These are the goals of both therapy and mindfulness. By combining them we deepen their power.
Having practiced mindfulness meditation most of my adult life, I often weave mindfulness skills into the therapy we do together. This teaching can take different forms. It’s not always traditional meditation. Sometimes it doesn’t involve sitting at all. That’s not everyone’s path. But it is always about deepening your ability to be more aware of yourself and your feelings.
I’ve come to believe that the habit of taking time to be with oneself and pay simple attention to what’s going on in your mind and body can be a powerful way to come to understand your emotions better, and to ride and regulate them. While I’ve never thought meditation brought instantaneous magical powers – it can be enormously helpful to the process of growth and change – which is what psychotherapy is dedicated to.
Both therapy and mindfulness are about suffering less, and nourishing our hearts and souls with compassion and wisdom. I teach people how to access what I call Wise Mind – even when you’re stressed or full of doubt.
Although grounded in ancient Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is not limited to any religion or philosophy. It is a quality that all of us possess and can learn to cultivate and increase through practice. It can strengthen your capacity for understanding and lessen the power of your inner critic.
Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy can help with many concerns you may have including depression and anxiety, low self regard and relationship issues, as well as trauma and addictions.
This exercise is to help you see the difference between looking at your thoughts and being controlled by your thoughts.
Imagine you are on the bank of a steadily flowing stream, looking down at the water.
Upstream some trees are dropping leaves, which are floating past you on the surface of the water.
Just watch them passing by, without interrupting the flow. Whenever you are aware of a thought, let the words be written on one of the leaves as it floats by.
Allow the leaf to carry the thought away.
If a thought is more of a picture thought, let a leaf take on the image as it moves along.
If you get thoughts about the exercise, see these too on a leaf. Let them be carried away like any other thought, as you carry on watching.
At some point, the flow will disappear. You will no longer be on the bank seeing the thoughts on the leaves. Instead the thoughts will have taken over and you’ll be inside them. As soon as you notice this, see if you can return to watching the leaves. You are the watcher not the thoughts.
Notice the difference between thoughts passing by and thoughts thinking for you. Do this whenever you notice the leaves have disappeared and the thoughts taken overed. Then return to the bank, letting every thought find its leaf as it floats steadily past.
Most of all remember there is no right or wrong. Don’t try to do this exercise perfectly. It is only a way to develop awareness. ( Which always comes and goes for us humans ; )