Mindfulness-based programs such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT: Segal, Williams & Teasdale, 2013) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR: Kabat-Zinn, 1990) have demonstrated beneficial effects for a wide range of psychological disorders, as well as helping people to cope with pain and illness (Goink et al, 2015; Khoury et al, 2013). Mindful awareness exercises form part of treatment approaches such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT: Linehan, 1993) and compassion focused therapy (CFT: Gilbert, 2014).
The Mindfulness Of Breath exercise forms part of the Psychology Tools For Mindfulness Audio Collection, a guided introduction to the practice of mindfulness meditation. The exercise encourages present-moment awareness using the breath as an anchor for the attention. Naturally the mind will wander, and the practice encourages non-judgemental acknowledgement of where the attention went, and then gently returning to the breath. In this way we learn to change our relationship with thoughts, allowing them to be there without being swept away with them.
This audio exercise is designed for anyone who would like to develop their own mindfulness meditation practice. No previous experience with mindfulness is necessary on the part of the client, although best practice is for clinicians to be familiar with mindfulness. In common with other psychological interventions, mindfulness exercises result in clients confronting difficult and potentially distressing thoughts, emotions, and sensations and so care should be taken when prescribing them (Baer et al, 2019).
This audio exercise can be used in session, or prescribed as self-practice to complement clinical work and to develop a client’s mindfulness practice. The audio download is a simple .mp3 file which can be played in most media player apps. You can also download the verbatim script, allowing you to record the exercise for your clients in your own voice to reinforce work completed in therapy.
- Baer, R., Crane, C., Miller, E., & Kuyken, W. (2019). Doing no harm in mindfulness-based programs: conceptual issues and empirical findings. Clinical Psychology Review, 71, 101-114.
- Gilbert, P. (2014). The origins and nature of compassion focused therapy. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 53(1), 6-41.
- Gotink, R. A., Chu, P., Busschbach, J. J., Benson, H., Fricchione, G. L., & Hunink, M. M. (2015). Standardised mindfulness-based interventions in healthcare: an overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of RCTs. PloS one, 10(4), e0124344.
- Kabat-Zinn, J., & Hanh, T. N. (2009). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. Delta.
- Khoury, B., Lecomte, T., Fortin, G., Masse, M., Therien, P., Bouchard, V., … & Hofmann, S. G. (2013). Mindfulness-based therapy: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 763-771.
- Linehan, M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford.
- Segal, Z. V., & Teasdale, J. (2018). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression. Guilford Publications.