Mindfulness-based therapy is a therapeutic approach that focuses on, as the name suggests, the cultivation of mindfulness. There are a number of different therapeutic practices that fall under the category of mindfulness-based (or use components of mindfulness), including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and Hakomi, among others. Mindfulness-based therapy is generally designed to help a client’s attention focus on the present moment and research has found it to be effective for many conditions, including anxiety, depression, stress and chronic pain.
Why Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation focuses awareness on all incoming thoughts and feelings and to acknowledge them. The aim is to simply recognise and accept all senses rather than acting or reacting to them. This can assist individuals with disengaging, or “Decentering” themselves, from self-criticism, rumination, and dysphoric mood that can arise as a reaction to negative thoughts or emotional patterns.
Individuals who have historically suffered from depression can, when they become anxious, be set back to an automatic cognitive processes which may lead to onset of a depressive episode. The goal of Mindfulness practice is to interrupt any automatic processes and help the participant to focus less on reacting to incoming stimuli, and instead accepting and observing them without judgment. In this way mindfulness practice encourages the participant to observe the potential onset of automatic processes and to reset their reaction to be more mindful and reflective.
Mindfulness practice may help with reduction of depressive symptoms and, according to some research, may support a reduction in cravings substances of abuse. Addictions interfere with the prefrontal cortex which allows for a delay in immediate gratification. With this interference longer term benefits by the limbic and paralimbic brain region are lost which is related to the reward circuit and which is seen to be involved in drug dependency. Over a fortnight smokers carried out 5 hours of mindfulness meditation and were seen to reduce their smoking by about 60% and reduced their cravings, even for those smokers in the experiment who had no prior intentions to quit. Mindfulness meditation reveals increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, a sign of greater self-control.