Strong scientific evidence is now emerging for the positive effects of mindfulness in so many areas of our lives. Mindfulness is a process and has been defined as "paying attention in a particular way; on purpose,in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Jon Kabat-Zin). Mindfulness is about the quality of presence and awareness to the flow of experience, here and now.
Too often we are on automatic pilot, where our attention is caught up in unhelpful thoughts about the past and future (worrry and rumination). We are too often in contact with the world around us through a narrow focus of unhelpful judgemental and evaluative beliefs. Judgements about ourselves, others and life experiences, (such as "I’m not good enough", "they think I’m a failure", "I can't cope"…), when we believe them, create a huge amount of psychological suffering. Much of the time we can be in a kind of waking daydream, where we not even noticing the effect our judging mind is having on our mood and behaviour.
Mindfulness is extremely useful for acknowledging where our attention is and how hooked in we are by unhelpful thoughts, body sensations, urges and emotions in the present moment. Mindfulness is about developing the ability to unhook yourself from these unhelpful thoughts and challenging emotions. Realising that the only time and place we are really ever in contact with and can take effecitve action in, is: right here and right now! Mindfulness also helps to cultivate a more compassionate relationship to yourself and others.
Mindfulness enables you to get in touch with your 'observer self' and notice that you are not your thoughts, emotions or sensations. Thoughts, emotions and sensations can be observed and disengaged from, they don’t cause any harm in themselves. The ‘observer self’ is outside of the judgement game, as awareness itself is outside evaluation. Getting more in contact with this powerful aspect of yourself can transform your relationship with your unwanted thoughts, feelings and sensations.
CBT in general and specifically newer forms of CBT such as ACT are helping people learn and utilise mindfulness skills to comprehensively unhook themselves from troublesome thinking, emotions, urges and body sensations, and live richer valuable lives.