WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is a particular tool used in the meditative traditions, which has become widely used in counselling and therapy. It is very useful because it is a way of being present with our experience without judging it and without finding painful experiences overwhelming.
Mindfulness can be confused with meditation as they are very similar and use similar techniques such as paying attention to your breath and bodily experience. The difference is that mindfulness is about paying attention to what your experience is, to what is happening in your thoughts, emotions and body – from a place of awareness or loving presence. Meditation is more focused on moving into a state of silence and stillness and focusing on that experience rather than on your thoughts, emotions and other ego based experiences.
Mindfulness helps us to stay centered and grounded in difficult situations, so that we get less triggered. This helps us enormously as then we can find much better ways of responding to life’s challenges. Mindfulness can be easily learned through counselling as a day-to-day coping strategy, and is used within a therapy session to access difficult material in a safe and meaningful way.
We will talk and identify an issue to work with – Ajay will then guide you in a mindfulness exercise, focusing on the breath and bodily awareness to become more present. From this place, what may have felt too painful to look at can seem a lot easier. We will then explore what is felt around your particular issue.
As they get more familiar with mindful states of awareness within the therapy environment, people often report that they also feel more present in their day-to-day lives. Research shows that mindfulness is also helpful for physical and mental well-being, providing benefits in the treatment of stress, painful emotions, anxiety and depression.
Over 40 years of empirical research has shown the effectiveness of mindfulness in the following areas:
- The reduction & treatment of depression, anxiety and stress
- Treating psychosis
- Treating substance abuse disorders
- The prevention or delay of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease
- Mindfulness meditation has been shown to bring about healthy structural changes in the brain, e.g. parts of the brain related to pain, stress and to present moment awareness
Mindfulness Beyond Therapy
It can also be useful to explore mindfulness practices through meditation classes. Movement practices such as Tai Chi and Yoga can be an easy way into mindfulness for people who find the idea of sitting still for long periods challenging, and they have the added bonus of looking after your physical health!
In addition to mindfulness and psychotherapy practices, Ajay has a strong interest in the relationship between physical health and mental well-being and he encourages people to look after both. It is easy to support your counselling with classes in Yoga, Meditation or Tai Chi since Fremantle and Perth have such an abundance of these classes on offer.