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Mindfulness and Willingness Exercise


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This presentation is designed to help career changers explore what might get in the way of their next step.

This presentation is designed to help career changers explore what might get in the way of their next step.

Published in: Career, Business

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  • Any questions about this exercise pack please contact Rob at
  • Transcript

    • 1. Mindfulness and WillingnessHow mindfulness techniques and Acceptance and CommitmentTherapy (ACT) can help with your career change
    • 2. i. Why Mindfulness is importantMaking the decision to change career boils down to a series of moment to moment decisions. Do Isit and work on my plan, or not? Do I make a list of possible employers or put it off til theweekend?We do a lot of thinking during a career change. But our experience is that thoughts seem to goround 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 believe that the key is not to try to change our thoughts, which is often impossible, but tochange our relationship to our thoughts, so that we can make progress towards what we value inlife.In time, by becoming more aware of ourselves – not just our thoughts but our emotions andsensations – we can respond to the world in a more open, real way. Instead of allowing our mind tointerpret 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 withyour 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?
    • 3. 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.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 effect does this have on our lives? Are we better for this? Do we make better decisions? Dowe have more fun this way?If you think about presence in its other meaning, it means literally being in a room, having animpact 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.
    • 4. What is Mindfulness?Our minds are very judgmental. They evolved to make (virtually instant) judgments about....well,everything. But if we are not careful, we can become caught up in our thoughts at the expense ofreal life.If we listen to our thoughts all the time, then we run the riskof missing out on what is happening right now, in thispresent moment.Staying mindful is a way of counterbalancing our tendencyto think too much. It is a way of creating some spacebetween our ‘selves’ and our minds.And in that space, we learn that rather than being slaves toour unconscious, automatic reactions, we can respond to thesituation as it is, making a more conscious choice.One of the mind’s judgments will be that it does not likethis type of exercise. It likes to stay busy, ‘doing’ things.So, you need to make a choice to stick with it if you are to benefit from it. Mindfulness takespractice.The exercises in the following pages are designed to give you this practice. See if you’d be willingto practice them each day, to try to put yourself into contact with what you are really feeling,noticing, thinking and observing in this moment.
    • 5. 1. A basic exercise in mindfulnessGet 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 whereyour 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. Noticethese 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 isnothing 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 anumber of leaves on the surface of the water. Keep looking at the leaves and watch them slowly driftdownstream from left to right [pause 15 seconds].• 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].
    • 6. 2. Mindfulness in your daily routineMindfulness 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 choresIn 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 theradio 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 presentmoment, 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.
    • 7. 3. Categorising contentThis exercise helps you to classify the thoughts, feelings and sensations that arise for you duringmindfulness exercises.From now on, try to classify whatever arises during mindfulness sessions into the followingcategories:•Emotions•Thoughts•Sensations•Judgment•Urges•MemoriesWhen 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 isstupid!’ then say ‘There’s judgment’. If you have a rising feeling of panic, ‘There’s emotion’. Ifyou notice sweaty palms, ‘there’s sensation’.
    • 8. 4. Mindful eatingVery often we eat without really noticing or being mindful of the food we are eating.Mindfulness is an excellent technique to help appreciate food again, as well as to become moreaware of our eating patterns and habits.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 istasted, 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 emotionaland have the urge to eat.Remember, mindfulness is about learning, from moment to moment, what actions work for yourvalues. In the final exercise, we think in terms of your willingness to experience negativethoughts and emotions to achieve the things that are important to you.
    • 9. 5. An Exercise In WillingnessMy vision is to.... (summarise briefly). Type whatever vision you have identified here...The values underlying my vision are....Type some of the key values important to you here..The actions I can take to progress towards my vision are....Type some of the main actions you’ve thought about doing to start making progresstowards your vision....
    • 10. 5. An Exercise In WillingnessThe negative thoughts and emotions I expect to experience in pursuit ofmy vision are.... Type some of your scariest or most persistent passengers here...The thoughts, emotions and sensations I’m willing to have in order to achievethis goal are....Be clear about your willingness here....At difficult times, it would be useful to remind myself that....How will you remember this commitment?
    • 11. The Career Psychologistis an independent occupational psychology consultancy based in London.We offer coaching, consultancy, training, measurement andassessment to individuals and businesses looking to make a change for the better.
    • 12. Acknowledgments1. 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.