Explaining mindfulness

Mindfulness is an effective treatment for stressdepressionanxiety and other mental health challenges. It is such a valuable technique that we use it in many of our inpatient, outpatient and day patient treatment programmes.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be described simply as learning to control and focus attention. Through practising mindfulness patients will notice thoughts, feelings and body sensations.

In this film Christos Papalekas, Psychotherapist at the Priory Hospital Roehampton, together with Priory therapists and patients, describe what mindfulness is, and the enormous benefits it can bring.

Who benefits from mindfulness?

Mindfulness can underpin therapy for a variety of conditions including addictions, depression, stress and anxiety.

Anybody can practice mindfulness to help control and focus their thoughts, feelings and emotions. Practicing mindfulness is encouraged from a young age to help incorporate positive mental wellbeing at an early stage.

Evidence for mindfulness

The effectiveness of mindfulness is well-documented. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for the prevention of relapse in recurrent depression.

 It combines mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and stretching with elements from cognitive behaviour therapy to help break the negative thought patterns that are characteristic of recurrent depression.

How does mindfulness work?

There are two ways to practice mindfulness – through mindfulness meditation and living mindfully, moment by moment. Mindful meditation involves sitting for a period of time, observing your breathing, and noticing any thoughts that arise.

Watching your thoughts as they arise can be quite revealing. It makes you realise what your mind focuses on, and how much energy you spend thinking about the past and the future, rather than the present moment.

 Mindful meditation trains you to notice each thought as it arises but, rather than follow where that thought leads, to re-focus your attention on your breath and the present moment.

Mindfulness for every day

Mindfulness is not just about meditation. While meditation helps you to train your mind to focus on each moment, mindfulness is also about paying full attention during your day-to-day activities, such as commuting, working and doing household chores. There are many ways to integrate mindfulness into daily life.

As mentioned in the film, it can start with something as simple as paying full attention to what you are doing at any given moment, for example the sound, smell and feel of brushing your teeth.

Christos Papalekas has also created a three-minute guided mindful meditation session which may be a good introduction to mindfulness for your patients.

Priory offers a nationwide network of private mental health and addiction treatment centres, all of which can be accessed through GP referral. To make a referral call: 0800 090 1354 or click here to use our secure form: click here