Mindfulness and therapy
Mindfulness has recently become a very accepted form of therapy for various psychological and psychiatric disorders and challenges. In this post I’d like to explain in simple language what mindfulness is and why mindfulness and therapy have joined forces. I’ll also add a mindfulness exercise that you can start practicing and some resources where you can get more information and guidance on how to incorporate mindfulness into your life.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of resting your mind. Basically, our thinking is on auto-pilot all day long. At times, you are aware of what you are thinking and at times it is in the background (subconscious) part of your brain. The way thinking works is through associations which means that one thought leads to the other and onto the next. Have you ever wondered ‘how did I get to think about that?’ and then you try to pick up the thread and if you’re lucky you can see how you started off with one thought, then went onto the next and that is how you’ve arrived at the present thought. In other words, we are thinking machines.
Is that a problem?
Essentially not but it depends. Our thinking patterns are strongly linked to the way we feel, as established by researchers which finally led to cognitive-behavioral-therapy So if the quality of your thoughts are negative, you might end up feeling down or even depressed. CBT seeks to change the actual way of thinking. In mindfulness, we seek to detach and take distance of the thinking itself. We don’t toy or change the thinking (although that could be a positive by-product of mindfulness), we just take distance from them. We watch the thoughts from the outside.
A computer analogy
Here is an excellent analogy. A computer is totally brilliant. A computer can accomplish and process more and faster than any human brain. But there is one thing that a computer can’t do and that is, knowing that it is doing it. In psychological terminology, this is called ‘metacognition’ – thinking about thinking. That is something that only a human brain is capable of, no machine can do that. The computer is in his thinking and can’t be out of its own thinking.
This is a key difference between the human brain and a computer. The human brain can ‘split’ and watch its own thinking, observe it as it is happening.
So when you are on auto-pilot all day long thinking, you are in your thinking and when you meditate or you are practicing mindfulness, you are out of your own thinking.
What are the benefits?
Think of it this way, every psychological challenge is essentially a thinking challenge. If you are stressed, then you are having stressful thoughts, if you are anxious then you are having anxious thoughts etc. The more intense the emotions, the more in your thinking you are in that present moment. So if you can manage to take distance from those thoughts, can you see how this would affect you? This is why mindfulness has been proven to be effective for;
- relieving stress
- psychosomatic suffering
- and even physical benefits such as the lowering of blood pressure, relieving pain and gastrointestinal troubles
Check this video below on how mindfulness can redefine pain, happiness and satisfaction
So here is a very simple mindfulness technique that with a bit of practice will bring you inner peace relatively fast
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for about 5 minutes
- Turn off phones and other distractions
- If you can sit down near a window where you have a little view that is nice but not a must
- As you make yourself comfortable just stare outside and do nothing for a bit
- You will notice that your mind starts to produce content and you start to think about something
- One thought goes to another and you just watch that happening
- Don’t drive your thoughts in any particular direction – you are the observer like a journalist watching a scene evolve without interfering
- You may start to think that you are doing it all wrong, just notice that as another thought to observe
- You might also notice feelings (boredom!) or body sensations, just look at it and observe it
- Keep doing that for about 5 min and end the exercise
If you enjoy a step-by-step plan in incorporating mindfulness/meditation into your life then ‘The Mind Illuminated’ is really a good book for you. This book was written by a neuroscientist who became a meditation master and produced a science based program for anyone that wishes to make use of meditation as a form of self-therapy
Title: The Mind Illuminated
Author: John Yates et al.
Best place to get it: Amazon.com
My review: 9.9/10
The 7 minute mindfulness program is in my opinion one of the best programs out there on mindfulness. It teaches you in a captivating way how to make use of meditation in a way that even very busy people can make use of it and reap its benefits. Users of this program have reported to:
- Experience far less stress in their lives
- Improved health
- Decrease of depression and low mood
- Decrease of anxious and panic thoughts
- Increase of overall wellbeing
If you would like to take mindfulness seriously, then in my opinion this is an excellent program and you have a 60-day money back guarantee if you feel that it isn’t for you. Here is the link for the program: 7 minute mindfulness program
If you would just like to wet your feet in the world of mindfulness and meditation and would like to have some assistance during your practice, then listening to an audio that guides your meditation can be very useful and interesting. In this meditation pack, there are 5 individual tracks. Each track has a different way and method of bring you in the ‘observer’ mode and out of thinking into a mindful state of being. Enjoy it! Here is the link again for this meditation package: Meditation pack
Feel free to leave a comment below or ask questions. You can also do so by emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you.
To your health,