Mindfulness has become a buzzword recently, with new books and articles such as “Mindfulness: The Key to Productivity?” appearing daily. But what is mindfulness, exactly? And why would counselors be discussing it?
Put simply, mindfulness is a certain way of using your mind. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s defines mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”
Intentionally paying attention to what’s happening is a new skill for most people because we spend so much time on “auto-pilot.” If we aren’t using our minds to make judgments and decisions when we need to, we’re probably off in thought about the past or future, without really paying close attention to what we are seeing, hearing, or feeling in the moment. When people discuss mindfulness meditation, it’s basically the same process of intentionally paying attention, expect meditation is done seated, with a specific object of attention such as your breathing.
Psychologists have discovered that learning and practicing mindfulness is a surprisingly effective way of helping people get un-stuck from problems like depression and anxiety. Mindfulness has been integrated with existing counseling models to develop newer approaches such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).
The Center is currently planning to hold our first-ever MBCT group to be held in the spring of 2015. MBCT is a structured eight-week psycho-educational group that includes learning and practicing mindfulness skills as a way of preventing the re-occurrence of depression. Stay tuned to the Center’s website after the Chinese New Year for an announcement and sign-up information.