Rebecca Williams, a licensed psychotherapist, builds on the idea the stepping back to take in a moment without judgment can help some patients overcome addictions and heal from trauma.
Publish Date: May 18, 2021
Rebecca Williams, a licensed psychotherapist, builds on the idea the stepping back to take in a moment without judgment can help some patients overcome addictions and heal from trauma. Rebecca introduces Job Kabat-Zinn's idea that being in the present moment, specifically without judgment, takes practice and work. But, according to Rebecca, getting started is as easy as taking five minutes away from the chatter of every day to focus on the moment. The hard part, Rebecca says, is giving yourself permission to take those five minutes.
Yes. Right. So let's talk a little bit about what mindfulness is or how you bring it to your work or to someone who's struggling with addiction. Right. And you mentioned Jon Kabat Zinn, I think his definition of it and he's in massachusetts I think, or maybe he's retired by now. But His research and his ability to interact with his patients who had medical conditions really set the stage over the last 30 years. But his ability to connect with people by just being in the room with them is pretty special. He thinks of mindfulness as being in the present moment on purpose and this is the important part without judgment. So being in the present moment, that's a challenge doing it on purpose. That takes a little bit extra work and then this special thing, which I think we all struggle with is without judging rather than judging, oh, am I doing it right? Or is this the right way to go? Actually just slowing down and releasing the judgment, letting the thoughts flow through you and out versus getting stuck and having those thoughts hijack your well being and that's challenging not to be judgmental. I mean, it is because we're judging everything all the time, are categorizing it. We're putting into different thoughts about it, good, bad. And to be able to just sit there and watch, takes some practice. Exactly. It takes practice just like anything else in life. Like even if you take a yoga class the first time it's sticky and you really don't want to go back, but once you get into the rhythm of it, of not judging or releasing the judgment, I should say, your brain starts to recalibrate itself. It's the oddest thing that happens. But actually new pathways open up that are less, you know, sticky and more clear and smooth and calm. So it's, you know, you're right, it is a life journey to try to manage the judgment. So someone out there who maybe has never done mindfulness or practice mindfulness, how would this even start? Great question. Well I believe that it starts with a simple sitting, finding a quiet place in your home or even in the office where you can, you know, have the kids away doing something else for five or 10 minutes and you have a corner of a room, sit down on the chair or on the floor and just close your eyes for five minutes. You can set your timer and when the five minutes is up, you can say, oh good, I'm done and just over time doing it every single day, sometimes once a day or twice a day, it simple, hey, we don't need to complicate things, It's just the ability to kind of push aside all the chatter and the clutter of every day and give yourself five minutes of like a mini vacation, right? And just focus on your breathing or focus on what you're hearing your sound. I know that when I started, that's how I began was I did a meditation where it was just focusing on my breath and my anxious mind was running all over the place and I would find myself All of a sudden, okay, I'm gonna sit, I'm going to focus on my breath and maybe like 10 seconds later I'm thinking about that those anxious thoughts or whatever was going on and I'm going to wait, wait, I'm meditating again. I got to go back and focus on my breath. Yeah. And that's, you know, it's like you said, there's no right way to do this. It's just about giving yourself permission to give yourself five minutes and literally what the way I do it. And I meditated this morning outside looking at my little lake out here. My mind is also jumping around too. And what I do is I just count to 10. Like each breath is a one, count so inhale and then exhale, that's number one and then inhale and exhale that's number two and just going all the way up to 10 and if you get stuck and you only get 22 just start at one again. And so you just want to get to 10 and that's it. So I'm hoping folks can just not complicated and just make it really simple or you can do a walking meditation where you just go for a walk and count the colors of green that you see. Or if you're in the city you can count the colours of you know whatever colour grey, I guess. I know in new york there's a lot of great, so you know wherever you are just give yourself permission to be okay with the anxious thoughts, those are normal. The mind is designed to think. So you're good gratitude for that and keep going. So my question for someone who might be listening and there we go, well, how is that going to help me? I mean I got a lot to do here. Yeah, so there's a part of the brain that needs to calm down and to detox and we all are super duper busy and I wish addiction was an attached to this business but it could very well be that we don't give ourselves a moment to relax and reflect and have some self awareness and and what my favorite thing is self compassion. So giving yourself permission is the number one thing