Mindfulness in counselling
My last post was looking at mindful eating as part of this series about mindfulness.
People often ask me about mindfulness and if I use it in counselling. I’ve written this piece to help answer some questions and to give you some ideas about how to start a practice. This post is for you if you’re interested in getting started in mindfulness but not sure where to begin.
What is mindfulness?
Put simply, mindfulness is focusing your attention on yourself, in this present moment and acknowledging them.
So just for now as you are reading this notice what sensations, thoughts or feelings come up for you? What are you aware of? Are you conscious of certain thoughts going through your head? Or you are paying attention to the words you are reading? Were you expecting a more complex definition?
Common myths about mindfulness & meditation
I spoke about the most common myth I have come across. This is when people think they should have a “blank” mind. They think they are not meditating properly or that they are doing it “wrong” if they have thoughts. You don’t need a blank mind to meditate!
Allow your thoughts to come and into your mind and then let them go. It is the practice and discipline of setting aside time and committing to that regardless of what happens during the meditation period.
Is mindfulness complicated?
Often people are put off developing a mindfulness practice because they worry about not being able to “do it” – mindfulness is a way of being rather than doing so it isn’t a question of doing. It is a way of being with yourself and all that you are in this present moment.
So if you are feeling anxious you might notice and even say to yourself this is anxiety and ask yourself what your anxiety might need in that moment. You don’t need to judge or fight any thoughts that come up – just observe them and then come back to yourself.
Too busy to meditate or for mindfulness ?
You can start with 5 minutes a day that’s all. After a while you might find as I have that one of the many benefits is that it ends up giving you time!
If you are prone to unhealthy habits and ways of coping then it can often give you the time between craving and action like the next drink, chocolate bar or shopping trip you can’t afford.
There is no perfect in mindfulness meditation!
I have found it helpful to know there is no such thing as a good or bad meditation (mindfulness) practice. The aim isn’t for your mind to be blank, it is for you to become aware of the things that are present for you.
Practice curiosity about your thoughts rather than judging them. So rather than feeling annoyed that your mind is wandering explore what your mind is avoiding or being drawn towards.
When you think of mindfulness meditation what image comes in to your mind?
You can meditate paying attention to your breath, your body, use visualisations, use mantras, practice Metta Bhavana which is a Buddhist practice of ‘loving kindness’, practice Christian meditation or practice a walking meditation.
How can mindfulness help anxiety, stress and depression?
In my counselling work with clients I find that paying attention to the body and encouraging people to notice their physical sensations can really help to alleviate mental and emotional conditions, in particular anxiety and depression. It’s not something we naturally do and is often something that feels unnatural to begin with but before long without too much practice clients are able to do this fairly easily.
Meditation and mindfulness help you to be more in my body. The more your attention is focused on your body, the less focus you give your thoughts. This helps you to be present rather than anxiously worrying about the future or feeling depressed about the past.
To find out more how I can help you develop a meditation/mindfulness practice book here for a FREE 30 minute appointment.