Mindfulness is the conscious practice of being aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Verywell Mind explains that “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a type of psychotherapy that involves a combination of cognitive therapy, meditation, and the cultivation of a present-oriented, non-judgmental attitude called ‘mindfulness.’” The goal of cognitive therapy is to help an individual retire outdated, negative, debilitating thought patterns, and creating new, heathier ways of thinking. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy works first by helping an individual learn to recognize and understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and/ or patterns in his or her life. The MBCT method then encourages the individual, with the help of his or her clinician, to use the revealed negative thoughts, feelings, and/ or patterns, and adjust them to create more positive and successful patterns, feelings, and/ or thoughts. This is typically accomplished by using specific examples that have surfaced during one’s therapy sessions. MBCT is a specialized type of therapy that originated as a relapse prevention approach to primarily help treat depression. Practicing mindfulness techniques outside of MBCT can yield an array of benefits and greatly enhance one’s mental health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” The Mayo Clinic explains that the practice of mindfulness involves focusing on “being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment without interpretation or judgment.” Meditation, for example, is one way to practice mindfulness, and it also happens to be one of the most widely researched methods, though there are several disciplines and practices (e.g., yoga, tai chi, qigong, etc.) that can also cultivate mindfulness.
Empirically Supported Benefits Of Mindfulness
Most of the literature has focused on mindfulness that is developed through mindful meditation. Physiologically, participating in a regular practice of meditation can result in an individual lowering his or her blood pressure, can help to improve one’s heart rate, and can even help to improve one’s breathing. One study found that individuals who regularly practiced meditation throughout the study lowered the thickness of their arterial walls. This finding implies that these individuals have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Meditation has also been said to help improve one’s brain waves. There have been studies that indicate the tranquility effects of practicing mindfulness can be directly correlated to a reduction in one’s stress levels, which can subsequently have a positive effect on one’s immune system.
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If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
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