These might answer some questions you have. If not, get in touch.
Each minute we spend worrying about the future and regretting the past is a minute we miss with our appointment in life – a missed opportunity to engage life and to see that each moment gives us the chance to change for the better, to experience peace and joy. If you are drinking tea, just drink your tea. Do not drink your worries, your projects, your regrets. When you hold your cup, you may like to breathe in, to bring your mind back to your body …in this state of true presence and freedom you enjoy simply drinking your tea.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Savour
There are many definitions or ‘doorways into the room’ that describe and explain ‘Mindfulness’. I like to remember mindfulness as the awareness of what is happening in our hearts, minds and bodies, and the world around us, as it is happening. There is a quality of kindly curiosity as we attend to our moment-to-moment experience. As each moment arises and passes on, we open up to see things as they are and we may be empowered to take wise action in our next moments.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who devised the 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction curriculum in 1979, defined mindfulness as: “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Embed youtube video – JKZ Defines Mindfulness
… lost in thought or living our lives? ….
Mindfulness can be accessible to everyone since it is something we already know and have naturally. We’ve already experienced it. We just have to remember to practice.
Jon Kabat-Zinn has compared mindfulness to jogging, once considered an unusual form of exercise practised by few people in the 1970s yet one that is now recognised as easy and effective for many with great benefits for personal health and well-being. Others have declared it will become a routine health habit for us all in years to come – just like brushing our teeth.
Mindfulness holds the promise of an effective way to keep both minds and bodies healthy so it makes sense that it may become the new jogging or tooth-brushing routine!
Descriptions in words often fall short as mindfulness is essentially about an experience, an embodied experience, that takes in all of our being: sensations, emotions, thoughts, future fantasies, memories of the past and the meanings we make of our moment to moment experiences. The joy is in discovering your own personal practice and the relevance of mindfulness training for living your best life. And the best way to see if it’s for you is to try it and see what happens!
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it”.
– Sharon Salzberg.
There are now close to 40 years worth of scientific research that consistently show how regular practice of mindfulness can enhance our physical and mental well-being.
A dose effect has been found: the more you practice, the greater the effect. You don’t even have to like it to benefit – you just have to do it!!
Those who complete 8 week courses and practice mindfulness meditation regularly:
- Clarity of mind
- Working memory
- Emotional intelligence
- Mental stamina
- Immune functioning
- Life satisfaction
Sleep is one of my ‘5 a day’. It really messes with my mind and conjures up the most unhelpful and unkind thinking if I haven’t rested enough. For others it’s the ‘hanger’ that alerts them to sleep needs.
I recently learned that we sleep for one-third of our lives! So if I live to 90 years, i will have slept for 30 years in my life-time. Is it any wonder we may be obsessed with sleeping then.
And there are so many moments in our life when our sleep is disrupted – stressed or worried, grieving, new job, love, baby, children. We may have unexamined beliefs about sleep that get in the way too. Like ‘sleeping is cheating’ or ‘sleeping is for losers’.
But the science backs up our heart on this: sleep is foundational for healthy physical and psychological development. We also see patterns of rest and activity across the species so it is not an ‘evolutionary mistake’ to need to rest. Sleep serves to restore and replenish us. We consolidate memories during light and deep sleep when we also grow and develop.
Mindfulness training can help us with our sleep patterns. In a recent study of 49 middle-aged and older adults who had trouble sleeping were split into 2 groups: half completed a mindfulness awareness program that taught them meditation and other exercises designed to help them focus on “moment-by-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions.” The other half completed a sleep education class that taught them ways to improve their sleep habits.
Both groups met six times, once a week for two hours. Compared with the people in the sleep education group, those in the mindfulness group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the six sessions.
So how can we best respond to our sleep and rest needs?
- Have a sleep friendly day: what we do by day influences our night-time experience (for example, eating/drinking/exercise etc.)
- Our body clock pays attention to light – it signals time to wake up or time to wind down. But it’s not like a machine with an on/off switch: it is a system so it takes time and needs support to respond, we can help with some ‘healthy habits’ on waking and sleeping. We know these – low lighting at night, reduce screentime, have a wind-down routine.
