The concept of mindfulness refers to awareness without critical judgment. This involves staying present and accepting your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness-based therapies employ techniques such as mindfulness meditation to teach people to consciously pay attention to their thoughts and feelings without placing any judgments upon them. Currently popular mindfulness-based therapies include Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Many of our therapists are trained in these approaches.
Incorporating mindfulness into therapy helps to take away the effortfulness involved in actively identifying and disputing negative and hypercritical thoughts which underlie depression, anxiety, and anger disorders. The mindfulness idea was a natural concept to incorporate into therapy as well as into different approaches to self-help.
Some of the benefits of learning mindfulness include:
- Increased awareness of thoughts and behaviors that keep you anxious and depressed
- Developing greater tolerance of discomfort
- Less self-criticism and greater self-acceptance
- Improved awareness of behaviors that get you in trouble
- Improved observation skills
- Better understanding of yourself
- Recognition of more choices in how you can respond to challenges
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Greater control over persistent physical pain
- Relief from depression
- Improved patience and better relationships with others
- Improved ability to calm oneself
Mindfulness as it is used in current therapies derives from the Zen Buddhist tradition of thought free awareness. The scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts popularized the idea of mindfulness-based stress reduction for anxiety and pain reduction. Following the introduction of Transcendental Meditation or TM into America in the 60s by the Maharishi, medical doctor and cardiology professor Herbert Benson at Harvard developed the relaxation response which essentially involved effortless concentration on a mantra which was a sound or a word that was to be kept in one’s internal attention without effort. Benson introduced more structure into the TM method by suggesting the practitioner think the chosen mantra at the time of each normal breath exhalation, and he labeled this practice, the Relaxation Response or RR. Regular practice of the Relaxation Response, TM and Mindfulness Meditation has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and relieve a variety of stress related physical disorders.
Mindfulness-Based Therapy can teach you to:
- Stay present and enjoy the present moment
- Effectively use Guided Imagery for healing and mood improvement
- Effectively use breathing techniques to reduce anxiety and anger
- Identify and change destructive thinking patterns
- Gain more control over your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
- See things more clearly
- Control pain