Domestic Violence or Family Violence or Intimate Partner Violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.
This can happen among a variety of family members as well. This type of violence does not discriminate based on age, sex, religion, gender or sexual orientation. It can take the form of physical/emotional/psychological/sexual/economic abuse. There is an underlying power and control behavior by the abuser/perpetrator over the victim.
Things may seem fine and dandy at the beginning of the relationship but the power and controlling behaviors intensify as the relationship grows.
The key thing to note is a victim is NEVER to be blamed and the abuser is solely at fault for their choices to abuse another human being or an animal.
Domestic violence is real and needs to be seen as a public health issue.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.
Take care of yourself!
Today was all about understanding the dialectics or doing both the acceptance and change of the client’s target (problem) behavior. Unlike CBT, which is focused on change purely, DBT focuses on finding a solution acceptable to both client and therapist that includes both approaches of solving the target behavior called the synthesis.
Then we dived into behavior therapy, specifically operant and classic conditioning. We did understand the positive & negative reinforcement and punishment concepts.
Following this, we did a case specific behavior chain analysis that is essentially a functional analysis of identifying the target behavior, recognizing the precipitating event or the antecedent in general behavior therapy language, in light of that day’s specific vulnerability factors for that client like lack of sleep or hunger etc. It is to be noted that, when identifying the precipitating event, we also want to know what thought & emotion led the client to do the target behavior- the culminating F it moment! These are the key controlling variables we want to track across chain analyses of various events of such critical nature over time. These will show a pattern, that we can then use to reinforce relevant skills that were used during such crises events , as identified as controlling variables. This is a good way to problem solve, is what I understand.
Well that’s it from me on DBT learnings so far ! Enjoy!
This day has been filled with understanding mindfulness in light of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). I understood the difference between reasonable mind, emotional mind (extremes) and the wise mind that sits at the intersection of these extremes. Wise mind as I understand is to come from a deep sense of knowing the truth! It’s definitely a Zen acceptance concept adapted well in therapy.
I really appreciated the importance given to self-validation to be placed in high priority above other validation strategies used in DBT.
Tomorrow we look at behavior therapy side of things along with details on chain analysis!
See you tomorrow!
To evaluate the impact of an intensive period of mindfulness meditation training on cognitive and affective function, a non-clinical group of 20 novice meditators were tested before and after participation in a 10-day intensive mindfulness meditation retreat. They were evaluated with self-report scales measuring mindfulness, rumination and affect, as well as performance tasks assessing working memory, sustained attention, and attention switching. Results indicated that those completing the mindfulness training demonstrated significant improvements in self-reported mindfulness, depressive symptoms, rumination, and performance measures of working memory and sustained attention, relative to a comparison group who did not undergo any meditation training. This study suggests future directions for the elucidation of the critical processes that underlie the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness-based interventions
Processes underlying mindfulness training
A number of processes have been proposed to underlie training in mindfulness. The most commonly cited of these is relaxation, although it has been suggested that this is at most a beneficial side effect of mindfulness practice, rather than an inherent process. Another hypothesized process is a reduction in over general autobiographical memory. Acknowledging rather than evaluating thought processes circumvents the usual cognitive defenses which attempt to prolong or avoid such processes. This results in an increased range and flexibility of actions (Hayes, 2003) and has been termed cognitive flexibility. Mindfulness training may also facilitate metacognitive insight. This represents a transition toward viewing thoughts as ephemeral mental events, rather than as direct representations of reality. Such ‘‘decentering’’ somewhat distances us from our problematic thoughts and emotions, allowing us to address them consciously rather than merely reacting to them.
It is possible that some of these processes depend, at least initially, on the development of attentional control and other executive cognitive functions. The emphasis of mindfulness practice on the present moment potentially enhances the capacity for sustained attention, attention switching, and inhibition of elaborative processing. Working together with the processes outlined above, this amplifies one’s potential for self-regulation and allows attention to be redirected from depressive or anxious rumination back to the experience of the present moment. This may result in decreased negative affect and improved psychological health.
In recovery, we often indulge in self loathing. We harbour harsh thoughts and feelings about ourselves. Many people experience these feeling to a greater or lesser degree, but with addicts these are greatly amplified. These negative thoughts and feeling are so overwhelming that when combined with our cravings we can’t and often refuse to see that there is a skilful way out.
This door to relapse can be closed by practicing Loving-kindness. We can learn not to judge ourselves – to be gentle and kind to ourselves – as we are – here and now.
