Mindfulness is a practice commonly used in CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy) but it also extends to other areas of therapy. Its goal is to help an individual mange their symptoms by engaging with the present moment and making the individual focus their conscious awareness on the present moment.
It has had positive results statistically, as individuals report feeling more “at peace”, “relaxed” and “able t cope” when engaging with mindfulness practices long term.
By focusing on the present – i.e the intricate detail on the leaves of the tree, the fresh blue of the sky, or the chipped paint of your room – it brings your attention away from the overwhelming and/or severe feelings and allows you to be able to mange your emotions more effectively.
It has also been used with patients who suffer from PTSD. One of the symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks from the event, and feelings as if you are reliving the event all over. By trying to ground oneself in the present moment, one can revisit those feelings of distress but not be overwhelmed by them as they are more secure, that is the goal of mindfulness mediation.
It is used in CBT because the cognitive approach to a mental illness such as Depression, is that they believe it is thoughts that cause depression. It is due to to a person’s dysfunctional thought process that they are feeling depressed (For example, automatic thoughts, ruminative thoughts, extreme focus on the negative etc) . Therefore, by engaging in mindfulness meditation they can interrupt their thought process and are able to think more clearly and objectively. By thinking more objectively, the individual will learn to combat their negative thoughts with objective and realistic thoughts and no longer be succumbed by a feeling of sadness and/or numbness.
That is a cognitive look on how they approach mindfulness meditation as an example, but it can be used in many other areas of therapy. The objective is the same however, that by engaging meaningfully with the present moment it will help individuals cope with their overwhelming emotions.