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Myofunctional therapy and mindfulness – now there’s an interesting idea. It’s certainly going to have many of my readers wondering what one has to do with the other.

There’s definitely a link between the two. In fact, the one just doesn’t work properly without the other. As I explained on this page about myofunctional therapy, “My goal is to teach awareness of the oral and facial muscles”.

 

Myofunctional Therapy and Mindfulness

This is more helpful than you might think.

 

Why Does Awareness Matter So Much?

When I start working with a patient, I can usually tell within the first few weeks how the rest of their treatment will play out. There are of course a number of factors to take into account, but based on experience, I know that the patients who display higher levels of self-awareness get better results. Each and every time.

They may not do the exercises perfectly, they may not practice every day (although they know that’s not the best way to approach things), and they may struggle more than some of the people I work with, but having self-awareness is a powerful force when it comes to change.

In fact, the concept of “Awareness” or “Mindfulness” has become a cornerstone of my practice. I could have my patients practice their exercises 10 or 20 times a day, but if they don’t have an awareness of their tongue and mouth, their progress in treatment will be slower than it should be.

 

Here’s An Example

Let’s take two of my patients – Shyla and Emily.

Both girls were seven years old when they first started working with me, and both of them had thumb-sucking habits. The biggest difference was that one had more awareness about her mouth and habits than the other.

Shyla began treatment with me in order to help her eliminate her thumb sucking habit. She was very dedicated with her thumb therapy, and was able to quit her sucking habit within just a few days.

When it came to the exercises that followed, she was one of my most diligent patients. She practiced at least twice a day, and her mom was so dedicated to helping her with the exercises that they incorporated them into her home school study routine. They were a shining example of commitment and focus.

However, after all that hard work and persistence, Shyla’s mom was still constantly catching her with her mouth open – a sign that her habits weren’t changing and that the exercises weren’t having the desired effect. Shyla struggled with the general concept of awareness. So while she was an expert at practicing, she wasn’t entirely able to grasp the “big picture” of the treatment.

Now let’s look at Emily. She also started working with me because of a thumb sucking habit, and she was also able to quit that habit within the first few days and never look back. The difference was that Emily wasn’t all that great at doing her exercises. She normally practiced once a day, and her mom often let her do the exercises on her own. Sometimes when we met for appointments, she clearly hadn’t mastered the exercises I had assigned, and had to repeat them.

However, she was somehow able to develop an awareness of her tongue and mouth much more easily than Shyla. Her habits changed far quicker because she was aware of her tongue and mouth all day long, not just while she was practicing. So she was able to catch herself when her mouth was open, and correct the habit every time.

The moral of this story is not that one girl was a good patient, and the other a bad patient. It’s more about the differences in their learning styles and personalities, and how that applies to any of the patients I see in my practice.

 

Teaching Mindfulness

Over the years, my treatment program has evolved to the point where I emphasize this concept right from my very first session with a patient. I believe that mindfulness is the key to success in any therapy program, and without it, my patients will not get the best results.

Here’s three ways you can become more mindful of your own mouth and tongue.

  1. Visualize your tongue inside your mouth, and try to create a clear mental picture of what it’s doing on a moment-by-moment basis. If you become more aware of your mouth, you’ll learn to catch your habits, which means you can change them.
  2. Start becoming aware of the people around you. Notice if their mouths are open or closed, and if you can tell if they’re breathing through their nose. Catching other people can help you become more mindful of your own mouth.
  3. At the end of every day, think about how well you managed to keep your mouth closed and to breath through your nose. Then grade yourself on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being that you were pretty much perfect all day, and 1 being that you totally forgot. This will help you keep track on a long-term basis, and will let you notice when you’re improving.

So as you can see, learning to become mindful can improve much more than your state of mind. It can also help you overcome bad habits and learn new ones. It really doesn’t take much effort, just a second to pause and think about what you’re doing in the present moment.

I hope this article helps to give you a better feel for the way my treatment programs work. The small details and subtleties can make a huge difference.

 
 

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