Whether you are an addict or not, you should remember the Buddha’s teaching that you can search the whole tenfold Universe but you will still not find a single Being more deserving of your Loving-kindness than the one right here – you.
The regular practice of loving-kindness meditation lifts my self-esteem and promotes my well-being, and the well-being of all those around me.
here are five ways to help mind and body live in the moment.
Want to incorporate a bit of mindfulness into your life but not sure how to begin? There are several locations around that offer stress reducing activities for everyday life.
Do you see chopping your vegetables as an opportunity for a bit of reflection? How about waiting for the kettle to boil? If the answer’s no but you want to change this, there are now classes in how to enjoy and savour these mini moments of calm. There are people who can advice on mindful eating habits.
Anger, irritation and those niggling feelings that your partner is not really “present” some of the time are all common issues in relationships that can drive a couple apart. That’s where mindfulness training can help. Instead of snapping or saying the thing you’ll later regret, those in mindful relationships make an effort to live with their feelings, accept them and examine them without acting on them, which sounds easier said than done!
Whether you fancy a guided walk, mindful camping or a sea kayaking experience. Wilderness adventures like kayaking and white water rafting aim to help us recognise peacefulness in everyday activity. Just a day break can do wonders.
Spend a day at the Spa silently walking and revelling in the wonders of nature on this one- that promises to reinvigorate body and soul and reconnect us with the wonders of nature found upon our doortsteps. The day ends with a session about learning to appreciate and recognise the wilderness in our everyday lives.
Your Ability to Respond to Threat is a Life-saver.
But if you Get “Frozen” There, You May Have PTSD.
You are walking alone on a mountain trail at dusk, returning to your car a little later than you’d planned. You’ve always known it’s bear and cougar country, but you’ve never had a bad experience with a wild animal, so you’re not concerned.
Suddenly, you hear a loud snap of a twig behind you. Your heart rate increases; eyesight and hearing become more acute; your head whips around towards the sound, and your muscles tighten as blood flow to them increases. Without conscious thought, you instantly assess the possible threat and choose to flee or fight.
You may have picked up a stone or limb as a weapon or begun to run before you even think. Reading this you may have noticed increased heart and respiration rate, a tingling of the skin, increased perspiration, and a sense of alertness. Your imagination just now may have offered images of escape routes or ways you could fight off the imagined attack.
Highly stressful or life-threatening experiences arouse vast amounts of survival energy and emotion — the well-known fight-or-flight response, shared with all animals. Our lower or reptilian brain and sympathetic nervous system arouses instantly to maximize our chance of survival. Merely thinking about such a situation activates the same responses. When it takes control, our bodies respond far more rapidly than normally to assess the danger and to fight or flight.
Your nervous system’s response to threat has worked quite well. The proof is that you’re alive and reading this.
We can remember what animals never forgot.
Think of an animal in the wild — a rabbit, for example. It may be calmly eating one moment at the edge of a meadow, and running for its life from a wolf the next. Imagine if that happened to you! That would be pretty traumatic, having a hungry animal determined to catch, kill, and eat you! Yet if the rabbit escapes, then within minutes it will be back to normal life, not traumatized.
Those who have been able to closely observe wild animals notice that during the time immediately following such a chase, a prey animal will “discharge” that powerful “flight-fight” energy by twitching, shaking, jumping, running around vigorously, even making some noise or head-butting some of its own kind in mock-battle. After such discharge, the animal returns to normal.
Were it not for this ability to rapidly discharge adrenalin and excess survival energy, the animal’s ability to meet future threats would be reduced and they would not long survive in the wild.
People can get “frozen” in an incomplete biological response to unavoidable threat. That is PTSD.
But there is a difference between such responses in modern humans and animals. Even though animals in the wild routinely experience life-threatening situations, after the danger has passed, they quickly return to normal, whereas humans sometimes are stuck with trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In other words, they are stuck in some combination of the nervous system’s fight, flight or freeze response.
It is like having both the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal pressed to the floor at the same time. The person may think they got over the experience, but if they were unable to avoid the danger and didn’t have support to shake off the strong charge of sensations and emotions afterward, that vast amount of survival energy can become stuck in their nervous systems. Weeks, months, or years later, often without even a conscious connection to the traumatic experience, many different kinds of symptoms may appear.
Such symptoms are normal for a person with an over-stressed nervous system. They have lost resiliency, the natural ability to flow easily between the many moods and energy states necessary to live a full and rich life.
