But, it’s not necessary to empty your mind to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness practice has no instructions or tenets focused on clearing your mind of all thought.
Instead, the practice of mindfulness guides you in the process of choosing a focus for your attention and on simply observing your own thought processes.
Strained relationships create stress and can have a negative impact on your mood and your ability to function throughout the day. When you’re in conflict with someone else, you’re more likely to be worried, distracted or highly emotional.
We cannot make other people act as we’d wish, but we can become aware of when we act in ways that lead to problems in relationships. As we identify our own communication problems, we can choose to make changes in how we interact. If you do, you might just find that you’re able to solve intractable problems and that habitual conflicts no longer occur.
Making even small changes to how you communicate can improve the quality of your relationships.
With each breath we nourish our bodies, bring necessary oxygen to our organs and muscles and make life itself possible. Generally, we are unconscious of the ongoing rhythm of our breathing and often it is only when we have difficulty breathing that we pay it any attention.
But this fundamental act of breathing is not only necessary to life, it is also a powerful tool in connecting to our sense of calm and centeredness. Through breathing we can connect to our bodies, our own internal rhythms and the experience of being alive.
When left unattended, strong emotions can lead to destructive behaviors. Attending to times that you feel hurt, belittled, let down, disrespected, insulted or threatened is key to dealing with the anger that often comes from those experiences.
You can find more strategies to improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and and here for podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.
Angry man photo available from Shutterstock.
But, if you pay attention, you will likely find that there are certain emotionally or mentally painful circumstances that you get caught in. Maybe it’s the angry thoughts about someone who has hurt you or pessimistic thinking about troubles you have faced.
Each of us has a tendency to get caught in certain types of thinking that prolongs painful emotions. Instead of enjoying a relaxing evening, we might find ourselves ruminating on something hurtful someone said, or rather than solving a difficult problem and moving on, you may find you are again and again drawn to thoughts about how unfair your circumstances are.
Sometimes it seems as if the mind just wants to hold on to these painful thoughts and circumstances. Even as we try to get rid of unpleasant thoughts, we may find ourselves rethinking and reliving painful situations.
A child can spend hours splashing in the water in a sink. This is because the child approaches the water coming from the faucet as a beginner. The water is interesting and miraculous. In this case, the child doesn’t approach the water as if it already knows everything interesting about it. It approaches the water as a beginner, as if there is so much to discover.
Do you exhaustively search for information and systematically evaluate alternatives when faced with decisions? Or are you more likely to avoid decisions, come to conclusions based on a gut feeling or look to others for advice?
People approach decisions differently, but each person’s own individual style of making decisions tends to be the same over time. Some people make choices and decisions with a logical and analytical thought process, while others are more intuitive and still others avoid making decisions at all.