Another important skill we teach at Jackson Mental Health Hospital is “Mindfulness of Emotions.” This technique consists of teaching the patient to mindfully observe and experience the waves of emotions that arise instead of running away from them.
In a hypothetical case, John presented to treatment unaware of his emotions or the impact they had on him. Mindfulness itself does not condemn or condone any particular emotional reaction. Rather, it is the practice of assisting John of honestly being aware of what happens to him and how he reacts to it. Emotional maturity comes, not from the absence of emotions, but from seeing them clearly. This technique is effective in that mindfulness means accepting your emotions, and meeting emotions simply and directly, without trying to repress or exaggerate them.
Our clinicians utilize mindfulness as it allows the body to go through its physiological process for dealing with them and return to a resting baseline in the most efficient manner. To accomplish mindfulness, patients are asked to focus in the here and now without putting much efforts and thoughts into memories of the past and expectations about the future. Our clinicians help patients like John understand that he has never been taught how to quit his mind; therefore, emotions get intensified by negative past experiences and expectations that others put in ourselves.
As a result of mindfulness training, patients have investigated their relationships to emotions. It sets us apart because we use evidence-based practices to teach patients how to live in the present and accept their reality. This is more constructive than trying to change things, judging ourselves and others, and striving for what is “supposed to be right,” which causes great frustration.
The idea of mindfulness practice is to work on using the present experience of the here and now through the use of breathing exercises or grounding techniques that allows the patient to focus on neutral stimuli that it is real, does not contain any emotional charge, and is not threatening to help the patients calm down while they can be mindfully experiencing their emotions with no judgment and with compassion.