Mindfulness within Psychotherapy and Counselling
As humans, we have a tendency to work on autopilot a lot of the time - completing tasks automatically without really giving them any thought. Consider your drive to work in the morning - are you thinking about changing gears and steering, or are you mentally planning the day ahead? Have you ever eaten a snack while working/watching TV only to later find yourself with an empty packet and no memory of having eaten anything? These are both perfect examples of mindlessness - something many of us can relate to.
Mindfulness aims to reconnect us with ourselves to alleviate stress. It also helps us to feel more attuned with our emotions and generally more aware of ourselves both mentally and physically.
What is mindfulness?
The Mental Health Foundation has reported that anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health issues within the UK; something that could, in part, be attributed to busy modern lives. Multitasking and juggling commitments has become commonplace, with many people feeling as if they aren't truly present in their own lives.
Mindfulness is a specific way of paying attention to what is happening in our lives in the present moment, as it truly is. Of course it won't eliminate life's pressures - but with practice it can help us take notice of (and hopefully stop) negative, habitual reactions to everyday stress.
The most common way this technique is practiced is through mindfulness meditation. This usually involves practitioners focusing on sights, sounds and physical sensations while trying to reduce 'brain chatter'. Some people struggle with mindfulness meditation at first, finding it hard to focus their attention, but this is to be expected and may require practice. Practicing the technique regularly can help people take a step back, acknowledge their 'brain chatter' and view it accurately and without judgement.
Other forms of mindfulness practice may involve physical movement. Exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi both involve meditative movements that can help improve physical self-awareness and quiet the mind.
“Smile, breathe and go slowly”
Thich Nhat Hanh
When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”
Thich Nhat Hanh