Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Counsellor and Trauma Specialist

Mindfulness

400_F_51771433_nMbOxjgVRXLfPVOYXir4xCJPQTabBYkoAlthough Mindfulness has its origins in Eastern philosophies it has become increasing popular in countries around the world for two main reasons. The first is secularisation with Mindfulness being considered to be a non-religious approach to promoting health, quality of life and wellbeing. The pioneering work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have been instrumental in introducing an approach, which had for thousands of years been practiced almost entirely by Buddhists and other spiritual aspirants. Today it is recommended as a frontline treatment by the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and is also used as a method of increasing resilience and promoting emotional intelligence in a wide range of organizations: NHS, education, financial institution’s, industry, the police, military and in the media.

The Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction (MBSR) programme which was first developed by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn has been described by The UK Mental Health Foundation’s 2010 Mindfulness Report as:

An integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences. It involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings so we become more aware of them, less enmeshed in them, and better able to manage them.
The Mental Health Foundation’s report concludes that:

  • Mindful people experience less psychological distress, including depression and anxiety
  • People who are mindful have less negative thoughts and are better able to let then go when they arise.
  • Mindful people create greater awareness, understanding and acceptance of their emotions, and recover from bad moods more quickly
  • People who are mindful are also less likely to react defensively or aggressively when they feel threatened
  • Being mindful is linked with higher success in attaining academic and personal goals
  • People who are mindful feel more in control of their behaviour and are more able to override or change internal thoughts and feelings and resist acting on impulse
  • Those who mediate have fewer hospital admissions for cancer, infectious diseases, and cardiac disorders and attend their GP far less
  • Mindful people experience closer and more satisfying relationships, are better communicators and enjoy healthier self-esteem
  • Mindfulness can reduce addictive behaviour including the misuse of drugs and alcohol

mindfulness-isnt-about (1)Before beginning a mindfulness program it is important to determine if you are ready to make it your intention to commit to the program and whether you are able to set aside an eight week period to practice daily meditations. As you work through the programme there will be occasions when you will find it difficult to commit to your daily practice and you may doubt whether you are deriving any benefits from your efforts. These occasions are not evidence of failure however and in fact represent important opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of how your mind works and how easily you can be distracted by critical thoughts. As soon as you realise this, these patterns of thoughts and feelings often suddenly lose their hold on you and your mind settles again, at least until they arise again, which they will certainly do and you feel unsettled again. With regular practice however the periods of calm and tranquillity will increase and your tendency to distraction will get shorter and over time you will increase your chances of being able to live a happier and less stressful life.