What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be defined as the act of bringing awareness to our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in the present moment without judgment or attachment. Mindfulness has roots in early Eastern philosophies over 2500 years ago and by the 1970’s mindfulness became more integrated into modern therapeutic practices by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn.

How can mindfulness be helpful?

When experiencing psychological concerns, such as depression or anxiety, we engage in habitual, automatic, and negative ways of thinking and feeling. We can find ourselves suppressing, rejecting, blocking, or avoiding our thoughts and emotions. The intention of mindfulness practice is to observe what comes into our awareness, and notice the thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations that enter our awareness without judgment or holding onto them or pursuing them. There is growing research that regular practice of mindfulness has significant benefits including: decreased depression and anxiety, reduction of pain symptoms, decreased cardiopulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms, decreased psychological distress and increased sense of well-being, improvements in sleep, and an enhanced immune response.

Mindfulness-based practice can involve:

  • Stepping back and noticing your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations
  • Adopting a curious mind, not to evaluate, judge, or analyze thoughts, emotions, or bodily sensations
  • Practising a willingness and openness to experience your thoughts and emotions
  • Bringing back your focus to the present moment when your mind wanders away
  • Engaging in mindfulness meditation exercises that focus on breath and body in the here-and-now

How is mindfulness integrated into Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy?

Mindfulness-based approaches represent an evolution and extension of traditional cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Unlike CBT that focuses on changing the content of thoughts, mindfulness places a greater emphasis on changing our awareness and relationship to our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. However, there is important overlap between mindfulness-based approaches and CBT that allow for more “decentered” views about how our thoughts are not facts. Thus, traditional CBT can be augmented with integrating other approaches, such as mindfulness.

How can the team at Oakville Centre for Cognitive Therapy help?

At the Oakville Centre for Cognitive Therapy, we have trained psychologists with experience in integrating mindfulness practice into cognitive-behavioural therapy. If you are interested in receiving evidence-based treatment, please contact us at 905-338-1397 or email us via the Contact Us page of our website.

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