What Is Mindfulness Therapy?

Updated on December 22, 2017
raymondphilippe profile image

Hi, I am Raymond. I picked up psychology after my banking career as a personal interest. Mindfulness is something I practice daily!

Mindfulness Therapy

The History of Mindfulness Therapy

John Kabat-Zinn developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program. This stress reduction program became the basis of mindfulness. Zendel Segal, Mark Williams, and John Teasdale expanded on it. Mindfulness can resolve psychological issues if you become aware of things in the present. Focusing on the past and future isn't useful in becoming aware. By using mindfulness, you can deal with stressors and distressing feelings, and implement an accepting mindset instead of an avoiding attitude.

How Mindfulness Works

Many other therapies are based on “doing.” In mindfulness, you practice by “not doing.” Observation is the key to this therapy. By being mindful, you interpret thoughts and feelings as just thoughts and feelings. They do not define who you are. The goal of mindfulness is to:

"Help you become aware of your thoughts and bodily sensations. So you will become better in the managing day to day emotions and problems."

Similarly, the mindfulness therapist’s role is to help establish a daily mindfulness practice. The therapist will help you become more aware of the unhelpfulness of some of your thoughts and feelings. The most common disorders wherein mindfulness therapy is used include anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and mood disorders.

The Systematic Process Used in Therapy:

  • Step 1: Automatic Pilot
  • Step 2: Dealing with barriers
  • Step 3: Mindfulness of the breath
  • Step 4: Staying present
  • Step 5: Allowing and letting be
  • Step 6: Thoughts are “Not Facts”
  • Step 7: How can I best take care of myself?
  • Step 8: Using what’s been learned to deal with future moods

My Journey With Mindfulness

My sleep problems were my excuse to follow a course in mindfulness. I wanted to put all these thoughts running through my head to rest. That worked! Being a better sleeper doesn't mean I'm always at peace with myself, but I have noticed that when I am restless I now have tools to deal with this feeling of restlessness. I have also learned to my take my body seriously. Through the course I followed, I rediscovered and reinterpreted my body. I have also learned that you don't always have to dwell on thoughts; I had become unaware that I had formed this habit.

Mindfulness gives me tranquillity, but even more, I learned that mindfulness means that my view on living has changed. It helps me better deal with what comes on my path, and it helps me connect with myself and others. This was a surprise for me.

Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Savor the Richness of the Moment

Mindfulness is most straightforward to understand from its opposite: living life on autopilot. In the kitchen, while driving, at work—just think about how often you run on routine while your mind busies itself with the past and future. We all know from experience what it means to be "fully present." That is when we watch a breathtaking sunset, listen to beautiful music, or have another intense experience. Our mind is quiet; we are all ears and eyes. We savor the richness of the moment.

Mindfulness Therapy: The Mindfulness Approach

The Mindfulness Approach is thriving and still growing. Mindfulness training is offered to people who suffer from stress or just want to add more peace and harmony to their busy lives. Mindfulness training leads to stress reduction as a result of training attention.

In the training, you practice paying attention. You practice being present at this moment in time without thoughts about the past or worrying about the future. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the American founder of the mindfulness training, defines it as "consciously present in the here and now, without judging."

Mindfulness Research

Mindfulness is useful both in a "normal" population and in therapeutic settings. It provides a higher quality of life. It brings about positive changes in cognitive and neurobiological functioning. Mindfulness also transforms the way people look at themselves and the world. It influences the way they respond. This ensures that mindfulness helps with a wide variety of problems. It brings about positive changes in a lot of different conditions. Sometimes, it proves to be even superior to other methods of treatment of specific problems.

Mindfulness Quotes

"Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet."
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

"With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment." ― Nhat Hanh

"Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone."
― Louis L'Amour

"Mindfulness means being aware of how you're deploying your attention and making decisions about it, and not letting the tweet or the buzzing of your BlackBerry call your attention."
― Howard Rheingold

"You have to remember one life, one death–this one! To enter fully the day, the hour, the moment whether it appears as life or death, whether we catch it on the inbreath or outbreath, requires only a moment, this moment. And along with it all the mindfulness we can muster, and each stage of our ongoing birth, and the confident joy of our inherent luminosity." (24)
― Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

Becoming Conscious: The Science of Mindfulness

Neuroscientists Richard Davidson and Amishi Jha join clinical mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn to explore the role of consciousness in mental and physical health, how we can train the mind to become more flexible and adaptable, and what cutting-edge neuroscience is revealing about the transformation of consciousness through mindfulness and contemplative practice.

Mindfulness Summary

With all responsibilities an average person has to take on today, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. If you find yourself rushing through the day or trying to do several things at once, it is easy for things to get lost in the cracks. When you forget something or things don't turn out the way you want this can add to the stress you are feeling. Making a point to be more mindful of what you are doing can help eliminate these stressors so you are less likely to need to deal with these issues later.

Being mindful requires you to focus your attention on what you are doing and accepting the task at hand without judgment. Accepting the task at hand without judgment means examining things with a scientific eye rather than thinking about how other people might judge you or the results. This can help you drop outside stress while allowing you to produce the intended or expected result.

Techniques for Applying Mindfulness

There are several ways you can apply mindfulness to your everyday life. You can combine or drop elements as necessary to find the techniques that best help you address issues in your life.

Many cultures focus on meditation. They use breathing exercises or relax their thoughts by letting judgments go and returning their thoughts to a more positive light. They allow cravings or addictive feelings to pass rather than giving in to them. Feel as the craving enters the body and try to focus on other thoughts so that it will pass like a wave moving over you.

Making a point of being more aware of your senses can help you remain more mindful as well. Paying more attention to sensory information makes you more aware of your surroundings. You can use this information to feel more appreciative of the beauty or positive things around you. Learn to accept this information without initial judgment. You'll notice this negative sensory information will lose its impact.

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    • profile image

      Christie 

      4 months ago

      Excellent read on Mindfulness!

    • raymondphilippe profile imageAUTHOR

      Raymond Philippe 

      4 years ago from The Netherlands

      Thanks for your feedback.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 years ago from USA

      Very interesting therapeutic approach. I could certainly see its potential benefits with respect to anxiety disorders, eating disorders and mood disorders.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      6 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      This is an interesting concept. I have heard of living in the present as a way of keeping depression and anxiety at bay, but this is the first time I heard it called "Mindfulness."

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 

      6 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Interesting Information!! I was unaware!! Thanks for sharing!!

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