What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, the term is everywhere at the moment, a hot topic so to speak. While relatively new to Western psychology, it is actually an ancient practice found in many spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, martial arts, tai chi, and yoga.
So what is Mindfulness? It involves being conscious and present, being aware of what is happening right now and appreciating each moment (rather than living in the past or worrying about the future). Mindfulness utilises a set of psychological skills such as openness, flexibility, and connectedness. It involves paying attention to the present moment, embracing an attitude of openness and curiosity to our experience (whether enjoyable or difficult) and the flexibility to focus our attention on different aspects of each situation. It can help you reduce stress, become more self-aware, increase satisfaction and develop emotional resilience. Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness does not mean meditation, although meditation is one way to cultivate mindfulness.
The Benefits of Mindfulness:
- Experiencing the here and now – being present in the world rather than living in your thoughts
- Realising you are distinct from your thoughts
- Knowing that every aspect of life is dynamic and changeable, including thoughts and feelings
- Creating balance in your life and being less controlled by your emotions
- Experiencing a sense of peacefulness – being more calm
- Experiencing unpleasant thoughts or feelings safely
- Being less troubled by and reactive to disagreeable experiences
- Developing an awareness of experiences or situations you’re avoiding
- Increasing self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-compassion
- Reducing judgmental thoughts
What is Acceptance & Commitment Therapy?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT – pronounced as the word ‘act’ and not the initials) involves accepting what is out of your control while committing to take action that advances and improves your life. The aim is not to remove challenging feelings but rather, learn to not overreact to such feelings. Rather than teaching people to control their thoughts, feelings and reactions, ACT teaches people to observe and accept experiences. This gives you the clarity to understand your personal values and take action accordingly, increasing psychological flexibility.
ACT encompasses 3 areas:
- Accept your reactions
- Choose a path
- Take action
The ACT View Of Mindfulness
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a mindfulness-based therapy. It gives you various ways to learn mindfulness skills, dividing these into 3 categories:
- Diffusion: dissociating from, and letting go of, unhelpful thoughts or beliefs
- Acceptance: recognising and acknowledging painful sensations, and allowing them to come and go without fighting them
- Connecting with the present moment: engaging completely with, and experiencing what is happening right now, and doing so with openness and curiosity
These 3 skills require you to be aware and pay attention. In ACT, we call this engaging the ‘observing self’ – the part of you that can observe both your physical and thinking self, being aware of every thought, feeling, physical sensation and action.
ACT has been shown to be effective with many conditions, including social anxiety, depression, workplace stress, chronic pain and even weight control.
ACT Core principles
ACT uses six core principles to assist clients to foster psychological flexibility:
- Cognitive diffusion: Learning to view thoughts and other cognitions as simply nothing more than bits of language and images.
- Acceptance: making room for unpleasant feelings or sensations -instead of trying to suppress them, letting them come and go without a struggle.
- Connection with the present moment: Awareness of the here and now, openness, interest, and receptiveness. Focusing on whatever you are doing rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
- Observing the self: Paying full attention to what is happening here and now, without getting distracted by thoughts or judgments.
- Clarifying values: Finding what is most important to yourself.
- Committed action: Using your values to set goals and taking action to achieve them.
(Harris, 2006; Harris, 2007)
To discuss ACT and mindfulness give Wellbeing Therapy Space a bell at email@example.com.
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