We spend much of our time in our heads, thinking about the past or worrying about the future. We interact with others and feel triggered and we are often tied to past events and relationships in our mind. It often seems that everything we do is affected by our thoughts about someone or something else. As Scott Peck famously said “ Life is difficult” and that can be said to be true a lot of the time. I wonder if we are doing enough to counter it.
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The benefits of staying in the moment and making choices based on that have long been heralded by many practitioners of mindfulness. A Harvard Health bulletin describes the practice well:
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.
Many people find staying in the moment difficult as our modern brains are programmed to process and solve issues continually. We are always on the go mentally and physically and our culture values and encourages this. The cultivation of mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, but most religions include some type of prayer or meditation technique that helps shift your thoughts away from your usual preoccupations toward an appreciation of the moment and a larger perspective on life. It has been demonstrated that practicing mindfulness can bring improvements in both physical and psychological symptoms as well as positive changes in health, attitudes, and behaviors.
This post is too short to discuss various types of mindfulness but using it often in my daily practice has brought benefits to people. I use a mindful meditation “ A Walk In The Forest” to allow clients to meet their inner child or younger self. On that journey, when their mind is relaxed, they often recall other events lost in memory. Clients really enjoy this mindful experience even though it can be very emotional.
It is very important as a therapist to promote and practice mindful techniques. I recommend meditation on a daily basis to promote relaxation and good sleep. I keep a daily mindful journal charting how I plan to stay mindful during the day and what I feel grateful for.
One of the unexpected benefits of introducing mindful techniques has been in helping clients with conflict resolution. It is very easy to be drawn into escalation as instant triggers take over and the ability to deal with the issue at hand becomes more difficult. These “ flash points” that exist in all relationships can be often over very quickly if the couple can stay in the moment and be mindful of what they are saying and doing. Choosing not to escalate and bring in other issues is easier if the couple is fully present. Most of these minimal conflict events can be solved quickly and efficiently under these circumstances. This is also important in other significant relationships too. Being conscious of what you feel, the emotions you are feeling and what is best for you in that moment will always point you in the right direction.
Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing. Jon Kabat-Zinn
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I mentor people who want to meditate
When a client learns to meditate you have them working in healing outside of therapy
This action automatically moves them out of victimhood and into taking responsibility and action
I created a visual model so thoughts have a harder time getting in
Healing happens when thoughts clear and the mind is empty but focused
The goal is to reach this no thought stage
It is where the mind and body repairs itself
Mindfulness helps every therapy
Supports healing and wellbeing
An old post showing my model
Thank you Marty
This is SO true when people are physically ill and have to deal with those who only ever put their minds to their own gain by shunting people through the sausage mill that pays others to “do harm”.
If you aren’t helping you are doing harm.
I look at the things that people more worried about their job than their patients/clients and …
First, thank you Dr Jenner for NOT being one of those people;
Second, I have decided to return to Canada and hopefully soon be euthanized.
I returned to Australia as I am a “TPI” Veteran. Having been told there is reciprocity with Canada I found once there that was only for WWII Veterans.
I have been run in circles for nearly 30 years.
I was supposed to be able to find an advocate (several have taken my signature, so they can “close” the case and “prove” they are … doing something) have medical help (they pay for taxi drivers and to pay anyone registered in a “health” vocation) …
I had a wonderful life until I was 34 years old and someone who “lived in the moment” never blaming herself or taking responsibility for her actions sprayed me in the face with something deadly.
I have had more than my health and my ability to earn a living “stolen”. I have had my dignity, my self-respect, my …
Yes I do live in the moment as best I can. I actually find caring for others the best way to do that. I have given up on humans, but I still love and respect what’s left of the other animals that are meant to share this planet.
Right. They keep marvelling I have naver had any kind of cancer. Why would I? I have done no harm to others.
I was taught as a child: “Do whatever you want to, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else.” … that included ALL animals on the planet.
Doing good for yourself is a small aspect of “mindfulness”. Once you take care of yourself you have an obligation to look after others, ALL the others not just the ones who give back to you. That’s called bartering, and works well for those who take from family, society, the planet …
What do you give back? Superiority or humility?
I cannot express enough how you personally, Dr Jenner, make enormous strides to respect those you are trying to teach to help themselves. If they use you as a template they will be that much closer to liking themselves. It comes from giving.
Thank you Chey
Yeah I would be interested in hearing from anyone with BPD, GAD, and PTSD, and PMDD, going through early menopause, what THEY think about meditation.
Because as far as I am concerned, meditation does not work for people like me.
And I know others like me that also think the same.
Whatever you are going through, it is important to relax. In my opinion, those who criticize meditation are those who have either never tried it or persevered with it. How can it be wrong to slow your mind and body down??
