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How Mindfulness-Based Therapy Goes Deeper Than Talk Therapy

by Laura Welch

Why did you give up so quickly?

Why won’t you go to that book club you’ve always wanted to go to?

Why does the thought of moving toward your goal make you want to fall into a crack in the earth?

Mindfulness therapy can help you understand these things. 

Traditional talk therapy is wonderful and there will always be a place for it.

Traditional talk therapy is wonderful in that it gives you a sounding board to work things out. In fact, talk therapy can be a better therapy when you are actively going through a traumatic event like considering leaving a relationship. There is so much to process at those times.

But if you are hoping for greater change and the ability to move away from long held beliefs, sometimes talk therapy doesn’t go as deeply as other therapies.

Mindfulness approaches are powerful for creating long lasting changes. 

What are mindfulness therapies? EMDR, IFS, Hakomi, ACT or even art therapy.

Imagine you were asked to tune into your body, starting with your face, your torso, and then your legs and feet. You would watch specifically for sensations, emotions, thoughts, memories or images.

Your therapist then asks you if it’s okay to do a mindfulness experiment. Maybe you’ve been feeling stuck. So your counselor is going to set up a situation and hand you something you’ve been working for. It’s a long-held dream. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a policewoman, teacher, or writer. Maybe you’ve just wanted to have enough money so you aren’t struggling.

Your therapist pretends to hand you this dream. To make the experiment more real, she uses a notebook that represents your dream. Slowly, she picks it up, brings it to you and you have it now. You can feel it in your hands.

Okay, so take a look. What’s happening in your body? What happened at the moment the dream was on it’s way to you? We watch, slowly, taking our time.

How do you react when you are actually faced with achieving your dream?

Many people might react when given their “dream”. But why? They might notice shame, sadness, a thought, “I can’t do it.” Or they might have the opposite effect. It feels really good and they’ve never considered how good it would feel so they savor that feeling.

Your counselor might ask you to just stay with that savoring. Really feel what it would be like to have the dream you’ve always wanted. Bring it in.

Mindfulness based therapy is a body centered approach. We use the body for clues about long held beliefs that you may have never even considered before. It can work very effectively to help someone understand how things automatically show up for them.

Those automatic reactions either keep you moving forward or they block you.

The trouble is most people aren’t aware of how the unconscious parts of themselves manage this moment. Do they always anticipate things will go wrong? Do they always shrink as if a dominating grandmother is in the room? Do they always have to prove themselves and never get to relax?

Having greater awareness gives you more choices. If you see the belief, “I can never do this,” show up from a mindful perspective, you have now created some space around this thought. It doesn’t have a hold on you like it does when you aren’t even aware of it.

Maybe you unconsciously decided you won’t have shame if you don’t go toward a goal. Shame is an incredibly painful feeling. But that anticipated shame has nothing to with your ability to achieve a goal and it hasn’t even happened yet. It’s just being anticipated.

Without the unconscious mind directing our actions, we can consciously direct them ourselves. 

Mindfulness experiments are fantastic in teen groups. Imagine a room of kids pretending to walk with one person then switching and pretending to walk with another person. How do these two people make them feel? Your best friend? Your Biology teacher? What beliefs are they bringing up in you?

Mindfulness experiments are great in couples therapy as well.

When you know how to make the unconscious conscious, you can heal. 

If you are ready to reach out and find a therapist, we can help. We also have three teen (and pre-teen) groups going that use mindfulness-based therapies as a part of the curriculum.

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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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