Although there continues to be a taboo around mental illness – which I believe is perpetuated through the social and professional forces that push us as a community to keep mental illness a “secret“ – I find that the vast majority of us are all suffering from the same lack of love and connection.
But it’s how that suffering manifests that looks different between individuals, and then becomes labeled as different mental illnesses.
Something that has become clear to me over my years in practice is how our individual interpetations, and what we go on to tell ourselves about our lives and our experiences, seem to most often lead to those very criteria (patterns of thoughts and behaviors) that make up a formal diagnosis of mental illness. Not vice versa.
The mental health diagnosis is merely a compilation of all those unhealthy thoughts and choices… It’s like another symptom, instead of the cause.
So in an attempt to be as uncomplicated as possible here, if we look at our disconnect and our thoughts and coping mechanisms around that disconnect, then we can see how we might all find ourselves on a detour from our intended path at some point or another in our lives.
Getting back on the desired path, I believe, can occur through the implementation of a mindfulness practice. I’ve been blessed many times over to witness someone’s life transform through awareness and changes in behavior which result from mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga (which I “prescribe” to everyone I work with).
I spend a lot of time with my clients discussing the way they’re intuiting and interpreting their experiences, as well as the behavioral choices they make as a result of those feelings and thoughts. That’s mindfulness right there.
However, a mindfulness practice (like meditation) teaches us that we cannot get rid of our problems, that life is inherently problematic and challenging. Instead, mindfulness teaches us how to handle those problems of life with greater strength, emotional agility, and courage, and how to use problems as lessons and bridges to higher consciousness.
For example, the intention of mindfulness meditation is self-awareness, not a “blissed-out” state that is free from all problems and obstacles (unless we are truly tapping into that truth and not using meditation as just another activity).
If we simply seek ecstasy in the quest to avoid thinking our thoughts and feeling our feelings, then we are actually seeking the loss of ourselves.
The ultimate aim of mindfulness meditation is to remain grounded in self-awareness under all conditions of happiness and sadness, pleasure and pain, wins and losses…
Please know that I’m here for you in your journey toward self-awareness and unconditional acceptance and have intentionally created a space for you to fully explore within that journey.
Dr. Marla Reis is a Licensed Psychologist in private practice in Fort Lauderdale. She has recently opened Zen Mind Space, a curated holistic mindfulness and wellness center.
You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ZenMindbyDrMarla/
Check out the website at https://zenmindspace.com for mindfulness classes, workshops, treatments, and special offerings.