Nocturnal Works death doula resources

Meditation as Therapy

Meditation and Mindfulness in Therapy

Many people ask me what place meditation has in therapy. Often I get asked if this is some sort of religious practice. People have a number of reactions around these questions. As I have just finished meditating (the photo of me on this page is post-meditation) and am in a very good space mentally, I will attempt a start of a response - this is only a start, as the topic of meditation is a large one (and paradoxically quite straight-forward).

Counsellor Mindfulness Therapy

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

First, meditation has found application in a number of therapeutic approaches, including a central place in a synthesis between mindfulness (meditation) and Cognitive Therapy, known as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. This approach was developed at Oxford University and a good introduction is found in their podcasts here. Oxford did research into the use of mindfulness meditation and cognitive techniques to treat depression. A very interesting project!

Meditation as Focusing

Second, meditation is as simple as focusing on your breath (something that is always readily available). The focal point can be a number of things. An exhaustive list is note possible but it could include:

  • focusing on your breath
  • focusing on a flame
  • focusing on chanting
  • focusing on mala beads which chanting
  • focusing on the food you are eating
  • focusing on the sensations of your feet making contact with the ground (referred to as walking meditation)

Meditation is focusing - it would be a stretch to say that focusing is a purely religious act and I would suggest it is not. There are also other sorts of meditation - including loving-kindness mediation, which I will discuss at some point on this site in relation to Compassion-Focused Therapy.

Meditation in Therapy

So, how does meditation help in therapy? Some ways include:

  • focusing stills the mind
  • focusing can allow us to "sit with" unpleasant thoughts and emotions
  • focusing helps to centre a person in the body
  • focusing allows a person to see thoughts come and go and helps the person to realise that they are more than just these fleeting thoughts
  • focusing helps in therapy including pain management
  • focusing can help with anxiety and depression (but support needs to be provided initially)

Trying Mindfulness and Meditation

We are more than our fleeting thoughts, which seem to crowd our mind every waking moment. Learning to still our minds and sit with thoughts (some unpleasant) gives us a new vantage point to understand ourselves and our interactions with stimuli. Also, it can bring incredible calm to life! I once told a friend that meditation was the greatest gift I had ever given myself. If you try it, remember to be gentle on yourself - there is no "right" way and don't be down on yourself if you can't focus at first. Learning to do so is the whole reason to practice - and it is exactly that, a practice.

Aroha nui,

Lee Jordan signature Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns ❤️

About Death Doulas

Death Doulas - also referred to as End of Life Doulas - provide emotional and other support to the dying and their families. Support can be psychological (e.g. counselling), physical (aiding with exercise), clerical (helping with completing documents, including advanced directives), documentary (recording messages, including final messages for the dying), ceremonial (e.g. helping plan and/or deliver funerals) and other assistance which is not medical in nature. Death doulas are not doctors, they are not nurses and they are not solicitors/lawyers. They are brought in at the request of the dying and/or family and they are there to help the person transition from life.

About Nocturnal Works

The content on this site is provided to give resources and support to those dying, their loved ones and those providing death doula (end of life) support. When we find out that death is near and the initial shock wears off, emotions and questions flood into our minds. Noctural Works exists as place where you can find out about mental health issues and therapy related to death, dying, grief and bereavement - as well as more practical support, such as planning for death and supporting others on their journey.

The resources on this site are provided by Death Doula Ltd, a company in Aotearoa New Zealand which provides end of life doula support online, in Wellington, Blenheim and Picton (New Zealand). These resources are not legal or medical in nature, so do no rely upon them, but seek legal and medical advice, as required. If you are interested in counselling resources not focusing on death and dying, you can visit our other site, Therapy Aroha.