Do you have to meditate to practice mindfulness? Or vice versa? Our Registered Social Worker Katarina Schmidt (or Kat as we call her) tells you about her learnings.
The Truth Behind Meditation and Mindfulness
Did you know meditation is just one way to practice mindfulness?
A lot of us may think that in order to be mindful we *must* meditate, but that is simply not the case.
It is more than okay if the thought of sitting completely still, with your eyes closed, trying to somehow empty your mind – sounds less than delightful. The reality is … focused meditation is not for everyone.
During a 2021 workshop I took from Dr. Allan Donsky, a Calgary based psychiatrist, I learned that mindfulness exists outside meditation, and emptying your mind is nearly impossible, but also not the goal of any mindfulness exercise.
Dr. Donsky explained that the real goal of practicing mindfulness is to focus on the present moment. This completely blew my mind, I thought there was a set way to engage in mindfulness and always felt like I was somehow doing it wrong!
The present moment can be whatever you would like it to be.
One option (out of many) can look like sitting relaxed on your couch, with your eyes closed or your gaze low, simply focusing on your natural breath flowing in and out of your nostrils for a few minutes. While you focus on your breath your mind will naturally wander off, this is natural and normal.
All you need to do when you notice your mind wandering is gently remind yourself to tune into your breath once again. Being gentle with your reminders to re-focus is central to this practice.
It reminds us that when our brains wander off, it is completely natural and normal – not something to scold ourselves for and not an indicator that we are doing something wrong.
The entire goal of this exercise is to re-focus your brain onto your breath – as many times as needed over the few minutes you engage in this exercise. If you followed along, you’ve done it, you have now practiced mindfulness.
I hope this helps to take the pressure off, and possibly help to change your perspective on practicing mindfulness!
Written by Katarina Schmidt MSW, RSW
Great article, Kat! Thanks. No matter which method we choose, calming our busy minds is essential to decreasing stress and increasing happiness.
Kat has her Masters degree and is a Registered Social Worker. She specializes in the following areas:
– Panic Attacks
– Self Confidence
– Self Esteem
– Self Compassion
– Complex Trauma
– Bipolar Disorder
– ADHD (Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder)
– ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
– FASD (Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders)
– Mental Health Issues
– Communication Issues
– And More!
Kat offers Individual sessions for Adults.
Cheers to less stress and more rest & self compassion.