You may already know that yoga and meditation are tools to train the body and mind to be present. But how do you apply these skills to make positive change in your life?
Enter contemplative counseling.
Contemplative counseling is the term I coined to describe a practical and therapeutic application of mindfulness practice.
Contemplative simply means that there is an emphasis on developing and maintaining a mindfulness practice such as meditation—this is really the key to initiating lasting change. Without some sort of mindful practice to take into daily life, talk therapy can simply stay on the level of concept. So the practice element helps you to incorporate new ways of showing up in your life.
Counseling means that you address practical issues as well as deeper psychological issues. So whether you need to heal from a family trauma, or you simply want to discuss creative ways to approach a career transition, or add healthy habits to your daily life, counseling offers solutions.
Contemplative counseling is really about reprogramming the mind– transforming a reactive (or sleeping) mechanism into a creative tool. It’s about turning your mind into an ally rather than an adversary to be defeated. All sessions include mindfulness practices and “homework,” essentially practices to observe between sessions. Mindfulness practices are the foundation to create changes in your career, relationships and life.
When you incorporate contemplative practice into your life, things shift. I won’t promise that it will automatically make your life more meaningful, rich and balanced, but you will definitely begin to view things in a new way. New insights will dawn that will allow you to revisit long held beliefs and question whether or not they are still valid for you.
These practices work, but you have to do them diligently. And without a guide that can be extremely difficult. It helps to have someone who has walked the path to guide you.
It helps to have a guide.
All you need to be happy is in this present moment. It’s right here. But here is the caveat. The trick. The secret. You have to actually BE in the present moment to be able to appreciate it. If you are preoccupied with worries and thoughts, emotionally charged or physically dull, distracted by phones or future plans, self conscious about how you look or what others think, if anything interrupts your direct relationship with the present circumstances, then you won’t be able to see the good. And if you can’t see it, then you can’t pass it on. When you tune in to the beauty of each moment, even the not so beautiful moments, then a shift takes place. A shift in perception. Awareness blooms.
I’ve had to learn this stuff through trial and error. For years I thought there was something wrong with me because I felt so bad about myself. So I felt bad about myself. Talk about redundant and counterproductive! I told myself a bad story. We all have them. You can just drop your story line.
What is the story you tell yourself? Mine was this: I am awkward and unlovable, because I come from a broken home, which was all my fault (a family member even “confirmed” this for me once, inadvertently) therefore I don’t deserve love or a family of my own.
Sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it? I felt every bit of it to be true. And the ridiculous thing is I felt this even when in the arms of a loving partner or in front of a class who was gushing praise and thanks. Or when I was paid top dollar to teach at some of the most exclusive resorts in the world, in the most beautiful geographical locations. This is how strong storyline is. We believe it regardless of what the world is actually telling us. This is the power of mind. Tame it, or be ruled by it. These are the choices.
Here’s the bonus:
When you start to tune in and make friends with your mind, things start to manifest differently. You start to change your own world. This then extends out to change the larger world, because your interactions with people will be different, and your relationships start to change. So your evolution as an individual eventually brings about revolution in your world.
Changing your own perspective is what helps make change in the world. Evolution on a personal level creates global revolution. So your personal work to build a healthy relationship to your mind causes a shift that is felt throughout the planet. This is what will help us go from consumption based usage of our planet and its resources to a collaborative effort towards harmony, sustainability and growth. The only way this will happen is if each and every one of us participates. There is no other option.
While your more immediate goals may be focused on your microcosm, know that any work you do for yourself will translate into great benefit for all sentient beings. And we all benefit from that.