What Is Mindfulness… And Why Is It Important to Therapists?
Today we are sharing an excerpt from an article entitled ‘What is Mindfulness…And Why Is It Important to Therapists?’ from the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. We can’t stress enough how important mindfulness is in the journey to not only healing, but happy living. Take a look at the excerpt below and follow the link to read more.
“Psychotherapists are in the business of alleviating emotional suffering. Suffering arrives in innumerable guises: stress, anxiety, depression, behavior problems, interpersonal conflict, confusion, despair. It is the common denominator of all clinical diagnoses and is endemic to the human condition.’
‘Some of our suffering is existential, such as sickness, old age and dying. Some suffering has a more personal flavor. The cause of our individual difficulties may include past conditioning, present circumstances, genetic predisposition, or any number of interacting factors. Mindfulness, a deceptively simple way of relating to experience, has long been used to lessen the sting of life’s difficulties, especially those that are seemingly self-imposed. In this volume we will illustrate the potential of mindfulness for enhancing psychotherapy.”
“Successful therapy changes the patient’s relationship to his or her particular form of suffering. Obviously, if we are less upset by events in our lives, our suffering will decrease. But how can we become less disturbed by unpleasant experiences? Life includes pain. Don’t the body and mind instinctively react to painful experiences? Mindfulness is a skill that allows us to be less reactive to what is happening in the moment. It is a way of relating to all experience—positive, negative and neutral—such that our overall suffering is reduced and our sense of well-being increases.’
“To be mindful is to wake up, to recognize what is happening in the present moment. We are rarely mindful. We are usually caught up in distracting thoughts or in opinions about what is happening in the moment. This is mindlessness.
‘Examples of mindlessness are:
-Rushing through activities without being attentive to them.
-Breaking or spilling things because of carelessness, inattention, or thinking of something else.
-Failing to notice subtle feelings of physical tension or discomfort.
-Forgetting a person’s name almost as soon as we’ve heard it.
-Finding ourselves preoccupied with the future or the past.
-Snacking without being aware of eating.
(Adapted from the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale Brown & Ryan, 2003)
Mindfulness, in contrast, focuses our attention on the task at hand. When we are mindful, our attention is not entangled in the past or future, and we are not judging or rejecting what is occurring at the moment. We are present. This kind of attention generates energy, clear-headedness and joy. Fortunately, it is a skill that can be cultivated by anyone.”