The Focussed Mindfulness Method ™ is a set of guided visualisations and exercises that reduce the impact that past trauma and other memories, which can be unconscious, have on physical wellbeing and mental health. It offers freedom from shock and fear responses that drive anger, shame, blame, avoidance, despondency and disassociation. In effect it supports clients to let go of past pain leaving them more present, empowered, flexible and calm.
The Method can be taught to clients
People can learn and continue to use the Focussed Mindfulness Method after their sessions when they need it. They are encouraged to develop a regular, body-based mindfulness practice as together the two approaches support continued improvement in mental and physical health.
It has taken 10 years to develop
The method has been developing over the last 10 years. There are many anecdotal reports of the profound impact it has on mental and physical health and a small trial measuring the health outcomes of 39 clients after 5 sessions of Focussed Mindfulness shows that there were significant improvements in many symptoms.
There are five complementary techniques that comprise the Focussed Mindfulness Method: The Questioning Thoughts Exercise; The Frozen Child Process; The Pain Release Process; The Heart to Heart Meditation and The Memory Change. They can be used flexibly according to whatever feels most useful to address an issue that arises in the consultation.
The Questioning Thoughts Exercise
This exercise investigates unconscious and habitual responses that the client has to people or situations. It quickly and directly uncovers a fundamental belief that they have about themselves (for example: I am not safe, I am not worthy, I am unlovable, I can’t cope) which often dates back to an early trauma, invites them to explore it consciously and notice the feelings it evokes in the body. Through the guided exploration they soon see that the belief is no longer entirely true and it is having a negative impact on them; they are then asked to imagine how they would feel and act if they were released from it. This brings a more mindful perspective of themselves, a felt sense of freedom and lightness and a recognition that they have the option of being free from habitual unconscious thoughts that are affecting their physical wellbeing and mental health. They are then invited to practice the technique frequently and they quickly begin to respond to previously challenging situations more consciously, calmly and confidently.
The Frozen Child Process
Here the client is asked to talk about a recent event that caused an emotional reaction. In a guided visualisation they are taken to the feeling that was evoked in their body, asked to focus on it, and enquire as to when they first felt it. This usually brings to their attention a traumatic memory from childhood which has been driving their emotional responses ever since. The client is then immediately, without any need to talk about the event, taught to self-soothe this inner traumatised child and to engage with a more empowered, loving and wise part of themselves. They are invited to practice the exercise frequently, especially at times of distress and so learn to move themselves from a reactive, emotional state to a calm, centred one at will.
The Trauma Integration Process
In this exercise the client is asked to explore their emotional response to a situation and then describe the sensation that arises in the body as they do so. They are then asked to explore this area and find out what it needs. There follows a negotiation which continues until the part feels better and more supported.
The exercise allows a trauma memory to be safely explored and resolved leaving the client calmer and more integrated.
Pain Release Process
Here the client is guided to focus on a sensation, discomfort or other feeling in the body and explore what lies deeper. This brings to their attention an image, sensation or memory normally harboured in the unconscious. Rather than dwelling on this the client is asked to explore deeper still and to continue to do so, often going rapidly through a range of powerful emotions, until they find that there is nothing left and they experience a state of expansiveness, peace, stillness, safety or love. Once in this state of one-ness they naturally have a mindful perspective on their suffering and gain insight into their habitual emotional responses and how they can achieve a healthier state of being.
The Heart to Heart Process
This is a guided visualisation in which the client can safely have an imaginary conversation with whoever was involved in a traumatic memory. It allows an expression of emotions which have often been suppressed since that time and an experience of feeling heard and understood. This is often felt as a profound relief and afterwards the client may be able to forgive themselves and others involved in the traumatic memories and achieve reconciliation and release.
The Memory Change
Here the client reframes a traumatic memory, imagining how it would have played out if they had the power to change the outcome and, importantly, how it would have felt in the body. This reduces the shock associated with the memory, empowers the client and gives them an understanding that they are, in reality, no longer trapped in the situation and they can safely explore it, begin to integrate it and resolve it.
All the techniques temporarily free the client from an unconscious trauma pattern and allow them to explore it mindfully. This reduces its emotional charge and if they continue to practice the impact of the trauma on their physical, emotional and mental health diminishes. The reported results are that clients become calmer, more confident, kinder to themselves and others and recognise that they can choose to respond to events and thoughts consciously rather than reacting to them unconsciously. This brings feelings of empowerment, self-belief and a sense that they have control over their lives.