Written by Claudia Vermillion, Care Connections Specialist
“Paying attention to something, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” – Kabat-Zinn, 2003
Meditation has been acknowledged as a tool to cope with stress and improve mental health. Science has begun to support the use of meditation for many disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD and ADHD.
Meditation may be an ancient tradition, but it is still practiced in cultures all over the world to create a sense of calm and inner harmony. These days with the greater need to reduce stress in the midst of our busy schedules and demanding lives, meditation is increasing in popularity. One of the most commonly used forms of meditation in behavioral health treatment is called mindfulness.
Mindfulness Meditation was originally based on Buddhist teachings and has become one of the most popular meditation techniques in the West. The focus in mindfulness meditation is on the present moment and not on your thoughts which pass through your mind. You don’t judge the thoughts or become involved with them. You simply observe and take note of any patterns and refocus on the present moment. This practice combines concentration with awareness. This type of meditation is good for people who don’t necessarily have a teacher to guide them, as it can be easily practiced alone.
Mindfulness is used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In this context the term mindfulness refers to the practice of bringing one’s mind to the present moment. Put another way, mindfulness is the technique of recognizing when the mind is caught up in a thought and drawing it back to the present experience. DBT mindfulness adds another dimension to the traditional practice of mindfulness: mindfulness without judgment. By practicing non-judgmental present-focused awareness, you can attend to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without engaging in the self-invalidation responsible for persistent emotional dysregulation.
Pat Lemp, Chief Clinical Officer, Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) shared the following "WJCS clinics provide DBT in all four of our clinics. A foundational component of DBT, a treatment for severe and chronic suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and emotional and interpersonal distress- is mindfulness. Mindfulness- intentional present focus is central to DBT because one cannot change things one is unaware of and also because mindfulness focuses on the now, which is where we can find balance, but also where change happens. Mindfulness is taught and practiced as a coping skill in all DBT treatment. Additionally, all WJCS clinic staff meetings begin with a brief mindfulness exercise for all staff. Leadership of the mindfulness exercise is rotated among staff. We have found that beginning with those few minutes of mindfulness helps the team focus, communicate, and listen effectively to colleagues and it minimizes feelings of burnout. "
Toni Willis, Behavioral Health Regional Director for ACCESS Supports for Living, oversees the mental health clinics and PROS programs says “Meditation and mindfulness are skills often taught and practiced in these programs…. I often find that people like the One Minute Mindfulness skills that they can use throughout the day.”
Here are some ways to practice One Minute Mindfulness**:
Utilizing the breath
Take a walk
1 min stretches
1 min away from emails
1 min muscle relaxation
** From presentation “Self-Care in a Chaotic World” by Toni Willis- LMHC – ACCESS: Supports for Living
Lana Rumore, Director of Adult Care Management/Vocational Services, Mental Health Association of Rockland County, stated “In PROS at MHA of Rockland we facilitate a Mindfulness and Meditation group. Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation in which you focus on being extremely aware of what you're sensing/feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing, guided imagery, and other practices to help one to relax their body and mind, overall leading to less stress.”
Tatyana Yelizarova, a Clinician in PROS (MHAR) shares, “Facilitating the Mindfulness and Meditation group, I have the pleasure to observe changes. They are not rapid changes, but very quality ones. No matter what diagnosis clients carry, they become more aware of themselves and others; they learn to recognize and observe sensations, emotions, and thoughts; they notice that it is possible to take control over their own thoughts and emotions and change them or accept them like they are. It is amazing that clients are not only able to see and verbalize the benefits of mindfulness in their everyday life, but some of them practice mindfulness and mindfulness meditation on their own when they find themselves emotionally dis-balanced."
Access Supports for Living:
“Self-Care in a Chaotic World”
Westchester Jewish Community Services:
Mental Health Association of Rockland County: