Mindfulness is a technique extracted from Buddhist meditation and brought to the West by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. It has been used with relative success in the treatment of anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, social phobia, depression, eating disorders, addictions, personality disorders, ADHD, etc. It consists of training the mind so that it can be in the here and now, instead of wandering between worries, memories or future fears. It is about connecting with the present moment to fully live our lives.
Mindfulness is increasingly being used as a therapeutic tool in many psychotherapy consultations, led by both psychiatrists and psychologists. The practice of the technique in the consultation later encourages the patient to do it at home.
A mindfulness session can occupy a few minutes of a therapy session and can open a new world of knowledge to the patient. First, we ask the patient to sit comfortably, keeping the back straight and the shoulders relaxed.
Here are 5 simple steps to introduce the practice of mindfulness in the office
1- Designate the object of our attention
To calm our mind, we need to direct our attention to a single stimulus. The selected stimulus is what we know as the object of attention. This object is usually the breath itself. Breathing is necessary for life and makes us aware that we are vulnerable living beings, with needs that we must listen to and meet.
2- Focus attention on the designated object
Breathing is a very appropriate object because it occurs continuously and spontaneously. It is not about breathing in a different way (deeper or slower), but about observing the breath. We can direct attention to abdominal movements, thoracic movements, the sensation of the air circulating through the respiratory tube, the air temperature, etc. You just have to direct your attention to the bodily sensation of the breath.
3- Keep your attention on the object
The patient is asked to hold his attention to the breath as best he can. It is then asked to observe all the changes that are taking place in his/her body.
4- Catalog distractions
Even the most trained people in this technique have distractions. It is about identifying when attention has been diverted elsewhere. When this occurs, the patient is asked to identify what has distracted their attention and label it. Some examples of labels are: “thinking”, “remembering”, “dreaming”, “hurting”, “planning”, etc.
5- Redirect attention to the object
Once we have identified that our attention has been distracted, we must proceed to redirect the attention to the breath. This step should be approached naturally, without criticizing or judging ourselves for having distracted us. It is quite possible that we will have to do it many times, so we must not be demoralized by it.