The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress

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The Mindful Way Workbook

The practical tools can be downloaded and printed in PDF format. I magine an 8-week program that can help you overcome depression, anxiety, and stress—by simply learning new ways to respond to your own thoughts and feelings. That program is mindfulness-based cognitive therapy MBCT , and it has been tested and proven effective in clinical trials throughout the world. Now you can get the benefits of MBCT any time, any place, by working through this carefully constructed book. The expert authors introduce specific mindfulness practices to try each week, plus reflection questions, tools for keeping track of progress, and helpful comments from others going through the program.

Like a trusted map, this book guides you step by step along the path of change. Guided meditations are provided on the accompanying MP3 CD and are also available as audio downloads. What if they are the very things that are keeping you stuck in suffering or even making things worse?

The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress

This research-based 8-week course is designed to give you the skills and understanding that will empower you to free yourself from getting entangled in painful emotions. Of course, depression often arrives hand in hand with anxiety, irritability, or other unwanted emotions. The good news is that while MBCT was developed and has proven extremely effective for depression, research is now also showing powerful effects of MBCT on persistent anxiety and other destructive emotions.

The heart of MBCT is gentle, systematic training in mindfulness we'll say more about what mindfulness is later. This training frees us from the grip of two critical processes that lie at the root of depression and many other emotional problems:. If you have suffered long-term emotional difficulties, you'll have already discovered that worrying or suppressing doesn't really help.

Redoubling your efforts to switch off your troubled mind may give temporary relief, but it can also make things worse. Your attention is still hijacked by whatever is troubling you: it's so difficult to prevent the mind from being dragged back again and again to the very place from which you want to escape. What if it were possible to learn wholly new skills that allowed you to cultivate a radically different way of working with your mind?

Mindfulness training teaches exactly these skills: it gives you back control of your attention so that, moment by moment, you can experience yourself and the world without the harsh self-critical voice of judgment that may so often follow you around.

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We developed MBCT, and we have seen, over and over again, how it liberates people from their burden of low mood and the stress and exhaustion that goes with it. We've seen the extraordinary consequences of their discovery that there is a way to live life more fully than they ever imagined. This might be as part of a class taught by an instructor, as part of individual therapy, or as a form of self-help, working through the program by yourself or with a friend. Whichever of these routes you take, you will be supported on a daily basis by the guided practices recorded on the CD or audio downloads that come with the book.

And, of course, you don't have to have been seriously depressed to find the MBCT program valuable:. We have already written one book describing MBCT for a wide audience: The Mindful Way through Depression coauthored with our colleague Jon Kabat-Zinn, the principal figure catalyzing and guiding the surge of interest in mindfulness that has swept the world in recent decades. It gives a lot of background detail that might be particularly helpful if you are using this workbook on your own, as self-help. If you have already read The Mindful Way through Depression, this workbook will give you all the additional tools and detailed practical guidance you need to take yourself through the MBCT program.

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For many people, the most helpful approach might be to read The Mindful Way through Depression or have it available for reference along with using this workbook. Many find it most effective to do this in the company of others, working through MBCT in a group with a trained teacher. In Chapters 2 and 3 we consider the essential questions: Why do we find ourselves, time after time, sinking into depression or getting stuck in emotional distress?


How do the practices and exercises of the 8-week MBCT program make a difference? How might all this help you? With this understanding in place, Chapter 4 looks at how best to prepare for the course.

Then, in the following seven chapters, we move, step by step, week by week, through the nuts and bolts of the program. Finally, in the concluding chapter of the book we look to the future.

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The Mindful Way Workbook

We consider how, if you wish, you might further nourish and extend the ways in which mindfulness can transform and enrich your life. Jani would often wake very early in the morning, unable to sleep, with a heavy feeling in her body and thoughts going round and round, impossible to switch off. She'd sometimes get up to make a cup of tea, sitting in the kitchen with a blanket around her shoulders, reading bits of any magazine that she or her roommate had left lying around, or opening her laptop and trying to answer e-mails that had come in overnight. At last, exhausted, she'd go back to bed, only to find that the thoughts carried on, going round and round, but now with a new voice: "This is terrible.

You'll be too tired to think straight today. Why is this happening again? Why can't you ever pull yourself together? What's wrong with you? For any of us it would be bad enough to wake up too early in this way. But Jani's mind just made things worse. Reading through the story again, can you now see any similarities between the ways in which the "new voice" added its own twist to Jani's misery and your own past experience?

Unhappiness is part of the normal human condition.

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It is a natural response to certain situations. Left to itself, it will pass in its own good time, often surprisingly quickly. But, somehow, most of us don't feel able to let things take their natural course—when we feel sad or unhappy, we feel we have to do something, even if it's only trying to understand what's going on. Paradoxically, it is those very attempts to get rid of unwanted unhappy feelings that get us stuck in ever-deepening unhappiness. Stage 2: The unhappy mood brings up negative thinking patterns, feelings, and memories from the past—this makes us more unhappy.

Stage 3: We try to get rid of the unhappiness in ways that actually keep it going and just make things worse. A few years ago Jani had been totally stressed by the amount of work she was expected to do in the job she held at the time.

She'd become very down and constantly tried to "pull herself together" before eventually going to her physician, who prescribed antidepressant medication, which helped a bit. She'd eventually left that job, but somehow she still blamed herself for giving in. Now, 7 years later in the early hours, as she struggled with not being able to sleep but not being really awake either, thinking of the day ahead, this echo of the past was making her feel worse.