September’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

September’s Mindfulness Exercise:

Let’s go back to the basics this month and focus on mindful awareness of our thoughts. Take a couple nice even breaths in and out. Engage in a gentle rolling of your shoulders, stretching of your fingers or gentle twist in the spine to bring awareness to your physical self. Check in with what level of stress you are holding today.

Without judging or trying to change them, begin to notice your thoughts as they pop into your head. You can think of them as clouds up in the sky, hanging out or drifting past. If you begin to drift with them, return to your breathing.

To distance yourself from your thoughts (in order to better observe them), visualize that you are standing on a grassy hill, looking up at the sky. Picture that the clouds you see above are your thoughts. Notice them as they swirl, drift past, or even develop into storm clouds.

Return to your breathing and write down anything you noticed or would like to process further regarding your thoughts. If you are an active client, feel free to bring your observances to your next counseling session.