Welcome to this edition of our featured therapist Blog where Person-Centred Counsellor Debbie Holder discusses her integration of Mindfulness into her therapeutic tool box. Debbie shares how she not only works with Mindfulness for the benefit of others, but how Mindfulness has taken a significant place in her own daily life.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky, conscious breathing is my anchor ” (Zenn Buddist Master ‘ thich nhat kanh’
Mindfulness has grown in popularity over recent years and has become the “buzz word” for reducing stress, and promoting mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. It is being used extensively by mental heath professionals across the board, in settings that range from schools to prisons, and is helping people to find a balance to manage the stress of everyday living.
NICE (National institute for clinical excellence) promotes mindfulness as an effective treatment in the battle against mental health conditions. In private practice there are many skilled practitioners that offer mindfulness based treatments that can be ran alongside any therapeutic approach in counselling and psychotherapy.
As a professional counsellor in private practice I regard the use of mindfulness as an indispensable ‘therapeutic tool’, and use it to help my clients in the management of common mental health conditions such as; anxiety and depression. In my clinical practice I consider mindfulness to be an integral part of emotional intelligence which can be practiced by anyone, of any age, culture, religion or belief system.
In recent years I have woven mindfulness into the fabric of my own life and practice it regularly while I am ‘out in the sticks’ on the field with my dog which is something I make a space for everyday.
Mindfulness originates from Buddhist philosophy and goes back in time over 2,500 years and can be defined as simply ‘ being in the moment’. It encourages letting go of ‘mind chatter’ by focusing on the natural rhythm of the breath, breathing ‘in’ through the nose and ‘out’ through the mouth, using the breath as an ‘anchor’ to centre, ground and cultivate a ‘crystal clear’ awareness of what is happening in our internal and external world. Mindfulness has the potential to alter our perception to the stresses of daily life and can help us to feel more aligned and in tune with ourselves.
Why Do Therapists Use It ?
- Reduces stress, increases calm, promotes relaxation
- Improves self awareness
- Can be used as a tool to help manage depression, anxiety and chronic pain.
- Can be used to ‘breakdown’ and challenge automatic thoughts, negative behavior patterns and habits.
- Can ‘recharge your batteries’, mentally and physically.
- Can be helpful when you feel overwhelmed, spacey, disorientated, panicky or stressed.
When I use it with my clients the first thing l tell them is ‘it doesn’t have to be complicated’, it can be practised anywhere, anytime and when you are doing anything !
Mindfulness is simply a ‘mindset’ linked to conscious observation. To begin with ‘create a space’ by stepping into stillness, you can do this by choosing to focus on the natural rhythm of your breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, breath in deeply from your tummy, keep your focus on your breath for a minute and try not to over breath.
Now slowly work through each of your physical senses, hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch and physical sensation, try to give yourself a minute on each individual sense.
What can you hear ? you may hear things that you weren’t previously aware of before like a clock ticking, traffic or people talking.
What can you see ? you may become more aware of colours, shapes and objects.
What can you smell ? you may notice a specific smell that you were unaware of before.
What can you taste ? it could be sweet or bitter taste or just neutral.
What physical sensations can you feel ? your cloths against your skin, a breeze on your face, a physical sensation in your body.
As you work through your senses, notice and pay attention to any thoughts or emotions that you may have, simply acknowledge and accept them and let them drift away, like letting go of a balloon, as it gently floats away return your attention back to your breathing.
Remember to be patient and compassionate with yourself, there is no right or wrong way, be open to experience, try not to judge and just enjoy being in the moment.
You may choose to journal your experience of mindfulness, which can be helpful to look back on as you become more attuned to practising it in your daily life.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness this is a very simple version that you can try if you wish.
“ Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha
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