Mindfulness-Based Therapy Techniques
“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the
exquisite vividness of each moment. We feel more alive. We also gain
immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight,
transformation, and healing.”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D
Thoughts and emotions. We all have them, and we all judge them. You may think:
"Why can’t I just stop thinking about this"?
"I spend more time thinking about doing something than actually doing something".
"Why do I feel sad all the time"?
"Shouldn’t I be feeling happier"?
"I hate that I get so angry".
Why Does Mindfulness Matter?
Our relationship with our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and bodies matter and has a great impact on our mental wellness. Mindfulness gives us space from our thoughts and helps us connect to our bodies, our emotions, and the present moment. Therefore, we can accept the present as it unfolds without judgment. Mindfulness gives us the opportunity to respond intentionally rather than letting our emotions take control of how we react to life situations. When we are mindful, we aren’t doing, worrying, planning, scrolling, dwelling, and obsessing; we are simply being.
Who Can Benefit from Mindfulness-Based Practices?
adulthood and is and shown to be effective for:
Researchers believe the benefits of mindfulness are related to its ability to dial down the body's response to stress. When we perceive a situation to be stressful and believe the demand of the stress outweighs our resources, our bodies activate a stress response. The stress response or “fight or flight” response has developed for survival and involves a body-focused process to prepare us to react to a threat.
Struggling with Mental Health Can Impact You Physically
Increased heart rate
A burst of adrenaline
Redirection of blood away from extremities and to major organs
The release of cortisol and other hormones
Digestive system activation
Chronic stress can impair the body's immune system and make many other health problems worse. By lowering the stress response, mindfulness may have downstream effects throughout the body. Studies have shown that mindfulness practices make changes to the brain as seen through MRI scans. The brain's “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink and the pre-frontal cortex associated with awareness, concentration, planning, and rational thinking becomes thicker. This means that mindfulness reinforces the ability to regulate stress and respond thoughtfully versus a more emotion-based response.
Furthermore, when we are depressed or anxious we feel stuck in ruminating thoughts and emotions, and the stress response may become overactive. We may think we need to get rid of thoughts and emotions and start passing negative judgment about our experiences. However, healing comes from noticing, accepting, and moving through thoughts and emotions.
“Instead of getting sucked into our emotions or our thoughts, which is what happens when we’re depressed or anxious, we see them as those thoughts again, or those feelings again, and that disempowers them.”
Daniel Goldman, Ph.D
What Does Mindfulness Therapy in Madison, WI Look Like?
Mindfulness therapy isn’t about sitting still in silence for long periods of time and attempting to stop your thoughts. It is about connecting with your experience (thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations) and accepting what comes up for you. Practicing mindfulness can be done in a variety of different ways. We can even personalize it to what works best for you. This includes grounding techniques, movement, visualization, body scanning, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and meditation.
Mindfulness is often part of and can be used in conjunction with different therapy modalities. This includes Inner Family Systems, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and EMDR.
Therapists can provide space and opportunities to build your inner resources and teach you how to connect to them through guided exercises and reflective inquiry. Therapists at Golden Vibes can teach you techniques to build your “mindfulness muscle” which allows you to separate from unhealthy thinking patterns and access “being” mode throughout your day.
Tools for Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness Activity for Adults
Here is an example of a mindfulness exercise from The Mindful Way Through
Depression by John Teasdale, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mark Williams, Zindel Segal
1-Minute Breathing Space Exercise
Have there been times when you just needed some “breathing space?” This practice provides a way to step out of automatic pilot mode and into the present moment. What we are doing is creating a space to reconnect with your natural resilience and wisdom. You are simply tuning in to what is happening right now, without expectation of any
particular result. If you remember nothing else, just remember the word “STOP”.
Stop and Take Stock. Checking in to head/heart/body.
Bring yourself into the present moment by deliberately asking:
What is my experience right now?
Head: Thoughts… (What are you saying to yourself? What images are coming to mind?)
Heart: Feelings… (Enjoying, not enjoying, neutral, upset, excited, sad, mad, etc.)
Body: Sensations… (Actual present-moment sensations, tightness, holding, lightness)
Acknowledge and register your experience, even if it is uncomfortable.
Take a Breath. Directing awareness to breathe.
