If you are experiencing the present moment through your senses it is likely that you are not feeling anxious.
Anxiety is usually a thought about the future. Or perhaps a thought about the past that we call regret. But what about the present moment? Focus on what you can hear or what you can feel in the body and your mind will quieten down bringing down the anxieties as it quietens.
It is quite difficult to be in the moment and to feel anxious at the same time…try it. Notice that your mind will roam to other times and places but if you here and now you are probably feeling calm. Spooky eh?
The ideas behind mindfulness are quite a blow to traditional therapy which seek to do a lot of thinking about the past. For some it seems, it is the nature of our consciousness that is the issue and the source of our problems and not anything more than that.
How to be in the moment is a learned technique and not as hard as you think (joke).
This report talked about today on the BBC website shows how CBT helps a good half of patients compared with those using drug treatment alone.
It also cautions that half didnt get better so maybe a combination of therapies and interventions might work for those that dont click with CBT alone.
I am a believer in the main principles behind CBT which suggest clients look at the way they are reacting to events and people and link those reactions to their beliefs about themselves and the world.
Mindfulness as a concept is gaining interest. I recommend the idea of Mindful meditation to everyone, even the hard bitten hypnotherapist or CBT therapist who has seen it all before.
I use Mindfulness in my Harley St room as a great way of getting things started after the chatting bit. I invite the client to listen to the traffic, I am on the third floor on a busy central London street, the sound is a bit like the rushing of waves plus a few sirens now and again.
Focus on the senses and you have the essence of Mindfulness. Sound is often the preferred sense but physical sensation is also popular. Clients often report that the mind quietens down, it seems that sensation in the present moment helps to shut out the mind that is usually concerned with other times, other places. The present moment is often a place of very little anxiety or worry or fear, almost enjoyable!
For some Mindfulness in itself is the answer to their problems. The past has gone, the future hasn’t happened and the present moment, experienced through the physical senses, is good enough.
Sessions in central London
How much time do we spend thinking about the future? Christmas is coming, plans are being made, holidays booked…or dreaded!
For the person suffering with anxiety the future is a place filled with awful events that they are convinced are going to happen. The mind has already mapped out the future and it’s not looking good.
Part of effective therapy is to wean the fearful client off the habit of the dreaded ‘what if’, the mindset that bullies you into trying to avoid all those things that might happen.
People are not stupid. They are aware of what could or might or even probably happen in the future and whatever you say as a therapist cannot change that fact. The ‘what if’ thoughts are possibilities and not facts. Dragging the client away from their habit of mistaking facts with possibilities can be a big task.
Ready to think differently about the future? Why not? It hasn’t happened yet…so you can think what you like!
About 6 months ago in May 2012 I got contacted by a national newspaper to do a stop smoking piece. The client was offered to me as an example of a serial relapser and maybe a tough nut to crack. When I met the client I relaxed because he had one of the main ingredients for stopping smoking: A positive creative attitude to the session.
My sessions for quitting smoking involve about 40 minutes of going through all the aspects of becoming an ex-smoker. The cravings, the cold turkey period, the psychology of addiction, positive mindsets and creative thinking. Quite often the client is ready to quit smoking with just the talking bit alone because the ideas I put across usually ‘click’ and the client feels empowered.The remainder of the session is about 40 minutes of hypnosis where we embed the ideas that have been discussed.
My client offered for the newspaper article lapped all the ideas that I offered in the talking part of the session which gives the hypnosis bit a head start. In fact if the talking bit does not go well then it is unlikely that hypnosis would help much. But sometimes the relaxed nature of hypnosis hits the spot where the talking has missed. In ten years of helping people to stop smoking I am aware that covering as many aspects as possible using CBT ideas and hypnosis increases the chances of success.
I found out today the client, after 6 months has not touched a cigarette and the article is to go out in January 2013 in time for those new year resolutions.
Lets hope that they write a nice piece. I deserve it. I worked hard in the session and got the result the client wanted. I offered him 3 months backup but the one session was enough.
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