For years, spiritual gurus and healers have promoted the practice of mindfulness. Now, a new study from the American Psychological Association confirms that mindfulness is important. And, when combined with acceptance, it’s even better. In a December 2019 paper How Mindfulness Training Promotes Positive Emotions, the authors state “Mindfulness meditation interventions – which train skills in monitoring present-moment experiences with a lens of acceptance – have shown promise for increasing positive emotions.” Mindfulness has been practiced for years, but now researchers were able to study it’s effects. “These studies provide the first experimental evidence that developing an orientation of acceptance toward present-moment experiences is a central mechanism of mindfulness interventions for boosting positive emotions in daily life.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6296247/
Many believe happiness is a birthright. Americans are especially fond of their “pursuit” of happiness. But is it really necessary? It turns out, the case for positive emotions is definitive. “…the presence of positive emotions is more predictive of resilience, life satisfaction, and physical health than the absence of negative emotions (e.g., Cohen et al., 2006; Cohn et al., 2009). Further, the absence or reduction of negative emotions does not necessarily lead to the generation of positive emotions (Watson & Clark, 1997)” This may explain why, despite advances in medication for depression and mood issues, many people don’t find health benefits from simply stopping the negative emotions.
Mindfulness + Acceptance = Best Mindfulness Practice
In our busy lives, developing a mindfulness practice can be difficult. In my practice I help people discover what they are being distracted by. Once we can locate what thoughts, toxins and past experiences are pulling them out of being mindful, we can stop the body from reacting. In a physical reaction to a thought, the body starts a cascade of processes. Adrenaline and epinephrine – stress hormones – are released into the system. Once these chemicals have been released in the body, the brain can only focus on getting away from danger. This can lead to tensed muscles, anxious thoughts and mind chatter. If we can prevent this unnecessary cascade, the mind is quieter. When the mind is quieter, mindfulness is easier and adding acceptance for what is becomes possible.
Mindfulness + Acceptance would look like being “ok” with the rain, if it’s actually raining. It looks like being “ok” with a shortfall of money if you actually have a shortfall of money. During an NET session, we use Personal Declarative statements (PDs) to find out if the unconscious mind is resistant to acceptance. A patient working on weight management will benefit from being “ok” with their current weight while they are working on weight reduction. The patient states “I’m ok with my present weight.” And we test whether their body reacts to this statement or if it is neutral. We aren’t condoning their current weight or implying they prefer their current weight. We want to be “OK” with what’s happening right now.
When we are neutral about what’s happening right now we have access to a variety of ways to adapt to the situation. “Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005), allow for more flexible thoughts and behaviors, and build personal resources that translate to better health, personal fulfillment, and more positive emotions (Fredrickson, 1998).”
Accepting the Bad Things
You might be wondering “how can I be ‘ok’ with something really awful?”
“Acceptance is described as a permission to fully experience what’s happening as it happens without getting caught up in or attached to the content of what’s happening.” In the event the “what’s so” is unsavory, we can use an alternative statement. We can say “I’m ok even though I’m at my present weight.” In this example, “what’s happening” may be that you are overweight. The “content” of being overweight may be that you don’t like the way you look, you’re at higher risk for disease or someone has said something bad about you. When you separate the “what’s happening” from the “content” you will see that all that is happening right now is you are overweight.
In reality, we really are “ok” despite all the things that may be happening to us. How we know we are “ok” is that we are alive, we’re breathing, we have a choice about how we respond. Being mindful can help us “find the good” in many situations. It’s not a “fake it ’til you make it” proposition. It’s a “both and” conversation. “I am overweight and the sun is shining.” Both can be true at the same time. “I don’t have enough money and I am safe.” Remember, the key is present-time. Your mindfulness practice should keep you in present-time and open and curious to what you’re experiencing right now rather than thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
Effective Mindfulness Practice
I focus on helping people get present to what’s happening right now. It is evolutionary and appropriate to respond to threats in order to survive. Today there is so much sensory input that our pre-historic brains can be tricked into thinking that we are in danger in every moment. Using the technologies of NET and BEST you can help your brain release inappropriate patterns and be present to what’s happening right now. Developing a mindfulness practice can be easy when you are not being hijacked by so many stimuli. You can have access to experiencing life in the moment and increasing the amount of time you spend in Mindfulness + Acceptance.
Dr. Carla Gibson is a chiropractor for the 21st Century. She brings the latest biohacking technology to her clients at Abundant Health Arizona in Scottsdale, AZ. Dr. Carla is a Master B.E.S.T. practitioner and is certified in Neuro-Emotional Technique. When she’s not in the office she likes to hike with her fiancé, Greg and hang out with her amazing teens.