Mindfulness refers to "paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally." (Kabat-Zinn). Mindfulness from an ACT perspective assists with the development of moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts, emotions, and feelings in the body. This is useful as it helps us gain distance from problematic thoughts or feelings that can lead to disruption in our ability to engage living our values in daily life. Noticing that "a thought is just a thought" (vs. the absolute truth) helps deconstruct the believability of these thoughts and helps us connect more with our "observer self." From this place of the "observer," we are free to accept our current reality as it is, let go of thoughts that aren't helpful, effectively choose our valued life directions and then put action behind what matters most. I frequently will offer mindfulness practice in session and encourage this outside of session as well.
Mindfulness can be practiced traditionally in seated meditation or by walking, drinking tea, listening to music. At times, I will invite us to practice this way in session. Additionally, mindfulness could also be practiced just through increased awareness of what's happening inside our bodies and minds in a given moment. We can train this during sessions and with practice. This way of "living mindfully" might simply show up as being able to observe thoughts before acting on those thoughts, giving our thoughts a shape, texture, color, or by labeling feelings or physical sensations.
Empirical support for mindfulness as beneficial for a range of psychological conditions and human cognitive process has become increasingly robust in recent years. Research on mindfulness meditation has demonstrated benefits for reducing rumination on the past, stress reduction, improvements in working memory and focus, less emotional reactivity, more cognitive flexibility, and relationship satisfaction (American Psychological Association). Mindfulness has also been shown to have impact on health outcomes such as decreased cognitive decline with aging, improved immune response, reduced psychological pain, and reduced aging in cells.
Dr. Mann-Wrobel's Training and Experience
I began learning about mindfulness and its integration into my clinical work while on internship and post-doc at the Baltimore VA. Mindfulness is a key component of the ACT model, so I began working with it professionally and personally at that time. I began a regular personal practice and led mindfulness sessions in group settings and with individual clients. Integration of mindfulness as a key component of my clinical work has been an ongoing practice since that time and factors greatly into my current work with clients. I currently engage my own daily practice and attend week long meditation retreats at least twice a year. I am also currently engaged in a two year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program offered by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.