Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mindfulness - Letting Go of Negative Automatic Thinking

     "cognitive symptoms associated with anxiety and depression are typically characterized by worry and rumination, respectively, cognitive symptoms that have traditionally been regarded as automatic processes (i.e., perceived by the individual to be beyond his or her capacity for voluntary inhibition or control. In contrast, mindfulness has been described as a non-judgmental, non-conceptual, and accepting form of awareness of one’s mental, emotional, and bodily-sensory experiences. 
     Mindfulness Meditation-based Clinical Interventions (MMCIs) teach participants to regard their negative thoughts as passing phenomenological events that may momentarily capture attention but can then be let go of. Therefore a key principle of mindfulness meditation practice is to not react too strongly to thoughts, such as by ascribing too significant a meaning or importance to them, identifying one’s ‘self’ or ‘true reality’ with the content of one’s thoughts, or attempting to suppress negative thoughts. Consequently MMCIs seek to promote a form of awareness of negative thoughts in which qualities of acceptance, de-centering, and letting-go cultivate one’s inner capacity to reflect upon and influence one’s own cognitive experiences. This purposeful orientation toward one’s thoughts may promote affect regulation through cognitive flexibility. For example, Kabat-Zinn et al hypothesized that: ‘the insight that one is not one’s thoughts means that one has a potential range of responses to a given thought if one is able to identify it as such. This increased range of options is associated with a feeling of control... [that] is a feature of a cognitive pathway explaining’ the clinical efficacy of MMCIs for reducing anxiety and depression."
       Frewen PA et al. Letting go: Mindfulness and negative automatic thinking. Cognitive Therapy and Research 2008; 32(6): 758-774.
Photo: Knorp

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