In this blog series I am discussing the relationship between mindfulness and common types of psychological treatment you might receive in a therapist's office. Perhaps the most common of all is called cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. This therapy is based on the idea that you are thinking about your problems in an incorrect way, and if you fix these errors in thinking you will be able to change the way you feel. In CBT therapy you will learn about specific cognitive errors like overgeneralizing, all or nothing thinking, mind reading, etc. Developing the ability to recognize these "cognitive distortions" in your own thinking process leads to more effective coping strategies and more adaptive responses to whatever situation is at hand.
Of course in order to notice these errors in thinking you must be usually aware of your thinking process as a whole. I have always believed that it was this extra level of awareness that really made the difference in CBT treatment. Often clients will be encouraged to do exercises like keeping track of their thoughts and noticing how these thoughts make them feel. All of this leads to a significant increase in self-awareness and helps you to avoid old patterns and reactions.
Mindfulness seeks to develop the very same things. Most of the time we are functioning on Auto Pilot and allowing ourselves to be carried along by the momentum of life. Similar to CBT, mindfulness aims to bring the light of awareness to our choices and habitual reactions so that we can live more conscious and authentic lives. This aspect of mindfulness is discussed in great detail in our online mindfulness course at www.meditativemoment.org.