How Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Helps

How Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Helps Mindfulness for Life
MBCT is considered a viable treatment course for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and low mood.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a psychotherapy based on cognitive therapy that combines the techniques of non-judgemental, present-oriented therapy called ‘mindfulness’.

MBCT was developed by Zindel Segal, John Tesdale, and Mark Williams. It was based on ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) therapy, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979.

MBCT employs different cognitive therapy techniques and encourages individuals to consciously pay attention to their present surroundings, their body, and their feelings without any judgments or inhibitions. This mindfulness meditation, coupled with more exercises like yoga, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and body-scan meditation, helps promote emotional and mental awareness and improves a person’s mindfulness. When taken into practice, it also enables an individual to connect thoughts with feelings, identify trigger moments, and have a profound personal understanding of self. Studies also suggest that MBCT helps reduce stress, improve emotional control and decrease depression and anxiety.

Popular MBCT Exercises and Techniques

MBCT is a collection of exercises and techniques an individual is encouraged to gather their thoughts and feelings and practice mindfulness. These techniques are as follows:

Three-minute Breathing Space

The Three-Minute Breathing Space is an exercise that is spread across three minutes, and each minute plays a specific role.

  • During the first minute, the individual is asked to focus on their thoughts and feelings and is motivated to answer the question, ‘how am I feeling right now?’.
  • During the second minute, the individual must focus on the breath.
  • During the third minute, the individual must focus on their body and the sensations they can feel during that particular point in time.


Body Scan Meditation:

In Body Scan Meditation, the individuals generally focus on themselves and their bodies. It is often carried out by either lying on the back or sitting in a comfortable chair with feet touching the ground.

  • The first step of Body Scan Meditation includes focussing on one’s breathing. The instructor guides the individuals in concentrating on breathing in and out.
  • The second step encourages individuals to focus on different parts of one’s bodies- the toes, the fingers, the folds of skin, the curves, and other body parts.
  • The third step brings the individual’s focus on different body parts that one may feel as tingly, heavy, itchy, or sore. The individuals are asked to make a note of areas that feel absolutely at rest and the areas that feel sensitive.

These activities, when practiced daily, help individuals in focussing on the present moment and also become mindful of one’s own thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Other than these physical exercises, individuals can also take up easy daily mindfulness activities that help them stay involved with their lives.

Mindful Waking: Mindful waking inspires an individual to wake up with good thoughts and feelings. Individuals are motivated to recognize their feelings and set the intention for the day.

Mindful eating: Mindful eating motivates individuals to eat wholesome foods that provide nourishment to the body. It is also suggested that while eating, one must switch off electronics like TV, computers, and smartphones and focus on the food, taste, and texture.

Mindful Making of Bed: Making one’s bed may feel like a chore, but it is a crucial exercise we take up daily. The activity may seem trivial, but a clean bed is always a delight when one comes home tired after a long day. While making the bed, the individual is encouraged to put in an effort and make every move mindfully. It also enables the individual to immerse themselves in mundane jobs as well.

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