In this episode Gordon explores the concept and practices of mindfulness. We look at the body brain connection and how practicing mindfulness helps us show kindness and compassion not only to others but to ourselves. It is the first step in being able to better manage our emotions. It is all about learning how to be present focused and in the moment.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a pretty simple word. It is often associated with meditation practices. However, being mindful does not necessarily mean you have to meditate. But its roots do come out of some of the Eastern Religions such as Buddhism.
A simple way of defining mindfulness is to say a person becomes acutely aware of what they are thinking. You start thinking about what is in your mind. But more than that is that a person becomes present focused and aware of what is going on in their internal world.
How it helps us with kindness and compassion
Mindfulness helps us with kindness and compassion by helping us to not be as reactive to the world around us. Mindfulness is something we do intentionally. Like the practices of kindness, it something we have to cultivate.
Kindness and compassion for themselves
Mindfulness is key in our ability to show kindness and compassion to ourselves. It allows us to look at and be aware of the internal messages we are giving ourselves. Many times we carry false or skewed thoughts about ourselves; thinking mistakes. We also tend to focus on the negative aspects of ourselves rather than the positive.
A shift to being more present focused
The key to being more mindful is learning how to be more present focused. By intentionally being aware of what is happening around us in the moment, is a practice of mindfulness. For example, noticing what your body is doing in this present moment. Paying attention to your breathing, the position of your body, what your clothes feel like on your body, the temperature of the air, are all examples of being present focused.
But also being present focused and mindful is getting “lost” in what you are doing at the moment. We have all experienced that at different times. Whether it is just hanging out with friends or getting engrossed in a work project are examples of being in the moment. And if we think about it, we are usually feeling fairly content or happy during those times.
Mindfulness is non-judgmental
One of the other keys to mindfulness is not judging what you are thinking about or experiencing. As we become more aware of our thoughts and being mindful, it is important to just simply notice what comes up for us internally without placing any sort of value on it. Mindfulness is simply noticing. Then, after you notice, you can decide what you want to do or not do about the thought or feeling. And usually, just simply “sitting with it” is the best action.
After all thoughts and emotions are like a river. They are constantly moving and flowing. What we think and feel from one moment to the next usually changes. When we are mindful, we are aware of that change and flux, so we don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on things. When we are mindful it is easier to let things go.
By taking a non-judgmental approach to things that, in and of itself, is an act of kindness and compassion.
How to practice mindfulness through meditation
There is a lot that has been written about meditation. And there are any number of ways to meditate. But as its core, meditation is about being intentional with your mindfulness for a designated time. Meditation is literally a mental exercise in which we attempt to control and direct our thoughts. And in some practices, it is an exercise in trying to remove or silence our thoughts.
Here is a basic technique for beginning meditation:
Sit in a quiet space in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and begin by taking in deeper than normal breaths and blowing them out gently. Notice what that feels like in your body. Notice your lungs filling up and then expelling the air. Gently shift your attention to other parts of your body while continuing to breathe a little more deeply than normal. Notice the various sensations in your body as you scan it from head to toe. You might notice thoughts about things you need to do or accomplish come into you mind. When they do, gently push those thoughts aside without judging or placing value on them. Return your focus back to your breathing.
Try practicing this for 15 to 20 minutes a day and simply notice how it changes your mood or feelings. For most people, some sort of meditation practice causes them to feel less anxious. It does take practice though. And at first doing this seems hard or even trivial. Again, if you stick with it, you can develop the ability to quickly get grounded in the present moment and be more mindful.
Mindfulness through journaling
Another practice that some people find very helpful is journaling. And this is simply writing down your thoughts without placing judgment on them. It is a way to get what you are experiencing internally out on paper in front of you to gain new perspectives. In many ways it is like going to therapy, where you say out loud what you are thinking and feeling.
Even though you might be writing about something from the past. It is bringing it into the present. The same is true for things that you might be worrying about (projections into the future). By writing about them and bringing them into the present, we often get a new perspective. It is being mindful about those things.
