As a Contemplative Psychotherapist, one who bases my psychotherapy practice on the Buddhist understanding of mind, I am especially interested in helping my clients to develop mindfulness. While the most direct way to cultivate mindfulness is the sitting practice of mindfulness-awareness meditation, not everyone is ready for, or interested in, doing that.
As I've written about before (see my previous blog entry), there are often good reasons for me not to become the meditation instructor for my clients. When I have clients who are interested in learning how to do formal meditation practice, I usually tell them how to connect with people, classes, or books that can get them started.
Some clients have other formal contemplative practices like yoga, tai chi, or contemplative prayer. These kinds of practices are already designed to help their practitioners become more mindful and attentive to their moment to moment experience. Together we explore how they can apply what they know from their contemplative practices to the rest of their lives.
Still others have what I like to call "informal mindfulness practices." These are the everyday activities of life that can support the cultivation of mindfulness.
For example, a man I know plays a lot of golf. He has learned a great deal about how to work with his mind as a result. He knows, for example, that he needs to pay attention to what he is doing with his body when he swings a golf club. He pays attention to where his head is, how he twists his body at the beginning of the swing and how he moves through it to the end of his swing. He attends to the placement of his feet and the shifting of his weight.
At the same time, he also pays attention to his mind. He knows that if he is thinking too much about what he's doing or getting distracted by memories of how he has played well or badly in the past, he will mess up this present drive. He has learned something about how to let go of thoughts and come back to the present moment.
In addition, he has learned the important lesson of not holding his mind and his body either too tight or too loose. If he tries too hard to get everything right, he will become tense and awkward. If he doesn't try at all, it won't work well either.
Finally, he knows that he also needs to let go of the drive once it's completed, no matter how it turned out. If he tries to do exactly what he's done before, he won't be present for the next stroke.
All of these things he's learned are principles of good mindfulness practice:
1. Paying attention to the moment-to-moment details of experience
2. Paying particular attention to the body and one's experience of it
3. Recognizing the experience of mind and not getting caught in memories of the past or plans for the future
4. Trying neither too much nor too little
5. Letting go of distractions and paying attention to the present moment
6. Noticing one's experience without judging it
- Find a Therapist
- Topic Streams
- Get Help
RelationshipsLow Sexual Desire
Recently Diagnosed?Diagnosis Dictionary
- Psych Basics