What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness has been defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment through a gentle, nurturing lens. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past, getting stuck in the present, or worrying about the future.  

What Are The Benefits of Mindfulness?

Mindfulness focused counseling can help all people, regardless of age, gender, or presenting problems.  By focusing on techniques to be present and avoid engaging in distressing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, clients achieve inner peace and acceptance while also increasing their confidence in being able to resolve personal and relationship conflicts. Mindfulness is especially important during emotionally overwhelming experiences, as the practice can often help individuals maintain a sense of control.  Mindfulness enables people to become better able to separate themselves from negative thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations that may be present, often before they become too overwhelming. Those who are able to achieve this state of awareness may find it easier to then implement other therapeutic strategies to address any potentially harmful cognitions in order to prevent negative outcomes. Regular mindfulness practice is believed to help further psychological insight and emotional healing, over time.

Who Benefits From Mindfulness?

Mindfulness-based interventions, generally aimed at relieving symptoms of stress, mental health concerns, and physical pain, can be used to address and treat a range of symptoms and concerns such as:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Attention, concentration, learning and memory deficits
  • Chronic stress
  • Depression
  • Emotional regulation
  • Mood swings
  • Self-Esteem, self-acceptance and self-worth
  • Social skills and relationship challenges

How Does Mindfulness Work?  

Typically people go to great measures to avoid feeling unpleasant emotions.  We often use distraction, avoidance, or are triggered by old patterns to impulsively react, resulting in negative attention and outcomes. Rather than trying to avoid or eliminate negative emotions, one learns to change their relationship with these emotions by practicing meditation and other mindfulness exercises. These activities re-balance neural networks, allowing the client to move away from automatic negative responses toward an understanding that there are other ways to respond to situations. By developing a routine mindfulness practice, clients can use these techniques whenever they start to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. For example, when sadness occurs and starts to bring up the usual negative associations that trigger a relapse of depression, the client is equipped with tools that will help them replace negative thought patterns with positive ones.

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