chapter  5
28 Pages

Harnessing mindfulness

The last two chapters have mentioned a number of ways in which mindful awareness might be cultivated and maintained, concentrating on those that have been used in particular clinical contexts. As these have diversi®ed, so has the range of techniques for becoming more mindful. Having a short attention span, being subjected to unusually insistent, intrusive phenomena, or having access to past experiences or body sensations restricted through internal defences can each make it particularly dif®cult to maintain a traditional practice for lengthy intervals of time. These limitations have been accommodated through some of the techniques discussed already in Chapters 3 and 4. As a result, there is a considerable menu of methods that have now been widely used in the development of mindfulness:

Techniques for experiencing mindfulness

Formal practices Sitting meditations (mindfulness of breathing, body sensations, sounds, thoughts, etc.) Movement meditations (walking meditation, mindful yoga stretches) Group exchange (led exercises, guided discussion of experience)

Informal practices Mindful activity (mindful eating, cleaning, driving, etc.) Structured exercises (thought dispersal, breathing space, etc.) Contemplations (poetry, aesthetic experiences)

The traditional methods for developing mindfulness discussed in Chapter 1 have been augmented by others, both formal and informal. The current list is likely to be far from exhaustive. The preliminary study described in Chapter 2 has already indicated that research into how people actually acquire mindfulness could be particularly instructive in suggesting new methods, techniques and tips.