Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
Cognitive therapy has helped millions of people worldwide resolve psychological issues, and it represents the foundation of many other therapeutic approaches as well. One of these is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which augments traditional cognitive counseling with meditation and a mindful attitude.
MBCT builds upon the teachings of cognitive therapy by incorporating methods such as mindfulness meditation to help enhance people’s awareness by teaching them to observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment. While becoming more mindful is a crucial goal in establishing a meditation practice, you can also bring more mindfulness to daily activities such as eating or exercising.
Besides daily meditation, other activities a therapist might suggest incorporating into an MBCT practice include yoga and body scanning.
Benefits of Mindfulness
Becoming more mindful can help put you in touch with your innermost thoughts and feelings and allow you to explore them non-judgmentally. It can also make you more accepting of any flaws you perceive in yourself or those around you. As such, mindfulness meditation is an excellent addition to any emotional wellness toolkit.
The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most spiritual practices include some form of prayer or silent supplication technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your typical daily worries toward an appreciation of something larger than yourself. Studies of people who regularly meditate have shown that they benefit from less stress, a more positive outlook on life and improved mental and physical health.
How Does Mindfulness Work?
Some experts have suggested that mindfulness effectively helps people learn to accept various life experiences — including painful emotions — instead of trying to deflect, reject or avoid them.
From this perspective, you can understand why it makes sense to combine mindfulness meditation and psychotherapy, especially cognitive therapy. Both of these approaches share the common goal of helping people shift their perspective away from irrational, unhelpful or self-defeating thoughts.
Meditation Tips for Beginners
If you’re new to meditation, you should know that there are multiple ways to practice. You can experiment with different techniques until you find one that feels like the best fit for you. The best part is that you don’t need any specialized equipment to practice meditation, and you can do it almost anywhere.
Here are some strategies to help you get started with a meditation routine.
1. Get Comfortable
When you picture someone meditating, the first image that comes to mind is probably a person sitting on the floor, but many people find it hurts their knees, hips or back to stay in that position for more than a few minutes. Being uncomfortable can be incredibly distracting and break your concentration. Luckily, there’s no rule that says you have to sit in the lotus position. If you want, you can meditate while sitting on your couch, or even lying down.
2. Breathe Evenly
Though meditation requires you to focus on your breath, don’t try to force yourself into a breathing pattern that feels unnatural. Continue regularly inhaling and exhaling through your nose, while paying attention to the sensation of your breath moving throughout your body.
3. Stay Calm
You may have heard that the goal of meditation is to free your mind from all thoughts, but that’s a misconception. Even experienced meditators can encounter intrusive thoughts or negative emotions during their practice. Rather than letting these derail you, accept their presence and release them. With time, you will hone your ability to work through negativity without getting tangled in it, which is a beneficial life skill.
4. Be Patient
You might not take to meditation the first three – or 30 – times you try, but that does not mean you’ll never get the hang of it. Even a supposedly “fruitless” meditation session that only lasts a few minutes can help reduce your stress levels and help improve your focus and attention. Instead of getting frustrated and beating yourself up for being “bad” at meditating, evaluate what went right. Do you feel more at home with yourself than you did before you started? Did you gain any new insights or clarity? If you take time to notice how meditation improves your emotional well-being, it will help you stick with the habit.
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