Mindfulness as a concept is considered as awareness and observation of the present moment without reacting or passing judgments. Mindfulness also helps in grounding an individual’s attention as it fosters awareness. These days an attempt has been made to incorporate mindfulness into various courses and treatment methodologies because of its proven efficacy. Extensive research is also been conducted in mindfulness from different perspectives. Throughout the course structure, definitive learnings took place which not only helped me in becoming a better counselor but also in my personal growth and journey. The best thing was the embedded practice sessions in class which gave us the taste of mindfulness so that we understand exactly what it is like to practice it and be more confident while introducing it to our clients.
Mindfulness as an approach has its efficacy in counseling applications and is considered as an essential skill for the counselors. Engaging in this course assisted me in developing my counseling skills for eg: by being more mindful I will be able to hold the client in unconditional positive regard as I will not be in the position to make judgments. While engaging in practice sessions with fellow clients I noticed that I was able to practice non-judgmental attitude while at the same time empathizing with them. Also with the regular practice of mindfulness, I will be more attuned with the client’s world view which will help me foster good rapport formation and therapeutic alliance with the client
As noticed in my practice sessions over the course of 12 weeks, I could see a drastic change in the way I established a therapeutic alliance with my clients. I attribute this change to my regular practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness also helps in the improvement of the global as well as specific counseling skills like paraphrasing, questioning, etc.. Being mindful of the counseling skills and the correct time to use them helps me smoothly facilitate the counseling process. The regular practice of mindfulness is also proven to foster empathy in counselors.
Mindfulness practice and listening skills
Mindful breathing is one of the techniques that helps me to listen and be fully present with individuals around me. I prefer this technique over other mindfulness techniques because I feel more grounded after practicing this as compared to other techniques. It helps me to become aware of my emotions and regulate them as they arise in between the conversations so that I stay mindful throughout, without my emotions taking away the attention. I usually practice mindful breathing before I take a session with a client as it increases my awareness level and makes my mind and body a lot calmer. Mindful breathing also helps me stay grounded and not feel overwhelmed by the client’s story, hence I can engage more productively with the client.
Sometimes client’s story tends to resonate with one of yours which leads to the manifestation of different types of emotions in your body or could be triggering at times. In those times mindfulness helps me stay grounded and keep the counseling process focused. Mindfulness also helps in building a connection with people around us without being defensive or hurried. I become hurried In a counseling session and often jump to conclusions or end up advising the client but mindfulness has helped me slow down and sit with the client in their experiences. Although mastering this would take time but mindfulness has helped me in at least beginning this.
Mindfulness exercise and reaction control
Many times I have noticed that in some situations I don’t respond rather I react which has negative effects on the relationships I hold with people and the clients too. Mindfulness improves enhanced acceptance of emotional states which in return improves executive functioning (Teper & Inzlicht, 2013). An individual who practices mindfulness is highly attuned to his emotions. In my understanding and experience, since the past 12 weeks when I started practicing mindfulness regularly, I see a lot of patience being build up in me and I now evaluate the situation initially before reacting so that my actions don’t harm anyone either emotionally or in any other way.
Mindfulness practice has also proven to have a close association with perception of time thus helping in a better reaction control. Often I have emotional outbursts which are an example of poor reaction control, but through introspecting I found that it happens only when I am working in an autopilot mode, which shows that while I am mindful I am better in controlling my reactions.
Mindfulness and self-care
Mindfulness practice can also be incorporated into one’s self-care routine. As counselors, high chances are leading to burnout in later stages but with the practice of mindfulness, burnout can be avoided to a greater extent because it makes me more aware of myself and increases acceptance of my experiences as a counselor. Particularly practice of self-compassion can help counselors thoughtfully view themselves with kindness and love. It increases self-love and also fosters growth. Mindfulness has a direct relationship with self-compassion and by increasing self-compassion through mindfulness, counselors can mitigate the effects of compassion fatigue
Along with this mindfulness is also proven to increase personal wellbeing for counselors. Personal wellbeing for me incorporates both my mental health as well as physical health. Mindfulness has remarkably helped me keep my stress and anxiety out. One of the specific technique of mindfulness which helps me the most is mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) I practice it after an extremely involving session so that I can detach myself from it. MBSR has also proven its efficacy as a tool of self-care for professionals
Changes in my mindfulness practice
Being a psychology student since grade 11, I was always inclined towards mindful practices and tried my best to practice these whenever I felt anxious or overwhelmed. Although I was practicing mindfulness before joining this course but still I was not regular in my practice. After enrolling in this course, I had an interesting journey in terms of my mindful experience. As earlier I never studied mindfulness as a course, so this course provided me with facts and figures related to it. As a result of gaining such factual knowledge, my compliance with the subject increased. I made sure that I practice mindfulness every day irrespective of anything.
Previously I used to just practice body scan but this course introduced me to a whole lot of mindfulness practices which I can alter between while practicing and this doesn’t even make the mindfulness practice monotonous. Along with being introduced to different types of practices I also became aware of the particular types that don’t work for me and what helps me the most. For example: in class practices made me aware that guided mindfulness practices do not work best for me as I find it difficult to keep up with the pace.
As discussed above mindfulness course has been a sort of journey for me in which I have learned a lot. Throughout the course, I was made aware of different aspects and principles of mindfulness which I was not aware of before. This course has not only helped me become equipped with counseling skills to be the best counselor but has helped me in my personal growth. While reflecting on my experience I came across many aspects of my personality that have changed for good. For instance, as an individual, I have become more compassionate towards myself and others. I feel that I am living my life to the fullest now and can enjoy even the tiniest of details.