Mindfulness Exercises - Bloom Psychology
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Mindfulness Exercises - Bloom Psychology

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This is a short introduction to mindfulness, and how it can help people thinking of a career change. It includes some ideas for practicing mindfulness as well as information about where to find out ...

This is a short introduction to mindfulness, and how it can help people thinking of a career change. It includes some ideas for practicing mindfulness as well as information about where to find out more.

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  • Any questions about this exercise pack please contact Rob at rob@bloompsychology.com

Mindfulness Exercises - Bloom Psychology Mindfulness Exercises - Bloom Psychology Presentation Transcript

  • Mindfulness and willingness How mindfulness techniques and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can help with your career change By Rob Archer – Director, Bloom Psychology Ltd
  • i. Why Mindfulness is important Making the decision to change career boils down to a series of moment to moment decisions. Do I sit and work on my plan, or not? Do I make a list of possible employers or put it off til the weekend? In time, by becoming more aware of ourselves – not just our thoughts but our emotions and sensations – we can respond to the world in a more open, real way. Instead of allowing our mind to interpret everything, we can make a more conscious decision of how to act.
        • The choice whether to do something important only occurs in the present moment .
        • Noticing yourself choosing between doing what’s important to you or spending time struggling with your thoughts, which you cannot control, is the first step to a valued life.
        • Therefore, being mindful of the present moment allows us to ask one important question:
        • Given what’s important to me, what am I willing to do and experience to move me in that direction, in this moment ?
    We do a lot of thinking during a career change. But our experience is that thoughts seem to go round in cycles, and often distract us from our values. Whilst we’re ‘up in our heads’ distracted by thoughts, we are not making progress. We think that the key is not to try to change our thoughts , which is often impossible, but to change our relationship to our thoughts, so that we can make progress towards what we value in life.
  • ii. What Mindfulness isn’t. The biggest misconception about mindfulness is that it is a tool to relax. It isn’t. If it is relaxing, then fine, but if it isn’t, that’s fine too. The goal of mindfulness is presence. What effect does this have on our lives? Are we better for this? Do we make better decisions? Do we have more fun this way? If you think about presence in its other meaning, it means literally being in a room, having an impact on others. Maybe this is what we mean when we say someone ‘has presence’. Mindfulness means contacting the world as it is , deliberately, and non judgmentally. After all, how often are we truly present in what we do? Too often, we’re living up in our heads, not really noticing (or appreciating) what’s going on around us.
  • What is Mindfulness? The exercises in the following pages are designed to give you this practice. See if you’d be willing to practice them each day, to try to put yourself into contact with what you are really feeling, noticing, thinking and observing in this moment. If we listen to our thoughts all the time, then we run the risk of missing out on what is happening right now , in this present moment. Staying mindful is a way of counterbalancing our tendency to think too much. It is a way of creating some space between our ‘selves’ and our minds. And in that space, we learn to expand our repertoire. Rather than being slaves to our unconscious, automatic reactions, we can respond to the situation as it is, in line with our conscious choice . Our minds are very judgmental . They evolved to make (virtually instant) judgments about....well, everything. But they are not infallible and if we are not careful, we can become caught up in our thoughts at the expense of real life. So, you need to make a choice to stick with it if you are to benefit from it. Mindfulness takes practice . One of the mind’s judgments will be that it does not like this type of exercise. It likes to stay busy, ‘doing’ things.
    • Get in a comfortable position in your chair.
    • Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor, your arms and legs uncrossed, and your hands resting in your lap, palms up or down, whichever is more comfortable.
    • Allow your eyes to close gently [pause 10 seconds].
    • Get in touch with the physical sensations in your body, especially the sensations of touch or pressure where your body makes contact with the chair or floor [pause 10 seconds].
    • It is okay for your mind to wander away to thoughts, worries, images, bodily sensations, or feelings. Notice these thoughts and feelings and acknowledge their presence . Just observe passively the flow of your thoughts, one after another, without trying to figure out their meaning or their relationship to one another. There is nothing to be fixed. Simply allow your experience to be your experience. [pause 15 seconds].
    • Now, please imagine sitting next to a stream [pause 10 seconds]. As you gaze at the stream, you notice a number of leaves on the surface of the water. Keep looking at the leaves and watch them slowly drift downstream from left to right [pause 15 seconds].
