Mindful Individual

Most times, when people enter psychotherapy, they are not mindful of themselves or of others. They often enter therapy unaware of what they feel, why they feel as they do, and in what context these feelings are likely to be elicited. There also tends to be an unaware-ness of the feelings and motivations of others. Many use projection rather than mindful awareness when trying to understand what another person is feeling. This of course leads to difficulties in relationships.

In addition, people tend to use what they have been told about themselves by others instead of being mindful of who they are and instead of being aware of how they feel. People also tend to use the standards of society in trying to figure out how they should be and feel. Instead of looking inward and being aware of what they feel, they replace this introspection with a focus on how society says they should be and feel.

There are negative consequences to living a mindless life. Tart (1994) writes that without mindfulness we live in a state of distorted perceptions and fantasies, acting inappropriately with reference to our own true nature and the reality of the immediate situation, consequently creating stupid and useless suffering. There are positive consequences to living a mindful life. Surrey (2005) writes that mindfulness is a practice or skill, which opens and deepens our capacity for connection and for relational as well as spiritual renewal.

Group psychotherapy is about building connections between people and building bridges between their self-awareness and those aspects of themselves, which have been disavowed. Group psychotherapy helps the patient do this in a number of ways including providing an arena for interpersonal exploration, a focus on interpersonal interactions, and most importantly a focus or mindfulness on what the patient is experiencing in the moment both with himself or herself and in relation to the other group members. Ormont (1992) writes that the primary task in making our group function effectively is to use any technique which evokes meaningful talk between group members and to develop emotional connections where they did not exist before. He calls this process bridging, and for it to occur the members must use mindfulness.

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