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There’s a good chance you’ve already read or heard about . It seems to be everywhere these days, and there’s a reason why! Mindfulness can be really, really effective in treating anxiety and depression, and can generally improve our moods and experiences in our day to day lives.
Mindfulness really just means present moment awareness. We are practicing being aware of what is happening right here, right now, and not judging ourselves for those experiences. Oftentimes, our brains are time travelers, either bringing up memories and moments from the past or fast forwarding to future anxieties and fears. This can feel overwhelming and exhausting. When we practice mindfulness, we train ourselves to pay attention to the present moment, and when we do that we open ourselves up to change!
When we engage in therapy, it is necessary to recognize the rich roots and histories of the approaches we use. Mindfulness comes from Buddhist traditions that have been practiced in East and South Asian cultures for thousands of years. In therapy we can explore mindfulness through a secular lens in order to gain tools that can help us heal.
The world is too busy, stimulating, and sometimes too painful for us. In an age of constant digital distraction and daily horrors in the news, it can be hard to quiet the mind, whether it’s to rest or focus. Mindfulness training can help.
In mindfulness, we pick an anchor to connect us to the present moment. Some common anchors include focusing your attention on breathing, what you can see, or what you can hear. When we practice paying attention to the present moment, we can start to notice when our thoughts, feelings, and ruminations are taking us away. In this moment of noticing, we open up possibilities–we get to decide if we want to continue with this thought and feeling or if we want to acknowledge it and then take action towards change.
Mindfulness therapy can look many different ways. A mindfulness therapist might lead you through a guided meditation to practice present moment awareness. Other times your therapist might pause and ask you to notice how feelings are showing up physically in your body. No matter what, the goal is to connect you to the here and now because that is where transformation happens.
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness, check out some of these resources!
In order to practice mindfulness through an anti-colonial and anti-oppressive lens, we can look for books and readings written by practitioners from around the world. One author we love is Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk born in Vietnam. Here are some of our favorites of his writings on mindfulness: