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 and they a 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. Whereas meditation is more focussed on moving into a state of silence and stillness and focussing on that experience rather than on your thoughts, emotions and other ego based experiences.
“Mindfulness […] was never intended to be strictly an awareness or attention – regulation exercise. Take away loving kindness and mindfulness is like being forced to watch a frightening scene, close up, under a bright light. That isn’t an experience that most [people…] need to have.” Christopher Germer
Mindfulness helps us to stay centred and grounded in challenging 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 easeful way. We will talk and identify an issue to work with, and Ajay will then guide you in a mindfulness exercise, focussing 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 in therapy session, people often report that they also feel more present and mindful in their day to day lives. 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! Ajay has a strong interest in the relationship between physical health and mental wellbeing 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 modalities on offer.