By: Jessica Kuhnen, MSW, LCSW
“—–they got to think about relaxing, doing nothing else, you know sometimes you got to stop all this running around, you got to take time to be at home and sit for an hour or so and watch TV and get your mind in a great place, a great situation–”-Gary Payton
Two weeks ago, thanks to Scene-Chicago Magazine I had the opportunity to cover Ice Cubes 3 on 3 Tournament at the United Center. For those that are unfamiliar, it is a 10-week basketball tournament primarily composed of retired NBA players with the likes of Glen “Big Baby” Davis or Chauncey Billups gracing the roster this year. During the press conference I had the chance to discuss mental health with who may be considered one of the greatest point guards of all time, Gary Payton. He provided some pretty profound statements, like the one above, and tips on how to stay grounded or mentally stable post-NBA.
What we have seen over the past year in the media is that money or talent doesn’t make you immune to mental health struggles. You have to think about relaxing, doing nothing else. Way easier said than done. How do you relax when you have a million thoughts running through your head and those thoughts are triggering an array of emotions every single day? How Sway? This is something that affects everybody, everyday, no matter what their income level; too many things to manage, too many thoughts, too many emotions. Mr. Payton’s tips can really apply to most people’s lives (watch the video!). I am breaking away from my series on developing healthy relationships to build upon Gary’s statement and teach you a way to just relax. This leads me to introduce my next series on the importance of Mindfulness in our everyday practice. If you are one of my clients reading this then I am sure you are tired of hearing this analogy but I just love how it captures the fluidity of our emotions and thoughts while depicting the essence of mindfulness.
Prior to mindfulness it is like you are standing in the middle of a deep stream and the stream is your thoughts and emotions. The streams current is strong and you are getting swept away in it. The water is wearing away at the rocks around you and things are starting to fall down. All mindfulness does is say: STEP OUT OF THE STREAM. On the shore, we will just observe the stream and we won’t get swept away with it. However, just like a stream we can’t stop it either. How many times have you tried to stop thinking or feeling something and those thoughts or emotions just came back stronger? All we can do is accept and acknowledge the stream (our emotions and thoughts) but that doesn’t mean we act on them either. Essentially it’s focusing our awareness on the present and calmly acknowledging and accepting ones feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.
TF? I know a lot to take in! Over the next couple of weeks the picture will become clearer. Come back in two weeks and I’ll start to break it down.