Welcome to the kindness and compassion podcast, where we will explore the intersection of psychology science and spirituality. My name is Gordon brewer and I'm a licensed psychotherapist and mental health provider. I have at my career, helping people learn how to better manage their emotions and find more meaning in their lives and connection in their relationships. Join me as we think and talk about the ways we can find happiness and be content in our lives, through the practices of kindness and compassion. We will talk with other experts in the fields of psychology, science, and religion. I'm so glad you're with me on this journey as we learn how to be at peace with ourselves and others.
Well, Hello everyone. I'm Gordon brewer and welcome to this third episode of the kindness and compassion podcast. And if you're first joining, this is the first time for you to join us on this particular podcast. I'm glad you're here. Glad you've discovered us and hope you'll share with your friends about this podcast. Um, you know, my hope in putting this out here is to really help folks in some of the anxiety and kind of angst in the world, and also being able to share with other people people's stories of kindness and compassion. It's been, uh, a dream of mine to put this together for some time now. And I'm glad that we're finally doing it here, that, uh, we're getting, uh, the different episodes trickling in. And I'm looking forward to you hearing from some guests here in the Fu in the future, we're getting our list together of people that are gonna join us on the podcast
And so you'll be able to hear from them, us their stories of kindness and compassion. So in this particular episode, I wanted to, um, to tackle, uh, a topic that I think is really kind of at the core of practices of kindness and compassion. And when I think about mindfulness, it is really, um, is much as anything. It's one of those, um, skills that we can learn that can help us so much in our own emotional and spiritual journeys, and also just being able to be kind and compassionate towards ourselves. So we're gonna be jumping into that topic here in just a moment. I wanted to let you know though, but, uh, we're putting, as I met mentioned in previous episodes, we're kind of putting this podcast together, kind of building the airplane as we fly it, so to speak. And, um, I would love for you to go over and visit our website.
We're getting starting to get some resources on there and you can just simply go to kindness and compassion.com. And one thing that, um, we've got that's up there, that's new that I wanted to call your attention to is we've started a Patreon page, and that is just a way for people to, if you, uh, want to contribute in some way to the podcast, that's a way for you to do that. And we've got basically three tiers of membership for the Patreon page. We've got the compassion. Uh, we, we kind of came up with some interesting, um, little names for the different tiers, but here's what they are. We've got the first tier, which is just called the compassion tier and it's, uh, a $5 a month, uh, subscription. And then we've got the mindful tier, which is called, is, uh, we call, call it that it's $15 per month.
And then the gratitude tier, which is $25 a month. Uh, um, and when you get the mindful or the gratitude tear, you get some little perks included with that. Um, there's a mug that we've gotten together with the kindness and compassion logo on it at the $15 tier. And then at the, uh, $25 a month tier, you can get the mug and a T shirt with the kindness and compassion logos on them. So anyway, we're doing that through the Patreon, uh, platform, but if you'll go to, um, kindness and compassion.com and just go to the menu at the top and click on, uh, become a patron, you can find out more about that if you choose to do that. Um, and you, my might be that you wanna wait a while to do that, but anyway, just wanted to make people aware of that. And, um, glad you're with me on this journey. So, um, here, and I'm gonna jump into, uh, just my thoughts on mindfulness and what I've learned over the last few years on that particular topic.
You know, as I think about mindfulness, it's a, it's a pretty simple word, and it's really become a pretty popular term you in recent years, I don't know that when I was growing up that I heard that word thrown around a lot, but mindfulness has its roots in kind of Eastern religions or Buddhism. And that it's a practice that a lot of folks within that particular tradition have used and a simple way of thinking about mindfulness, at least the way I think about it is, is just really becoming more aware of what you're thinking and feeling. In other words, just becoming aware of your internal processes with how you process, your thoughts, how you process your emotions and how that affects us. You know, most, all of us, our brains just never really turned off. We're constantly thinking about things and it might be that you're thinking about things from the past, or it might be that you're thinking about things that are coming up, but our brains really are just constantly going.
And for a lot of folks that can lead to just some anxiety or even, um, the opposite, I, I like to think of kind of the opposite of anxiety is depression. Um, and I'll explain what I, by that here in just a minute, but one of the things about mindfulness is it's simply just becoming aware of your own internal processes in my work as a psychotherapist. This is really one of the big things that I teach people is how to be more mindful, be more aware of they're experiencing, um, internally, you know, I think on the surface, a lot of times people just experience either some sort of anxiety or they may experience some sort of depression or anger. And, and a lot of times what's underneath all of that is what we need to look at. And so mindfulness are just beginning to understand how we think about things, how we experience our emotions helps us, um, show greater kindness and compassion, not only to others, but to ourself.
