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3 min read

Does mindfulness therapy work? Inside The Science of Being Present

Key Takeaways:

  • Mindfulness is a state of awareness in the present moment. It's often used as a technique for reducing symptoms of mental health concerns and general stress.
  • Mindfulness therapy instructs patients on how to be better at being present, and how they can use mindfulness as a tool.
  • Mindfulness therapy also instructs on mindfulness techniques like environment awareness and deep breathing.

Mindfulness is a very old idea that has been resurging in popularity in recent years. In an era of increasingly frenetic worry about the future, and of worsening anxiety about the past, mindfulness therapy has become a bit of a hot topic.

Namely, the concept promises to be just what the modern human needs: a way to simply be. Not to be late, or to be awkward, or to be frustrated, or to be busy, but to just be.

Let's explore mindfulness therapy and determine if it might be helpful for you.

Mindfulness Therapy Information On This Page

How exactly does mindfulness work?

How does mindfulness therapy help with mental health?

Types of Mindfulness Therapy

Mindfulness Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

How exactly does mindfulness work?

"Mindfulness" is a fairly broad concept that describes a state of general awareness about both one's self and one's surroundings.

More specifically, and in the context of mental health, mindfulness means dedicating time and attention to the present moment, extracted from the context of the past or future.

Mindfulness seeks to teach its students how to exist in the present moment without allowing their mind to divide itself between dwelling on memories or fretting about the future.

Mindfulness also means understanding that external factors in the present moment do not necessarily have to have an impact on your mind, and that often, the far more logical and peaceful course of action is to let even the goings-on of the present to wash over you, rather than bowl you over.

Mindfulnesss is an innate ability that often becomes lost in the flurry of spreadsheets and oil changes that is modern life. Mindfulness therapy seeks to re-teach people mindfulness.

How does mindfulness therapy help with mental health?

Often, the primary driver of distress is being overwhelmed by one's thoughts and emotions.

Anxiety causes stress and panic, which can build and become intolerable. Depression can causes fatigue and hopelessness that is unbearable.

The theory behind mindfulness therapy is that one can learn to acknowledge and be aware of these emotions, and that in doing so, they regain some control over their mind and, by extension, feel a little better.

Of course, there are some mental health conditions that cannot be treated by mindfulness alone - and for those cases, more rigorous therapy and medication may be required.

Common Mindfulness Techniques

Here are some of the most commonly cited mindfulness techniques:

  • Stop and smell the roses - Simply taking a few moments to experience and notice your environment can slow down your mind and make you more present.
  • Isolate the present - Part of mindfulness is being present. Try for just a moment to forget the past and the future, and take pleasure in your simple every day tasks. This is not to say you should always ignore your past experiences or plans for the future, but some time away from them can be healing.
  • Take a deep breath - More oxygen helps your brain slow down. Focusing on breathing can also take your mind off of whatever is distressing you.
  • Talk to yourself like a friend - Internal self-compassion goes a long way in being mindful. Rather than punishing yourself internally for feeling or being a certain way, focus on accepting you for both your positives and your negatives.

It's increasing popularity online and in the media has made mindfulness another casualty of the generally unscientific way information spreads online. Talk to a licensed therapist about mindfulness therapy and if it may be right for you. Don't take advice from anyone claiming to be a therapist who does not have the necessary education and licensure.

Definition Template (10)

Types of Mindfulness Therapy

The two types of mindfulness therapy are:

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (also often called Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy)

Each of these types approach mindfulness a little bit differently, and may be better for certain patients or cases. Let's explore them.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy, or MBSR therapy, is a form of talk therapy that treats emotional distress from two fronts:

  • Reducing overall stress
  • Reducing the impact of stress on the mind

MBSR therapy teaches techniques and methods for reducing overall stress, including:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • External conflict resolution
  • Internal conflict resolution
  • At-home stress management techniques

It then combines those techniques with an emphasis on mindfulness such that the patient begins to build a more effective distress tolerance.

Rather than stressful external factors leading to internal overwhelm, the patient reduces how much stress those external factors cause, and then fortifies their ability to let the stress pass over the present moment.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy, or MCBT, is an off-shoot of cognitive behavioral therapy that emphasizes mindfulness.

In essence, MBCT is a form of CBT that more heavily instructs on how to identify and become aware of negative thoughts and emotional regulation.

By being mindful, the patient makes progress in this first stage of CBT. Then, the therapist will guide the patient through the process of cognitive restructuring, or changing those negative thought patterns to be healthier, more constructive, and safer.

Mindfulness Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

As a bustling and burgeoning city of the world, Austin's need for mindfulness is increasing.

Busier lives make for more stress, and more stress makes for less awareness of the present moment.

If you want to explore mindfulness-based CBT therapy, our team of doctoral-level psychologists will be happy to help.

Schedule an appointment online or give us a call to get matched with the right therapist for you.

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

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