What is mindfulness?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in the modern application of mindfulness, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally”.
Most of us spend very little time in the present moment. Instead we spend a large portion of our time up in our heads, dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. In fact, research suggests that we spend about 47% of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we are doing.
It’s normal for our minds to wander off to thoughts at times; after all, our mind is a thought machine. Telling your mind not to think is about as effective as telling your eyes to stop seeing or your ears to stop listening. However, research suggests that spending too much time up in our heads, rather than in the present moment, reduces overall happiness and leads to the development of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, eating disorders and drug and alcohol issues.
Mindfulness psychology techniques can help you to:
- Develop the skill of watching or observing your mind rather than treating your thoughts as facts
- Spend less time up in your head evaluating, judging, interpreting and worrying about the past, the future and the people around you
- Recognise when you are responding to people or situations in habitual ways that lead you to repeat unhelpful or damaging patterns from the past
- Feel more in control of where you focus your energy and attention
- Feel more comfortable with physical sensations in your body, particularly those that come up when you are feeling emotions like anxiety, fear, anger, shame or sadness
- Learn skills that will help you to cope with uncomfortable emotions rather than running from those feelings, beating yourself up for them or numbing them out (with behaviours like drinking, taking drugs, binge eating or gambling)
- Help you to cope better with situations in your life that are out of your control
- Spend less time on auto-pilot and more time being truly present in the parts of your life that matter most to you
At Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology, each of our psychologists are trained in the application of mindfulness therapy for a variety of different issues. We are trained in the following mindfulness-based approaches: