Post-Divorce Healing Through Mindfulness

Divorce usually comes hand-in-hand with anxiety, sadness, and pain... then suffering.  Divorces are powerful hard and unless you’ve experienced one…you have no idea.  Your mind becomes your enemy and distraction is a constant pursuit.  People distract by throwing themselves into another relationship, physical activity, always being around others, or substances. 

There are other ways to manage that are harder in the short run, but create freedom and peace in the long run.  Mindfulness is one of those techniques.  Through mindfulness…you can make your mind less of your enemy.

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware without judgment or attachment to the present moment.  It requires a deep compassion for self and others.  It’s been shown to improve mental and physical health.  It can also have a profound affect during the divorce process and subsequent healing.

Mindfulness practice is about attention control, not content control.  It is natural and can be purposeful.  Consistent mindfulness practice over time and you will gain more power over your own thoughts and emotions.  There are many types of mindfulness.  Neither are better nor worse than another.  You just choose the one that fits you the best.

Typical Techniques:

  • Breath Awareness – Become aware of your breathing.  All your focus is on the natural inhale and exhale of your body. You concentrate on the experience of breathing for approximately five minutes.  You don’t try to control or manipulate it.  You are just observing it. 
  • Body Awareness – There are many techniques that concentrate your attention on your body.  It’s a step-by-step approach to notice different sensations throughout your body. My favorite technique is the Body Scan.
  • Physical Movement – Our bodies feel differently while at rest than when moving.  You focus your mind on the different sensations in your muscles and joints while walking, stretching, or doing any other physical activity. 
  • Meditation – In my opinion, this is the hardest mindfulness technique to practice.  It is the act of making space between thoughts to ultimately attain a silent mind free of thoughts.  Another type of meditation is to focus on one thought such as a chant for a specific amount of time.
  • Visualization – This is the creation of images in your mind.  The key to this type of mindfulness practice is to include as many sensory details within the images you create to sustain your attention. 

Mindfulness is hard.  You’re choosing to be still within yourself.  When people are going through a divorce being still and alone will feel very scary…and indeed it is in the beginning.  It feels something you need to stop.  However, it’s the most important thing you can do for yourself is to be still.  Lean into the discomfort with the tool of mindfulness.  It will get better. 

By Delicia Mclean Ph.D., MHA