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Using Mindfulness to Tap into the Present

Marc Azoulay on how mindfulness meditation helps those struggling with repetitious behavior, addiction, and more.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Marc is a psychotherapist in private practice and the current President of the Colorado Group Psychotherapy Society.
  • Mindfulness helps people tap into the present moment and make friends with their experiences.
  • To get started with mindfulness meditation, Marc recommends the recordings from the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at UCLA.

As a psychotherapist I work with many clients who suffer from addiction, mental illness, and intrusive thoughts. So many of us are afflicted by these invisible, emotional wounds. If these wounds go untreated they begin to fester and scar. Soon enough we can find ourselves trapped in a prison of our own creation. Our thoughts and beliefs about the world can confine and restrict us. Many of us believe that we are unworthy of success, that we can never change, or that we are fundamentally broken in some way.

A big part of my practice is instructing clients in mindfulness and meditation. I help clients to tap into the present moment and make friends with their experiences. We do this by paying attention, on purpose, to our thoughts, emotions and body sensations. By returning to the present again and again we can build up a deep and accepting relationship with ourselves. I’ve found that mindfulness meditation helps those struggling with repetitious behavior, be it an addiction, a thought pattern, or a relationship dynamic. By learning to cut through the repetition and return to the present we can interrupt the process.

My journey with mindfulness and meditation began in University, I took a special topics class called “Eastern and Western Approaches to Mind and Body.” The theories and practices presented in this class challenged many of the assumptions that I held about the world and myself. I was invited, through meditation practice, to learn how to watch my mind. When I slowed down and paid attention I was blown away by how chaotic and aggressive my inner world was. My mind darted between thoughts of anger, arrogance, and shame. This experience challenged me and shook me to my very core. It was an uncomfortable but transformational process.

Aside of training in presence the biggest benefit of mindfulness is training in compassion. It is a difficult thing to really describe but when one continues to commit to being present with themselves they start to develop a deep compassionate understanding of their life. They stop fighting and hurting themselves. They learn to love each and every aspect of their being. To me, this is true healing. It is so important, and difficult, to love ourselves. For me, and some of my clients, mindfulness meditation is the path to self love.

To get started with mindfulness meditation you can check out the recordings from the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at UCLA. I like these recordings for beginners because they are totally secular. They allow someone to really focus on the skill of mindfulness without needing to understand Eastern Religion or Philosophy.

Marc is a psychotherapist in private practice and the current President of the Colorado Group Psychotherapy Society. He blends his backgrounds in Neuroscience and Eastern Religion to help clients that are struggling with addiction, trauma, and social anxiety. Marc has worked in a variety of settings including hospice care, a court-mandated treatment center, and a therapeutic preschool. He aims to help clients recognize how to care for themselves in mind, body, and spirit and to develop a playful curiosity towards their internal experience. Marc currently sees clients full time and runs three groups that focus on substance use.

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