Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a third wave cognitive behavioral therapy. ACT uses key concepts from more traditional therapy interventions but extends and adds an emphasis on holistic well-being, taking an all-around approach to improving how we think, feel, and act.
The first core process of ACT starts with Contacting the Present Moment. This process underscores the importance of NOW, meaning that the only time that is important is the present – the past and future only exist as thoughts occurring in the present, thus, being here now keeps us from getting lost in our thoughts. This involves flexibly paying attention to both what is happening within you and outside of you.
An easy way to start experiencing the present moment is to first acknowledge that the mind likes to problem solve. We are constantly looking out for problems and then identifying solutions – which is sometimes awesome (thanks, brain!), but it can also get in the way. Three basic steps to contacting the present moment are:
- Notice what is happening inside and outside of you (mindfulness)
- Letting go of your thoughts (defusion)
- Let your feelings be (acceptance)
We’ve covered mindfulness (and we will cover defusion and acceptance in coming weeks). We know that mindfulness can be easier said than done. But give it a try! Even if you’re only able to contact the present moment for one minute, that’s one minute that you’ve allowed yourself to truly tune in to where you are, right here, right now, in the present moment.