What is mindfulness
Mindfulness and psychotherapy
Learn mindfulness on-line with an interactive virtual coach
Mindfulness is best described as a state of awareness characterized by a focused attention on both the internal and external experience of the present moment, and a non-judgmental attitude towards whatever thoughts, images, feelings or sensations enter our awareness.
During a typical mindfulness meditation practice, we sit in a comfortable position, and focus our attention on some fixed, concrete entity, usually the breath. A formal "sitting" mindfulness practice is typically done for 20 minutes a day, sometimes twice daily. As we become aware of particular physical sensations, thoughts, or emotions, we simply note them, without judgment, accept their presence, and try to let them go and return to the breath.
Note that 'accepting' their presence does not mean we like them. We may not enjoy a sensation of pain, or a feeling of sadness or anxiety, but accepting them means we don't fight them, we don't try to push them out of awareness. We accept that during this one fleeting moment, this is what we are experiencing.
As it turns out, emotional distress often comes from "fighting" our emotions, and frequently we may feel anxious because we are not allowing ourselves to feel some uncomfortable emotion, for example, sadness. Once we 'accept' the emotion, the anxiety and discomfort associated with 'pushing it away' lessens.
Regular practice of mindfulness meditation has a number of health benefits, in both physical and mental health. These include stress reduction, pain reduction, enhanced immune responses, lower anxiety, prevention of relapse in major depression, prevention of relapse in substance abuse, a general enhanced sense of well-being, and improvements in cognitive functions (attention, memory).
Mindfulness and Psychotherapy
The philosophy of mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with many types of psychotherapy. In fact, recently mindfulness has been increasingly incorporated into various psychotherapies. In some cases, it plays a central role, for example in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy or Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. In other therapies, it is an integral component of the approach, for example, in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Learn mindfulness on-line, with a virtual coach
There are many ways in which you can learn mindfulness. Ideally, you would learn with a teacher, with face-to-face interactions. But sometimes a teacher is not available, not accessible in your area, or the cost may be prohibitive.
There is now an alternative. You can learn mindfulness with a 'virtual coach'. The coach will guide you through a 4 week course introducing mindfulness. The course content was developed by an internationally-known mindfulness teacher, Kevin Griffin
, and uses Artificial Intelligence and Affective Computing technologies.
The coach interacts with you in English, and customizes the material to your needs. For example, if you have difficulties practicing because you become restless during meditation, the coach will provide specific advice to address this problem.
You can try the coach here "Virtual Mindfulness Coach
Tel. / email: 413-341-6689 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
409 Main St., Suite 250, Amherst, MA
6-8 Crafts Ave., Suite 2R, Northampton, MA