Originally a key feature of ancient Buddhist practice, mindfulness and mindfulness-based therapy have revolutionized mental healthcare over the last half century since being introduced to the West. By teaching people to pay attention to the present moment without judgment, mindfulness-based therapy helps people to change the way they experience themselves and their lives. Mindfulness-based therapy strengthens people’s steadiness in difficult moments while simultaneously making them feel more present to the deeper meaning and joy in their lives.
Mindfulness-based therapy, which can be practiced in a group therapy or individual therapy setting, increases the awareness of one's inner experience, including physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. Importantly, mindfulness-based therapy teaches one to relate to their inner experience from a place of non judgment. With more awareness and less judgment, it becomes easier to impartially observe one’s experience rather than simply reacting to it on autopilot. An increased capacity to observe, rather than react, gives people more freedom to choose how to respond to challenges in their lives. Ultimately, mindfulness-based therapy can help to interrupt painful patterns of thought and behavior.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Victor E. Frankl
At The Center for Growth, our mindfulness-based therapists teach clients mindfulness skills drawn from widely-practiced therapies, including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Intuitive Eating. While nearly all of our therapists incorporate elements of mindfulness in therapy, be sure to let us know if you’re looking for a therapist who is primarily mindfulness based who can help you explore mindfulness in a deeper way.
If you’re reading this and wondering is mindfulness-based therapy right for me, continue on to learn more about different approaches to mindfulness-based therapy.
Research shows that mindfulness-based therapy is effective for a variety of common challenges and emotional concerns, including:
Mindfulness-based therapy for anxiety
Mindfulness-based therapy for depression
Mindfulness-based therapy for eating disorders
Mindfulness-based therapy for chronic pain
Mindfulness-based therapy for couples
Mindfulness-based therapy and meditation can reduce the intensity of anxiety, decrease stress, and prevent panic attacks. It is important to remember that feelings of anxiety can sometimes be caused by histories of abuse and trauma. For this reason, it is advised to explore mindfulness-based therapy with a trained professional who can help you to safely navigate painful memories while learning mindfulness skills.
To start, a trained mindfulness-based therapist will help you use mindfulness techniques, like focusing on the breath or sensations in the body, to learn to make space for difficult or unpleasant emotions nonjudgmentally. When you allow yourself to simply observe anxieties, fears, and worries, similar to observing the breath, the intensity of the emotions typically is reduced. By observing these emotions as they arrive without running away from them, mindfulness-based therapy can help you to gain insight into the underlying causes of your anxiety, stress, or panic. With greater insight into the causes and patterns of anxiety you experience, mindfulness-based therapy can help you to feel freer and less consumed by your stress or worries.
Similar to mindfulness-based therapy for anxiety, mindfulness-based therapy for depression can support you to feel better by improving how you relate to your thoughts and feelings. Depression typically involves entrenched patterns of negative thoughts that run on a loop. A mindfulness-based therapist can help to interrupt that negative thought loop by teaching mindfulness skills that help you to stay in the present. By helping you to learn how to anchor your attention in the present, such as with the sensation of breath, the taste of food, or the feeling of sunshine on your face, you have less mental space available to ruminate on past failures or future worries.
Mindfulness-based therapy for depression also helps you to become more familiar with the negative thought patterns you ruminate on, like “There is something wrong with me” or “I’m not good enough.” When you become more familiar with the depressive thoughts, it becomes easier to identify them, recognize that they are just thoughts and not necessarily the objective truth, and disengage as they arrive. This creates space between you and the thoughts, and that spaciousness often brings significant relief to people suffering from depression.
Mindfulness-based therapy is a powerful intervention for all types of eating disorders. When someone is struggling with restrictive eating or binging behavior, they typically use food to soothe negative emotions. For example, someone who restricts food may feel ashamed of their body. Restricting food may help them cope with the shame by giving them a sense of control over their body’s appearance. With binge eating, on the other hand, food becomes like an addiction, putting us in a trance-like state to avoid feeling whatever emotions may be there, whether that’s feeling tired, sad, angry, or something else. Over time, disordered eating blocks the intuitive connection people have with their bodies and natural hunger cues, making it that much harder to regain a balanced approach to food and eating.
Mindfulness-based therapy helps people to regain an intuitive connection to food and their bodies. Mindfulness is known as a mind-body practice because it helps people to gain insight into the connection between their thoughts, emotions, and somatic experience. A mindfulness-based therapist will support you to increase awareness of the patterns of thought and emotion that may be underneath unhelpful eating behavior. At the same time, mindfulness-based therapy for eating disorders typically includes practices that increase awareness of sensations in the body. By learning how to become present with sensations in the body non judgmentally, it becomes easier to pay attention to signs from your body that indicate hunger and fullness.
There is more and more evidence showing that mindfulness-based therapy can reduce the level of pain that a person experiences. Research has suggested that when mindfulness-based therapy is included in pain management treatment, people can even reduce or eliminate the use of pain medication. Mindfulness-based therapy is associated with decreased activation in the sections of the brain that are in charge of sending and receiving pain signals.
Mindfulness-based therapy, which helps people to become aware of and accept their mind and body without judgment, helps people to feel less negatively towards their pain. While it is normal to wish that pain wasn’t there or worry about what it means, these thoughts can worsen a person’s mood and increase their experience of the pain. Mindfulness-based therapy supports people to allow their pain to be as it is, letting go of the mental energy being expended to think about how to fix or change it. A mindfulness-based therapist can train you to instead use that energy to focus on relaxing the body to the best of your ability so that you can improve your quality of life. Here’s one meditation for mindfully working with chronic pain without an obvious source.
Over time, it often becomes harder to be emotionally present with your spouse or partner. You may find that busy schedules make it difficult to find time to be together. You may also find that when you’ve known your partner for so long, it can be hard to see them as their own person, separate from your experience of them. Unfortunately, when this happens, you stop seeing your partner for their whole humanity and instead experience them almost like an appendage of your sense of self. This can cause pain if your perception of your partner no longer accurately reflects the person they’ve become. It can cause disconnection if your partner senses that you’re so caught up in your story of them that you no longer truly listen to what they’re saying.
A mindfulness-based therapist can help you and your partner to experience each other in a more present and mindful way. Beginner’s mind, a mindfulness concept, stresses a stance towards life that is free of preconception and instead fosters openness and curiosity, like the way that a traveler experiences a new destination. A mindfulness-based therapist will support you to practice beginner’s mind in your relationship by teaching you how to communicate with your partner with an open, curious, and attentive presence. In addition to mindful communication exercises, mindfulness-based therapy for couples may include increasing awareness of the thoughts, feelings, and behavior leading to emotional disconnection and mindfulness-based relaxation techniques for reducing conflict during arguments. Importantly, mindfulness-based therapy can also help you and your partner to improve your sex life by having more mindful sex.
We offer mindfulness services as part of individual and group therapy. To schedule an appointment with a mindfulness-based therapist, use our online scheduling tool or call 215-922-5683 x 100.
Brief discussion of how mindfulness can help PTSD
Brief discussion of how mindfulness can help ADHD
Grief is one of the most painful of human experiences. It can be confusing, messy, and unpredictable. Mindfulness-based therapy