Mindfulness and ACT Counseling
What exactly is mindfulness?
First of all, the topic of mindfulness is incredibly large. There is no shortage of literature/information regarding this concept and practice. But for the sake of getting you comfortable with this information I will do my best to keep it simple and focused on what it would mean for you, should you decide to seek out mindfulness based therapy.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on purpose and without judgment to your here-and-now experience.
So, what the heck does that mean?
Mindfulness is often best shown, rather than explained, so If you’re willing I invite you to try an experiment right now. Grab a pen and a paper, and a timer. Divide your sheet of paper into 3 sections, and label them “past”, “future”, and “judgment”. For the next five minutes, pay attention to the thoughts you are having. For each thought you have about a past experience, mark a tally in the “past” section. For each thought you have about the future, mark a tally in the “future” section, and for each thought you have that is a judgment (i.e anything with a positive or negative connotation is a judgment; such as “she’s so much cooler than me” or “I’m such a loser”), mark a tally in the “judgment” section. Notice how many thoughts in the past 5 minutes were past-oriented, future-oriented, or contained judgment.
Our thoughts to us, are like what water is to a fish. We are constantly swimming in a stream of mental chatter, and more often than not, we are not aware of what the content of those thoughts are. Even more costly, we often mistake those thoughts for reality. Mindfulness is a skill that allows you to increase your awareness of both your internal (thoughts, feelings, sensations) and your external environment. Mindfulness gives you the flexibility and freedom to respond more thoughtfully to your surroundings, and engage in healthier behaviors. It is a skill that when diligently practiced can translate to better mental, emotional, and physical health.
What are some examples of mindfulness?
Any time you pay attention on purpose. One skill I use often with clients is called “grounding”. The act of grounding requires focusing your attention on your 5-senses experience. So for example, I may ask you to notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. if you are feeling particularly overwhelmed with emotion, channeling your attention into this activity Allows you to gain some distance from those overwhelming feelings.
What can I expect from mindfulness therapy?
I have a very hands on approach, which means I use exercises in session to give you first hand experience with what it means to be mindful. That could range from engaging in a formal meditation practice to me simply asking you questions to help you increase awareness of your experience in that moment.
why is it important to be mindful?
I don’t want to paint mindfulness as a cure all, but the really cool thing is, that mindfulness can lead to all sorts of mental, emotional, and physical benefits. Mindfulness can help us to regulate stress levels and allows us to be less emotionally reactive. The more we practice it, the better able we are to handle life’s ups and downs. Mindfulness is a tool that can be of use when trying to establish new habits, or break old ones. It helps increase our awareness of our thoughts and feelings which can lead to better and healthier choices.
Can mindfulness help with my anxiety and depression?
in short, absolutely. Mindfulness increases your ability to understand what contributes to your anxiety and depression, and gives you the flexibility and control needed to respond more effectively when uncomfortable thoughts or feelings show up.
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?
ACT is a form of therapy I use regularly with clients that 1) teaches clients how to use mindfulness skills in their daily lives and 2) how to use those skills in the service of creating the changes they want most for their life.
Do you have further questions? Or would like to learn more about what it would be like to do mindfulness therapy with me? Contact me below to get started!