This past weekend I had the privilege of attending all day MBSR class at the Valley Hospital organized by Dr. Jodi Katz. MBSR is short for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program. The MBSR program was started by Jon Kabat- at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Since then the practice has spread far and beyond. As a therapist I have strived to include Mindfulness practice in my daily life and in my therapy.
What is Mindfulness? I use the basic definition of mindfulness as ‘ moment to moment awareness’. In my therapeutic practice I follow the definition by Germer et al in their book ‘Mindfulness and Psychotherapy’- (1) awareness (2) of present experience, (3) with acceptance.
Most of the time we are concerned about the future or wishing that the past could have been different, we ignore the present. For example, anxiety about the future often makes us feel fearful and we ignore the present. People who are depressed may feel sadness about the past. We ruminate about the past and this can add to the depression. Mindfulness can bring awareness to our ‘self’ , we can look at things as they are and accept them without getting lost in our internal dialogue.
People can use the moment to moment awareness in every day life, informal practice and also engage in a formal practice od mindfulness as in meditation. In every day events we can be more mindful of eating, for example, what we are eating, how we are eating and what is the quality of our experience as we eat. Formal practice of mediation allows us to sit over a period of time, in silence, in stillness with eye closed or open and concentrate on an object, or our breath or a phrase. Meditation can be practiced as part of a group or on an individual basis anywhere. Mindfulness can be learnt and it requires practice.
As more and more research studies emerge on the benefits of mindfulness, therapists are including formal and informal practices in their therapeutic approach. In encourage everyone to explore this ancient construct and use it as we can in our own lives.