Understanding Mindfulness

Kimmel & Associates e-Letter

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates

Volume 6, Number 10

October means that fall has arrived. Our Northern neighbors have the opportunity to see leaves change their colors preparing for the onset of winter. In Florida, our weather becomes cooler and we are challenged by the wet season. But did you also know that October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Cookie Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and National Diabetes Month?

We still live in very challenging times in our country. Divisiveness, blame, frustration, and fear seem to rule the day with the news seemingly getting worse. However, hope, optimism, and engagement in some meaningful activity that helps to make the world better will enable you to cope with our current uncertainty and anxiety. Rather than worry and be scared, take some action to help others.

In this October E-Letter, we present information about Mindfulness, our Ask the Doc question relates to retirement, and our email of the month is about Old Dogs. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. As always, we appreciate your questions and feedback.

Practice News

Hoarding: We invite you to visit Denise Champagne’s blog about her experiences working with JZ, a hoarder. Her thoughts and pictures of JZ’s home are posted on the following site: http://a-hoarders-journey.blogspot.com. We think you will find it very interesting and you can post your thoughts and comments directly to Denise.

Low cost counseling: Denise Champagne has attained her Master’s degree in counseling and will be obtaining her hours towards licensure under the supervision of Dr. Kimmel. Because of this, we are able to offer low cost counseling. If you or someone you know is in need of counseling but just cannot afford it, please call the office and ask for Denise. All treatment provided by Denise will be reviewed and discussed with Dr. Kimmel.

Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. We are also pleased to announce we have been certified by the Department of Children and Families, State of Florida, to offer the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, this 4 hour class is state mandated for divorcing parents of involved children. This course is intended to teach parents about the effects divorce has on children, to lessen the impact of difficult transitions, and to improve the ways they communicate with each other and their children. Our course is provided live and in small groups. Please contact our office at 954 755-2885 for further information.

Handouts from previous e-Letters can be found on our website. We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on mindfulness which is the practice of attending to and accepting what is going on in the present. It is the act of becoming fully aware of your senses, that is, the paying of attention to your breathing, touching, seeing, and smelling the experience in the moment. It is not a religious practice yet the origins of mindfulness come from Buddhist emphasis on meditation. Just focusing on the present and quieting your inner discussions help to achieve a state of calm. Research has shown that the practice of mindfulness can decrease anxiety, depression, and anger. It can improve self control and reframe frustrating events. It can improve relationships and reduce sleep and eating problems. Medically, being mindful has been shown to reduces stress, boost immune functioning, reduce pain and blood pressure, and help patients cope with cancer. Mindful people tend to be happier, more relaxed, more empathetic and more self confident. They have higher self esteem and conflict less with others. They have better self control and tend to have more satisfying relationships.

Mindfulness involves two components: attending to one’s immediate experience and having an open and accepting attitude towards the experience. Being mindful means observing your thoughts from one moment to another without judging them. It also involves accepting your thoughts as they are and experiencing your life. Rather than watching life go by and being distracted by problems, you experience the moment in its complete depth. It changes your world view and what is truly important. In our wired society where we are constantly distracted by texts and emails, mindfulness offers us a respite; the ability to live in and experience the moment with focused attention.

To achieve mindfulness, disconnect yourself from your computer, phone, and any other electronic device. You may find it helpful to close your eyes. Meditate by simply focusing on your breath and your rhythm of breathing. Practice slowing down time by paying attention to and experiencing every detail in the moment. Stop worrying about the future and attend only to the present. Stop your thinking and overthinking and observe your sensory experiences. Accept the depth of the moment and move towards resolving your problems.

We offer the following information on Understanding Mindfulness:

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher”— Pema Chodron

What to Know!

