“Observing” sounds boring. “Noticing” may sound passive, hopeless, or inactive. “Breathing” may not equip you with the ability to say clever and witty things when someone is giving you a lot of grief.
My initial experience with mindfulness was rather isolating- sitting in a class for an hour with my eyes closed and focusing on my breath did not have the same appeal as interacting and participating with the class itself. I’ve noticed a lot of mindfulness is aimed at within-the-skin experiences; noticing breath, body sensations, or experience. There appears to be a lot less “mindfulness” exercises or activities in the literature on mindfulness that is aimed at relationships and interactions.
I’ve had moments in which I want to skip over mindfulness, not do it in my groups, or make it go quickly. When I stop and think about it- often reflecting on my own life and my clients- I often start paying attention to small things that I appreciate, enjoy, or value. Sometimes I simply want to share the everyday things in an everyday way. Sometimes, when I do mindfulness activities with clients, I notice myself worrying about my clients. I also notice that it is harder to do therapy when I am anxious- and do not make the time for accepting, noticing, and allowing.
I’m always struck by how returning to a simple breathing exercise can be so calming and centering. Sometimes I want to avoid it simply because it seems so repetitive, mundane, or obvious; I want to “move on” to something more interesting. Yet again and again I return to breathing quietly. Sometimes I notice worry or impatience. Sometimes I get tearful. Sometimes I feel centered.
All of this I notice, and all of this is my experience. I allow it to be. I accept it fully. I let it orient me to the moment; to the clients in my front of me and the space I share with them.