A mindful approach
Updated: Apr 28
Unpacking the word mindfulness I notice how being fully aware of our thoughts and thinking process could easily distract us from noticing our bodily experience. In actuality, mindfulness includes becoming aware of our tensions, movements and/or even pain in our bodies - encouraging a more wholesome sense of mind and body awareness.
Mindfulness can be supportive when trying to understand our personal and unique experiences. Perhaps a tension in the shoulders could represent stress or a belly ache could be a sign of anxiety. Taking the time to slow down and carefully scan our bodies - from toe to head - is a technique that I find helpful to practice regularly. Keeping in mind that our bodies speak more than our words do, connecting with the flow of our physical movements seems naturally helpful in our individual journey towards the development of self-awareness.
In Gestalt therapy, the fluctuating movements expressed through the body are considered, acknowledged and used as part of the therapeutic process. The way we sit on a chair or the way we might lower our voice when speaking about a certain topic are useful tips that might indicate more than what is being said.
Such awareness can be developed through following mindfulness guided meditations and especially with therapy. With time, the practice can become a way of living - a way of connecting with ourselves, and thus we become aware of what we experience and what we need.
Once the needs are identified, there is an opportunity to explore ways of reaching satisfaction. This could be through asking others for support and/or doing what is necessary for ourselves - which could be as simple as finding a comfortable and supportive sitting position to actually asking for support.
Needs are constantly emerging and naturally part of life. These can be individual, social, physical and spiritual. However, satisfaction is not always reachable and in this case, sitting uncomfortably with an unmet need might be the only option.
Facing the discomfort of an unmet need creates an opportunity to respond with (what we call in Gestalt therapy as) self-regulation. The understanding of self-regulation between two extremes/polarities brings a third element to our field of awareness. This third element represents an inbetween state. A state that might include aspects of both extremes - the uncomfortable and the comfortable.
Ultimately, with awareness through a mindful approach, we can invite a deeper understanding of our needs and how to act on these.
Together, in therapy, we can work on reconnecting with ourselves in a way that further increases levels of awareness and acceptance of the constant stream of emerging needs. In addition, we will be able to find ways of self-regulating by pendulating from one polarity to the other - using techniques and experiments.
By doing so, we stay closely connected with mind and body.