Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment with qualities such as compassion, curiosity and acceptance. Mindfulness is helpful in shifting your focus away from the past and the future, towards living in the here and now. It brings awareness to the autopilot and habitual thought patterns that so often go under the radar and enables you to grow in reflective awareness. The benefits of mindfulness include improving attentional skills (concentration), increasing psychological resilience and developing your resources to respond skilfully in stressful situations.
Mindfulness is an aspect of a number of ancient spiritual traditions. Within Buddhism it is an integral path towards understanding the origins and end of suffering; it means to free oneself from the pattern of adding suffering to existing difficulty and pain. John Kabat-Zinn (USA) pioneered the integration of traditional Buddhist mindfulness into an accessible secular program – Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This is a rapidly developing research field which shows mindfulness to be effective in improving a range of conditions.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed by Segal, Williams and Teasdale in the UK. They identified that a key protective mechanism in preventing relapse in depression is the ability to “de-centre” or step back from thought processes. They were led to the work of Kabat-Zinn. Recent research found MBCT was more effective in preventing relapse of recurrent depression than maintenance antidepressant treatment alone and better at improving quality of life. The NICE guidelines for depression, recommends MBCT for people who are currently well but have experienced three or more episodes.
More about MBCT
MBCT does not try to change the content of negative thinking unlike traditional cognitive therapy. The focus is changing the relationship to thoughts, feelings and body sensations in order to discover that these are fleeting events in the mind and the body that you can choose to engage with – or not. Repeated practice, observing with curiosity and compassion, and shifting perspective enables you to realise that your thoughts, emotions and sensations are just thoughts, emotions and sensations, rather than the ‘truth’ or ‘me’. It helps to break the old associations between negative mood, thinking, behaviour and bodily sensations.
Applications to occupational well-being
There have been some very positive findings of mindfulness being used in the workplace. Studies have found that mindfulness decreases burnout, emotional exhaustion, rumination, anxiety and negative affect. It has also been found to decrease perceived stress and anxiety. Mindfulness has been associated with positive changes in mood, life satisfaction, self-compassion and empathy.
Yes, to mindfulness
If you would like mindfulness to be included within your therapy treatment plan, please mention this at the time of your initial enquiry and your therapist can explore this in your comprehensive assessment.