Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It can be used therapeutically to enhance one’s ability to accept their own thoughts and feelings without being overwhelmed by them or being overly attached to them.
The practice of mindfulness is about learning to be present with thoughts, feelings and sensations without getting lost in a narrative about their meaning. While meditation can be a powerful way to practice mindfulness, one does not have to meditate to be mindful. Practicing mindfulness just requires gently but intentionally focusing on what you are doing in the present moment and paying careful, open, and curious attention to the the experience of your five senses and thoughts as they arise.
Mindfulness in Mental Health
Mindfulness practices and mindfulness skill-building can be an important part of mental health care. Mindfulness can be beneficially incorporated into cognitive behavioral therapy for those suffering from a wide variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, general stress, and more.
For someone with OCD, certain internal experiences (thoughts, etc.) are viewed as unacceptable and trigger compulsive behavior. When practicing mindfulness, you would let go of the urge to suppress or get rid of these difficult internal experiences and simply notice them without judgement or resistance; learn more about mindfulness for OCD here.
Mindfulness is also at the core of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT); learn more about mindfulness in DBT here.
Mindfulness exercises have advantages for all people; they have been shown to help reduce levels of stress and pain, improve focus, and benefit both physical and mental health.
Use our Mindful Minutes video series to try mindfulness for yourself! In each video, our clinicians share strategies and exercises on mindfulness for your mental health.