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What is Mindfulness?

10448427_669357703143690_2142524529486375766_oMindfulness is more than just a therapy technique, rather a lifestyle change. It is a component of a few different forms of therapy, most commonly associated with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or Cognitive Therapy. It involves an awareness of all that is around while being present and in the current moment, without judgment. In a sense it is a way of slowing down the chaos that can be every day life, sorting out what is unnecessary, and experiencing each moment with your full awareness. Removing judgment from this focus allows one to get rid of categories of good and bad, eliminating worry and dread, by refocusing the energy and thought to it all simply being part of life.

What is Mindfulness Based Therapy?

As previously mentioned, mindfulness is a core concept in many different therapy forms, and can be used in almost any approach. Mindfulness can be integrated as a part of therapy or the focus of a session. One method is teaching mindfulness skills and techniques in sessions, while discussing how they can be used outside of therapy in every day life. Another is by actually using the skills in a therapy session, allowing practice and improving self-awareness and focus in the moment, while encouraging use outside of the session by demonstrating success in a supported environment. No matter what the technique, perhaps the greatest benefit of mindfulness is that it can be tailored to individual needs allowing flexibility in its use and expanding the areas in which is can be of help.

What Can Mindfulness Therapy Help With?

Due to the wide range of skills involved in mindfulness and its ability to be used as a core therapy tool or as an add on to others, there is almost no limit to what mindfulness can be useful in working with. Depending on the severity of diagnosis the success and speed of improvement with mindfulness can vary; however, even a minimal improvement with mindfulness is a success. The most important factor that effects success in mindfulness therapy is a person’s willingness and ability to practice and use skills. The more they are used, the more successful a person will be, and the better the quality of life will become.

Ways to Use Mindfulness Daily:

Slow down – stop rushing through daily tasks with focusing on getting as much done as possible, rather engage fully in one task at a time and slow down to focus on the details. Engage yourself fully in each task rather than rushing and multi-tasking. For example, put the phone down while watching tv and invest in the show, or sit down and enjoy breakfast rather than eating on the go. Focusing on only one task and doing it at a natural pace rather than multi-tasking and rushing will actually improve productivity and probably assist in getting things done more quickly, while keeping you in the moment and reducing stress.

Focus on your senses – while completing tasks, focus on the tangible. What do you see, smell, taste, feel? Describe these things to yourself. Focus on the little details to help engage yourself in a task and remove outside distractions that lead to increased stress.

Acknowledge outside thoughts – when distracting thoughts come in, acknowledge them, don’t fight them. Distractions will always be present. When they interrupt your focus, recognize them and move forward rather than addressing them in the moment or becoming upset that they interrupted you.

Use daily tasks to practice – in the beginning, use daily tasks that have to be done to practice staying in the moment. You can’t skip certain tasks in your day such as brushing your teeth or showering. Use those times to practice your skills and give all of your attention to them. Use your senses. This is especially useful at the start of your day or before bed, when stress can impact us negatively the most.

Remove judgment – refrain from judging events, people, or yourself. Forming judgments, both positive and negative remove you from the present moment and add an emotional pull to an event that does not need one. Holding events and people to expectations sets yourself up for judgment and adds stress. Accept, agree to disagree, and move forward.

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