06-11-2017 08:28 AM
Good morning fellow forumites.
Over in Lived Experience town on the other side of Forum Land, some of us are working through the dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) skills training manual: Let's do DBT
This week we are going to embark on the module of mindfulness and I am super interested in hearing what people think about mindfulness. To me, mindfulness is currently the "in thing" in mental health such that you can barely get through a single session with a psychologist without them bringing it up. This leads me to wonder whether mindfulness is always well-explained to people or whether it just gets tossed around as a buzz word.
So, here are two questions for you:
What does the term "mindfulness" mean to you?
Have you had any positive or negative experiences with mindfulness?
I am super interested to hear people's thoughts about this, and if anyone wants to join us on our DBT adventure (or just sneak over and have a peak), you are extremely welcome.
06-11-2017 04:35 PM
You are so right about Mindfulness seemingly being the 'in thing' at present for all facets of mental health as well as for the general wellbeing of the wider population. Buzz word ... yes I think so! But when it comes to understanding how its done and how to utilise it in our everyday lives to benefit us, I believe it is vastly misrepresented. It is not something that comes easily or naturally, and I believe that mindfulness needs to be taught by someone experienced and skillful in the practice to be of most benefit.
To me, mindfulness is another form of meditation essentially. It is the process of focussing on the present moment. Practicing mindfulness is supposed to help people to become more resilient, aware, positive and happier.
My experience with mindfulness? I have done a fairly extensive on-line CBT with mindfulness course through a well respected national mental health organisation. This was about 2 years ago after my psych had suggested I might be interested in applying for the free trial. It was a 6 week course. Unfortunately I still cant get the hang of it! It takes a lot of patience and a lot of practice. I wish I could say that I am getting better at it, but to be honest, I'm not. I seem to be able to do what I need to do when I am in a reasonable frame of mind, but when I most need it, when I am panicking or in distress, it goes right out the window, forgotten. I just cant seem able to clear my mind of all the 'junk', and I cant concentrate. I lose track.
Well done @Phoenix_Rising for bringing up this important topic. I have already been tagged into your DBT thread and am reading with interest, but would appreciate you tagging me when you add new posts.
07-11-2017 07:21 AM
Thank you for your reply. I totally agree with what you've said about mindfulness being a buzz word and that it is often not explained well. I think this is because most mental health professionals only have a rudimentary understanding of it and thus can only pass on a rudimentary understanding to clients. Marsha Linehan, the developer of DBT is a Zen master and she definitely has a strong handle on the concept of mindfulness. But then when other mental health professionals only do a three day course on DBT and then think they know it all, naturally the information doesn't get passed on well.
I was interested in what you said about mindfulness being a form of meditation because I was reading about this very thing in the DBT manual over the weekend. According to Linehan, meditation necessarily involves mindfulness, but mindfulness does not necessarily involve meditation. I have written a bit about that in the (absurdly long!!!!) post that I'm in the process of drafting for the DBT thread.
I definitely don't think you are alone in struggling to get the hang of mindfulness Sherry! Like you, I am great at it when things are going ok...not so much when I'm in crisis! My understanding is that it is something we have to super keep practicing.
I will make sure I tag you into posts on the DBT thread. I'm hoping to post the first about mindfulness tomorrow - assuming my brain co-operates with me today so that I can keep writing it. Of course, this wouldn't be a problem if I was already brilliant at doing mindfulness.
09-11-2017 03:04 PM
14-11-2017 05:40 PM
I might chime in here, since the plea for continued discussion by @Phoenix_Rising is out there!
Personally, I love 'mindfulness', and practicing it, and it helps when I'm going through a tough time. Kind of on par with meditation. I experience a busy thought-process and need to keep them quiet sometimes and it helps to focus on something outside the mind.
But I know the term makes some people roll their eyes now, perhaps some people hear it over and over again for a while. Which is a shame because I feel only good things towards it, really!
14-11-2017 06:02 PM
I think the problem I have with mindfulness is that it is effectively putting emotions on hold but the underlying problem is still there. The problem still needs addressing.
22-11-2017 03:56 PM
About 5 years ago I suffered a really bad back injury that resulted in surgery. I had a terribly adverse reaction to the drug they administered during the op. and had a psychotic break. Same again when I had the hysterectomy. After those incidents, I was encouraged by a friend to read Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zin, it is a very wordy book taking many chapters to say two words - "try mindfulness". I misunderstood what it meant, but more - I think my mental illnesses create a perfect storm for instantaneous self-combustion on the mental front when I tried what I THOUGHT was mindfulness. My brain would fry every time I tried to 'still" it and I would end up in a right pickle and have difficulty coming to.
I argued with my friend saying it was not right for me. I regret that, but of course, at the time I was sincere about it and really thought it was not for me.
