What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the human ability to be present and aware of what we are doing and what we are experiencing. Many people use mindfulness techniques to bring them back to the present moment when they are feeling overwhelmed, or simply need to recentre. There are different types of mindfulness practices, and it’s worth trying a few to find what works for you.
Sometimes, mindfulness is paired together with psychotherapy. Mindfulness can sound as though it is spontaneous, it is instead a tool often used by Buddhists to bring a mind which functions on autopilot back to the present. When using mindfulness and psychotherapy together, you place ‘attention’ at the heart of therapy.
How can mindfulness help psychological distress?
As different therapeutic practices aim to help in different ways when it comes to psychological distress it will require gentle evaluation to find the right cause of action. High levels of psychological distress may indicate an impairment of mental health, which could result in anxiety or depression. Mindfulness-based interventions could help people suffering from psychological distress, such as depression, as it helps to create a general switch in ‘mental mode’.
What this means is that using mindfulness techniques alongside psychotherapy, it can help people remove attention from the negative feelings they are experiencing. This then allows space and energy for attention on things in the present that can help bring them positive emotions, or feelings of calm. Using these techniques can gradually bring people into a better place to understand their emotional needs.
Is mindfulness all in your head?
As the idea of mindfulness is closely associated with meditation, people might begin to assume that it is simply just all inside your head. Like mediation, mindfulness always relates to the body as well as the mind. It connects with your body's natural rhythm which can also lead to a calmer mind.
Meditative practice is designed to reduce anxiety, depression, control negative emotions. While there are many therapeutic benefits to using mindfulness and meditation, it will always connect with your body. Therefore, it cannot just be all inside your head.
How to practise mindfulness?
You can begin practising mindfulness by becoming more aware of what it going on around you, without becoming overwhelmed or distracted by drifting thoughts. You do not need to buy anything to practise mindfulness, nor is it a quick answer to quieting a wandering mind. You practise mindfulness by returning your mind to the present moment, using your sensations of breathing to help anchor you to the moment you are in.
When you are practising mindfulness, it is important to remember to be kind to yourself. As your mind wanders understand that this is part of the process and it is important that you do not judge yourself or obsess when you get lost in thought. The main thing to remember is that this will take practice and when you come back to try it again, do so kindly.
Integrating Mindfulness into Therapy
These practices can be easily tailored into a session of therapy to help fit the particular needs of a client. Even though mindfulness can sound general and like a “one size fits all” solution, professional counsellors know how to carefully select different practices and modify them to suit an individual's needs. As trained professionals and practitioners of mindfulness, these techniques also help us develop beneficial therapeutic qualities.
A therapist who is also a mindfulness practitioner is better equipped to help listen to the concerns and needs of a client without becoming distracted or preoccupied. It is reported that therapists that are also practitioners of mindfulness have better empathy and improved relationship with their clients.
Mindfulness and Psychotherapy go hand in hand, for both the benefit of the client and the benefit of the therapist. If you would like to know more about how I use mindfulness in my therapy please contact me with any questions. If you can be interested in mindfulness sessions with me, take a look at my service page to find out more.