Gently direct full attention to breathing, to each in-breath and each out-breath as they follow, one after the other. Your breath can function as an anchor to bring you into the present and help you tune into a state of awareness and stillness.
Open and Observe.
This method allows you to expand awareness outward and expand the field of your awareness around and beyond your breathing, so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression, then further outward to what is happening around you: sights, sounds, smells, etc. As best you can, bring this expanded awareness to the next moments.
Proceed/ New Possibilities
Continuing without expectation. Let your attention now move into the world around you, sensing how things are right now. Rather than react habitually/mechanically, you can be curious/open, responding naturally. You may even be surprised by what happens next after having created this pause.
Resources for Mindfulness
Insight Timer App and Website
Yoga with Adrienne
Yoga at the Dream Bank (Lunch Time Yoga with Keena)
Calm App and Website
Mindfulness Activities for Teens
Mindfulness-based therapy with teens may focus on learning about emotions,
identifying emotions, learning about the stress response, and practicing coping skills.
1. Set a timer for 7 minutes.
2. Find a comfortable position. Interlock your thumbs to create a butterfly shape and rest your palms on your chest.
3. Alternate tapping your right hand and your left hand on your chest.
4. Using your imagination, think about a place where you feel happy, safe, and calm. What images or colors do you see? What do you hear? Continue tapping.
5. When the timer goes off, finish the exercise by taking 3 deep breaths.
1. Put on a favorite song.
2. Find a comfortable position with both feet placed firmly on the ground. Close your eyes or find a place to focus your gaze.
3. Take 3 deep breaths. Focus on filling up your lower belly on the inhale and let your lower belly release on the exhale.
4. Bring your attention to the music. Notice sounds coming and going. You can focus on the lyrics or on the beat of the music. Notice any physical sensations or emotions that come up. Label them as you feel them. Maybe it is an urge to dance or move your body. Maybe it brings a sense of sadness. Try not to judge anything. There is no wrong emotion or physical sensation. Come from a place of acceptance. If you get distracted, that is normal. Just notice the distraction, then come back to your focus on the music.
5. When the song ends, take 3 deep breaths.
Mindfulness Activity for Kids
Mindfulness-based therapy for kids may focus on learning about and verbalizing
emotion and practicing self-regulation skills.
Resources for Teens
Stop, Breathe, Think App
Mindfulness Activities for kids
Shake it up Activity
Stuffed Animal Breathing
1. Pick out your favorite stuffed animal
2. Lay on your back and put the stuffed animal on your belly
3. Fill up your belly with air. Watch it get bigger and bigger.
4. Slowly exhale and watch your belly shrink and your stuffed animal lower.
5. Notice how the stuffed animal moves as you breathe in and out. See if you can make the stuffed animal move up and down as slow as you can.
6. How does your body feel after this activity?
Resources for Kids
Begin Mindfulness Therapy in Madison, WI Today!
When you are ready to start therapy, we are here for you. We offer Mindfulness-Based Therapy among other treatment modalities. Our therapists all have different viewpoints, but that's why we are able to provide such diverse and effective services. You will be placed with a therapist that understands you best. We do understand, getting started with a new therapist can itself be a time of uncertainty, so we work to make beginning therapy an easy process for you. Our Madison, WI-based therapists offer therapy anywhere in the state via online therapy in Wisconsin. To get started, just follow these simple steps:
Call our office at 608-571-0558 or e-mail us to make an appointment
Start finding peace and being present in all areas of your life.
More Mental Health Services at Golden Vibes Counseling Center
At our Madison, WI therapy clinic, we know you our clients have different needs. That's why we offer many types of services that will fit your unique needs. In our counseling office, we offer effective online counseling in Wisconsin. We are truly ready to meet you where you are at. Our skilled therapists can help you using a variety of approaches including ACT, CBT, EMDR, and Brainspotting. These methods can help with sexual assault recovery, depression treatment, anxiety therapy, OCD treatment, therapy for children, PTSD treatment and trauma therapy, college students, exposure therapy, ART therapy, reproductive or maternal mental health, multicultural counseling, and more. We also specialize in LGBTQAI+ counseling and poly-affirming therapies and can assist with gender-affirming care. We look forward to providing a space for you to breathe and be present with your mind and body.