27 December 2013 - 23:43
Mindfulness is about being aware of yourself and of the here and now without being judgemental.
We live in a fast paced world where things are constantly changing and if we’re not careful our minds can become cluttered and full of thoughts that aren’t important or relevant to the moment.
When was the last time that you were able to focus solely on the task without your mind full of what you needed to do next or indeed what you’ve done or what you think that you’ve done?
When was the last time that you were truly aware of your surroundings? Especially when we’re out we are so intent on getting from A to B that we don’t take time to notice anything around us. Next time that you are out walking or on public transport (not if you’re driving) instead of forging ahead to your destination take time to become aware of your surroundings. Spring in particular is a great time for this as each day there is something new to see.
With OCD are minds tend to be so full of the past and the future that we end up not experiencing the present and so we end up missing out on life.
Breathing mindfully is not about concentrating on or controlling your breathing. It is about being aware of it. For instance what does it feel like? – Does it feel cold as you breathe in and warm as you breathe out?
We take our bodies for granted most of the time and lose touch with what they feel like and what it feels like to be us.
The mindfulness body scan is great for grounding us in the present moment.
Jon Kabat-Zinn adapted the work of Thich Nhat Hanh (who brought mindfulness to the attention of the western world) into a structured eight week programme called MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) a programme of mindfulness and Hatha yoga which aimed to teach patients how to cope with stress, pain and illness by using moment to moment awareness.
Zindel Segal and Mark Williams then took this a step further and created a therapy called MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) which was partially based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It uses traditional CBT methods along with mindfulness and mindfulness meditations.
The aim of MBCT is to increase metacognitive awareness, to accept negative thought patterns and provide the skills to be able to respond appropriately. It teaches people to decentre their negative thoughts and feelings and allow the mind to move from an automatic thought pattern to conscious emotional processing. It has been successfully used within the NHS for depression and is being further adapted for use with other conditions including OCD.
Like CBT it takes a considerable amount of time, effort and patience to learn how to do it, it’s not sufficient to read a book on it or just listen to a CD. It needs to be practised daily so that it eventually becomes a way of life. Personally I think that the rewards that both CBT and MBCT can bring are worth the effort and ultimately both are far less time consuming than our OCD.
Mindfulness now has many applications not only for physical and mental health problems but also for use within the work place.
The best links for mindfulness are those by Jon Kabat-Zinn as he developed mindfulness for the western world and for MBCT any links by Prof Mark Williams
My recommendations include:
Suggested books to read:
The mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman