Mindfulness is ‘the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience’. (John Kabat Zinn)
Originating in Buddhist practices, the concept of mindfulness has taken on a new life in recent years, in non-religious contexts. For example, MBSR, Mindfulness-based stress reduction, includes a range of body-based techniques to reduce stress, while MBCT adds an element of mindfulness to cognitive behavioural therapy. In practice this usually means exercises involving paying attention to your bodily state, your breathing, and/or your surroundings. The aim is a state of relaxation and being fully present, which can be a great relief as most of us are often rushing, and using technology to be in several times and places at once.
Mindfulness techniques are taught in schools, workplaces and prisons, as ways of reducing stress and increasing pleasure in life as well as increasing effectiveness at work or in learning.
How does Mindfulness Counselling work?
In a sense Person centred counselling and other kinds of humanistic counselling, such as Gestalt, always involve mindfulness – an hour of counselling is an hour of paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of your experience. In mindfulness counselling, while you talk about the issues which are concerning you, the counsellor will repeatedly help you to return to the present moment and your experience right now, if you are getting lost in mental or emotional conflicts, and they will also be ready to share their own experience in the present moment with you. This experience of being really present usually adds another dimension to the issue you are talking about – and also a sense of calm and compassion towards yourself, which can both heal wounds from the past, and make future decisions easier. The counsellor can also suggest ways to keep in touch with the flow of your breath, your body, what is actually happening for you, now, between sessions.
Who is Mindfulness Counselling suitable for?
Anyone who is attracted to it. If you often find yourself lost in obsessive thoughts or feelings, particularly if they are self-critical ones, if you struggle with anxiety, depression, getting over a traumatic experience, intrusive memories, over-work, stress, burnout, relationship problems, low self esteem or just a nagging sense that there has to be more to life than this, mindfulness counselling could be a very helpful direction to go in. The sense of peace caused by practicing being nonjudgmental to yourself is a balm for pretty much any problem.
What issues or problems are suited to Mindfulness Counselling?
A wide range of issues, for example:
- Relationship issues
- Transitions in life
- Anger issues
However, you don’t always need a specific issue. There could well be a sense of something being a bit ‘off’ – of not being quite present or fulfilling your potential.
How many sessions will I have?
That is entirely up to you. There is no fixed number of sessions. We might agree an initial number, say six, when you first come and then we can review this after these are completed or at any point in between.