Music & Psychedelics

Music is a powerful and transformative art form that can serve us in many ways.

Learn how music can serve you during your psychedelic experiences.

Why Therapy is a Mindfulness Practice

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is putting intentional focus on something you're doing. Although this may sound like paying attention actually, they’re not the same. When you pay attention to what you’re doing in the traditional sense, you're completely absorbed by what you're doing. You're so involved that you're not aware of what you’re doing at all. 

Mindfulness is different. 

In a way, mindfulness is a consciousness of what you're doing while you're doing it. It’s a “meta” experience. It all starts by noticing, without judgment, what is happening in your five senses and in your sixth sense of “interoception.” Which is paying attention to the sensations of energy inside your body, such as pain, tingling, vibration, temperature, and numbness.

Let me explain through an example, take a sip of your drink if you have one. Did you focus on the experience or did the movement feel automatic? Automatic movements are not mindful and movements that are not mindful cannot be modified.

Why mindfulness is the foundation of change

So, if you're trying to modify the way you do something in your life, you first have to see all the movements of the way you do a particular thing. This might sound easy if you’re talking about how you tie your shoe or button your shirt. However, if you’re talking about how to change the way you interact with your family, children or co-workers; things might get a little more complicated.

The thing is, you cannot change what you cannot see. If you want to avoid a cliff when you’re driving a car, you need to see the cliff and turn your steering wheel. If you can’t see your own emotional cliffs, you can’t turn your behavioral steering wheel which can lead to an interpersonal disaster on your hands. 

Seeing all the movements that go into your interactions with your various relationships requires seeing processes inside yourself that are largely invisible to you. It often requires that you realize attributes about yourself that you may have been avoiding. 

How therapy builds mindfulness

Now, let’s talk about therapy. Since it’s all about seeing how you do you, internally and externally, it is in essence a massive exercise in mindfulness.

Even the old-fashioned name for it, “psychoanalysis,” is a tip-off to the reality that therapy is about mindfulness. When you analyze something, you examine it methodically. You discover or reveal things through detailed examination.

When you enter therapy, you start becoming self-aware. You begin to reveal the moments that cause you to do things the way you do them. Your automatic process can be stopped. You now have a choice about whether you keep doing things the same way or change them because there’s a better way.

When you enter therapy, you start becoming more self-aware. You begin to reveal the moments that cause you to do things the way you do them. Therapy reveals that your automatic processes can be stopped. It gives you the power of choice about whether you keep doing things the same way or change them because there’s a better way.

Gaining these insights can help build your self-awareness and help you gain the capacity to change your behavior. If being mindful is the first step towards a new you, then therapy can equip you with the tools and support to bloom into the best version of yourself.



About Our Contributor: Leah Benson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida. She provides body-based psychotherapy and coaching to high achievers who want to eliminate chronic stress permanently so they can enjoy their lives.

Intrusive Thoughts: Egosytonic vs Egodystonic

Intrusive Thoughts (ITs) intrude upon your ongoing thought processes and startle you with attention-grabbing content or imagery.

Intrusive thoughts are common - research says that 94% of the population experience them occasionally. 

Intrusive Thoughts can be categorized in two forms:

  • Egodystonic thoughts: which are an expression of wishes that oppose your values
  • Egosyntonic thoughts: which are an expression of wishes aligned with our values. 

It is best to understand what your intrusive thoughts say about you. These thoughts usually hone in on what is important to you. You will never have an intrusive thought about a topic your brain finds irrelevant, such as “oh no, what if my shoes get untied?” Your brain will only exert the effort to offer up an intrusive thought about something you care deeply about and its fears may be threatened. 

The flip side of your intrusive thought is what you value the most.

However, these thoughts DO NOT reflect your hidden desires. Experiencing an intrusive thought does not make you “deranged” or “depraved” because the only unhealthy thing about your experiences with intrusive thoughts is how hard you are trying to not have these thoughts. What you may find to be true is that there is a difference between a bad thought and a bad behavior. 

Thought Suppression Exercise

  1. Intentionally think about an intrusive thought. 
  2. For the next minute, place your attention on anything except for the intrusive thought. (find something a sense can attract to - the sound of birds outside, the ac unit running, the pen in front of you, the mint inside your mouth, etc)
  3. After 1 minute, note your anxiety levels on a 0-10 scale
  4. Next, for another minute, practice bringing forth the same intrusive thought. 
  5. After 1 minute, note your anxiety levels again on 0-10 scale. 

With this exercise, you can teach your brain to grow bored with your intrusive thoughts as we have realized in neuroscience that repeated attention to the intrusive thought will reduce reactivity over time (not so instantly) and can be done without necessarily seeking some answer to the reasons why they are rising within our thoughts.