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Mindfulness vs. dysfunctional thinking.

Posted Sep 29 2009 3:16pm

I enjoyed this article from Psychology Today, about the benefits of mindfulness meditation to cope with anxiety. In the writer's words, "One of the first prerequisites common to both cognitive therapy and mindfulness practice is learning that we do not have to believe all of our thoughts." He goes on to say:
For the past 16 years, I have also had success teaching what I call a "letting go meditation." In that meditation, students/clients can practice letting go of thoughts that were previously contributing to distress. The exercise serves several functions:

1. It demonstrates that thoughts in themselves do not cause distress or depression. It is the way in which the thoughts are dealt with that causes the distress. This technique allows people to gain this insight through their own experience.

2. One gains experience and practice in non-judgmentally noticing thoughts. One can include thoughts that have been bothersome. If someone has been getting panic attacks, typical thoughts might be "I might die," or "This is horrible," "I wish my heart would slow down." In that way he gets practice in mindfully noticing the thoughts that are a component of his problem.

3. Not only does one get practice in mindfully dealing with thoughts, as he practices the letting go exercise, the physical reaction to the thoughts can continue to decrease. In a sense, the exercise can act as desensitization to the thoughts. The thoughts that were formally very "charged," become no big deal.
He then goes on to tell the reader exactly how to go about his mindfulness practice. This stuff really works, and this article is a good intro for those who are new to it, and a good reminder for the rest of us.

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