And so one of the things about our brains is that as we've talked about in a previous episode is that we have this part of our brain called the Amy amygdala. And it's a part of our brain. That's just really its sole purpose is to keep us alive and keep our body working. And when we're, when we go through tough times in life or when we go through, um, struggles, even even different traumas, if you will, that can really cause our amygdala to be kind of overactive. And one of the ways in order to counteract that in order to counteract kind of that fight or flight response is to become more in more mindful, you know, mindfulness is the ability to really kinda show kindness to ourselves. It's a, it's a way of slowing things down and to be able to be aware of in, in a nonjudgmental way of what we're experiencing in our own lives.
So along with mindfulness, um, one of the practices that, um, really kind of feeds into mindfulness is being able to kinda learn some meditation practices. Now, some people might think of kind of meditation as being kinda woo woo or, uh, something that is, um, uh, has a lot of, uh, kinda mystic qualities to it, but it really doesn't have to be. And it really is just very simply get a lot teaching yourself how to get into the present moment. See, this is the thing about mindfulness is that mindfulness is literally putting yourself into the present moment as opposed to being preoccupied with the past or preoccupied with the future. So when we are preoccupied with the past, in other words, we're thinking about things like, I wish I would've, or I wish I could have, or even things that we regret about the past or things that we did that maybe were, um, wish we had handled differently.
Maybe sometimes it might be some shame and involved in that, or even, uh, part of that is really to is kind of our own self criticism, um, which is, uh, what I refer to as that internal critic. If we listen to that dialogue in our head too much, that pulls us into the past, it's something that is over and done with and kind of the things that give us clues that we're spending too much in the past is when we, we think of things like I wish I would've, or I wish I could have, or I'm so this or that, where we're really down on ourselves and when we're in the past. And when we're thinking that way, that's a place of depression and guilt and, um, can pull us down. And I've worked with so many people over the years where that's where their kind of head space lives is just thinking about those things.
The opposite of that are people that are struggle with maybe anxiety and they feel, um, a sense of urgency within their life or sense of, uh, being afraid or being, uh, worrying, uh, a great deal. And if you think about that, that is put, projecting yourself into a place in the future it's oh, what if this happens? Or let me pretend in my mind that this bad thing is gonna happen, or what if this us, what if that, and certainly we have to be able to anticipate the future. And I think I'm certainly a big proponent of planning for the future and being proactive about that. But if we become preoccupied with that or become preoccupied with things that we're really outside of control, that puts us in a place of anxiety. I always like to say to my clients, uh, our brains trick us into being anxious, anxiety tricks us into, um, being preoccupied with the future of saying, what if this, what if that, or, oh my gosh, this kind of thing might happen or that kind of thing might happen.
And also, uh, anxiety has a way of tricking us into, uh, believing that we can't handle things. In other words, that we're gonna somehow or another fail or we're somehow or no other gonna be in danger or be hurt in some way. So really to counteract these co this, this dichotomy of these two things, the way we do that is by learning to be more present focused, and mindfulness is the vehicle for doing that. And so let me give you an example of being, uh, more present focused, wherever you're listening to this podcast. I want you to take a moment and just look around you and notice where you are. You might be that you're driving. It might be that you are, um, walking or just sitting around at home, but I want you to look at your surroundings and just notice things about it.
If you're, if you're in your car, maybe notice the color of your dashboard, or maybe notice, um, the way the sunlight is shining into your car. Maybe notice the sound that your car is making as it's moving through the air that is getting into the present moment. If you're at home or you're walking, I want you to take a moment just to notice maybe the smells in the air or notice the temperature of the air. If you're sitting someplace, maybe notice the, what the sensation of your body in your seat, what that feels like that is becoming mindful. That is being aware of where you are in this particular space. And if you'll notice, when you do that, when you notice those things, you're not as preoccupied with the past or the future, you you're pulling yourself into the present moment. So here's another little exercise I'd like to do with you is, and this is, um, depending on where you're listening to this, um, if you're driving right now, I wouldn't necessarily do this exercise now, but do it later.