According to its medical definition, anxiety is a state consisting of psychological and physical symptoms that are brought about by a sense of apprehension at a perceived threat. These symptoms vary greatly according to the nature and magnitude of the perceived threat, and from one person to another.
Symptoms of anxiety
Psychological symptoms may include feelings of fear, an exaggerated startle reflex or alarm reaction, poor concentration, irritability, and insomnia. In mild anxiety, physical symptoms arise from the body’s so-called fight-or-flight response, a state of high arousal that results from a surge of adrenaline. These physical symptoms include tremor, sweating, muscle tension, a fast heartbeat, and fast breathing. Sometimes people can also develop a dry mouth and the irritating feeling of having a lump in the throat. In severe anxiety, hyperventilation or over-breathing can lead to a fall in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood. This gives rise to an additional set of physical symptoms including chest discomfort, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, dizziness, and faintness.
In an anxiety disorder, exposure to the feared object or situation can trigger an intense attack of anxiety called a panic attack. During a panic attack, symptoms are so severe that the person begins to fear that she is suffocating, having a heart attack, losing control, or even ‘going crazy’. As a result, she may develop a fear of the panic attacks themselves, and this fear begins to trigger further panic attacks. A vicious circle takes hold, with panic attacks becoming ever more frequent and ever more severe, and even occurring completely out of the blue. This pattern of panic attacks is referred to as ‘panic disorder’, and can in some cases lead to the development of secondary agoraphobia in which the person becomes increasingly homebound so as to minimise the risk and consequences of having a panic attack. Panic attacks can occur not only in anxiety disorders, but also indepression, alcohol and drug misuse, and certain physical conditions such as hyperthyroidism. They can also sometimes occur in people who are not otherwise ill.
Managing your anxiety
The first step in managing anxiety is to learn as much as you can about it, as a thorough understanding of your anxiety can in itself reduce its frequency and intensity. It can be tempting to avoid any objects or situations that provoke or aggravate your anxiety, but in the long term such avoidance behaviour is counterproductive. When anxiety comes, accept it. Do not try to escape from it, but simply wait for it to pass. Easier said than done, of course, but it is important that you should try.
Making a problem list
One effective method of coping with anxiety that is related to a specific object or situation is to make a list of problems to overcome. Then break each problem down into a series of tasks, and rank the tasks in order of difficulty. To take a simple example, a person with a phobia of spiders may first think about spiders, then look at pictures of spiders, then look at real spiders from a safe distance, and so on. Attempt the easiest task first and keep on returning to it day after day until you feel fairly comfortable with it. Give yourself as long as you need, then move on to the next task and do the same thing, and so on. Try to adopt a positive outlook: although the symptoms of anxiety can be terrifying, they cannot harm you.
Using relaxation techniques
If a given task or situation is particularly anxiety-provoking, you can use relaxation techniques to manage your anxiety. These relaxation techniques are very similar to those used to manage stress, and can also be used for generalised anxiety, that is, anxiety that is not related to any particular object or situation, but that is free-floating and non-specific. One common and effective strategy, called ‘deep breathing’, involves modifying and regulating your breathing:
—Breathe in through your nose and hold the air in for several seconds.
—Then purse your lips and gradually let the air out, making sure that you let out as much air as you can.
—Continue doing this until you are feeling more relaxed.
A second strategy that is often used together with deep breathing involves relaxation exercises:
—Lying on your back, tighten the muscles in your toes for 10 seconds and then relax them completely.
—Do the same for your feet, ankles, and calves, gradually working your way up your body until you reach your head and neck.
Other general strategies that you can use for relaxing include listening to classical music, taking a hot bath, reading a book or surfing the internet, calling up or meeting a friend, practising yoga or meditation, and playing sports. As you can see, there is no shortage of things that you can do.
Implementing simple lifestyle changes
Simple lifestyle changes can also help to reduce anxiety. These might include:
—Simplifying your life, even if this means doing less or doing only one thing at a time.
—Having a schedule and keeping to it.
—Getting enough sleep.
—Exercising regularly (for example, walking, swimming, yoga).
—Eating a balanced diet.
—Restricting your intake of coffee or alcohol.
—Taking time out to do the things that you enjoy.
—Connecting with others and sharing your thoughts and feelings with them.
If you continue to suffer with severe anxiety despite implementing some of these measures, you can get in touch with one of several voluntary organisations which, amongst others, organise self-help groups and operate telephone help-lines. You can also speak to your family doctor who may suggest ways of helping you. For example, he or she may suggest referring you for a talking treatment or starting you on antidepressantmedication, which can be used both in the treatment of depression and in the treatment of anxiety.