I find the same thing with things that help me I guess but others may criticize or pohh-pohh their value. I also think well they’ve either not looked into it properly or not persevered with it. And you are right things do need to be tested.
I have gone to group therapy before that was all to do with mindfulness. And I have gone through books and meditation apps, and youtube videos but I find they do not reach me. They can’t penetrate me. And I need to be penetrated if that makes sense.
Maybe it’s because I need to be reached on a deep emotional level. And meditation does not go deep enough.
I guess it’s one of those things where its each to their own.
There is nothing wrong with slowing your mind and body down, it’s what you then put into your mind. And I need something with substance and something substantial I guess, not pleasant calm sayings about the universe and energy and relaxing my body.
I need to be fully taken in and absorbed. If my body is going to relax, usually it takes alcohol or medication to do that.
Meditation is a practice that needs to be maintained over a period of time and become ingrained in a schedule of relaxation, exercise, good sleep and healthy diet. The basics of self- care. It matters little what condition you have, the choice to maintain a regime of relaxation is essential. Meditation is not a magic pill to issues like the other addictive substances you mentioned.
Hmmm, schedule… and self care….yeah they are not my thing I have to admit!
But who knows?
Rome was not built in a day…
You need to see the benefit of it
It’s a bit like when you go on a rollercoaster right, and you are totally absorbed in that ride.
You literally cannot think of anything else at the time but that ride.
Or being on the back of a thrilling motorbike ride….you are forced to hold on tight and literally taken over by the experience.
On a smaller level, sometimes watching a great movie, that has you completely gripped, will do the same thing.
That is the kind of thing I need.
My mind is so strong-willed and defiant, that it literally takes something powerful enough to dominate it and take over.
The meditation and mindfulness are just not strong or potent enough.
But if it works for others then that’s great. But it doesn’t for everyone is all I was saying.
It does work for most but not all but a defiant is probably the type that needs it most.
*Warning – self harm mentioned in comment.
Yeah probably you are right…
I think I must be really screwed up Dr Jenner, because self harm seems to make me feel calm and clear my mind.
It again dominates and takes over….
And I do have a tendency to give myself pain in a variety of different ways.
Pain is good for dealing with other types of pain. I learnt this at a very young age.
I guess we stick with what we know.
Yes we do. As I have mentioned, that is your template but there is nothing in this world that says once you know this, you cannot take steps to change it. Yes, we stick with what we know but that is the easy road. Everything is possible and nothing is impossible in this world.
I have never taken an easy road Dr Jenner. EVER!
I have taken steps already to change…
I ended many relationships with toxic type people, that I was very much involved with.
I came off all social media.
I now do regular exercise whilst listening to music at home.
I hike places too – (although I’m having a short break from that right now, but will get back to it)
This may not seem much but they are strides forward from where I was.
Most of this stuff I did even before I entered therapy.
I know how hard I’ve worked. And every day I decide to wake up and live another day, is another victory!
And I defy anyone who says differently, because they are not walking in my shoes!
Life is difficult….but not impossible, although it often feels the latter.
That is why as you say its about mindset. We all just have different ways of getting to that mindset.
Thank you for your time and comments today.
So it sounds like you know where you are going..good.
Yeah….and just as the saying goes:
“If you want something done….do it yourself…”
Just like I’ve pretty much always done.
Maybe I’m just too stubborn, uncooperative and untrusting to let anyone else help me.
It’s not always best not to seek help but if you feel you cannot accept it and you feel you know what are doing, then you have take action in the best way you can.
Distractions are easy to find with all our electronic devices and the social media sites available. Destructive behaviors can also be used to distract us from moving forward and to keep us in a cycle of inaction. Even as I fall asleep at night, I listen to a podcast to keep my mind from wondering off. That is why meditation can be an important tool to master. As with any new endeavor, it takes practice and determination. My child might try to sabotage such a thing and reinforce my feelings of being undisciplined or lazy. But the adult in me has proof that I have discipline and determination when I want to have it. Moving forward is the more difficult choice, as we have come to rely on an inner cast of characters and outside distractors to maintain our safety through inaction.
I have moments of mindfulness during the day; when I take a minute to hear the wind sweep through the leaves or enjoy the breeze on my face. Even if we do not completely immerse ourselves in a meditative state, we can enjoy small moments where our senses take over and our brains shut off. Some studies indicate it may take about 66 days to form a habit, and of course we are all individuals, so this may vary. Studies also show that missing a day here or there does not completely derail this process. Maybe just a small amount of time each day is enough to get a good habit, like meditation, going. We could just start with 5 minutes each day at the same time. I think I will try it!
Great comment. Thanks. It is very true that mindfulness can become a habit if we persevere with it.
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