Mindfulness is an extraordinary tool for living well. I use mindfulness in therapy and also give mindfulness workshops and classes.
Mindfulness has been defined as “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994) and “The non-judgmental observation of the ongoing stream of internal and external stimuli as they arise” (Baer, 2003).
The key words are the present moment, and as they arise. There is always something pleasant or neutral happening here and now. Our suffering (not our pain…) is created by the commentary that our minds attach to what is happening. Mindfulness helps us to differentiate between our ideas and reactions – what I call commentary – and what is really going on here and now.
This is a powerful tool to increase moments of relaxation and joy, to improve coping with difficult feelings and thoughts and to enhance your capacity to live life fully.
One way I incorporate mindfulness into therapy is by encouraging clients to notice the physical here and now sensations of difficult emotions. Our usual automatic pilot reaction to difficult feelings is to distract ourselves (an excellent tool when it works), to argue and struggle with the emotion or to get drawn into imaginary nightmare scenarios that we experience as if they were real. Over time, mindful attention to the sensations of emotions will allow us to notice that feelings don’t destroy us and that they change.
Experiencing feelings in the present moment is part of being alive and facing yourself.