Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Birmingham
Mindfulness practices are not new and have origins in the contemplative traditions of Asia, especially Buddhism. In the last 40 years they have been formulised into the therapies of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), traditionally delivered in eight week classes.
“Typically mindfulness practice involves sitting with your feet planted on the floor and the spine upright. The eyes can be closed or rest a few feet in front while the hands are in the lap or on the knees. The attention is gently brought to rest on the sensations of the body – the feet on the floor, the pressure on the seat and the air passing through the nostrils. As the thoughts continue, you return again and again to these physical sensations, gently encouraging the mind not to get caught up in the thought processes but to observe their passage.”
Mindfulness meditation can enable people to change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences. As a mind-body approach, it can increase our ability to manage difficult situations and make wise choices. Mindfulness can be used as a tool to manage your wellbeing and mental health.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy evidence
A growing body of evidence has found that when people intentionally practice being mindful they feel less stressed, anxious and depressed, with the UK Government’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommending MBCT for the treatment of recurrent depression. Research also shows positive effects on several aspects of whole-person health, including the mind, the brain, the body, and behaviour, as well as a person’s relationships with others. Celebrities such as Ruby Wax have also brought the practice to the attention of the media thus reinforcing its growing popularity.
Mindfulness is the skill of being present in the moment, without passing judgement about your experience. It is simple in theory but some find it difficult to practice at first. Some are not aware of the constant mental chatter until they attempt to practice a mindful meditation. Mindfulness can be practiced even when performing mundane daily tasks such as asking up the dishes. For example, notice everything about the moment, the smell of the washing-up liquid, the temperature of the water and the movement of your hands. When your mind wanders, come back to these sensations. Anything you do can be practiced with increased awareness helping you to strengthen your attention muscles and focus on the here and now. Over time practicing mindfulness will improve your ability to let thoughts coming and go, like clouds in the sky rather than engaging with them and treating them as facts. Living in the thoughts of the past tends to lead to depression, the thoughts of the future lead to anxiety but learning to live in the present moment promotes calm and wellbeing.
I often incorporate mindfulness techniques in my sessions and clients have reported benefits from engaging in these techniques even though some said they felt silly at first!
How Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy differs from CBT
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) differs from traditional CBT as it involves observing your thoughts rather than attempting to change them in any way. The outcome should be emotional and mental freedom as you learn to observe your thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in the internal dramas they produce. People also report increased self-acceptance as they learn that is ok to be imperfect. As a result less stress is experienced.
Please contact me if you feel that learning to be more mindful might be beneficial to your health and well-being.
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