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meditation resolutions this new year“Living mindfully” is high up in the public consciousness – it is seemingly in the press each week: benefits attributed to the practice include the lowering of stress, helping schools engage their children, and even helping businesses thrive. It is no wonder then that it appears in many people's New Year's resolutions list. As many people seek a solution to life's challenges or express a wish to "turn over a new leaf", each year I have receive many enquiries about learning to meditate during the first two weeks of January. This year more than most: we could have filled our first Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction of 2016 twice over (don't worry, we've another course coming in April!)

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As a therapist and mindfulness instructor, I continue to face a dilemma as to whether I bring these two practices together in the therapy room with my clients*. With growing public interest in how mindfulness can help mental and emotional well-being, I am receiving a growing number of enquiries for 1-2-1 mindfulness work to help with life problems. Similarly, there is always a great turnout when I run workshops for therapists on using mindfulness. Both sides of the therapist-client alliance are becoming inspired to bring mindfulness to problems and distress.

It is my opinion that there is great value in an individual having a mindfulness-meditation practice alongside the therapeutic process. I believe they are healthy bedfellows: with therapy bringing insight to the reasons for the struggle, and meditation allowing a compassionate place to process that insight, to learn to ‘be with’ the pain. I would encourage therapists working with clients who have an existing mindfulness practice to use any material the client gathers from their time ‘on the cushion’. However, is it the place of the therapist to introduce the practice, or indeed to be the one teaching meditation to their clients?

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I don’t need to spend much time setting up the present day picture concerning mindfulness and the enhancing of mental, emotional and physical well-being. Not a day goes by it would seem without an announcement of research findings advocating the use of this ancient practice. As a mindfulness instructor with a background in empirical science I have concerns about just how far we can take the promising findings and making them ‘true’. But is there a deeper cause for concern?

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