- A mindful attitude of accepting and awareness of the powerful influence of thoughts/thinking is a strong support. With this approach, we stay in bed when it is sleeptime. With awareness, we can see when we are getting caught up in unhelpful thought loops, frustration and fear can arise too. With more acceptance, we accept this thinking loop is unhelpful, we accept we are awake and we can bring attention to simply resting with sensations of the body as they come and go and change, and we lie here and let sleep happen when it will. Crucially, we pay attention without any expectation that this will help us to fall asleep!! We let go of any particular outcome, simply focus on the intention to be present as best we can.
Regular practice of mindfulness can help us to develop a mindful attitude that can serve us in our moments of daily challenge such as sleep difficulty. Taking a class or a course with a qualified and experienced teacher can support you in developing the practice.
Further reading: https://www.mindful.org/the-ultimate-guide-to-mindfulness-for-sleep/
Based on the current research, it is generally considered that the risk of harm from mindfulness practice and programmes appears to be rare. Similar to other programmes or activities that may carry therapeutic benefits, for example, physical exercise, psychological therapies and pharmacology, the potential for harm tends not to be sufficiently studied or reported in the empirical literature. But this is gaining increasing attention.
Encouragingly, a recent paper was published by researchers at the Center for Healthy Minds at University Wisconsin-Madison who investigated possible negative side-effects of taking part in MBSR programs specifically. The home of the researchers is a leading centre that is headed up by Dr. Richard Davidson, a pioneering academic with a long-standing career of investigating the science of meditation and mindfulness and contributing to the ‘mind the hype’ data and debates in the field. So pretty reputable. And the study itself holds robust strengths: the sample involved 2155 adults who had taken part in a community-based MBSR course between 2002 and 2016.
Their findings suggested that MBSR did not yield higher rates of harm when compared to receiving no program. And in fact it may actually be preventive of developing psychological and physical symptoms.
That there is a low risk of harm for participants of MBSR is an important finding since MBSR is the foundational programme on which many more subsequent mindfulness-based approaches or interventions are advanced across health, education and workplace contexts.
Of course, this does not mean that no-one may be harmed. It continues to be important to support further research so that we may understand the experiences of those who do experience harm and adverse reactions associated with participation in MBSR or similar programmes. This in turn informs those involved in teaching and supporting people who are practising mindfulness and meditation in the most helpful ways possible. The Oxford Mindfulness Centre advise that those wishing to practice mindfulness
- begin with low intensity practices, developed and offered by those with recognised expertise. For example, the introductory Finding Peace in a Frantic World was developed by Prof. Mark Williams, one of the lead researchers who designed and evaluated Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.
- work with qualified/certified teachers who offer evidence-based programmes such Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
- consult with your mental health practitioner or GP before beginning a programme or class and ensure the teacher has appropriate qualifications and experience to work with your particular needs
- ask mindfulness teachers about their qualification and training in mindfulness and if they are registered and recognised by your country’s regulating body for mindfulness teachers
- remember if you are taking a very intensive retreat, these tend to be offered by meditation teachers who may or may not have expertise in mental health.
And also remember:
- Mindfulness is not intended to be a ‘blissful experience’. Just like exercise, it can be uncomfortable at times.
- Mindfulness is not for everyone and there are other ways to manage stress, increase well being and live a flourishing life.
- Mindfulness is invitational and empirical: approach with an open-mind, warm heart; continue with what works for you and let go of what does not serve you.
Everyone who feels the need to talk to someone at any moment in their lives. You may be experiencing some distress or difficulty, you may wish to learn some new ways of being in life or wish to gain emotional support through a particular time in your life
Everyone faces challenges and unexpected difficult moments in life. Sometimes we can feel this as overwhelming or we can feel stuck, confused or helpless. We may feel anxiety for an uncertain future, feel the loss of a job, a relationship, a loved one or arrive at a crossroads in life where we need to make a change.
Friends and family can be great supports. But sometimes we are seeking a different kind of listening ear, to learn new skills and explore new perspectives for living a fulfilled life. We can work together to find ways to support you during these moments and discover ways to help you to move on in your life.
Some examples of life experiences that have brought people to appointments include:
- Stress (job, personal, family etc.)
- Relationship difficulties
- Living with chronic physical illness (e.g. pain, multiple sclerosis etc.)
- Recovering from mental ill-health (e.g. depression/low mood)
- Eating challenges
- Caring for others
- Living with a new diagnosis
- Personal growth and discovery
- Professional development (psychologist, counsellor, social worker, nurse etc.)
