I’m going to write a little bit about Mindfulness…what it is, and what it isn’t.
Some people equate Mindfulness with meditation; but they’re not necessarily the same thing. Meditation may be one form of mindfulness – depending on what the `meditator’ is doing? But, not all forms of meditation practice are mindfulness practices. Clear as mud?
Mindfulness is simply `being present’. Simple but difficult. Our minds and emotions tend to drraaggg us away from the present moment, but with practice we can learn to come back. You can be mindful: washing dishes, feeling where your body touches whatever it is in contact with, looking at a candle…. When you are doing these things, they are all you are doing. If judgments or other thoughts come up just watch them float by as if they’re on a cloud, or on a leaf running downstream a river. Then come back to whatever your mindfulness practice is.
Often, the first mindfulness practice we may learn is to be aware of our breath. You may want to concentrate on the area just below your nostrils, and experience the in-and-out flow of air. Or, you may prefer to focus on your abdomen as it rises and falls.
For some people, focusing on the breath can be anxiety-provoking. If you’re one of these people, you can concentrate on other things. My favourite is to be aware of my hands. To just feel them, experience them….not labeling the feeling or experience, but just directly `being my hands’. Of course, I do put words to my experience, again..and again. And I’ll drop the words and come back to just being mindful of my hands over…and over…and, well, you get the picture.
You may feel like your brain is screaming at your for attention. Mine certainly does. Lol. It throw little tizzy fits. I just sit and watch the tizzy fits. Sometimes I can’t resist making a comment to them – but that’s me being dragged into my thoughts again. So, back to my hands.
Another way of saying all this is that you are being: One-Mindful. You are only doing one thing at a time. You are only watching your breath, or your hands, or a candle….
Why is being Mindful important? Well, of all the really good responses to that question, (and there are many), one stands out for me in relation to dbt skills:
You Can Stand Anything As Long As You Stay Present
There. You owe me a million dollars. ; ) It’s true though. If you are thinking that you cannot stand something, and you have to respond right away, or you cannot take the pain you are in anymore…well, I guarantee that you are thinking about the past and the future.
So when crap is hitting the fan (such a visual, huh? ;)), try this: Sit down somewhere quietly and either be mindful of your breath or your hands. If you notice thoughts, just bring your mind back gently to your breath or your hands.
Could you stand your pain for that breath? And the next? As long as you can live in a `series of breaths’, you will be okay.
Practicing at first will be really, really difficult. I highly, Highly recommend getting some cd’s from Jon Kabat-Zinn to listen to. He will lead you through mindfulness practices until you feel comfortable enough to practice on your own.
You may find his cd’s at the local library. Or, you may want to order them. Here’s a link to his cd’s on amazon:
If you’re going to order his cd, check out his book: Full Catastrophe Living. It is fabulous! I keep it on my nightstand.:) I recommend reading that, so that you can get a grasp on what mindfulness is beyond my undoubtedly confusing little blog post.
Another avenue for getting a grasp on mindfulness would be to join a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class. Kabat-Zinn is the founder/creator of this program, and it truly rocks! Some hospitals offer it and offer scholarships. Google “MBSR” + your town, and hopefully you’ll find something.
FYI: For Bay Area folks, the Planetree Healing Library is an amazing resource for lucky you. Go and check it out! They have lots of mindfulness cd’s, books…and offer MBSR with scholarships available.
‘Night Skill Monsters!
PS: Again, apologies for grammar, spelling, and the random capitalizing of words. There is a method to the madness; it’s just not consistent. ; ) A dialectic! Sweet!