Mindful therapy leads to mindful living
Mindfulness is an essential component of good, effective and practical therapy. It means becoming more aware and understanding of what is currently going on both around and within us.
This understanding helps a client to learn to manage three aspects of themselves, that can otherwise become out of balance:
1. Their energy level.
2. The amount of information that they have access to and can process.
3. The relationships they have, with themselves and others.
This is best achieved by becoming self-reflective and so, in the initial client session, one of the key aims for the therapist will be to enable their client to become calm. It is often surprising to clients that a simply learnt, gentle breathing exercise can bring that calmness quickly.
That then leads onto a clearer explanation and communication of what the client wants to focus on. It is from this calm place that the counsellor can ask gentle and insightful questions that begin to increase the client’s self-understanding. This understanding is often termed ‘self-awareness’ and forms the bedrock of what is part of a ‘mindful living’ process.
A further aspect of that ‘mindful living’ process is self-management, especially around managing energy levels. For example, an angry or anxious client may find that they are often agitated and have too much unspent energy, which could lead them to take unhealthy actions. Other clients may be too anxious and/or depressed and find that they feel depleted of energy and therefore do not respond at all and instead withdraw.
A secondary part of self-management is in regulating the flow of information that we are exposed to. We pick up information through a combination of our senses. This includes the five senses of sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell, added to by our sixth ‘gut instinct’ or intuition. Sometimes we feel are overloaded and unable to make good decisions. Becoming mindful helps us to pay attention and be selective on what is useful for us to address first.
By carefully undertaking an ‘emotional needs audit’ the therapist can aid their client to understand what information needs to be focused on and how their energy level can be suitably matched to the challenge they need to meet.
This process of illuminating ‘self-awareness’ and ‘self-management’ brings the client into a better relationship with themselves. This relationship with ourselves becomes another and seventh ‘sense’. It is our inner guidance system.
It is from this better internal relationship that the client can then focus their attention externally, i.e. on becoming socially aware and in better relationship with others. That makes us more empathic and responsive to us. This social awareness becomes our eighth sense.
When we are calmly able to assess ourselves and others, we find we will choose actions and ways they lead to a positive outcome, by which, we mean we find ourselves moving towards our goals.
Mindful living is more than just meditation and breathing, it is the paying attention to all eight of the senses mentioned above. Good counselling sets the scene and can inspire new personal growth for the client.
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