Why mindfulness is integral to couples counselling

In therapy, clients frequently remark “I didn’t know what I was going to talk about today”, In this regard, therapy is like mindfulness and yoga.

How so? Because there is always something new to experience in awareness. The idea is to give up expectation and let whatever happens happen. This can accomplish more than was conceptualised and take the client beyond words that may articulate a non verbal idea. It is insight. Perhaps like seeing sand patterns shift, subside and become washed away, so the habitual and expected is also erased in that moment. A new internal landscape is sensed.

Again in yoga, psychotherapy, mindfulness instruction and practice, there is body scanning. Sensing each part of the body, one area at a time enables the client to find their wholeness. It directs conscious and sensitive awareness intentionally to the predominant sensations.

Which stories and interpretations the client creates or imposes may be expressed through their actions and behaviours in the therapy session and beyond. Many people will have heard the derisory comment that therapy is self indulgent, selfish. These therapeutic processes are all about self awareness which prevents selfishness. Learning and behaving towards ourselves with loving kindness is the necessary foundation in moving beyond our current limitations.

In couples work it is exciting to observe how awareness can dramatically improve the quality of new beginnings in their relationship, even as this may also generate a sensitive and compassionate separation. A powerful, simple practice is to contemplate one person in the life who has had a meaningful and positive contribution to our experience, at any time? If this is too difficult, there may be a benign and helpful person and action, or a loved pet, or an imagined person. Breathing into this is receiving over and over that which is past yet revitalises and nurtures in the present.

Then there is the next dimension of practice. To offer this compassionate consideration to someone who we may have had a difficult and stressful experience. We offer to that person, that which we actually know we all want and need for ourselves.

To strengthen the development of compassionate regard is towards ourselves and others is when we ask for forgiveness for our own actions and deeply contemplate the action of forgiving someone who we consider has hurt us.

In couples work in betrayal issues particularly this is only achieved if there has been considerable ‘bottom up’ processing . This is the facilitated and guided process of self awareness of the physiological nervous system arousal to perceived threat. I teach all my clients the tools, strategies and techniques to de-escalate from negative overwhelm which disables rational thinking and reasoned discussion.

Mindfulness, yoga and psychotherapy are about bringing awareness into the individual’s noticing so as to develop moments and minutes and hours of self regulation. The capacity to become stable and balanced for periods of peaceful recognition and gratitude.

This is why the attention to breath is significant in all aspects of this work. Breathing is central to this work in psychotherapy, yoga and mindfulness. From the inside to the outside (of the body and the therapy session) and the outside to the inside, any tensions, straining and perception of threat or conscious release and relaxation will change the breath.

Awareness for the suffering of any and all others and offering thought and action compassionately is the consequence of self awareness.

Find out more about the couples counselling that we offer

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