Living purposefully and intentionally, moment to moment.

We sat down and spoke with Paola, the Senior Social Worker at Epworth Clinic to talk all things mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

What is it? That’s the question. It was actually defined by John Kabat-Zinn and it is about being focused, on purpose, intentionally, and non-judgmentally moment to moment. In today’s life we are, what we call, always in doing mode, and a lot of time spent in that mode is spent being driven. John Kabat-Zinn talks about the doing mode as something where we’re always rushing into doing things, running around, always doing something. We do these things very much, what we call, mindlessly. A lot of us will probably relate to this as to situations like where we don’t know where we put our car keys, or we’ve left them somewhere where we can’t remember, because we were not paying attention to where we actually left them in the first place. Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose every time that you do something.

At Epworth Clinic something that we do in therapy, and also with most of the clinicians, is we introduce the concept of mindfulness. Where I come in, is I actually run the group called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, where we introduce people into the practice of mindfulness itself; it runs for about eight weeks. So, in saying that, with the dialectical behaviour therapy, or DBT, with the ACT, which is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, we introduce people gently to the idea of mindfulness.

What we’re seeing is that there are a lot of benefits to mindfulness, there’s a lot of research now from the time John Kabat-Zinn-started this on the mindful base of stress reduction in 1970s. In 1980s, Segal, Teasdale and Williams took that on and incorporated the CBT with mindfulness and from then on, from the 1980s until now, there has been an explosion of research that is evidence based that it’s working. We are trained to deliver the mindfulness base.

Especially with people with depression and anxiety, what we were finding is that a lot of people tend to ruminate or go into planning mode, and then that creates the anxiety, and that anxiety itself becomes another issue, and then people get depressed and relapse. It’s about how to introduce a way to them that really looks at how to bring the mindfulness into their lives. It needs to be practised, with persistence and with patience. If people continue with their mindfulness practice 6 out of the 7 days for at least three years then it becomes a part of their life.

A lot of people get into mindfulness and think “oh I want to stop my thoughts” or “my thoughts are racing”.

It’s not that your thoughts are racing, or about stopping your thoughts, what’s happening is when we practice mindfulness we are becoming more increasingly aware.

It’s about becoming increasingly more aware of what thoughts are coming through and letting them pass by, and then re-attending and re-focusing our attention and focus into what we’re doing or, into our breath. It changes the relationship we have with thoughts and engenders kindness and compassion and shifts people away from their emotions at that time. 

23 July 2019


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