Mindfulness is the concept of being fully and intentionally aware and non-judgmental of the present moment. It involves observing from a distance, helping a person identify how he feels, what thoughts he is having and what is happening in his surroundings.
A person who practices mindfulness regularly will begin to notice patterns of thinking that he might not have noticed in himself before. Problematic patterns of thinking can be identified and acted upon, creating new opportunities for personal growth.
Mindfulness is not the same as meditation. Meditation is about focusing on a particular thing such as breathing or a mantra. Being mindful cultivates concentration, too, but at its core is about living fully in the moment and not judging it.
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
- Enhanced appreciation and acceptance of life
- Improved concentration and creativity
- Increased ability to cope with change, stress and/or illness
- Increased awareness/trust/acceptance of self
- Increased inner peace, decreased depression and anxiety
- Increased perception of overall well-being
How is Mindfulness Used?
The practice of mindfulness is effective in the treatment of different types of anxiety, depression, recurrent suicidal behavior and other mental health conditions including addiction. It is also used as a technique for stress reduction, pain management and other medical conditions.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is sometimes used in the treatment of major depressive disorder and other mental health disorders. MBCT’s combination of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy is especially effective for many people. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is another type of therapy that incorporates mindfulness into its treatment model. Finally, mindfulness is one of the primary exercises used in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Professionals who work in the area of mindfulness use a number of “tests” to measure mindfulness in a person. The tests are:
- Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale
- Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory
- Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS)
- Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills
Mindfulness requires curiosity, openness and acceptance. As a person continues to practice being mindful in day to day living, he will gain insight, peace and a sense of freedom from automatic thoughts and assumptions that go on in his mind. he will experience a sense of choice and of connection to the world around him. He will live life more fully each and every moment.