- Do you feel like you're missing out on life?
- Do you often find yourself on "automatic pilot"?
- Do you feel out of touch with your body and feelings?
- Do you get lost in your mind's stories about who you are or who you should be?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then mindfulness practice might be a good fit for you.
Mindfulness can be defined in a variety of ways. Most of the definitions emphasize attention to the present moment and acceptance. Sometimes, other elements might be included, such as love, self-compassion, kindness, or focus. Here at the Soho CBT + Mindfulness Center, we define it this way:
MINDFULNESS IS THE SUSTAINED PROCESS OF PAYING ATTENTION KINDLY TO WHATEVER ARISES MOMENT-TO-MOMENT IN YOUR IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE.
Ultimately, there is not much to be gained by looking for the perfect definition. Instead, it is best to learn what mindfulness is through practice.
Mindfulness can be cultivated in many different ways. Your clinician will help you determine what practices are best suited for you. Maybe you'll be encouraged to notice your thoughts. Maybe you'll pay attention to the ways in which you embody emotions. For many people, it starts simply by paying attention to the process of breathing.
Let’s do a little exercise in paying attention. Let us invite you to become aware of how it feels in your body when you take a breath. Ready? Okay.
Take a deep breath in, then let it out.
What did you notice? Nothing? Do it again. Inhale deeply, then exhale.
What did you notice?
Did you feel the air entering or leaving your body? Did you feel cool air entering your nostrils and warmer air leaving? Did you feel a rise and fall in your chest and abdomen? Did you notice a slight pause between when you inhaled and exhaled? Did you realize that you were thinking about something? Did you notice that your mind generating judgments about you, your breathing, or this exercise? Did you hear something? Did you feel something else in your body? What did you observe?
Actually, whatever you noticed is not particularly important. Instead, it is the noticing and the acceptance that constitute the essence of mindfulness. So, congratulations! You just experienced mindfulness—perhaps only for a few seconds, yet it is that brief experience extended for a longer period of time can lead to profound changes in your health and well-being.
Mindfulness is integrated into most of our sessions. You might practice a formal meditation with us or pay exquisite attention to a discrete experience. We also offer structured, group-based mindfulness programs, including Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Please contact us for details about our upcoming groups.