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Mindfulness based psychotherapy is the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts, and sensations occurring in the present moment. The Mindfulness counselling technique has been accepted as a useful therapy for anxiety and depression for a decade and is emerging as an effective treatment for a variety of other psychological problems. It is particularly effective when combined with other forms of psychological therapy.

Hundreds of studies have shown that mindfulness reduces symptoms, chiefly of anxiety, depression and stress, and brain imaging techniques are now revealing how. MRI scans show that after practising mindfulness for as little as eight weeks the part of the brain associated with fear and emotion (the amygdala) shrinks and the part of the brain that deals with awareness, concentration and decision-making (the pre-frontal cortex) becomes thicker. In addition, the connection between the amygdala and the rest of the brain gets weaker while the connections between the pre-frontal cortex and the rest of the brain become stronger. It is this disconnection of the mind from its “stress centre” that gives rise to the physical and mental health benefits people experience. Mindfulness helps you refrain from the thought processes that make emotions painful or unpleasant and enhances problem-solving, memory and attention span,because of these changes in the brain.

Mindfulness practice involves both formal and informal meditation practices, and non meditation-based exercises. Formal mindfulness, or meditation, is the practice of sustaining attention on body, breath or sensations, on whatever arises in each moment. Informal mindfulness is the application of mindful attention in everyday life. Many people find it difficult to meditate and may be better suited, at least initially, to informal techniques of mindfulness.

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