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How is mindfulness used in therapy?

The use of mindfulness in therapy

Mindfulness is: “Paying attention in a particular way, in the present moment, on purpose, non-judgmentally.” Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Why can mindfulness be so useful in therapy?

Mindfulness in therapy is different than many people think. Some people believe it means meditating, slowing down or participating in deep breathing activities. Others think it’s more like hypnosis or a trance state. Still others may assume it’s just about taking a pause to reflect before you make a decision.

However, mindfulness in a therapy setting can be about describing what the inner body feels like. It’s merely tuning into the inner body space, right here in this moment.

For example, someone might say while they are tuned in, “When I imagine meeting a new person, my entire inner body feels hot and my face feels red. I have the urge to hide.” The person is merely noticing their inner world and describing it. As they do this, their self-awareness increases.

As we continue to lean into this, we gain more information. We might ask what it’s saying – this hot feeling. After some time, you realize it’s saying, “You look stupid.” From here, we can even see if there’s an image or memory attached to this hot feeling. 

(The middle school memory! I had to read in front of the class! I froze!)

What about an emotion? Is there an emotion attached to the hot feeling? For some people, they might say “it’s shame or embarrassment”.

Now we have more information about this automatic reaction. With more data, we can make more accurate decisions and have more control. (Control is fun!)

For example, “I am about to leave my vehicle where I am going to meet new people. I’m already feeling my face get red.”

New data: Oh, maybe this is related to that middle school memory and not the current situation.

Over time, tuning into these states helps you recognize when you are in them and then interact from a different place. Like, “I’m embarrassed but I am also excited. I think I’ll interact from the excited state and I’ll try to comfort my embarrassed state and leave it where it is.” 

In the past, you could’ve experienced the anxiety/shame/red face and then decided, “I can’t meet new people. Too stressful.” You are then completely at the mercy of your situation and it’s stifling. That is very uninspiring.

This is how mindfulness works in therapy. It gives you immediate information you can use as soon as the session ends. 

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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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