Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Mindfulness and Counselling

I haven't had a go at blogging before, so it may take me a while to get the hang of it! I'm not brilliant at IT, but I wanted a space to chat about counselling and related issues. Right now I'm thinking about #mindfulness and how useful it can be in counselling, wellbeing... and life!


Stepping stones across the water
Stepping stones across the water
I feel that there are many ways in which mindfulness can be used to good effect. There are some useful CBT techniques for instance, but that doesn't necessarily tell the full story. Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years - it's certainly stood the test of time. People can use it in so many ways - to help relax, to improve focus and concentration, to meditate, to relieve stress, anxiety or depression. It can be used to help people with long term pain problems. It can be quite a powerful tool. You can see that I'm a fan!
I've used it myself personally for over forty years; and in recent years with clients / patients in therapy. It's not everyone's cup of tea but in my experience it has real therapeutic value both for those in distress and also to increase wellbeing.

There are many ways of learning to be more mindful. Perhaps the most important thing to say though is that it's not about doing it 'perfectly' but about having a go. You can read about it and think about it, but it's the actual doing that's the most important.Wrestling with what makes it difficult is being mindful.

In a way it's so simple and yet so difficult at the same time. Perhaps that sounds really vague. Here's an example...go for a short walk and try to focus on just walking, your body and how it feels, putting one foot in front of the other. You'll notice that your mind soon begins to wander. That's OK but just gently notice what thoughts come into your mind and then go back to focusing on the walking. That's it!

What that exercise does is to begin to train your mind to focus rather darting about - as minds usually do. It's a gentle kind of control not forced  In doing this you can learn to take a step back from your thoughts rather than getting tangled up in them as is so easily done.....Kind of coming out of tunnel vision and seeing the broader view. This can be very therapeutic.

Another way I find useful to approach mindfulness is through #gardening. Seeing the colours, smelling the scents, doing something physical can all help us focus in the present moment, How many people have found themselves 'lost' in the moment while pottering around the garden. We're involved in using our senses and that helps us keep in the present moment, rather than being bothered by the past or worrying about the future.

Just smelling a favourite flower or herb can have that effect - getting us out of our thoughts and aware of ourselves in our physical surroundings - the smell of honeysuckle after the rain, a favourite rose, a pot of jasmine on the windowsill. These are some of my own examples, others will have their own....what are yours?

By Lin Travis

www.lintravis.co.uk