If your anxiety is especially disabling, your doctor may start you on a benzodiazepine sedative. Such sedatives are not a cure for anxiety, but they can provide short-term relief from some of your symptoms. Their long-term use should be avoided because they carry a high risk of tolerance (needing more and more to produce the same effect) and dependence or addiction. ‘Beta blockers’ are also occasionally prescribed to control some of the symptoms of anxiety, such as palpitations associated with a fast heart rate. However, they should be avoided in certain groups of people, most notably people with a history of asthma or heart problems.
Medication is usually most effective if it is combined with a talking treatment. Cognitive-behavioural therapy or CBT is commonly used in the treatment of anxiety. CBT for phobias may involve making a list of problems to overcome, and then breaking down each problem into a series of tasks that can be attempted in ascending order of difficulty. Relaxation techniques may also be taught so as to help you manage your anxiety and cope with each task more comfortably. CBT for panic disorder may also involve such graded exposure and relaxation training, but there is often also an added emphasis on modifying how you interpret changes in your body: for example, you may learn to interpret a fast heart rate in terms of the symptoms of anxiety rather than ‘catastrophically’ in terms of having a heart attack. You may also be taught how to control your breathing and thereby prevent some of the more alarming symptoms of anxiety.
Neel Burton is the author of Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions and other books.
6 Hour Mindfulness guitar music for a calming day.
Seven Crochet Steps to Mindfulness
Crocheters can practice mindfulness using this easy seven-step exercise
- Select your favorite crochet hook and a really cozy easy-to-work-with yarn.
- Sit comfortably in a quiet space with your work.
- Begin to crochet a foundation chain, one slow loop at a time, counting each chain as you go. Do not allow yourself to think about anything except creating the chain.
- Focus on the details of creating the chain. Notice how the yarn feels against your skin. Pay attention to the detailed hues of the yarn and hook. See if you can mentally be aware of each micro-movement that makes the loop.
- Your mind will naturally begin to drift to thoughts of other things, like the bills that are due or a conversation you had earlier in the day. Each time that happens, frog the chain.
- Take a deep breath after frogging the chain and start over with chain one.
- Repeat the process until you are able to complete a full foundation chain of ten loops without having to frog it because of extraneous thoughts.
That’s it! You may only be able to get to four or five loops at first because your mind is running rampant. Be gentle with yourself and just keep practicing. As time goes on, you may be able to make longer chains of mindfulness. Do this regularly to infuse your life with the rest and relaxation that we each need and deserve.
Life is described as many things, but rarely is it referred to as peaceful, calm, or still. Our lives are a busy juggle of work, chores, responsibilities to ourselves and others and many unexpected things that creep up day to day. Sometimes meditation, quiet reflection and even time alone seem like a distant dream within our hectic lives.
So what can we do? Apart from feel helpless and put it in the “I’ll worry about that quiet-time-for-myself-stuff later” basket? The good news is that stillness is within us. We do not need a quiet garden, secluded beach or a zen room with candles flickering before us in order to find it. The amazing thing about our personal power is that we can be still, wherever we are and whatever we are doing. It is a conscious and very empowering choice.
Here are five tips for creating stillness with ease within your everyday life:
1. Breathe. Whether you are on the subway, on a conference call, in the line at Starbucks, be aware of your breath. Take a few deep, slow breaths and notice how your body and mind feel as you tune into them and slow down for even 60 seconds.
2. Give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes of electronic downtime. It is surprising how many people go through all of their waking hours with a tablet, phone, TV or laptop constantly present, including as we fall asleep at night. I like what is referred to as the “electronic sundown” with no electronics active in the hour leading up to bed. Better sleep is much more likely this way, too!
3. Wake up 15 minutes earlier. This is a trick many successful people take advantage of. They wake sooner, before the world is awake and before the wheels start turning on all of life’s demands. Take those minutes just for you and just be present in your body. It can center you and change your mindset for the whole day.
4. Be aware that you create your own energy. External conditions do not. Marianne Williamson said in her book A Return to Love, “Everything we do is infused with the energy in which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we are peaceful, life will be peaceful.”
5. Learn from some of the greatest spiritual teachers. Apply their wisdom often by making stillness and calmness your daily mantra. Deepak Chopra recently said to Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday (when she commented how extremely busy he is and how tricky it was to get him on the show), “My body is busy, my mind is still.”
Remember, your internal conditions create your external conditions. Peace begins with you.
