By Shannon Pacella, DPT, PHRC Lexington
What comes to your mind when you think about the word mindfulness? Perhaps a sense of calmness. Maybe serenity or focus or peacefulness. All of these would apply. Or maybe you have no idea what mindfulness is; if that is the case then check out this blog post first: What is Mindfulness and How Can it Help Pelvic Pain.
Don’t let any preconceived notions about mindfulness scare you from learning about it and even practicing it. Mindfulness is quite simple: it is the act of concentrating your breathing and being aware of the present moment. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes.
Practicing mindfulness allows for a mental environment that is peaceful and harmonious, which is conducive to clarity of thought. This allows you to be aware with real attention.1 Being fully present will enable you to become a better listener, communicator, and improve your focus – who wouldn’t want that?
“Research has shown that mindfulness improves memory, creativity, and reaction times. It also boosts the immune system and lowers blood pressure. Studies have also shown that mindfulness can help with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and speech stuttering.”2
With any skill, mindfulness will only get easier with continued practice. To start a mindfulness practice, set aside some time each day to solely focus on your breathing. Start with one minute; no distractions, just simply becoming aware of your breath and how it feels. During this minute if there are thoughts that arise, that is okay, just bring your attention back to your breath. Don’t try to force your mind to be completely empty and void of any thoughts. That is not the point. Observe the thought then let it go and continue focusing on your breathing. Shifting your attention away from the thought and back to your breath is the key, it prevents you from perseverating on the thought which could then turn into a cascade of more thoughts.
Now, practicing mindfulness should not only happen during a specific designated time during your day, it should be happening throughout your day. A great way to ensure that you are incorporating mindfulness into your day is to pick specific moments that regularly occur, such as washing your hands, cutting vegetables, washing the dishes, waiting at a red light, etc. Bring mindfulness into these moments by focusing on your breath. Even if you only take three breaths, if your mind was focused on each breath then you have practiced mindfulness.
Focusing on your breath is not the only way to be mindful. Another important aspect of mindfulness is how it can be used to improve communication. Be mindful of how you behave towards other people. In particular, during conversation. Try to concentrate on listening, rather than thinking ahead to what you are going to say next. By staying in the moment during the conversation you are being mindful and your communication will greatly improve.
You can also use mindfulness in order to be aware of the present moment around you. Try this by going for a walk without any distractions; no headphones allowed – no music, no podcasts, no phone calls. Pay attention to everything around you as you walk, the sights, sounds, smells, even the feeling of your feet hitting the ground as you step. Again, if your mind starts to wander to other things, practice bringing your attention back to the here and now, your current surroundings.
Mindfulness has been linked to reducing stress. Limiting stress is important especially if you are dealing with chronic pain including pelvic pain. To learn more about the connection between pain and stress check out this blog post: Check Yourself Before You Stress Yourself.
Take the time to quiet your mind, focus on your breath, and stay in the present moment. Start with one breath, then two, and then soon enough you’ll be able to be mindful for longer and longer periods of time throughout the day.
Comment below how you plan to or already incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.
- Rowan T. Mindfulness. Quadrille. 2013.
- Williams M, Penman D. Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. Piatkus. 2011.
Are you unable to come see us in person? We offer virtual physical therapy appointments too!
Due to COVID-19, we understand people may prefer to utilize our services from their homes. We also understand that many people do not have access to pelvic floor physical therapy and we are here to help! The Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center is a multi-city company of highly trained and specialized pelvic floor physical therapists committed to helping people optimize their pelvic health and eliminate pelvic pain and dysfunction. We are here for you and ready to help, whether it is in-person or online.
Virtual sessions are available with PHRC pelvic floor physical therapists via our video platform, Zoom, or via phone. The cost for this service is $75.00 per 30 minutes. For more information and to schedule, please visit our digital healthcare page.
In addition to virtual consultation with our physical therapists, we also offer integrative health services with Jandra Mueller, DPT, MS. Jandra is a pelvic floor physical therapist who also has her Master’s degree in Integrative Health and Nutrition. She offers services such as hormone testing via the DUTCH test, comprehensive stool testing for gastrointestinal health concerns, and integrative health coaching and meal planning. For more information about her services and to schedule, please visit our Integrative Health website page.
PHRC is also offering individualized movement sessions, hosted by Karah Charette, DPT. Karah is a pelvic floor physical therapist at the Berkeley and San Francisco locations. She is certified in classical mat and reformer Pilates, as well as a registered 200 hour Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga teacher. There are 30 min and 60 min sessions options where you can: (1) Consult on what type of Pilates or yoga class would be appropriate to participate in (2) Review ways to modify poses to fit your individual needs and (3) Create a synthesis of your home exercise program into a movement flow. To schedule a 1-on-1 appointment call us at (510) 922-9836
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