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Cheat Sheet

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy For Dummies (UK Edition)

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an amazing tool that can help you experience life more fully and work through the stresses and anxieties of everyday life, moving beyond these negative feelings and appreciating each moment with awareness and acceptance. Use the at-a-glance ideas and tips in this Cheat Sheet to help you make room for mindfulness in your life, and to bring mindful attitudes to everyday activities.

Mindfully Living Each Moment of Your Life with Awareness

Knowing that you already have all the fundamental skills you need for being mindful is wonderfully reassuring. As a young child you were mindful all the time, because it came quite naturally. You wanted to discover all about life. Everything new was a moment of adventure: watching the clouds; throwing pebbles into a pond; finding an unusually shaped piece of wood; observing bees, butterflies and ladybirds. Each day brought new moments of mindfulness to experience and they’re stored somewhere in your memory, ready to be re-awakened.

Here are some tips for being mindful in everyday life situations:

  • Experiencing fully the experience of eating and drinking: Seeing the food, noticing the shapes and colours, tasting the texture and multitude of flavours contained in one mouthful of delicious soup or salad.

  • Being truly present during daily activities: Showering, brushing your teeth or shaving.

  • Using mindful communication when talking with others: Listening carefully, responding wisely and not blowing what is said out of proportion or misconstruing it.

  • Exploring the feeling of doing chores mindfully: Washing-up, taking out the rubbish, and so on.

  • Bringing awareness to your journeys, short or long, regular or one-offs: Walking, driving and travelling mindfully.

  • Choosing mindfully what you watch on TV or read in the papers: If you know that you react with anxiety or irritation to thrillers or horror movies, for example, give yourself the kindness not to watch or read such material. Learn what type of programme is enjoyable and soothing for you. Choose what you want to watch or read and do attempt to not get glued to the box. Similarly, no written law anywhere says you have to read a paper daily or from cover to cover.

  • Developing awareness of habits that are depleting and tiring you and that you may want to let go: Phoning certain relatives, or engaging in house work or other practical activities that need to get done but don’t give you any pleasure, for example. When making such difficult phone calls, tell the person you call that you’d love to have a brief chat. Remind them five minutes later that alas you have to go soon. Try and avoid getting involved in emotive topics. And with practical chores you don’t like, do them regularly, but in small spurts. Employ formal meditation. Feel into your body and notice any signs of tiredness and irritation, and look after yourself as you would look after somebody you love and care for.

  • Looking after yourself and others mindfully: Kindness is the way to live well with others. Whatever action you engage in, ask yourself how you’d want to be treated, questioned or encouraged. Bear in mind that all people have their own challenges, and you may find it in your heart to be more patient, tolerant, kind and peaceful when you interact with fellow men.

Practising Regular Formal Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Meditation

MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) isn’t a sticking plaster. It can assist you in tackling your problems, but only if you make it part of your regular life. Here are some ideas:

  • Reserve a special place just for your meditation.

  • Ensure that you pencil in regular dates with yourself to meditate.

  • Be kind to yourself and don’t judge when you lapse or forget to practise.

  • Remember that every moment provides the opportunity for a new beginning.

  • Meditating doesn’t have a right or a wrong way, just your way.

  • Remind yourself that you have the rest of your life to meditate.

  • Consider joining a meditation group or invite friends and family to join you.

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