In ancient Asian languages there were no separate words for heart and mind, but one concept referring to both as an inseparable whole: heart-mind. In the East the image of a bird is often used to emphasize that developing a sharp mind and a compassionate heart need to be developed side by side.
Practising mindfulness does not only involve becoming aware of our experience as it is, but also cultivating of an inner attitude of compassion toward what is. So, it is not just about bare attention. We do not only open the eye but also the heart, even when what arises is painful.
When we sense that our striving to control the uncontrollable only contributes to more suffering, there is spaciousness for another attitude of kindness and compassion. Then, mindfulness can be deepened with heartfulness.
We do not have to practise the one before we can practise the other. Rather, the practice of opening the eye and the heart go hand in hand. When the eye opens, the heart responds and opens at the same time. When the heart opens, the eye sees more deeply.
I taught a mindfulness class at my daughters’ elementary school this week. Unsurprisingly, the kids taught me way more than I taught them.
While I was doing research to develop the class, I came upon a wealth of information about mindfulness programs in schools. For one, I learned that actress Goldie Hawn has been working with neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists and educators to develop a mindfulness curriculum for schools. I was thrilled to find out that their research reported that mindfulness education in schools has proven benefits: it increases optimism and happiness in classrooms, decreases bullying and aggression, increases compassion and empathy for others and helps students resolve conflicts.
If you ever want to be inspired and also have a giggle, ask a group of kids what they think “mindfulness” is. “Relaxing out of our daily troubles and stress,” “A way to stay yourself when you’re going through something troubling” and “It’s like getting off of one railroad track and getting onto another one” were some of my favorite answers from the recent class meeting. Kids can really be fountains of spiritual wisdom!
When I told them the dictionary’s definition (“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”), the kids weren’t entirely sure what I was talking about. And so we did some exercises to test it out. Feel free to try these at home!
1. The Bell Listening Exercise
Ring a bell and ask the kids to listen closely to the vibration of the ringing sound. Tell them to remain silent and raise their hands when they no longer hear the sound of the bell. Then tell them to remain silent for one minute and pay close attention to the other sounds they hear once the ringing has stopped. After, go around in a circle and ask the kids to tell you every sound they noticed during that minute. This exercise is not only fun and gets the kids excited about sharing their experiences with others, but really helps them connect to the present moment and the sensitivity of their perceptions.
2. Breathing Buddies
Hand out a stuffed animal to each child (or another small object). If room allows, have the children lie down on the floor and place the stuffed animals on their bellies. Tell them to breathe in silence for one minute and notice how their Breathing Buddy moves up and down, and any other sensations that they notice. Tell them to imagine that the thoughts that come into their minds turn into bubbles and float away. The presence of the Breathing Buddy makes the meditation a little friendlier, and allows the kids to see how a playful activity doesn’t necessarily have to be rowdy.
3. The Squish & Relax Meditation
While the kids are lying down with their eyes closed, have them squish and squeeze every muscle in their bodies as tightly as they can. Tell them to squish their toes and feet, tighten the muscles in their legs all the way up to their hips, suck in their bellies, squeeze their hands into fists and raise their shoulders up to their heads. Have them hold themselves in their squished up positions for a few seconds, and then fully release and relax. This is a great, fun activity for “loosening up” the body and mind, and is a totally accessible way to get the kids to understand the art of “being present.”
4. Smell & Tell
Pass something fragrant out to each child, such as a piece of fresh orange peel, a sprig of lavender or a jasmine flower. Ask them to close their eyes and breathe in the scent, focusing all of their attention only on the smell of that object. Scent can really be a powerful tool for anxiety-relief(among other things!).
5. The Art Of Touch
Give each child an object to touch, such as a ball, a feather, a soft toy, a stone, etc. Ask them to close their eyes and describe what the object feels like to a partner. Then have the partners trade places. Both this exercise and the previous one are simple, but compelling, ways to teach the kids the practice of isolating their senses from one another, and tuning into distinct experiences.
6. The Heartbeat Exercise
Have the kids jump up and down in place for one minute. Then have them sit back down and place their hands on their hearts. Tell them to close their eyes and feel their heartbeats, their breath, and see what else they notice about their bodies.
In this exercise, the meaning of “heart” is less literal. In other words, this activity could also simply be called “Let’s talk about feelings.” So sit down and casually, comfortably ask the children to tell you about their feelings. What feelings do they feel? How do they know they are feeling those feelings? Where do they feel them in their bodies? Ask them which feelings they like the best.
