Awkward and Strong

At a yoga class recently, I was reminded in the midst of a holding a very difficult pose that what we need we carry with us. The instructor went on to discuss how we have the ability to cope with difficult situations. Deep stuff, right?

This doesn’t mean I held the pose. I certainly didn’t look the picture of the strength and grace I aspire to be. I was awkward, and shaky, and exited out of the pose before the teacher told me to do so. I may have even rolled my eyes a bit at the instructor’s words.

But it made me think. Not necessarily to agree with the instructor about what we carry internally, and whether it is enough. No, it made me think about how the things we need to grow come from within us, instead of from the material things around us.

I realized that my physical practice of yoga depended on me. Not the room I was in, not the clothes I was wearing, or even the yoga mat beneath my feet. My awkward, strong engagement in physical movement using my own body… that depended on me.

The instructor was right. I didn’t have the tools to bend and contort into a crazy pose, but I did have the ability to engage my body in the practice and own my movements. I didn’t need anything but myself to do yoga.

I often say in counseling sessions that you are the only one who is in your body and your mind 24/7. (It’s a great thing – and sometimes a very difficult thing!). That self is all you need to challenge yourself to grow.

And in my office, all we really need is you (the person who is in your body and your mind), and me (the person who will sit with you). Counseling depends on the relationship between myself and you, the client.

It is nice to have chairs to sit in, pictures to look at, and a window to let the light in; but the real work comes from the connection in the therapeutic relationship. That’s all we really need. It may be awkward at times, it may be shaky, and it will be strong. The real work comes from the changing perspective you develop for yourself and take out of the office with you.

What we need to grow we carry within us.

In yoga, the things we need come from physical movement. In counseling, it comes from the counseling relationship. In both cases it is the internal parts of self and relationship that lead to growth.

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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.

Lunchtime Mindfulness

Beginning August 14th, Johanna will be offering 30-minute Lunchtime Mindfulness classes at the Brighton office. Come for one class or come every week! Each week we will cover a new mindfulness exercise and discuss how you can incorporate the exercise into your own wellness practices.

When: Mondays, 12-12:30pm

Cost: $20 per class

Location: 2561 Lac de Ville Blvd, Rochester NY 14618

Sign up by emailing jbondperspectives@gmail.com or calling (585)406-3012.

June’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.

June’s Mindfulness Exercise:

In therapy, we often will explore self-care strategies and the ways in which we practice self-compassion. We all engage in basic hygiene practices (showering, brushing our teeth, etc). In what ways do you engage in mental hygiene?  Today, consider your self-care strategies.

Take a minute to consider your approach to caring for yourself and your mental health. What do you do daily to care for your mental health?

Breathe in and out. Check in with yourself. How are you doing in this moment mentally, physically, emotionally? Bring your awareness to your breath and the thoughts that pop up in your mind at this moment.

Notice whether thinking about your self-care increases your feelings of distress or decreases them. Is your self-care effective in decreasing distress?

 

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.

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 return to the body and physical awareness for our mindfulness exercise. As you begin to bring awareness to your breath, raise both hands so the palms face each other, about a foot apart. Slowly bring the hands closer to each other until they are nearly touching; notice if you become aware of any feeling of heat between the hands. On your next inhale, gently press the fingertips together and then as you exhale, release them. On your next inhale, gently press the whole hand together and then release. Repeat this several times and then let your hands rest gently on your legs or the arms of a chair.

What did you notice physically as you did this? How do your hands feel afterwards? Notice what thoughts and emotions you are experiencing in this moment, as well as the physical feeling in your hands.

This is intended to increase your awareness and acceptance of your own thoughts and feelings as you engage in a brief exercise using your hands and palms. If you are a current client in therapy, please feel free to bring in your observations to your next appointment!

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.

April’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.

April’s Mindfulness Exercise:

April is a time of transition. We are headed away from winter, and towards spring. Take a moment to reflect on this time of transition in the world, and what transitions you are experiencing in your own life.

What is changing in your life? Are you experiencing transitions at home, at work or school, in your relationships? Are there things you hope will change within yourself? If you feel stuck in this reflection, look over a calendar or planner (paper or digital) and notice what events have happened so far in 2017. Notice also what events you have planned for the coming months.

As you consider transitions in your life, check in with your own thoughts and feelings. What is your stress level as you think about this? Try to notice without judging your experience as good or bad.

 

This is intended to increase your awareness and acceptance of your own thoughts and feelings as you consider the transitions in your life. If you are a current client in therapy, please feel free to bring in your observations to your next appointment!

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.