What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as “a state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”. It can also be referred to as being conscious, being in the now, or wise attention.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it” [Sharon Salzberg]
Tantric massage therapy is different to tantric massage services which only focus on pleasure. Tantric massage therapists have usually done more training and have more tools for working in a trauma-informed way, with pain and dysfunction, as well as pleasure, that can be found in the body. Read more about the different types of tantric massage.
Therefore, qualified tantric therapists will help you to become more aware of your own body, inside and outside. Becoming mindful of your internal world is the opposite of dissociation from the body, which means experiencing a sense of separation from self. This is something which often happens as a result of ongoing stress or trauma a person may have experienced. Therefore, mindfulness is a technique that is essential in working with any kind of trauma or dysfunction.
What Can Becoming More Mindful Help with?
Bodywork therapy is somatic, which literally means “relating to the body”. This means that, by becoming more aware of what is happening inside of yourself, you can learn to:
- Reduce anxiety
- Overcome compulsive and obsessive behaviours
- Increase the amount of pleasure you are able to feel
- Increase the motivation for, and love of, life
- Improve physical health
- Consciously choose to focus on the positive
There is a mind-body connection and what happens in one, affects the other. Many people report that when they start to practice mindfulness, more peacefulness comes into their lives. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, “how you see things and how you handle them makes all the difference in terms of how much stress you will experience”.
Did you know? Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve brain plasticity in just 8 weeks
Mindfulness can Start to Heal the Nervous System
A common way of dealing with stressful situations in life is to simply suppress those feelings as best we can. This means that we can hide our feelings from others, and sometimes even from ourselves. Inhibiting the stress reaction by internalising it in this way can mean that you don’t get a resolution, and are stuck with stress hormones wreaking havoc inside your body – whether you are aware of it or not. Over time, this can lead to a dysregulation of the nervous system. Since the nervous, endocrine, neural and immune systems are closely inter-connected, a dysregulated nervous system can contribute, or even cause, physical illness. Read about the healing benefits of erotic touch in helping to regulate the nervous system.
When we are not conscious of our repressed emotions, numerous strategies for dealing with this can emerge. These can include such –isms as alcoholism, workaholism, and other addictions, for example food or chemical substances. Repressed emotions also have a habit of being expressed impulsively, such as in a fit of rage. Becoming more aware of underlying emotions, and the corresponding bodily sensations, can enable us to free ourselves from addictive and impulsive cycles. Read more on how repressing emotions can cause dis-ease.
A Note of Caution
Please note, at times practicing mindfulness and meditation can initially make trauma symptoms worse. This is because bringing attention to the body can serve as a reminder of something which occurred in the past – for example, feeling that your heart is beating faster can serve as a trigger. In these cases, it is important to go slowly, do mindfulness practice a little bit at a time and starting with external senses, and to learn how to down regulate the nervous system if stress comes up.
The Role of Breath
Breath plays a key role in mindfulness, both by helping to calm and centre the person doing the breathing, and by helping to bring awareness to the present moment. This is because breath is the only function in the body that can be done totally consciously, or totally unconsciously. Read more about the power of breath in tantric therapy.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath” [Amit Ray]
Try taking a few minutes now to sit with eyes closed, focusing on breath flowing in and out of your body. Notice any thoughts that come in; be aware of sensations inside your body. Notice how you feel after.
I offer sessions to individuals and couples in Teesside/ North Yorkshire and London. Read more about tantric therapy treatments.
Full Catastrophe Living: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn
When the Body Say No by Gabor Maté