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What Can Existentialism Teach Us About Mindfulness?

I have found three takeaways from existentialism about mindfulness that I have taken to heart in my life and help my clients practice so they can take it to theirs as well. I noticed that I was frequently just cruising through life on autopilot, waiting for work to be done and when at home thinking of the next time I had to work, do chores, or whatever was on my to-do list. I realized that by doing that, I was missing something... I was missing enjoying the full experience of the present moment. How it felt to be there. I was skipping the full experience of the quality and subtleties of my relationships, the places I was at, the food I ate... While I was worried about the past or getting ready for the future, the present was passing me by. Here is what Existentialism taught me about mindfulness...

1. Be present! Take the time to feel the experience. Notice your sensations and pay attention to your surroundings with curiosity. When we are open and fully present, we get to experience at a fuller degree. In practice: Next time you go to the beach, notice how the sand feels on your feet, how the warmth of the sun feels on your skin, the sounds of the waves, and how the colors of the sky and sea blend in the horizon. 2. Don’t take things for granted! Find pockets of joy in your daily life, appreciate the beauty of nature, and make moments of meaningful connection in your relationships and with nature... Don't lose sight of the little things. In Practice: If possible, find a quiet, calm place outside, a view from a window, or videos and pictures of nature. Take time to connect with your sensations. Notice what you can see, hear, smell, the wind or sun on your skin, the taste left in your mouth... Find gratefulness for what you can experience. Can you find any positive feelings arising from this practice? 3. Anxiety as a guide to finding meaning

Existentialism teaches us to be more authentic, we get to choose the meaning of our own existence. "Existence precedes essence", as Sartre's famous phrase, means we have the freedom to make our own choices. That can be nerve-racking, leaving us ridden with anxiety-ridden. This, of course, has to take into consideration biological, historical, and environmental factors. However, existentialism teaches us that we are responsible to make our own meaning, we are responsible for our actions. The good news? We get to change our minds and redirect our course. Whether your adult life is just starting or you have been on this planet for a very long time, you get to choose what to do moving forward.

Though for most of us the usual go-to when experiencing anxiety is to push it away by ignoring or distracting ourselves, existentialism teaches us to embrace it as a guide to help us find meaning and mindfulness teaches us to notice without judgment. Notice what you are experiencing, how it feels in your body, and what it is trying to tell you. In practice: Make a letter to yourself. Think about who you are and who you want to be. What is important to you? Why is it important? Is there something you want to do and what do you need to do to get there? Be as specific and detailed as you can. Kelvin Rivera is a Student Mental Health Counselor Intern at Cypress Wellness Center and works with individuals of all ages, couples, and families. He believes everyone has the power to self-actualize and change their inner reality and feels one of the most important components in our health and well-being is our interpersonal connections. Kelvin uses an ACT-informed approach, integrating existential philosophy and a person-centered approach in therapy. Click "Schedule Now" at the top of this page to request an appointment or phone consultation. Thaina Cordero is the Care Coordinator at Cypress Wellness Center. She has an MS in Educational Psychology, is a trauma-informed certified yoga teacher, and is a doctoral student in a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology program at Modern Sex Therapy Institute. Thaina can help you find a therapist that best suits your health and financial needs. Reach out for questions about billing, insurance, or inquire about our services, staff, and programs. Email:

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