By Ron Kurtz
One characteristic of the method that makes it unique is its use of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a special state of mind we use when studying ourselves. Mindfulness is a state where you are relatively quiet, your attention is turned inward and you are observing your own experience with a minimum of interference. You don’t try to control your experience; you simply allow it to happen and you observe it. This is not as easy as it sounds. But, if you can do that, then you can discover little pieces of your inner structure. To help you discover your inner world, the therapist suggests doing little experiments which the client does while in mindfulness.
For example, I was lecturing once in Vienna to several hundred people. To demonstrate this method, I asked them to become quiet and turn inward (mindfulness) and study their experiences when I said to them, “You’re a good person.” The results were these: About forty percent of the group felt sadness. Another twenty-five percent felt relief. A few people felt happy. Some noticed that their chests felt warmer and more open. Some had a thought or heard an inner voice which said things like, “No! I’m not!” So you see, one little experiment showed something about people’s inner structures. A simple experiment in mindfulness can do that.
If we help a client stay with her sadness, or listen to the voice she heard, or to just stay with the experience that the experiment evoked, memories may appear. When they do, they help the client understand her reactions. They also help the therapist understand. Evoking reactions through experiments in mindfulness gives us a glimpse of the inner world creating those reactions.
Without mindfulness, it’s possible nothing much would be evoked. If you said, “You’re a good person” to a person who wasn’t in mindfulness, wasn’t focused on her own present experience, wasn’t allowing and observing without interfering, she might casually reply, “Well, thanks!” If you asked it as a question (“Are you a good person?”), you might get an equally casual, emotionless answer. (“Yes, I guess so.”) No sadness. No relief. Without mindfulness and the intention to study oneself, the automatic, conversational mind replies and nothing very informative happens. But, with a little bit of care and relaxed concentration, we just might learn something very important about the inner structure of the mind. That’s the power of mindfulness.
With permission, excerpts from writings of Ron Kurtz
© 2007 Ron Kurtz Trainings, Inc.