CBT Mindfulness (And a Question That Could Change Your Life)

CBT Mindfulness (And a Question That Could Change Your Life)


You know those single moments that can change
your life? Well, I’m going to share one of those with
you that I had in my life as well as a followup question that someone asked me and that question
definitely changed how I think I’m Barbara Heffernan and I’ve been helping people recover
from anxiety and trauma for over 15 years and I created this youtube channel to help
you do the same. Please subscribe to my channel and hit the
bell to be notified when I release a new video every Tuesday. In this video I’m going to talk about CBT
and mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness and how they go together and
the five main points of overlap in the techniques, which is why they work so well together. And I’m also going to share with you a moment
that changed my life and a question that changed my life. So cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness
both strengthen the observer. Now the observer is the kind of like our wise
mind. It’s the part of our brain that observes our
thoughts. It’s the part of our mind that observes ourselves. It’s like a meta cognition, the part of us
that can think about our thoughts so we have our thoughts and they can be overwhelming
and then we can step back and we can say, wow, there’s some patterns going on in there
or those are some repetitive thoughts. And this observer part of our mind is very
important in both cognitive behavioral therapy and in mindfulness. Before I continue with the next four points
of how mindfulness and CBT overlap and work together, I want to share with you that moment
that changed my life. Now, this was a long time ago and my oldest
daughter was six months old at the time and I was in my first career, which was Wall Street
and I was working like a maniac 80 hours a week, maybe a little bit more. I was running at top speed all the time and
I had this baby who I loved. I just, I had this enormous love like I’d
never felt before for this baby and yet I was so stressed and so busy. I was having a hard time enjoying it. And there was a moment where we were in the
park and I lived in park slope in Brooklyn at the time. Shout out to anybody who’s in park slope in
Brooklyn and we were at a playground and it was winter time, it was February and it was
cold out. There was nobody else at this playground. And I’m with my daughter who as I said, I
just, I just enormously loved and she’s in the swing and I’m pushing her in the swing. Okay. And my mind is racing and racing and my body
is just pushing her on the swing and my mind is racing and racing with everything I have
to do and everything I hadn’t done yet and work and personal life and just thoughts are
just crazy, crazy, crazy. And my body is just pushing her and there’s
nobody to talk to. There’s nothing to distract me. And I know that if I take her out of the swing,
she’s going to scream. And that moment of the difference between
the speed at which my brain was going and the calm, rhythmic pushing of her on a swing. It was such a painful moment. And The observer part of my brain was able
to look at that and say, Barbara, you need to learn how to meditate. And at that time meditation was not as popular
as it is today. Not everybody was talking about mindfulness. I did do yoga occasionally, so I had some
exposure to it. But somehow that moment of being still and
quiet activated my observer to really look at what was going on and to come up with a
solution. And at that moment I determined I was going
to take a class, learn how to meditate and learn how to slow down whatever was going
on in here so that I could be fully present with the people I loved and I could be fully
present with myself and that daughter of mine who is six months at the time, she’s turning
28 this summer. And thank goodness for her because I have
been meditating and having a mindfulness practice for 28 years, which has been a wonderful gift. But before I continue with the rest of both
my story, the question I was asked as well as the overlap between mindfulness and CBT,
I’d like to ask you whether you have a mindfulness practice and if you do what practice you do
and please drop it in the comments below. I’d be very interested to see. Okay, back to the five points of how CBT and
mindfulness overlap. Now, the second point of overlap between CBT
and mindfulness is being nonjudgmental. So mindfulness is about observing and being
in the moment in a nonjudgmental way. And in cognitive behavioral therapy there
also is a component of not being nonjudgmental. And if you’re working with the therapist,
you definitely want to have a therapist that you feel you can trust and you feel they are
not judging you. And if you’re doing CBT on your own, bringing
up that feeling of being able to be aware without being critical is very important. And with the attitude of being nonjudgmental
is an attitude of curiosity. So that would be point number three. So if you can activate the nonjudgmental observer
part of your brain and bring curiosity to what you’re observing, you can have a feeling
a little bit more of like, wow, there I go again, like I’m obsessing about the past again,
or I’m ruminating about a conversation with friend again, like this is a habitual pattern
of mine. So that brings us to point number four where
these two techniques overlap, which is habitual patterns, habitual patterns of thought and
habitual patterns of behavior with cognitive behavioral therapy and a mindfulness practice. These four things develop and using both of
those techniques, they’ll develop even more quickly. And as your nonjudgmental observer develops
and looks with curiosity at your habitual patterns, you will also be begin to more clearly
see the lens through which you’ve been seeing the world. And we all see the world through a lens that
has been developed with our past experiences, our personalities, different things that have
happened to us, different things. We’ve done different beliefs. We’ve been taught all of these things. Sometimes cloud, sometimes just color the
world and they become the lens through which we see the world. And seeing this lens more clearly helps you
to begin to see yourself more clearly and the world more clearly, and that can lead
to better decision making, better choices in life and overall a happier life. Now the question that changed my life, so
after that moment in the park where I had that realization that I had to learn meditation,
I did go take a meditation class. And during the first class, the person leading
the class asked the question, what percentage of the time are your thoughts in the future? What percentage of the time are your thoughts
in the past and what percentage of the time are your thoughts in the present? Because the only place we live is in our present. So where are your thoughts? And at that time in my life, I was probably
85% in the future, 10% in the past, and about 5% in the present. Okay. And really engaging the observer part of my
brain in a nonjudgmental way to observe what was happening with my thoughts and the fact
that literally I was always in the future. Whether it was anxious projections or planning
or anticipating the next step, no matter what I was thinking about the future, I was not
living in the present and it’s in the present where we experience joy. It’s in the present where we have heart connections
with other people. It’s in the present where we experience pleasure. So I challenge you to ask yourself and observe
over the next week, what percentage of the time are your thoughts in the future, what
percentage of the time are they in the past and what percentage of the time are they here
right now? And engaging in a mindfulness practice is
incredibly helpful way to develop this ability to stay in the present. And there are many mindfulness practices. They include yoga, they include Tai-chi, Qi
Gong, meditation, there’s all sorts of types of meditation. Other people really feel in the present when
they are in nature or engaged in a sport that they love. So allowing yourself more time to spend in
mindfulness practices is a gift, a gift for yourself. If you have a super hard time staying in the
present, you might be interested in a free mini series that I offer. It’s called the “aah” mini-series, and there
are guided visualizations and exercises that help you develop the capacity to feel safer
and to feel more grounded, which is preparatory for beginning to be able to meditate and move
forward with other mindful practices. So the link for that is below. If you’re interested, if you’ve liked this
video, please give me a thumbs up. Please let me know in the comments below if
you found it helpful. And I look forward to the next time.

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