Well, noticing is really a fundamental of mindfulness! Simon, you mentioned science in your initial post: Mindfulness has benefited from appearing in western health-care environments at the same time that brain imaging technologies have really progressed, as a result, there has been a great deal of interest in exploring mindfulness from a neurological perspective. Less so with hypnosis, and unfortunately for therapists, the scientific focus is all too often on 'highly hypnotisable' subjects, and therefore doesn't translate into the therapy room. There's some very interesting science, but you do need to be careful, in amongst it there's some poorly conducted science too - and many people making ludicrous claims as well. (By contrast, the team that developed MBCT are remarkably modest in their claims, yet have developed a beautiful crafted intervention, shown to be successful in outcomes).
It's way too big a subject for a forum post, but here are a couple of points: I would argue that developing a mindfulness practice (or developing mindfulness skills in other ways, see ACT material for examples) results in a change in the relationship we have with our thoughts, feelings and body sensations. Thus it can alter any aspect of our lives, and the research evidence suggests that the resulting changes are enduring. In this way, it's not about changing/challenging the thoughts (CBT-style), or avoiding the feelings/sensations - but certainly the 'work' is ongoing, and much of it is happening outside the therapy room.
Second point is the significance of the attitudes that are cultivated in mindfulness, these are often overlooked by people who want mindfulness to be a 'quick fix', but are undoubtedly a significant 'ingredient'. Researchers have shown that the benefits from MBCT came not only from changes to participants levels of mindfulness, but also self-compassion - even though the latter is not explicitly approached within the course. But it is cultivated within the attitudes brought to the practice. MBCT/MBSR involve 8 sessions of over 2 hours + an 'all day' + daily personal practice of around 1 hour over the 8-week course - this level of practice does result in measurable structural changes in the brain (as would similar time spent learning piano), but hopefully it also illustrates how a brief 'mindfulness intervention' in a therapy room is a very different thing. Now, what those structural changes mean has been the subject of a lot of study - so there is an emerging picture of the 'how & why' mindfulness can be beneficial. But it's a big topic!
In the UK check out .b - they're the most widely recognised in terms of bringing mindfulness into schools, and have teacher training programs for different age groups. I know several people who had been trained by them, and they were impressed by the quality of the course.
Mindfulness is not quite the same free-for-all as hypnosis - but it's close, as there's no legislation in place regarding training/accreditation (same for most therapy in the UK since the coalition government scrapped plans for regulation). However, there is the UK Network of Mindfulness Teachers - which publishes guidelines on teacher training and assessment. Any training that matches their requirements should be legit.
One of the early problems was the lack of training outside of Degree courses, which were impractical for many therapists to train with - now there's a lot more choice, but, as you've found, less clarity about what is 'legit'! Generally, anything that is set at CPD level will be little more than a taster, and leave you ill equipped to work with clients in a professional way. BTW, If you're interested in mindfulness in the therapy room, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy is a well established, evidence based therapy - technically, it's a mindfulness-based behaviour therapy, but it has some fundamental differences to most strains of CBT.
Always worth keeping in mind that mindfulness itself is not a therapy - though these days plenty of people are turning towards it in the belief that it will help them with their difficulties.
You need to be a little clearer in the language: Not all meditative states are the same, for example mindfulness meditations are characterised by open awareness, rather than the focused attention mentioned. They have more to do withCsikszentmihalyi's concept of flow than trance states. They involve a state of association with the present, rather than dissociation with it, and as Yapko says, dissociation could be considered a defining characteristic of hypnosis. By contrast, meditation practices that involve visualisations can be experienced in a very similar way to hypnosis, and it then becomes a more personal question of creating definitions out of subjective experiences.
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