Tag Archives: Mindfulness CBT

Why Practise Mindfulness?

Do you feel unmotivated and find it pointless when you were told to practice mindfulness and/or meditation?

Do you think that it is a waste of time? Especially when you have such a busy schedule and so much to do, how can you still sit still and do nothing?

Do you sometimes feel like “I have to do something”, not “do nothing” to become better?

Over the years I have often received questions like this when I suggested mindfulness meditation practice. And people from all backgrounds, walks of and experience in life often respond in those ways mentioned.

So, what are the benefits of practicing mindfulness meditation?

  • Learning to become less reactive in your life and in your mind. You see that you do not need to keep thinking about those things that pop into your mind
  • Worrying less!
  • Usually sleeping better at night after starting to practice regularly
  • Feeling calmer in the day too if you are able to generalise it beyond the practice itself, i.e. becoming more mindful in life.
  • Calming and feeling peaceful after doing it. (but it’s not the purpose usually, the process is more important)
  • Helps lowering stress level
  • Feeling less anxious when you practice it more
  • Improving attention span, whether it’s for your learning or work! You don’t get distracted so easily as you used to be.
  • Helps memory and learning
  • Reducing chronic pain
  • Better sense of coping in general
  • Developing a more open and non-judgemental attitudes towards most things in life (which might cause irritation and stress previously)
  • Developing a problem-solving attitude instead of a “worrier” habit
  • Helps regulating emotions (emotion doesn’t go out of control so easily)
  • Quite often helps feeling more connected too!
  • Increasing clarity in thinking and perception
  • If you have other illness(es), it aids recovery and enhances your coping abilities
  • The “I have to keep doing” could be the cause of your problems. Sometimes, “not doing” could be the answer!

Don’t you think that for these many benefits, or even if it’s just for half of those benefits, it’s worth to spend 10 minutes or so each day or every other day to just practice mindfulness meditation? Isn’t it much better than many other things that you are trying to do?

It might feel “boring” and “really uninteresting” and “not my kind of thing”. Believe me… I had been there too, being an active person and labelling this sort of things as the “elderly stuff”, just like many others. But no, just stay open and curious, notice those thoughts and judgments, notice those sensations and feelings, notice any changes and stillness…

Now I’m going to practice it myself after writing this!

Where the voices come from

Sometimes I get this question from patients’ family, asking why the patient is hearing voices, how did it happen and what else do we know about these voices.

Here I’m referring to auditory hallucination commonly seen in people suffering from schizophrenia and psychotic disorders.

Yes they hear voices in their head, usually talking to them, quite commonly saying harsh and mean things to the sufferer. Sometimes they hear a few different voices having a conversation, and it’s not difficult to guess, the conversation is about the sufferer.

“Look! She has no friend! She looks so ugly and stupid!”

“Indeed. I wouldn’t want to befriend someone like her.”

“She should just kill herself. Nobody likes her anyway. Why is she still living?”

I mean, who with a sane mind would say such things to others? Nobody. How was these produced?

In 1993, McGuire and Murray published a research article “Increased blood flow in Broca’s area during auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia“. Let me break it down a little for you… The functions of Broca’s area has a lot to do with “speech production”. As compared to another area of the brain, the Wernicke’s area, is responsible for the comprehension of speech.

Locations of Broca's Area and Wernicke's Areas. (NIDCD, 2010) | Download  Scientific Diagram
Locations of Broca’s and Wernicke’s. Picture taken from researchgate.net

So what does this mean?

When the patients are hearing voices, which do not sound like their own voices, the “speech production” area of the brain has increased blood flow, less so in the “speech comprehension” area. We can’t conclude anything from here obviously, but it becomes clearer to the researchers that those voices are produced by the brain itself, almost like their own’s thought processes (which we all do: talking to ourselves or having inner talks), but “presented” as somebody else’s voice.

So it seems likely that it’s their own thoughts. At least that’s what research has found. And I believe many clinicians would agree with me — often we see those voices are actually the patients’ core beliefs, worries, and are what they were told (by their parents, significant family members, teachers etc) when they were much younger. As a therapist, when I look at it this way, it opens up a lot more possibilities to help people who are suffering from auditory hallucination. And indeed, quite a number of techniques in mindfulness-based approach and cognitive therapy have been found useful.

Metaphors (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)

The PDF file below is one of the appendices from the book “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Psychosis” edited by Eric M. J. Morris, Louise C. Johns and Joseph E. Oliver.

It’s a short story of hopes, combining some metaphors commonly used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Definitely worth reading, and re-reading to understand more about ACT, and get a feel of the center approach and techniques used in ACT.

Click here: See the wood for the trees (pdf)


Related reading on huibee.com:

Thought Challenging or Thought Accepting?

Mindfulness and Acceptance Tasks 

Mindfulness and Acceptance tasks

Following my previous post Thought Challenging or Thought Accepting, here is a few tasks that may help to explore on how to “accept” your thought without causing too much emotional distress.

Task 1

Pick a word that may cause slight distress in you (e.g. “cockroach”, “snake”, “work”, “boss”, “kids”, “boyfriend”, “presentation” etc). Now repeat this particular word as quick as you can (while still making sure that the word is pronounced clearly) for 30 seconds.

This tasks doesn’t make you feel better about “presentation” itself, but after repeating the word for so many times, you probably can no longer take the word so literally – it loses its meaning. Same goes to negative thought (e.g. “I’m a failure”, “everyone hates me”). If those thoughts pop up in your mind, try to see them only as some words, accept them as they are, but not to relate yourself to them, as if it’s just some unrelated persons saying it to you.

Task 2

Sit down in an undisturbed place, close your eyes and imagine a tiger (or a dog if you find it difficult to picture a tiger in your mind). Let the tiger does whatever it wants to do there in your mind, not to control what it does or doesn’t. If the tiger stays quietly, let it be; if it moves around, let it be, too. Do this for about 5 minutes.

Next, for 5 minutes, try NOT to think about tiger at all. Do not think about tiger. Whenever it pops up in your mind, suppress it, avoid it.

What do you realize? Which part of task 2 is harder? To accept the tiger being there and does whatever it likes, or to suppress the tiger, avoid the tiger?

Task 3

Take a few minutes to practise to complete the following sentence, “Right now I’m aware of …”, and putting different descriptions at the ending each time. For example, “Right now, I’m aware of the brightness of the screen”; “Right now, I’m aware of the sound of the air-conditioner”; “Right now, I’m aware of some numbness on my left foot”; “Right now I’m aware of my thoughts on completing the homework”. Name and describe, avoid making judgement. By using language to describe things, you get to control your attention and get to connect to your field of consciousness, rather than its content, so you’re becoming like an observer to your experience. This task requires more practice!


Now imagine this: A and B fell over badly in public.

A thinks, “this is so embarrassing, ah, but it’s so funny at the same time”, so he laughs at his own carelessness and let go of it.

B thinks, “this is so embarrassing! Everyone is going to laugh at me and watch me like a clown”, he gets so angry and ashamed.

Most of the time, it’s how we relate ourselves to those incidents, thoughts, feelings etc, it’s really not what that happens. If we choose to calm ourselves down and accept whatever that happens, that come to our minds, and allow ourselves to feel the waves of our emotions, the discomfort will soon no longer be “discomforting”.