Is “mindfulness” CBT or just distraction?
In the context of a larger discussion we have been having regarding “mindfulness” practices and CBT-REBT, a reader raises an important question about whether mindfulness constitutes a “distraction” or is it the antithesis of distraction?
Yes. I believe it is. However, as process and as experience, it is difficult to describe. And even to the extent that you can describe it with language, without the process and the experience, the language sounds pretty hollow. It is not unlike the way people assume that REBT is just another form of positive thinking, or that it is about becoming an unemotional “Mr. Spock” kind of guy. Changing an (irrational) belief–really changing it–and getting the immediate emotional kick that comes with it is a powerful experience. It is not in any way “positive thinking.”
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Having said that, “distraction” is a perfectly valid strategy for dealing with anger and other strong emotions, as Dr. Ellis frequently talks about. However, the thing that many miss, I think, is that distraction is not very useful if it is a substitute for the hard work of rigorously disputing and acting on new, rational beliefs as “homework” and in various other ways. I am all for a “multi-modal,” eclectic bag in using CBT-REBT, but over and over again, I do tend to try to bring the discussion back to the core principles.
I am not sure exactly what the “segue” is between CBT and mindfulness, but I know there is one, and it is one of the areas I intend to gain a better understanding of over time.
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Originally posted 2014-02-10 22:42:51.
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