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Mindfulness: Awaken to the Beauty of Your Life. Reflecting on Self and Practice, CCPA Calgary May 25 th , 2012 Jenny Rowett, MEd. Today’s Road Map. What is mindfulness? What are the benefits of mindfulness practice? How can mindfulness be utilized in the Counselling relationship?.

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mindfulness awaken to the beauty of your life
Mindfulness:Awaken to the Beauty of Your Life

Reflecting on Self and Practice, CCPA Calgary

May 25th, 2012

Jenny Rowett, MEd

today s road map
Today’s Road Map
  • What is mindfulness?
  • What are the benefits of mindfulness practice?
  • How can mindfulness be utilized in the Counselling relationship?
  • “mindlessness” (Langer, 1989)
    • Our tendency to be in “autopilot”, not focused, reactive, off in “thinking about” mode
    • Most of our waking hours are spent in what you might call “thinking about” mode of mind ... It is, in essence, our default mode of mind

Autopilot Mode

Living in Reactivity

Chauffeured around, not consciously, intentionally choosing


40 – 10 – 50

The % of time our mind is concerning itself with and focused on the:

Past – Present – Future




  • Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, in a very particular way (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).
      • A form of ATTENTION training
  • It is not only the process but also a Way of Being:
      • Respectful
      • Open, Receptive and Curious
      • Kind and Gentle and Caring
  • Beginner’s Mind
  • Patience
  • Trust
  • Non-judgment
  • Acceptance
  • Non-striving
  • Letting Go
  • It can be cultivated and trained
  • It has the potential to change your brain and foster psychological and physiological well-being
traditional mindfulness training
Traditional Mindfulness Training

Formal Practice

bringing attention to a chosen focus

noticing when distracted

returning to that chosen focus

with a gentle, kind, non-judgmental understanding and matter of factness

usual objects of attention are breath and walking

Informal Practice

same quality of attending

directed to the mundane events/experiences of everyday life

that is, paying attention to what you are doing as you are doing it and being fully aware of that


Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbour’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the paper. So I keep trying gently to bring my mind back…

~Annie Lamott (1994)

benefits of mindfulness
Benefits of Mindfulness
  • Fosters our capacity to let go of our preoccupations, to be fully present and aware in the moment; which requires a certain kind of effort
  • Creates awareness of and reduces our resistance to the way things currently are, thereby reducing stress
what is going on in the brain
What is going on in the Brain…


-shutting down of higher process

-intense emotion

-impulsive reactions

-rigid, repetitive responses

-lacks self reflection

-inability to consider other point of view

-prefrontal cortex shut off


-Involves the prefrontal cortex

-Rational and reflective thought


-Flexibility in responses

-Integrated sense of self


(Siegel & Hartzell, 2004)

what is going on in the brain1
What is going on in the Brain?
  • Neuro-plasticity:
    • Our brain is a plastic organ
      • It continually changes structure and function in response to the experience
  • Neurogenesis:
    • The growth of new neural connections and neurons (in response to experience)
      • Repetitive patterns get stronger and more ingrained and new connections form
      • “Neurons that fire together, wire together!”
benefits of mindfulness1
Benefits of Mindfulness

9 functions of the mPFC (medial prefrontal cortex):

      • Bodily regulation
      • Attuned communication
      • Emotional balance
      • Response flexibility
      • Empathy
      • Insight
      • Fear modulation
      • Intuition
      • Morality
  • It is all TRAINABLE!!!!!!
benefits of mindfulness2
Benefits of Mindfulness


  • Increase activity in mPFC (medial prefrontal cortex)
  • Improved cognitive & attention skills (associated increase in alpha-wave patterns & decrease in delta-wave patterns)
  • Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Improved, more restful sleep
  • Changes perception of pain
  • Improved immune function
benefits of mindfulness3
Benefits of Mindfulness


  • Fosters “cognitive flexibility” and “a fundamental shift in one’s perspective” … choosing a response rather than reacting to a situation
  • Cultivates capacity for self-regulation & self-soothing
  • Effective in reducing stress, depression & anxiety
  • Enhances skills in interpersonal relationships

(Duerr, 2008)

mindfulness in your personal life
Mindfulness in Your Personal Life
  • In what dimension of your life would mindfulness practice be helpful?
      • Personal Development/Self-Care
        • Physical
        • Emotional
        • Mental
        • Spiritual
      • Interpersonal Relationships
        • Acceptance
        • Reactivity (Christopher, et al., 2006; 2009; 2010)
mindfulness research at unb
Mindfulness Research at UNB
  • 2008; 2 randomly assigned cohorts
  • Does the Practice of Mindfulness Meditation Affect Exercise Adherence?
  • Results supported the hypothesis that the group practicing daily mindfulness meditation had increased adherence to their exercise program.
mindfulness in practice
Mindfulness in Practice
  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

(Jon Kabat-Zinn)

  • Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) (Zindel Segel, John Teasdale, Mark Williams)
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

(Marsha Linehan)

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

(Steven Hayes)

mindfulness in practice1
Mindfulness in Practice
  • Mindfulness and Acceptance approaches are useful for treating:
      • Anxiety
      • Social phobia
      • Addictions
      • Eating disorders
      • Depression
  • Mindfulness is being integrated into established therapeutic approaches (e.g. Narrative, Parent training programs, Integrative couples therapy)
mindfulness in practice with self
Mindfulness in Practice:With Self
  • Increases our ability to stay aware of our own being
  • Fosters compassion & patience for self
  • Reduces resistance to what is present
  • Less fear of failure
  • Less fear of clients’ approval
  • Less fear of clients’ issues & symptoms
  • Willingness to seek help & consultation
mindfulness in practice with clients
Mindfulness in Practice:With Clients
  • Direct application of mindfulness techniques & principles
  • Use of mindfulness related therapies
  • Seeing clients with a beginner’s mind
  • Non-labeling/less judgmental
  • Reduces resistance to what is present
  • Holistic awareness of relating to clients
mindfulness in practice2
Mindfulness in Practice

“To go from approaching the client as a problem to be solved, to be present with this other human being. Having a kind of authentic exchange take place without going back to the control, without trying to control the encounter, or take care of my own ego needs, or flee because I was anxious. I was just able to tolerate my own feelings with a lot more equanimity”.

(Christopher, et al., 2006; 2009; 2010)


“Between the stimulus and response there is a space and in that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response”. ~Viktor Frankl


Many people think mindfulness and meditation are a way to withdraw from others, from emotions and thoughts, to blank the mind and seek altered states of bliss…