Mindfulness - Focus your awareness. Let go of the struggle. Be in the moment. Make the choices that allow you to experience life to the fullest.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation. There is no sense of emptying the mind, trying to actively relax or finding some sort or trance state. Mindfulness meditation simply consists of focusing your full attention. The most common practice is to focus on your breath as it flows in and out of your body... Moment by moment.
Mindfulness is about checking in on ourselves in a non-critical way. Being compassionate and kind to ourselves. Unsurprisingly, Mindful meditation plays a large role in Compassion Focused Therapy. It begins the process of taking off the auto-pilot and getting back in to the driving seat of our lives.
When being Mindful, we step back from thoughts, feelings and body sensations. We observe these experiences as they arise and, little by little, let go of struggling or going on a journey with them. With practice, we become more able to accept that thoughts arise of their own accord; that we are not our thoughts and that having a thought is not necessarily meaningful in itself. We can watch as thoughts and feelings (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) appear, linger and pass, and can learn that as they do, we have a choice about how to respond to them.
Acceptance is an important attitude in Mindfulness practice. Acceptance is not resignation and being Mindful is not about passivity. Instead, it is about being able to step back and see the wood for the trees so as to be able to respond to the challenges and experiences within our lives from a perspective of equanimity and wisdom, in touch with our core personal values and our true selves, rather than with stress and reactivity.
When we are being Mindful, we are switching on our awareness. Sometimes thought of as "falling awake." At times we may experience relaxation. At other times we might notice boredom or irritation. The only thing to do is to be aware of the things that arise in our minds and bodies and to allow ourselves to explore them with interest, openness and kindness.
There is no "doing it right or wrong", just allowing ourselves to be in the moment, however it is.
This video from Jon Kabat Zinn is gives more insight into the attitudes underpinning Mindfulness practice.
WHAT CAN Mindfulness Help WITH?
Over time, regular mindfulness practice can bring about long-term changes in mood and stress and can reduce the suffering associated with many physical health conditions, including persistent pain.
Many people find that they experience an increased sense of happiness and well-being. There is good evidence that mindfulness not only helps to prevent depression, but that it leads to changes in the brain. Being Mindful does not remove our ability to feel pain and distress (and a good job too as these serve an important function) but when they arise, Mindfulness can help them to be less overwhelming and allow us to move on more easily. Memory and concentration can improve, as well as sleep.
WHAT DOES MINDFULNESS INVOLVE?
Much of the work that Graeme undertakes with people incorporates Mindfulness as it is an important component in Third Wave CBT therapies such as CFT. Graeme is a qualified Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher with experience of running structured Group Programmes. He is happy to hear from organisations who are interested in running groups for their employees or clients.
MBSR is a group approach developed by Jon Kabat Zinn, which combines Meditation and some light Hatha Yoga practices, some teaching and also discussion and inquiry. It has been shown to be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety and improving wellbeing, particularly in relation to physical health problems.
MBCT draws from CBT and MBSR and has been shown to be a highly effective treatment for reducing the risk of relapse in recurrant depression and is recommended by NICE. There is also research being undertaken to examine it's effectiveness in helping people who are currently depressed. As in MBSR, this course also includes meditation, inquiry, teaching and discussion.
In addition, Graeme is able to offer 1:1 Mindfulness interventions.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
MBSR and MBCT Groups run over 8 sessions of around 2 and a half hours duration, plus an initial orientation session. They may incorporate a full day mini-retreat between sessions 6 and 7.
Individual Mindfulness-Based interventions will vary depending on the person and their specific needs but usually 8-12 sessions will be helpful in developing your practice.
With all Mindfulness Based work, it is important that you commit to daily meditation practice of between 30 and 40 minutes.
THINK Mindfulness MIGHT BE HELPFUL?
Get in touch with Graeme to find out more and to arrange a free initial consultation.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
For more information on Mindfulness, go to the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness website at: www.umassmed.edu/cfm/ or the University of Bangor Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at: www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness/.