There is a lot of talk at the moment about Mindfulness and how it can be the answer to lots of mental health issues. What is Mindfulness and how to does it differ from other alternative therapies?
According to the NHS, Mindfulness is:
Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.
Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. Mindfulness can help us enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. You can take steps to develop it in your own life.
How mindfulness helps mental wellbeing
Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.
When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.
How does Mindfulness differ from CBT?
CBT generally involves one-to-one sessions with a qualified CBT therapist who will help you identify the thoughts and situations which can cause a problem and working together with the therapist to improve or change a particular way of thinking. This may involve evaluating thinking patterns and using behavioural experiments to help consider alternative ways of thinking and behaving.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, is more of a skill or technique that can be learned and practised on your own with the help of books or online information or as part of a workshop, course or practice group. It normally involves either an exercise or a meditation where you practise focussing your attention – every time your attention wanders you practise bringing it back – and you try to do this without judging, liking or disliking.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Because of the similarities and synchronicity of the two ways of facing difficult feelings, a combination of mindfulness and CBT has recently been introduced. It is known as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness has become known as the third wave of cognitive-behavioural therapy.
Which works best?
It’s a matter of personal preference, which one works best for you will depend on your own individual problems. Both used extensively by therapists, counsellors and psychotherapists helping people to cope with mental health issues. One of the most important points is that both approaches can be practised independently once the techniques have been learnt. This makes them useful skills to acquire to help cope with difficult emotions in life.