You may have heard of “mindfulness” before. In recent years it’s become a buzzword that has taken on a lot of different meanings and schools of thoughts.
At the Younique Foundation, we define mindfulness as the right and ability to focus on empowering thoughts and feelings while choosing to coexist and not give undue attention to non-productive thoughts and feelings.
So what does that mean? Mindfulness is being present in this moment. Mindfulness is letting the good thoughts have a presence in your mind. Mindfulness is noticing when bad thoughts come, recognizing them for what they are, and letting them be.
Mindfulness means that you have the power to choose what thoughts and feelings stick with you, despite the sexual trauma you’ve experienced. You can’t change the past, but you can learn how to manage it. Managing doesn’t mean minimizing what you’ve been through. It means empowering yourself to realize how strong you are and acknowledging your ability to navigate through your thoughts and feelings.
When you’re triggered, mindfulness will allow you to choose how you respond. It’s not about stopping thoughts or fighting them; observe them for what they are, without judgment, and move on.
Ruby Wax said, “Thoughts aren’t facts, so don’t take them seriously.”
We have thousands of thoughts a day. Chances are, if you’re a sexual abuse survivor, you have thoughts you wish would just go away! That’s where mindfulness can help you. If you can stay grounded in the present, instead of entertaining or fighting thoughts of the past, you’ll be able to move forward on your healing journey.
Try these ten exercises the next time you feel yourself getting lost in negative or unhealthy thoughts. Read the questions below and say the answers to yourself OUT LOUD. This mindfulness tool will help you stay grounded in the present and not be pulled back by the past.
- Where am I right now? (Be as precise as you can.)
- What time, day, and date is it?
- What am I doing right now?
- What am I feeling in my body right now? (Say out loud exactly where you are feeling a sensation in your body.)
- What emotion am I feeling right now? (What word or words would best describe your feelings?)
- What purpose am I pursuing? (Are you on your way home from work, working on a project, heading to the store?)
- What action can I take right now that would benefit another person?
- What can this precise moment teach me?
- Look around you and notice everything that is a color you choose, like orange.
- Look for a bird in flight. (Keep this thought in your awareness until you see a bird sometime today.)
Asking yourself these questions is just an example of the type of exercises that can help you be mindful and stay grounded, but there are many others that help you stay focused in the present.
Practicing mindfulness will help you as you work on becoming whole again. Be patient with yourself. You’re doing the best you can in this moment, and that’s amazing!