Mindfulness, from a therapeutic, secular perspective is a conscious awareness of our present moment. This includes openness and non-judgment about the experience. It is often coupled with other types of therapy, such as Cognitive-based Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Mindfulness therapy is not concerned with relaxation, though that might be a result of certain practices. The focus is on increasing our awareness of the thoughts, feelings, and actions that hinder our progress. When we are better able to do that, we can engage with those aspects of ourselves, learn to tweak our language, and choose how to respond.
Good mindfulness-awareness practices (MAP) programs can reduce perceived stress in urban communities.
6 Mindfulness Therapy Techniques
During mindfulness meditation, an expert practitioner guides a person or persons to focus on the present moment. This is not always an easy task. Often, our mind wanders. To combat this, the practitioner instructs participants to accept the wandering mind without judgment. She also might tell the person to notice where their mind went before reeling it back to the present.
If practicing alone, you might consider using some timer. Meditation need not be lengthy. If you are a beginner, strive for one minute. This idea of starting small, supported by research done by BJ Fogg, helps reduce barriers to beginning a new habit.
Body scanning and walking also are options or alternatives to more traditional forms of meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh explains the goal of walking meditation is to be the "happiest person in the world." If you can do this, you are successful. There is no destination in mind. "Walking is an end in itself."
Guided imagery also is a popular form of mindfulness. Some call this creative visualization or visualization. Regardless, the practice involves bringing to mind, through images, the words one hears. There are a variety of ways to practice this with and without a therapist.
Breathing techniques are a wonderful way to gain control when you feel anxious or stressed. For example, you can practice belly breathing. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Inhale, filling your belly with air, pushing your hand out.
Allow your breath to fill your lungs, pushing your other hand out. Finally, slowly exhale. You also could choose to hold the inhalation for a specified count, such as four. The University of Michigan has examples of several other breathing techniques. You can find their information in the references section.
Hundreds of thousands of people practice yoga, and for good reason. Not only does it increase your flexibility, but it also helps reduce stress and focus your mind. Researcher Catherine Woodyard (2011) found that in addition to these benefits, therapeutic yoga: