What comes to mind when you think of the word “mindfulness”? Most of the time, this will depend heavily on your experience with it. For the past few decades, mindfulness was most often associated with spirituality and the start of the popularity of yoga.
However, in more recent years, mindfulness has begin to be understood as an evidence-based way to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression. A focus on mindfulness can alleviate some symptoms of depression and anxiety on its own. One of the more novel understandings of mindfulness, though, is that it can work very well when combined with other therapies, like talk therapy with a counsellor, or prescription medication.
Mindfulness has been shown to work well with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as a way to prevent relapse (prevent symptoms from coming back) after treatment is over. The theory behind why this works is that the human mind is constantly thinking of new things that “pop” into a person’s consciousness, much like popcorn kernels. This is what happens when you are halfway to the grocery store and wonder if you locked the front door.
In individuals experiencing symptoms of depression, these thoughts “pop” more often than they should into the past, with the thoughts being rumination on past perceived mistakes. In individuals experiencing symptoms of anxiety, these thoughts “pop” more often than they should into the future, with the thoughts being on future events or things that might go wrong in the future.