Humans are inclined to work on an autopilot mode, finishing one task after another, without giving them much thought. For example, when you drive to work every morning, do you notice anything new about the roadside buildings? When you are eating while watching your favorite TV or Netflix Show, do you pay attention to the taste or texture of your food?
Many times, you are surprised to note that you don’t remember anything about your daily commute to work. Similarly, you also fail to recall the taste of your last meal.
Both cases are the perfect examples of mindlessness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental skill set that we acquire from the practice of meditation. This skill teaches us to focus on the present moment in a non-judgmental and relaxed fashion. Mindfulness improves our ability to focus and successfully alleviates stress.
Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders are the most common types of mental health issues in the US. People who are dealing with these challenges often seek therapy or counseling from professional psychotherapists and counselors.
But can mindfulness help in counseling to help clients improve their mental well-being?
In this post, we are going to explore the role of mindfulness in designing an effective counseling program for people seeking counseling and therapy.
So, let’s find out more about what makes this so crucial for decluttering and rewiring our brains.
How does Mindfulness help in counseling?
For most of us, juggling multiple commitments can be overwhelming. With so much going on in our daily life, focusing on every task individually becomes challenging because we have too much on our plate.
Since mindfulness teaches us how to pay attention to what is happening in the present moment, the therapeutic practice can teach us how to improve focus.
The purpose of mindfulness is to reconnect us with ourselves, declutter our minds and reduce our stress. The practice also makes us feel more attuned with our inner emotions, so we become more aware of ourselves, both physically and mentally.
When we combine this technique with counseling and therapy, the results can be remarkable.
Generally, counselors integrate mindfulness to help their clients become more aware of their surrounding sounds, sights, and physical sensations. That way, a counselor can reduce the constant ‘brain chatter’ that doesn’t let an individual be ‘at peace,’ so to speak.
At first, many people struggle with meditation and find it difficult to focus on specific sounds, sights, or emotions. But over time and with regular counseling sessions, an individual can master the technique and acknowledge his/her/their ‘brain chatter’ to address it without judgment.
Although these types of mindfulness practices are beneficial for everyone, people with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety can manage their symptoms better with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy.
The Benefits of Integrating Mindfulness in counseling
The concept of mindfulness emerged in the West, in the 1970s. Today, there is plenty of research data to support the benefits of mindfulness in achieving counseling and therapy goals.
Once a person dealing with mental health issues starts receiving mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy, they:
- view situations more clearly
- acknowledge and even stop habitual/negative reactions
- respond more positively
- are more creative and mentally alert
- improves work-life balance
More benefits include:
- Improved sleep
- Significant reduction in anxiety
- Fewer visits to the counselor/therapist
- More mental and physical energy
- Fewer negative emotions or feelings
- Reduced stress
- Better self-image
Studies also indicate that mindful meditation in the workplace results in improved productivity and reduced sickness absence. Mindfulness techniques for relieving chronic pain and work-related stress can teach employees to let go of any future expectations and worries to focus on the present moment, instead. That allows organizations and companies to teach their employees a valuable way to deal with challenging situations in a calm manner.
Exercises Performed in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy
Mindfulness-based counseling sessions involve cognitive therapy and techniques such as mindfulness meditation for teaching people how to become aware of their emotions, feelings, and thoughts without any judgment.
Here are a few exercises that are part of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy.
People benefit from self-directed or guided meditation for becoming more aware of their breathing, thoughts, and body.
This exercise involves lying down and focusing on different areas of the body to bring awareness and attention. Typically, people start from the toes and move up through the body until they reach the top of the head.
Mindfulness exercises involve becoming more aware of the present moment. Although we can practice this during meditation, we can also easily incorporate mindfulness into our daily routine such as mindful eating, etc.
The activity involves stretching mindfully to identify troubled areas of the body to release tension and muscle stiffness.
Eating meals using all five senses, touch, sight, taste, smell, and sound is called mindful eating. It’s the perfect way to end mindless eating which is common in eating disorders and emotional eating.
Sometimes, letting your thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky instead of focusing on them is a great way to rejuvenate your mind and soul.
Avoid attaching any judgments to your thoughts. For example, ‘I’m such a bad person’ or ‘I always make such a mess.’
Counselors and Psychotherapists recommend yoga to people who are undergoing stress or experiencing symptoms of mental disorders. A variety of yoga poses can facilitate mindful stretching of the body.
Other beneficial techniques include mindfulness counseling including sitting meditations, sitting with sounds, and mindful walking.
Counseling is a short-term investment that guarantees long-term benefits. Whether you are dealing with PTSD symptoms, overcoming the loss of a loved one, undergoing anxiety, or depression; get in touch with our team of expert and qualified therapists and counselors. We provide affordable and effective counseling sessions to people of all ages, from kids to teens and adults.
If you are looking for professional and expert mindful counseling and therapy services in Grand Rapids, MI, we are here to help you. Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids offers customized and personalized mindfulness counseling sessions to every client.