Wasatch Crest offers mindfulness therapy in Heber, UT because our team strongly believes individual recovery success depends on deploying mindfulness in tandem with evidence-based therapeutic modalities. In addition to our passion for studying the human condition we have both professionally witnessed and personally experienced the benefits of mindfulness therapy and practices. We know that mindfulness exercises the mind like a muscle.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, which can be learned through mindfulness therapy, is simply being aware of our emotions, including negative feelings, in a balanced way. Establishing healthy emotional awareness enables facing pain, worry, trauma or anxiety without exaggeration or unnecessary dramatic responses that can lead to harmful consequences. Mindfulness is a compromised skill during drug and alcohol addiction. Drug and alcohol abuse can begin for many reasons, but in the end, the result is an addiction to numbing out the pain, worry, trauma, or fear. Being able to intentionally bring one’s attention to both internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment strengthens conscientious decisions. Pain, failure, and setbacks are a natural part of life experiences; no one is exempt. Having a better understanding of our own suffering and perceived shortcomings cultivates self-compassion rather than self-punishment. Bolstering our mental muscles through mindfulness increases positive thinking, restores depleted cognitive executive functioning, and improves mood stability, all traits and qualities that were sacrificed during years of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.
What is Mindfulness Therapy?
Mindfulness-based therapy is a modified form of cognitive therapy that incorporates practices such as meditation and breathing exercises. At Wasatch Crest, we also use hiking and outdoor adventure, a sweat lodge, and non-denominational spiritual practice for our mindfulness therapy. Through these tools, our Wasatch Crest therapists teach our clients to change negative thought patterns that have led to depression and possible drug and alcohol abuse. Once a client has learned mindfulness methods, he or she can fight off depression and other negative thought patterns before they overwhelm the person.
How Does Mindfulness Therapy Work?
We all encounter sadness, but for a person who has had prior depression, this current sadness can cause a relapse into another bout of depression. You can’t eliminate sadness or negative emotions — they are part of the human experience. Instead, mindfulness therapy helps clients change their relationship with these emotions through meditation, yoga, and other practices. Through training and the use of meditation exercises, clients are able to shift their responses to sadness or negative emotions. What formerly were automatic negative responses that could lead to an accumulating cascade of negative thinking change to an understanding that there are other ways to respond to these situations. Whenever a client starts to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions, he or she can utilize the meditation techniques they’ve learned. This helps the client replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. This helps them ward off a relapse into depression.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness Therapy?
Although some pass off meditation and mindfulness as a Far Eastern thing, there are numerous benefits of mindfulness that have been proven by science. Here are some of them:
- Fights off depression — At Wasatch Crest, this is our number one goal for our clients. Mindfulness enables clients to use meditation and other tools to change their former, somewhat automatic, negative responses to sadness or negative events.
- Reduces anxiety — Research has shown that just a single session of mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety. This also reduces cardiovascular risk.
- Manages chronic pain — Mindfulness-based stress reduction has been found to result in significant improvements in pain, anxiety, well-being, and the ability to participate in daily activities formerly precluded by chronic pain.
- Improves attention — Research has shown that brief meditation training can lead to sustained focus and attention spans. This also impacts working memory, special processing, reduction in fatigue, and other cognitive improvements.
- Decreases loneliness in seniors — Studies have shown an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program reduces loneliness and related pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults. This is important, as loneliness is prevalent in seniors, particularly when they have lost a partner.
- Lowers stress — Focusing on the present through the practice of mindfulness has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Improves sleep — Research with older adults has found that mindfulness meditation has shown significant improvement in sleep quality.
- Aids weight management — Food plays an emotional role in our lives, especially when encountering sadness. Mindfulness helps the person focus on the role their emotions play in their eating.
How To Practice Mindfulness
A few of the ways you will be able to learn, practice, and use your mindfulness skills are:
- Spiritual Practice
- Sweat lodge
- Hiking and other outdoor adventure
Mindfulness Therapy vs. Cognitive-behavioral Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is short- to medium-term talking therapy between the client and the therapist with the goal of changing the way the client thinks (cognition) so that changes the way the client then acts (behavioral). CBT looks at negative spirals where dysfunctional thoughts lead to feelings and physical sensations that then lead to actions. By changing these patterns of thinking and then acting, the client is able to deal with anxiety and feelings of oncoming depression. CBT helps the person manage his or her problems by identifying and changing unhelpful or destructive thinking patterns.
Mindfulness is a mental state and therapeutic technique that the person attains by purposefully focusing awareness on the present moment. The person calmly acknowledges feelings, thoughts, and body sensations without judgment. Mindfulness was developed in the 1970s to manage anxiety, stress, and chronic pain. In the 1990s, it was further developed to help fight depression.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy combines the best aspects from both CBT and mindfulness. Research in the 1990s found that the mind had two main modes, the “doing” mode, and the “being” mode. The “doing” mode is goal-oriented and is triggered when the mind sees a difference between how things are and how it wants them to be. The “being” mode isn’t focused on achieving specific goals but rather accepting and allowing what is. This research showed that the “being” mode was the mode that led to lasting emotional changes. The conclusion was that effective cognitive therapy would have to promote not just cognitive awareness as in CBT, but also the “being” mode of the mind found in mindfulness. The result is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
What Should I Expect from Mindfulness Therapy at Wasatch Crest?
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) builds upon the principles of cognitive therapy by using techniques such as meditation to teach our clients to consciously pay attention to their thoughts and feelings without placing any judgments upon them, or without getting caught up in what could have been or might occur in the future. This gives our clients clarity of thought and helps them easily let go of negative thoughts instead of starting them back down the road to depression. Our MBCT sessions at Wasatch Crest utilize our surroundings for a unique approach to mindfulness. Our sessions may include snowshoeing or hiking in the nearby Wasatch Mountains, river rafting or tubing on the Provo River or stand-up paddleboarding on the Jordanelle Reservoir. We include different activities by the season that bring into play our unique and beautiful surroundings both on our nearly 9-acre campus and the natural areas all around. By taking clients completely out of their former surroundings and set ways, we are able to help them develop their meditation and other skills more easily and effectively for long-term change.
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Our mission and number one goal at Wasatch Crest is to empower clients to create a new story. The core principle of mindfulness therapy is that by encouraging and teaching self-regulation through mindfulness, we essentially start boosting autonomy, willingness, and acceptance and, in turn, clients become the author of an incredibly successful recovery for years to come.