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ACT Resources

Anxiety Treatment

Mindfulness Meditation

The descriptions of these meditations and meditations presented here are part of the material from the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) for Depression and Anxiety Group developed by Matt Boone at Cornell University’s Counseling and Psychological Services. It is a 10 session college counseling center group which combines didactic elements, mindfulness exercises, experiential exercises, group discussion/process, and homework (called LIFE Exercises).

I adapted his material as part of 10 weeks ACT for anxiety and depression that I facilitate. As we move through the 10 weeks we are going to use them to help you practice between sessions following the Mindfulness Practice Worksheet.pdf also adapted from Matt Boone’s program.

As stated by Matt Boone in ACBS (Association for Contextual Behavioral Science) website, scripts for all of the meditations except “Brief Mindfulness” can be found in the ACT literature. The script for “Brief Mindfulness” was improvised by him, but it’s very close to other short mindfulness exercises in the literature. It is meant as a brief instruction on mindfulness, as well as a mindfulness exercise in itself. The scripts for “Leaves on a Stream” and “Acceptance of Thoughts and Feelings” are taken from the Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety. Both can also be found in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders and “Leaves on a Stream” can be found in many other ACT texts. “Willingness Exercise” is an extensive acceptance exercise taken from ACT Made Simple. (It is similar to “physicalizing” in the ACT literature. It is assigned for homework a number of times throughout the group to facilitate exposure to feared internal stimuli like thoughts and feelings. Scripts for some of the other group’s mindfulness exercises are included with these materials. They are similar to mindfulness exercises found in the ACT literature.

Track 1: “Brief Mindfulness” 7:24
Mindfulness means “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). Mindfulness is the basis for all of these exercises. It means adopting a different kind of posture toward your internal experience: rather than suppressing thoughts and feelings, on the one hand, or getting entangled in them, on the other, mindfulness affords the opportunity to merely observe your experience. This exercise is a brief mindfulness practice that instructs you to notice your breathing, the physical sensations in your body, and the sounds in the room. Often a state of relaxation ensues, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to be there with your experience as it happens, without changing, judging, or controlling.

Track 2: “Brief Mindfulness + Leaves On a Stream” 11:24
The first part of this track is the same as track 1. At the end, there’s a brief exercise to help you get distance from your thoughts as they occur. The goal is to notice thinking as it happens without getting wrapped up your thoughts. Of course you will get wrapped up sometimes — probably many times! This exercise helps you become aware of this as it happens and gently return to noticing.

Track 3: “Acceptance of Thoughts and Feelings” 13:20
This exercise helps facilitate a posture of openness and willingness towards internal experiences like physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts. It helps cultivate an observing stance towards these experiences, without striving to reject them, control them, or change them. From this space, it’s easier to connect to what is important to you and act in the service of that, rather than solely following what your thoughts and feelings urge you to do.

Track 4: “Willingness Exercise” 12:49

This exercise asks that you willingly encounter an uncomfortable internal experience. It is probably the most important skill you will learn as part of this treatment. By practicing intentionally moving toward — instead of away from — something you would usually reject, you begin to develop a kind of flexibility of responding when difficult stuff shows up inside. And, most importantly, if you can welcome an uncomfortable feeling on purpose during practice, it will be much easier to do so when it really counts.

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