    A basic exercise in mindfulness
    • Now, when thoughts come along into your mind, put each one on a leaf , and observe as each leaf comes closer to you. Then watch it slowly moving away from you, eventually drifting out of sight. Return to gazing at the stream, waiting for the next leaf to float by with a new thought [pause 10 seconds].
    • If one comes along, again, watch it come closer to you and then let it drift out of sight. Think whatever thoughts you think and allow them to flow freely on each leaf, one by one. Imagine your thoughts floating by like leaves down a stream [pause 15 seconds].
    • Mindfulness can be practiced in any situation. Why not try it in the following:
    • In the shower
    • Brushing your teeth
    • Getting dressed
    • Going for a walk
    • Waiting for a train or bus
    • Listening to music
    • Doing the chores
    Mindfulness in your daily routine
    • In each situation, try the following:
    • Notice the detail of what’s happening. For example:
    • Notice the taste of toothpaste. The smell of it. The sound of running water. Notice the radio in the background. See the light reflecting in the bathroom mirror.
    • If your mind wanders, simply notice that, and bring your attention back to the present moment, and what is happening.
    • Notice what you can see, smell, hear, taste and feel.
    • Don’t try to control your thoughts, simply bring your focus back to the present moment.
  • Categorising content This exercise helps you to classify the thoughts, feelings and sensations that arise for you during mindfulness exercises. When you do this exercise, begin with the word ‘There’s...’ before classifying. For example, if you think ‘I must buy some lettuce’, then say ‘ There’s thought ’. If you think ‘this is stupid!’ then say ‘ There’s judgment ’. If you have a rising feeling of panic, ‘ There’s emotion ’. If you notice sweaty palms, ‘ there’s sensation ’.
    • From now on, try to classify whatever arises during mindfulness sessions into the following categories:
    • Emotions
    • Thoughts
    • Sensations
    • Judgment
    • Urges
    • Memories
  • Mindful eating Very often we eat without really noticing or being mindful of the food we are eating.
    • To eat more mindfully, try the following:
    • Set aside extra time to eat mindfully.
    • During the meal try to notice the food you are eating. Its taste, colour, texture, temperature.
    • Then try to notice how your body responds to each mouthful. What is tasted, and where?
    • Don’t try to judge it, just notice it.
    • See if you can eat more slowly. Try eating one thing at a time, observing the different experiences as you do.
    • How does the food feel in your throat, and in your stomach?
    • Notice how hungry you feel, and when you begin to feel full.
    • Practice noticing when you are hungry and when you are emotional and have the urge to eat.
    Mindfulness is an excellent technique to help appreciate food again, as well as to become more aware of our eating patterns and habits.
        • Remember, mindfulness is about learning, from moment to moment, what actions work for your values. In the final exercise, we think in terms of your willingness to experience negative thoughts and emotions to achieve the things that are important to you.
  • My vision is to.... (summarise briefly) 4. An Exercise In Willingness . Type whatever vision you have identified here... Type some of the key values important to you here.. Type some of the main actions you’ve thought about doing to start making progress towards your vision.... The actions I can take to progress towards my vision are.... The values underlying my vision are....
  • The negative thoughts and emotions I expect to experience in pursuit of my vision are... 4. An Exercise In Willingness . Type some of your scariest or most persistent passengers here... Be clear about your willingness here.... How will you remember this commitment? At difficult times, it would be useful to remind myself that.... The thoughts, emotions and sensations I’m willing to have in order to achieve this goal are....
  • Bloom Psychology is an independent occupational psychology consultancy based in London. We offer coaching, consultancy, training, measurement and assessment to individuals and businesses looking to make a change for the better. www.bloompsychology.com www.linkedin.com/robarcher
  • Acknowledgments 1. Many of the ideas and exercises in our materials based are on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a branch of cognitive-behavioral therapy , an empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies together with commitment and behavior change strategies to increase psychological flexibility. 2. ACT is a user-friendly way of dealing with negative emotions ACT uses practical techniques and metaphors to ensure it is practical and easy to understand. ACT is a way not so much of ‘tackling’ negative thoughts and emotions but rather renegotiating someone’s relationship with them. 3. ACT is an evidence-based therapy As psychologists, we’re always concerned to know that the exercises and techniques we use have solid evidence behind them. ACT has a solid evidence base across a wide range of treatment interventions – anxiety, stress, depression. Bloom Psychology is pioneering its use within the career psychology area. 4. Further reading We recommend The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris and Get Out Of Your Mind by Steve Hayes for those who want to find out more about using ACT in everyday life.