  • Mindfulness involves a focused awareness of the present in which each thought, feeling, or sensation is acknowledged and accepted as it is
  • Mindfulness has increased in popularity as an antidote to our modern distracting electronic addictive world of smartphones, texting, computers, television, etc.
  • It is often perceived as involving two steps: conscious awareness and maintaining open, curious, and experiential attitudes
  • Mindfulness is not a religious doctrine although research has shown that Buddhist techniques have alleviated anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Mindfulness represents a different approach to mental health; we can improve our lives by learning to quiet the mind and training oneself to give up bad habits
  • Current research indicates that mindfulness has been helpful in the treatment of pain, stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and addictions.
  • Mindfulness is also believed to improve the immune system, increase positive feelings, and help to recover faster from negative experiences.
  • Mindfulness increases your awareness of how you react to events around you
  • Mindfulness practices include meditation; the simplest form of which is just to focus your attention on your breaths
  • Through mindfulness, we can choose to regulate our moods, change our emotions, and increase our cognitive capabilities
  • Faithful meditation is caring for oneself: it includes making time and putting effort into improving one’s self-being and allows for a feeling of kindness to others
  • Like getting physically fit, some view mindfulness as getting mentally fit through meditation
  • Being mindful also allows you to think before you act thus increasing self control
  • A study at the University of California at San Francisco found that schoolteachers who meditated less than 30 minutes a day improved their moods as much as if they had taken antidepressants
  • You can practice mindfulness by focusing on your immediate experience, what is happening right now, and observing that moment. Attend to what is seen, heard, smelled, and felt. Experience it but do not judge it.
  • Another practice is to focus on your senses; close your eyes and list all the smells you notice and all the sounds you hear. Then open your eyes and list all that you see. Appreciate what you have experienced.
  • When given time, such as waiting on line, take that time to mindfully breathe in and out

What to Do!

  • Pay attention to and savor every detail of the moment to increase your awareness
  • Focus on the present not the future to stop worrying
  • Stop thinking and overthinking about your performance and it will improve
  • Attending to the moment decreases anger and aggressive impulses
  • Become totally absorbed in the moment and it will reduce time pressures
  • Accept the present and move towards, not away, from resolving problems
  • Seek professional help if you have difficulty with meditation or focusing your mind

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at drkimmel@kimmelpsychology.com

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates
5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101
Coral Springs, Florida 33067

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask the Doc

JW writes: I am about to retire from working. I’ve been a manager for 25 years for the same company. The company has been sold and I have decided that enough is enough. I am only 67 and feel very energetic. I don’t want to work again but I don’t feel I am ready for retirement. Any suggestions?

Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: Retirement is one of the developmental stages that we haven’t been educated to deal with. While we often make preparations for long term care and for financial security, we often don’t prepare for our day-to-day future. One of the first things for you to be aware of will be a sense of loss: of your business identity, your contacts, and your daily functions. Being a manager, you have had to be responsible for attaining certain goals as well as supervising a certain number of people. You were probably used to having authority and respect and getting results. Now, you will lose all that. Who you were for those 25 years is now behind you. You will probably go through some adjustment in accepting this loss and becoming a retiree.

I would also recommend that you spend some considerable time in deciding what you want to do to keep yourself mentally and physically fit. With no specific activities, the television and the computer become quite inviting. You can, as others have done, spend your entire time on the couch or behind a computer screen. You have been an active person and need to continue to be active. I would suggest that you find intellectually stimulating activities to do such as taking a class, joining a discussion group, teaching others, and researching trips or other activities you might want to do. I also suggest that you get into a physical fitness program either by joining a gym, taking yoga or other classes, or just walking. Doing some community service by volunteering at the library, humane society, mentoring children, etc. will give you a lot of personal satisfaction. Keep in touch and visit with family and old friends. Finally, do the things that you always said you wanted to do if you had the time. Now you do. Remember aging is a process and keeping a healthy mind in a healthy body will help you age gracefully and slowly.

If you would like to discuss this further, you are welcome to call me at (954) 755-2885.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Terry B. for sending us the following email:

Don’t mess with the old dogs!

An old German Shepherd starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he’s lost. Wandering about, he notices a panther heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch. The old German Shepherd thinks, “Oh, oh! I’m in trouble now!”

Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the panther is about to leap, the old German Shepherd exclaims loudly,

“Boy, that was one delicious panther! I wonder if there are any more around here?

Hearing this, the young panther halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. “Whew!” says the panther, “That was close! That old German Shepherd nearly had me!”

Meanwhile, a squirrel who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the panther. So, off he goes. The squirrel soon catches up with the panther, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the panther.

The young panther is furious at being made a fool of and says, “Here, squirrel, hop on my back and see what’s going to happen to that conniving canine!”

Now, the old German Shepherd sees the panther coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, “What am I going to do now?,” but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn’t seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old German Shepherd says…”Where’s that squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another panther!”

Moral of this story…

Don’t mess with the old dogs… age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery! BS and brilliance only come with age and experience.

Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.

Till November…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.