Mindfulness: more than just a buzzword
Mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist practice of paying attention to moment to moment experience in a nonjudgmental way. Contemporarily, it has been highly regarded and recognized by western psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive neuroscience as having a deeply therapeutic value and literally transformative impact on the mind/brain. Mindfulness is about developing self-awareness and is the cornerstone of all psychological and spiritual work.
Before starting a session, I always begin with mindfulness meditation to help gather and center my client. This is because mindfulness allows one to get in touch with oneself as an observer behind the whirlpool of distracted thought, emotion, and sensation. It deeply anchors one in the present moment and allows us to really experience and study our selves.
Research states that mindfulness or rather the capacity of the mind to direct the brain, through trained attention and focus, can shift our neural architecture. Through mindfulness we can dis-identify with negative thoughts and behavior patterns and allow us to replace them with positive ways of being-in-the-world. It gives us choice and frees us from our habitual modes of reacting and judging. Today mindfulness has been used to treat many disorders from depression, anger management, addictions, anxiety and panic disorders, chronic pain and stress reduction to name a few areas.