I recently attended a short workshop on “Recovery through Mindfulness – based cognitive therapy”. A representative of Mind ran the workshop.
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way in the present moment and without judgement.
Following introductions we did a group exercise called the ‘Raisin Exercise’. It was incredibly relaxing and we concentrated on our sensory responses, breathing and sounds that we could hear in the room and how our body was responding, first by moving the raisins between our fingers and then in our mouth pausing before we bit into the raisins and then really tasting before we ate them. It was great to press the pause button and activate our senses. The taste was really enhanced. Like many people these days, the lifestyle I lead is usually done at pace, including eating!
Our course leader spoke about working towards being in the ‘here and now’ rather than reverting to our unconscious unhelpful scripts of the past (rumination) or fortune telling the future and trying to predict the ‘what ifs’. For instance through our fight or flight survival instincts we anticipate, predict and make, day to day decisions in our lives as a result of what we have experienced in the past. We may automatically turn away and shut off from what we do not wish to experience. Yet by turning towards rather than turning away from even unpleasant experiences we discover that we can bear feelings, impulses and patterns that have controlled us for a long time and we discovered our robustness and our path towards recovery.
One of the suggestions offered by our tutor were ‘mindfulness breaks’ which you can take for about five minutes:
- Adopt a comfortable posture with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
- Ask yourself ‘What am I experiencing now?’ ‘What are my bodily sensations, feelings and thoughts?’
- Focus on your breath and feel the air as it blows in and out past the nostrils. Pay attention to your breathing and let your body breathe naturally by itself.
- When your mind wanders off become aware of your feelings and thoughts and just observe them or yourself. Gently bring your attention back to your nostrils.
- Expand your awareness to a sense of the body as a whole, your posture and facial expression.
Mindfulness is increasingly used within organisations, such as Google, Barclays, Apple Computers, Yahoo and KPMG.
Meta-analyses research suggests the usefulness of mindfulness-based approaches for a broad range of chronic disorders and problems. There is consistent evidence that mindfulness enhances general features of coping with distress and disability in everyday life as well as conditions of a serious disorder or stress.
Mindfulness can help with the following areas:
I thoroughly enjoyed my awareness session and will be exploring this therapy further.