I was wrong. I was wrong about what mindfulness was and I was wrong that it was not right for me. After a couple of difficult years in 2016 and '17 (as my sistas here know) I have come to a good place, I have good medication regimen now and PART of that arrival is because I have managed to catch my own thinking.
Who is doing the thinking? The western concepts of mindfulness were not helpful to me, they were describing something 'foreign' trying to claim something as their own - when the masters of it are Eastern. I had read several books by Pema Chodron and Slyvia Bernstein - both Western Buddhists and just thought their never-ending repeating the same things over - although Sylvia has an excellent sense of humour. But I found their style and natter excruciating. I kept trying to 'get it" though, but it would fall away like water through my fingers. In the end, I stopped trying to understand it. I kept my "practice" really simple, just coming into the present and naming the things in front of me, but with attention. I didn't know at the time this is called 'Concentrating Meditation" in fact didn't know that until this morning. To me, it was just a tool in the toolkit a way of shutting up the torrent of terrible-thoughts and words in my mind.
I cannot, still even now, do a sitting meditation" without disassociating, I can manage a 20 step or so walking meditation, but the reality is I am not all able to do mainstream 'mindfulness" things (yet?). Every one of us is so different we might be labelled with the same things, but we are uniquely us. I asked my Psychologist when she mentioned mindfulness to me -I asked "Do you do it?" and she was honest enough to say "I don't know how, I have tried but can't manage to not think" Which showed me she doesn't know what it is either.
Recently, I came across the books and talks of a Vietnamese Buddhist, Tich Nhat Hahn and something in the way he speaks and illustrates his talks (on youtube) spoke to me, not religion, but an eastern psychology.
Over here. I shared a bit about how I am running at the moment, earlier today and feeling good because I have found a way to stay in the present, or at least to get back here relatively quickly. I shared a bit and the mantra I find useful to start my day over on another page and was directed to a number of the talks here by @Phoenix_Rising (thank you!) about mindfulness taking place - and I can see some of us are struggling with it.
It made sense to me and became something I could DO - when I got that there is "someone" doing the thinking that is a part of me but separate from me - it is not "I" that does the thinking. It is 'I" that witnesses myself thinking. The rest of the thinking, that is harmful and hurtful and part of my extreme mood disorder and anxiety, the undirected thinking needed to be 'seen' and the flow redirected into a purposeful present.
Once I got a handle on my split mind, I practiced "catching" myself thinking - and that is hard, becoming aware that we are thinking is the crux of mindfulness. Spotting the rumination becomes easier with practice. I also snap-on an inspection (pay attention) to my posture and what my eyes are doing. When I am ruminating, or flashing back or obsessing - my eyes become fixed focussed to the long distance (not there) and my shoulders and mouth droop. So, I can somethimes catch myself by suddenly paying attention to my posture and facial expression. Swiftly followed by coming into the present and staying there for a few breaths. Incrementally, all these little practices, randomly assigned have added up to a solid gain, I catch myself ruminating more often than not now and shift my focus into the now.
AND... I fear I have just successfully excruciatingly "nattered" myself. :-)
@Darcy - I have found the calmer I am the better, I can look at my emotions and sort through them and figure out what to do. It is not an abandonment of the underlying problem, but it is creating the conditions in which it is safer to address the problems without getting so chucked around by them. My understanding is that basically, emotions are the bio-chemical extension of thoughts. Emotions are not put on hold so much as thought through and processed differently. The problem becomes easier to address.
25-09-2018 12:19 PM
Hi y'all! I wanted to resurrect this thread for those of you who have spent some time here chatting about mindfulness.
Topic Tuesday is tonight from 7pm to 9pm and the topic is mindfulness. If you're keen to tune in you can look at what's happening here.
16-10-2018 10:30 PM
As there does really not seem to be a great deal of interest in this discussion perhaps I can elaborate more on my scepticism.
The efficacy of mindfulness has been documented (and therefore it's inefficacy), additionally it is contraindicated for some anxious patients (something which is rarely mentioned).
My Mr Darcy who first sought help because of anxiety does not engage with mindfulness, I despaired every time he came home from seeing a therapist with mindfulness exercises, which I knew he would not do and eventually understood why he felt therapy was a waste of time after he kept getting more of the same which he did not find helpful. The most upsetting thing for me was that after clearly articulating his inability to relate to mindfulness to the treating team, after a six month wait to see a therapist post serious attempt, the psychologist would not speak with him about his attempt, which he was wanting to do, but instead gave him a mindfulness CD; I could not believe it.
Even for myself, I am well aware of my feelings around this event having examined them. Shelving these emotions, which go far beyond the parameters of the unwillingness of the therapist to discuss the suicide attempt, while I stop and smell the roses or breathe deeply has certainly not been of any benefit to me and has not helped me in any way come to peace about what transpired.
I do however retain an open mind and am always willing to consider alternate views and understand it is helpful for some.
PS I am seeing a counselor who is helping me work through these matters.
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