At the first appointment, we will get to know a bit more about you and your life situation, whatever you are comfortable to share with me. I may ask you some questions too. We will explore what you hope to gain from attending for sessions. We will talk about the kind of support that I can offer you. And if in agreement to continue, we will agree when and how often we will meet, how long each session will be, the limits of confidentiality and the fees and method of payment for sessions. This will be our contract of work agreed. We can review this as we continue to meet.
If it is your first session like this, you may feel nervous and uncertain and this is completely natural. Everyone feels similar. My hope is that you will find me a non judgemental, kind and caring listener who is ready to hear and see what you decide to share with me. And that by the end of the session you feel a little more clear and at ease.
Each 60-90 minutes session has a fee of €85.
When you book your appointment, you will receive details on how to make the advance payment. This secures your appointment. If you are unable to make the payment in this manner, you must let me know or I will assume the appointment is not proceeding.
Appointment fees are payable at least 24 hours in advance of the appointment time.
Appointments may be cancelled up to 24 hours before the appointment time.
Cancellations within 24 hours of the appointment time will incur a 50% cancellation fee.
Appointments may be rescheduled at no additional cost up to 12 hours before the time of appointment. Reschedule requests within 12 hours of the appointment time will incur a 50% rescheduling fee.
You simply make a call or complete this form to request an appointment. You will indicate if you would like the appointments in-person or by telephone/videocall. A first appointment usually takes 60-90 minutes.
There are different types of therapy with different degrees of evidence for their effectiveness. Yet the research consistently reports that it is the quality of the relationship between therapist and client that is associated with with positive impact, no matter what the type of therapy.
It’s a common question: I like to think of these as different doors to the same place: good mental health with less distress and more fulfilment in daily life. Each profession will have followed a different training path. Each professional will have a particular approach or way of working that will be a blend of their training, experience and person.
A psychologist has completed an undergraduate degree in psychology, which is the scientific study of the human mind and behaviour. As a clinical psychologist, I also completed a postgraduate professional degree in clinical psychology. Clinical psychology specialises in mental health. This takes 7 years. I also have a doctorate in educational psychology. Educational psychology specialises in applying psychology to development, learning and education. During my clinical psychology training I completed training in different counselling methods and psychological therapies including cognitive-behaviour therapy, humanistic, systemic and psychodynamic therapies. I also continued my education in jungian sand therapy, attachment and trauma-informed approaches and mindfulness-based therapies. You can book an appointment directly with me or your GP might make a referral. I am a chartered clinical psychologist member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (https://www.psychologicalsociety.ie/about).
A psychiatrist trains as a general medical doctor first and then specialises in mental health training. This can take up to 7 years. A psychiatrist is trained to provide medical care to people with mental illness and this often involves treatment with medication. They may or may not have additional training in psychology, counselling and/or psychotherapy. An appointment can only be obtained with a referral from your GP. (https://www.irishpsychiatry.ie/external-affairs-policy/public-information/what-is-psychiatry/)
These can be used interchangeably but there is also recognition that there are differences in the depth of work and training in psychotherapy or counselling. Psychotherapy is regarded as more in-depth and long-term where you may explore current difficulties and distress in the context of your past including childhood trauma and abuse. Counselling tends to be more short-term and may offer some support at times of life-crises including bereavement, stress or relationship issues. Both may or may not be trained as mental health professionals and may use talking, writing, art or drama to explore in a trusting relationship, the thoughts, emotions and behaviours that may be contributing to your distress as well as ways to alleviate this distress. Counselling and psychotherapy training can involve hours to years of training to degree level. These practitioners may specialise in particular approaches or areas of work (for example, bereavement, addiction, cognitive-behaviour therapy, humanistic/integrative therapy etc.) You can make appointments directly with psychotherapists and counsellors. (https://counsellingandtherapy.com/counselling-psychotherapy-differ/; https://iacp.ie/).
So how do you decide?
There are different types of therapy that have different degrees of evidence on their effectiveness. The most consistent factor associated with the positive impact of therapy is regardless of type of therapy and is the quality of the therapeutic relationship.
- You can ask your GP for a recommendation. They will see lots of people who face similar questions as you do and may have a local list of psychologists and therapists they know work in the area.
- You can also look up the different professional bodies for each of the professions and find some local practitioners.
- Contact the person – how comfortable do you feel in their response to you? Do you feel you can work with this person? Are they clear with you on what they can offer you, how they work including their fee?