Alex Churchley Cook PGDip MBACP Psychotherapy & Mindfulness in Surrey

Mindfulness. Mindful - Cartoon

Finding Calm in a Hectic World

What is Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice with its roots in the ancient traditions of contemplative thought and meditation. At its essence it is the gentle practice of coming to observe or witness our thoughts, emotions and environment so that rather than reacting to them, as we so often do, we learn to respond having considered them calmly. When beginning this practice the sheer volume of thoughts that seem to flood through our mind surprises many of us. With time we can often start to see emerging patterns, little scripts that seem to run, without conscious decision or control, that lead to certain unwanted behaviours or events that keep happening in our lives. With practice we come to learn that we are separate to our thoughts and emotions and rather than being a slave to them, we observe and acknowledge them, and then make a healthier choice as to what we need.

Mindfulness has been proven, through extensive credible research, to help with depression, anxiety and stress amongst others. It has a deeply calming effect on those that practice it regularly as well as an increased sense of conscious awareness.

How to practice Mindfulness?

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. The most common is simply observing ones breath, gently watching the inhalation and exhalation and when thoughts are noticed, as they inevitably arise, bringing the attention back to the breath. This can be practiced in the traditional crossed legged position although that is by no means a prerequisite and a seat in a chair is just as effective making this accessible to pretty much everyone. In fact the man responsible for bringing the modern practice into such global public perception began doing so by using mindfulness as a way to treat people with truly chronic pain, life-threatening illness and debilitating depression. He defined mindfulness as simply paying attention; on purpose; in this moment; and without judgement. (Jon Kabat-Zinn).

But seated practice is by no means the only way. Yoga is another way to practice mindfulness and many people find it preferable to be moving and to focus on the sensation in the body than to be still. In fact running, cycling, climbing and any number of other activities that require total focus can be said to be mindful.

How I use Mindfulness?

With its effectiveness around both anxiety and depression, mindfulness can be used to augment therapy, especially when someone really needs some sort of practical solution to help with their symptoms. Deep breathing techniques can be taught during sessions as a way to cope in-between and well after therapy has ended.

I can also provide a therapy that is centred entirely on mindfulness with breath and bodywork at the heart of the process. This can be done in my consulting room in Godalming, at Red Hot Yoga in a private therapy room or at your home. There is little, if any, equipment needed, and for many being taught to practice and having the discipline of receiving regular sessions can greatly help in continuing after the lessons have finished. If after a while on your own, you feel that your practice has suffered in any way, you can always book a few ad hoc sessions to get you back on track.

Please feel free to call me on 07767 352221 or email me to discuss either option.

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