Mindfulness meditation is built on the idea that attention is important. Rather, the ability to control and maintain attention is an important skill that can be developed and strengthened and developed.
Stuck in Your Head?
It happens to everybody. We can all relate to the experience of feeling disconnected, or caught up in our thoughts, worries, or judgments. And when this happens, we tend to miss out on what's happening right in front of us: Connections with others, engagement with the world, opportunities to learn.
To some extent, this is inevitable. But there are ways of getting out of our heads, and back into life.
Attention Training for the Real World
Mindfulness is the ability to to experience thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them. It means being fully present, immersed in the moment.
Mindfulness meditation is a way of developing this skill, by training you to have greater control over your attention. It is a way of training yourself to shift your attention away from your thoughts (which, for many people, are self-limiting, and self-judgmental) thoughts and back toward what is important. It is a way to break the spiral of worry and negativity that can lead to depression and anxiety.
In mindfulness-based therapeutic approaches, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, meditative training is integrated with cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Like other evidence-based practices, mindfulness-based approaches have been subject to scientific research and found to useful in preventing relapse from depression, treating anxiety, and reducing chronic pain.
Learn more about mindfulness and mindfulness-based therapy
- First-person account from the Guardian discussing mindfulness meditation and therapy
- From the NYTimes, Breathing in vs. Spacing Out
- My blog posts, Mindfulness and the Marines, or Meditation Reduces Anxiety