Uh, but one of the things I want you to do is just get your off kind of grounded or seated in your seat, uh, wherever you're sitting. And I want you to close your eyes again, if you're driving, don't do this, but close your eyes. And I want you to take in a deeper than normal breath just through your nose. And I want you to notice what that feels like in your body, notice the air going into your body, and then I want you to slowly blow it out and just notice the sensation of that and what that feels like. And then I want you to slowly shift your attention to your surroundings, where you are in the room. Maybe notice if there's a bird singing outside, or if there's some sort of noise, or if you're, um, listening to this with earbuds, noticing what those earbuds feel like inside your ears and notice maybe your feet on the floor and what your feet feel like in your shoes.
This is what I'm demonstrating for you. Here is just a small kind of little mindfulness exercise of being able to, um, be in the present moment. Now, these are simple things. These are just no things that maybe you don't pay attention to, or we just kinda take for granted. But that in and of itself is pulling you into the present moment. One of the other things that happens when we're doing kind of these meditation or mindfulness exercises, is that we might notice that we're thinking about things that are troubling, or we might notice that we're thinking about things that are worrying us or that things that are kind of heavy on us and what I would invite you to do with those thoughts that kind of enter your mind is just to look at 'em kind of, non-judgmental, it's kinda like, um, you, you know, if you notice that you're feeling anxious, uh, most people describe anxiety as something they feel inside their chest.
And so if you're feeling anxious, you just kind of say to yourself, okay, there is that feeling, there is that sensation. Let me just kinda look at that and lean into that. Um, don't try to figure out where it's coming from or why it's there, but just notice it and lean into it. And then as you notice it and lean into it, maybe notice what thoughts are associated with that. And it might be that you're thinking about thoughts of failure era. It might be that you're being judgemental of yourself. And what I would invite you to do in this mindfulness exercise is just to kind of push those thoughts aside, just kind of almost like you were sitting on the edge of a river, watching your thoughts go by in a boat or some sort of raft or something. And being able to just push that on down the river or the Creek or whatever that you imagine in your mind of not hanging onto those thoughts.
Now, all of this stuff is easier said than done. And like I said earlier, I think for some people, this might feel kind of woo woo. But hopefully you're getting kind of a sense of what mindful is mindfulness is. It's really just being aware of what you're thinking, being aware of the emotions, attached to what you're thinking. And then the other step to mindfulness is really giving yourself as I like to call it, giving yourself permission to maybe change your mind about some things, being able to change your mind about how you think about yourself and the, maybe some of the self deprecating thoughts that you might of about, um, about yourself. And when you begin to do that, you're starting to show yourself some kindness and compassion. The other thing is, is when you're thinking about things or maybe even think about other people or people that maybe make you angry or people that maybe cause you to feel some sort of negative emotion is to be able to look at that in a nonjudgmental way of being able to say, Hey, I feel this way about this, but I'm gonna do my best to kinda let this thought go to kind of push it aside and not get too preoccupied with it or hang on to it too long.
So that's in a nutshell, kind of what mindfulness is about. It's about thinking about what you're thinking about, being aware of your thoughts, maybe being aware of when you're making what is referred to as thinking mistakes. In other words, how I I'm perceiving this might not be accurate. I might have, um, a way of thinking about this. That is just not completely true. Um, I wanna share a story with you here in just a minute, but one of the things too is with mindfulness. One of the things, another practice that is very, very helpful with mindfulness, I think is journaling of being able to just write down what you're thinking about in a particular moment of being able to kind of put your thoughts into words. Um, even though we might be thinking in words, but when we write it out, we see it in a different way.
And also when we write things out, it causes our feelings to kind of change to some degree. So here's a story I'd like to tell you, there was a guy driving down the road and he saw on the side of the road, there was a kid that he noticed had a rock in his hand. And as he got up closer, he was thinking, oh my God, this kid's gonna throw this rock. And I just don't know what I'm gonna do about that. So as he is getting up closer, he is sure enough, the kid throws the rock and hits the windshield of his car and breaks the windshield of his car. So I want us to, to pause this story just a minute, I want you to imagine what he might be thinking and feeling at this moment. So obviously he's feeling maybe angry, maybe a little bit scared about his, what, what has happened.
