Mindfulness: it’s more than just meditation

mindfulness-hypnosisNear the beginning of 2015 I added mindfulness education to my private practice. I teach nearly all my clients about mindfulness, and like the guy in the Hair Club commercials, I use it regularly in my own life, too. And like it has for my clients, it has brought about some significant positive changes in the quality of my life.

What is mindfulness? I like the Psychology Today definition: “…a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Mindfulness evolved from Buddhist meditation, but it is much more than that. It is a way of living your life fully in the present, free from the regrets of the past and the anxieties of the future. Our thoughts frequently lead to a chain of other thoughts and can pull us out of the moment and launch us into the past or future. You might think “Why did I ever drop out of college?” and that can lead to thoughts like: “It ruined my chances of getting a good job. Now I can’t earn enough to live the way I want.” And so on. Before you know it, you’re mired in regrets, unable to appreciate the good things that are presently a part of your life.

An important aspect of mindfulness is being “nonjudgmental” about your thoughts. Let’s say you have a worrisome thought. Try to consider it as “not important but also not unimportant” as well as “not good but also not bad.” It’s just a thought, a simple construct of your mind. Just kind of there. By not assigning the thought any type of value, positive or negative, you blunt its power to pull you out of the present moment. In fact, you can use that thought as a reminder to focus back on the present moment (like working, enjoying time with a friend or even falling asleep). When you can successfully do this, the thought becomes disorganized and fades from your mind. If you have the same thought a few minutes later, again be nonjudgmental and let the thought be a second reminder to focus back in on what you’re doing in the present moment. If you have the same thought ten times in a row that is ten reminders to focus on the present moment. Learning to be nonjudgmental becomes easy to do with the right mindset and some practice.

I’m a skilled hypnotist so falling asleep is rarely a problem for me, but mindfulness has become my go-to method for falling asleep on those nights when my mind is racing. I simply do a simple meditation on my breathing: mentally saying “in” on the inhale and “out” on the exhale. You’re always breathing in the present moment so it’s a good thing to meditate upon to be mindful. I’m nonjudgmental about any thoughts that occur, using them as reminders to focus back on my breathing and soon I am sound asleep.

I’m also really good at getting rid of a headache, but before I learned mindfulness it took me about thirty seconds to a minute to zap a headache into nothingness. Now I just become nonjudgmental about the headache as it is beginning and it usually fades in less than ten seconds!

If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness, look for books by Jon Kabat-Zinn or Thich Naht Hanh.

If you’d like a FREE copy of my mindfulness breathing meditation recording, email me at info@danperezhypno.com and I will send it you!

Hypnotic help for test anxiety

test-anxiety-hypnosisI had a conversation with a college chemistry professor recently, and she told me that her students did great at remembering formulas and such in class, but experience brain-lock when trying to remember them in exam conditions. Test anxiety is a common problem with students and it can interfere with remembering the things you need to remember during an exam. Test anxiety is characterized by a panicky feeling, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms. You can read an excellent guide to symptoms, causes and even find some tips for alleviating test anxiety here.

Anxiety of all kinds responds well to hypnosis techniques. One effective way to beat that panicky feeling at the exam itself is 7-11 breathing. Breathe slowly in while you count to 7 in your mind and breathe slowly out on a mental count of 11. This slow and measured breathing will slow your heart rate, ease that fight-or-flight adrenaline response and make you feel better.

Another powerful hypnotic trick is to use an anchor. An anchor is anything that brings to mind a feeling or mental or emotional response. You know that icky feeling you get when you are at the dentist when you hear the drill sound from the back? That is a negative auditory anchor. A positive auditory anchor is when you hear your favorite song and want to smile and sing along.

You can create positive anchors for yourself. To create an anchor to help with test anxiety, sit down in a quiet place and take two or thee deep breaths. Think of a time when you felt relaxed, calm and in control. See the sights and hear the sounds. Imagine you have an internal dimmer switch and dial up that feeling of calm, relaxation and control. When that good feeling is about to reach its peak touch your thumb and forefinger together like you’re making an OK sign.

Make a strong association between the finger-pinch and that relaxed feeling.

Practice this technique once or twice a week to build and strengthen that association. Then when test day arrives, if you begin to feel that anxious feeling, then simply touch thumb and forefinger together to recall that calm, relaxed feeling.

If you have severe test anxiety, contact Dan Perez at Hypnosis Works! for help. Call 800-481-5949 for a free consultation.