A Buddhist-based mindfulness approach to working with anxiety suggests a couple of things. First, of course, if there's an easy way to relieve one's anxiety-a way that doesn't involve masking it or just distracting oneself-that should be used. The second approach is to work with anxiety by bringing mindfulness to our actual experience. For most of us, this feels counter-intuitive. We want to get rid of our anxiety, not get to know it better!
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.
The question of whether therapists should teach their clients how to meditate is not as simple as it might seem. On the one hand, of course we'd like to share this powerful and practical technique with others who are suffering, but on the other hand lies the question of the appropriateness of therapists serving as meditation instructors to their clients.
The first three Noble Truths taught by the Buddha parallel the ancient Indian medical model of diagnosis, etiology, and prognosis. With the fourth Noble Truth, the last one, we come at last to the treatment. What did the Buddha prescribe?