He might feel confused. He might, um, be curious again, there's just a, probably a whole list of things that he might be feeling that we could speculate here. But also, what is he thinking about? What are his thoughts in this moment? Well, he is thinking why this kid throw this rock at my car. You know, what's wrong with this kid? Where's this kid's parents who's gonna pay for my wind shield. How am I gonna get this fixed? All of those things he's feeling, uh, thinking about. So he stops the car, he jumps out of the car and he goes up to the kid. Ready, ready to just lay into that kid. I mean, just to really tell him what for, so to speak and the says to the man, Mr. I'm sorry I broke your windshield, but my mom is sick and hurt and I need someone to help her.
And this was the only way I knew to get somebody to stop and help her in that moment that man's thoughts and feelings changed because he had a new perspective on that particular situation. And so I'm sure that man being a kind and compassionate man in this, uh, make believe story, did what he could to help the kids' mother and get the help there, call an ambulance. And, and, uh, hopefully this story has a happy ending here, but anyway, in that particular moment, he was forced to be mindful. He was forced to think about the situation in a different way, rather than on some sort of preconceived notion that this was a bad kid doing something bad or something naughty, so to speak. So that's a, that's an example of mindfulness. And what I'd like to invite you to do is just to jump online here in the next few days and just Google mindfulness.
I've put in the show notes on the show summary here, just a few links of some organizations and resources that I found when I, I was getting ready for this particular episode. One organization that I think has just got some great resources it's called, it's just simply mindful.org. And they've got lots of great things there, um, that you can tap into. Um, there's also some, uh, research articles that I of linked to from the Mayo clinic and some other places around that, just show kind of the science behind being mindful. And, and it's very true that when people learn the practices of mindfulness, it really changes their emotional responses. And it's one of the key ingredients for people that are suffering for pit from PTSD or trauma, is to learn mindfulness practices. And so hopefully this gives you a good overview in this particular episode of mindfulness and how it can change your life and being able to approach your life in a different way of just being aware of what you're thinking and what you're feeling and you being in control of that. So thanks for joining me for this particular episode.
Well, Folks, I hope this has given you kind of a good overview of mindfulness practices and how it relates to kindness and compassion. And, um, there's so much more that can be said on this topic, but there's just a little bit of time in this short time of a podcast. Um, but be sure to go over to the website, kindness and compassion.com and you can find more resources there. Also, if you'll look at the show notes here, there'll be links there for you to access the notes that I made on this particular episode. Um, also if you're interested in joining us on the podcast as, uh, as a guest, I'd love to hear from you and you can go to kindness and compassion.com and click on the contact, uh, a page, and you can see a way to fill out an applic in there to be on the podcast.
We're looking for experts and other people, um, that are in this, in this niche of just thinking about kindness and compassion and self care, self care, and how to be, how to live into this in their lives. Just this whole idea of kindness and compass. And, and my hope is, is that the information in this podcast is gonna help people find better, better paths in life and kind of end some of the polarity and division that we have in society right now. And that's really my, my why, if you will, behind doing this podcast is really trying to share those, those ways of doing things and, and however resonates best for you. So, um, hope you'll join us for future episodes B, be sure to take time to follow us or subscribe to the podcast wherever you might be listening to it. And also if you'd like to become a patron of the podcast us and, uh, support us in that way, we'd love to have you do that. And you can, uh, go again to kindness and compassion.com and just click on the link in the menu, be a sponsor. Uh, and so, uh, love for you to do that or be a patron rather. Um, so take care folks, and, um, we'll be joined you again. In the next episode,
You have been listening to the kindness and compassion podcast with Gordon brewer, part of the psych craft network of podcasts. Please visit firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, resources, and tools to help you in your journey. Be sure to follow us wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you haven't done so already be sure to sign up, to get the free kindness and compassion practice this guide. Again, you can find email@example.com, the information in this podcast is intended to be accurate and authoritative concerning the subject matter cover. It is given what the understanding that neither the hosts guests or producers are rendering clinical, a call mental health or legal advice. If you need a professional, you should find the right person for that.
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L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person. He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook . And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.