Minding Our Mindfulness

Next Friday (November 20) the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Study Group will be reflecting on the issue of the therapist's mindfulness. I thought I'd like to suggest that, between now and then, we might experiment with deliberately finding our mindfulness before we begin some of this week's therapy sessions. 

Here's a guide for a brief, pre-session mindfulness exercise for therapists.  In composing it, I've tried to touch on all of the elements of the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy "hexaflex" model.  I've also remembered Shauna Shapiro's suggestion that we think of mindfulness as a matter of intention, attention, and attitude.
  • Find the intention to take a few mindful breaths, and do it.
  • Am I willing to be open to any experience being offered right now? (Actually check in with yourself:  What is your level of willingness?  Can you rate it from 0-10?)
  • Why do I want to be mindful right now?
  • What can I be aware of right now: in my body, in my thoughts and feelings, in my sense of pleasure or discomfort, in my experience of being in this room?  Am I completely open to having this experience?  If not completely, do I want to open up more, be more accepting?  Why? 
  • What am I aware of about the person I'm meeting?  Am I open to "not knowing" much more than I actually know right now?  Am I willing to let go of what I already know in order to be open to whatever I am about to experience?
  • What are my thoughts, judgments, and feelings about this person?  Am I aware of them as experiences I am having, rather than facts about this person?  Am I able to be fully accepting of all these aspects of my experience?
  • What are my intentions in this particular meeting?
It might also be useful to get in touch with any overarching intentions you have, and articulate them briefly.  I sometimes find it grounding to remember the very traditional Buddhist dedication: "May all beings be happy, joyous, and live in safety."  Your own values or faith tradition might suggest a similar intention.

I'm looking forward to our discussion of our experiences on Friday!
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Jacqueline said...

I wish I could be there! Sounds like a good meeting. I like your pre-session mindfulness exercise! In the past I have been doing the Greeting Exercise described in "Mindfulness and Psychotherapy"(Germer, Siegel, & Fulton, 2005, page 89), which would be very helpful before I would be meeting with a "difficult" client. Chapter 3 & 4 of this book are also very educational on therapist's mindfulness.

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