Mindful Living Three-Part Series


Table of Contents

Welcome to Mindful Living!

Mindful Living (formerly called Embrace Your Life) is a three-part series that we hope you'll find helpful in learning to recognize and better manage the concerns that led you to CAPS. Many people pursue therapy with the idea that their therapist will know exactly how to “fix” them. Mindful Living is specifically designed to help you get a better idea of what you want to change and how to get there. To get the most out of this series, it is important to attend all three meetings, focused on Recognition, Insight, and Openness, in addition to the reading and exercises in the workbook you'll be given.

Many of us think in terms of problems (i.e., what we don’t like about ourselves, what’s wrong with our lives) and forget to focus on what we actually want in our lives. It is almost as if we believe that erasing the unwanted parts of our lives would leave us with no problems. Simply reducing pain does not guarantee pleasure. This is why it is important to create a clear vision of what we want. Creating a vision of change supports our motivation for making the change, provides us with a roadmap to our desired goal(s), and shows us where we are on the journey of change.

As you begin your journey, please remember that change is not linear. Be prepared for setbacks. Snags can be due to any number of factors, including difficult situational events, changes in motivation, sliding back into old habits, and fear of the unknown. Many people find that they take one step back for every two steps forward. That’s okay. You could see this as an obstacle, or you could embrace this as a natural rhythm of the change process.

The main goals of Mindful Living are to give you tools to recognize your concerns and develop a clearer idea of what you want to change in your life. Once you have developed your roadmap to change, you will have a better idea of where you need to go. You may decide to continue on your own or enlist other resources, such as friends, family, advisors, professors, or professionals to help you reach your goals. You may even decide that this is not the right time for you to continue this change process, and you would rather focus your energy on other priorities. Whatever you decide, we support you in your process and hope that Mindful Living will help clarify your goals.

Mindful Living Schedule

Check out our CAPS Calendar, updated at the beginning of each quarter, for the current schedule of Mindful Living and other CAPS events. You can also click on a printable Mindful Living schedule at the top of this page. We also post information about Mindful Living and other CAPS events on our Facebook page.

About Psychological Pain

Everyone experiences psychological pain. This could be sadness, anger, anxiety, heartbreak, embarrassment, etc. Not only is pain normal, but it communicates important information about our experiences, much like how the pain from a paper cut alerts us that we have an injury.

Most of us take care to minimize how often we feel psychological pain, but some pain in life is inevitable. Some of us try to minimize our pain so much that we unintentionally cause other problems or more pain. For example, someone who experiences anxiety when meeting new people may choose to avoid these types of interactions. Although the person will be successful at times in avoiding the anxiety of meeting someone new, that person may create other experiences, such as loneliness or sadness from missing out on new experiences. Some methods of minimizing or avoiding pain can have more significant consequences. For example, someone might choose to manage anxiety with alcohol or other drugs, learn to shut off or numb feelings completely, or stay continuously busy to the point of physical exhaustion or otherwise negatively impacting their body.

By changing our relationship with our psychological pain, we create flexibility. We do not have to get stuck with one option: avoiding pain.

We can learn other strategies that will add a variety of tools to our psychological tool box. This is one of the goals of Mindful Living.

Although some amount of discomfort is inevitable throughout any change process, we want you to take care of yourself and silently excuse yourself from any activity that feels like it is “too much.” You can simply sit quietly while the rest of the group finishes the exercise and re-join when you feel comfortable. If, at any time, you feel like you cannot be in the group session any longer, please notify your group leader.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Mindful Living?
Mindful Living is a three-part series that meets once a week for three weeks and focuses on recognition, insight, and openness. It was specifically designed to help people with their emotional concerns.

Why does Mindful Living use a three-session model?
Teaching Mindful Living over three sessions allows you sufficient time to understand the concepts with time to practice in between sessions. Keeping it to three weeks allows you to find time in your busy schedule to learn these skills. If you find that you want more time to build the skills in the model, you may complete Mindful Living again.

Why do I have to do homework?
The focus of this series is on building skills; in order to successfully build skills, regular practice is essential.  The more you practice, the more you may get out of this group.  You will not be required to provide your homework responses at any time during this group.

What if I didn’t do my homework?
We strongly recommend completing the homework. The students who report the most benefit from this series are those who are able to practice between sessions and beyond. If you are unable to complete an assignment, we encourage you to come to your next scheduled meeting anyway.

What if I don’t feel comfortable in groups?
This is a common concern. Mindful Living is structured and curriculum driven like a class. You may find that you feel comfortable enough to share some of your experiences in the meetings; this allows all the participants to learn and support one another. However, you are not required to speak if you do not feel comfortable doing so. You can still benefit from the information presented. The session leaders respect each participant’s right to disclose or not and never require you to share sensitive or potentially embarrassing information about yourself.

What if I have an urgent need to see a counselor one on one while participating in Mindful Living?
Simply let the session leader or CAPS front desk staff know, and they will assist you in getting the help you need.

What if I have a problem that’s hard to define?
This is one of the ways that Mindful Living can be particularly helpful. Because it is designed to get you better in touch with your own experiences and goals, Mindful Living may help you define what it is you are looking for.

What if I have a mood disorder that is probably the result of a biochemical irregularlity or "imbalance?"
Even with an identified mood disorder, such as Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder, change-oriented approaches such as Mindful Living can be helpful. Getting better at recognizing your thoughts, emotions, and experiences will enhance your ability to recognize changes in mood. The earlier someone with a mood disorder is able to accurately determine when an episode is happening, the more efficient they can be at managing that episode. What's learned in Mindful Living can be applied to a variety of concerns. Plus, research suggests that behavioral approaches (such as individual and group therapy) can change the brain in positive ways, even when there is a biochemical irregularity.

What if I am survivor of a traumatic event?
While no one can change events that have already happened, we can learn to become more aware of how these experience impact us today. We can learn to listen to the stories we tell ourselves about what happened, the evaluations that we might apply to ourselves or others, the feelings and bodily sensations associated with what happened, and how our behaviors and actions have been affected. By staying true to our experiences instead of trying to control our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, we can often achieve a more fulfilling life, even in the face of traumatic events.

What if I want to get to the origin or “root” of my problem?
Many people believe that if they only knew the root cause of their problems, they would have the solutions. It is not necessarily true that just identifying the root cause of an issue guarantees that our current behaviors or feelings concected to it will change. Mindful Living is not designed to identify the root causes of issues but will build insight in other ways. If you feel that getting to the origins of your concerns is essential for your change process, we can recommend other options, including referrals to mental health providers that specialize in this type of therapy.