Then ask them what they can do to feel better when they aren’t feeling the feelings they like best. Remind them that they can always practice turning their thoughts into bubbles if they are upset, they can do the Squish and Relax Meditation if they need to calm down, and they can take a few minutes to listen to their breath or feel their heartbeats if they want to relax.
My hope for the mindfulness class was to give the kids some tools they can use anytime: tools to calm down, slow down and feel better when they are troubled. I sure wish I had these tools at my disposal when I was their age. Imagine if all the children around the Earth learned to use these tools during their childhoods. What a change our world would experience within just one generation!
Photo Credit: Stocksy
Research has found that humans and dog are linked so deep at a level that there is a noun called petitation that has found way into the world of mindfulness. Connecting at a deeper level with your dog through a sacred gaze, produces oxytocin – the happiness and well being hormone. Much don’t we realize how much the creature lying on our lap and getting stroked is helping us transform at a hormonal level. This is indeed amazing and am in love with my pet at a whole new level now.
Below is the abstract quoted from Nagasaki’s research on the Oxytocin-gaze positive loop between humans and dogs:
“Human-like modes of communication, including mutual gaze, in dogs may have been acquired during domestication with humans. We show that gazing behavior from dogs, but not wolves, increased urinary oxytocin concentrations in owners, which consequently facilitated owners’ affiliation and increased oxytocin concentration in dogs. Further, nasally administered oxytocin increased gazing behavior in dogs, which in turn increased urinary oxytocin concentrations in owners. These findings support the existence of an interspecies oxytocin-mediated positive loop facilitated and modulated by gazing, which may have supported the coevolution of human-dog bonding by engaging common modes of communicating social attachment.”(Nagasaki 2015)
Nagasaki, Miho; Shouhei Mitsui; Takefumi Kikusui 2015“Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds” Science April 17, 2015.
Many people practice meditation in hopes of staving off stress and stress-related health problems, even though the evidence for doing so is spotty. A new study that analyzed the results of nearly 50 solid clinical trials of meditation shows that mindfulness meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain. One way it does this is by training you to experience anxious thoughts or stresses in completely different and less emotionally disturbing ways. Mindfulness-based stress reduction training, developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA, is now widely available in cities throughout the United States. You can also learn it yourself from books or online recordings. Or try this short meditation, from the Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.”
Research has linked mindfulness meditation with reduced anxiety, an increase in positive emotions, and—with enough practice—permanent structural changes in the brain that sustain these benefits.
According to the Meditation Master Thich Nhat Hanh, Mindfulness practice should be enjoyable, not work or effort.To breathe in, you just breathe in. Allow your breath to take place. Become aware of it and enjoy it. Effortlessness. Enjoyment. The same thing is true with walking mindfully. Every step you take should be enjoyable. Every step should help you touch the wonders of life, in yourself and around you.
The Meditation master recommends setting aside a day of the week, any day that accords with your situation and forget the work you do during other days. Do not organize any meetings or have friends over. But just try to perform simple activities such as house cleaning, cooking or laundry. Once the house is neat and clean, and in order, he recommends taking a slow-relaxing bath. With each of these activities, one must perform them with utmost mindfulness, i.e. with mindful breathing every step of the way. Afterwards, take a walk to practice mindful breathing and not let it distract you somewhere else, and knowing that you are walking and breathing in and out. Try following the same procedure as listening to music or conversing with a friend, where you practice mindful breathing. During the day he recommends taking at least two walks of 30-45mins each. Meals are recommended to be light or just a glass of juice through the end of the day. Before going to bed, instead of reading right before, try practicing total relaxation for 5-10mins. Be the master of your breathing. He recommends gentle breathing, with not too long breaths, following the rising and lowering of your stomach and chest and with your eyes closed. Overall, he recommends that every movement of the day be at least two times slower than usual(Hanh, 1976).
Hanh, Thich Nhat 1976. The Miracle of Mindfulness, Boston, MA: Beacon Press Boston.
1. Don’t need to close your eyes during mindfulness meditation.
2. Don’t need to sit still to do mindfulness meditation.
3. Staying present in the moment non-judgmentally, even while walking, eating or working, is what is truly being mindful.
4. Don’t need to shut off your mind as your brain is always going to be active, especially with a trauma history.
5. Don’t need to focus on your breath. Trauma victims find this especially triggering with unpredictable outcomes.
6. Mindfulness meditation is not for quick turnaround of results.
7. Mindfulness meditation is not for everyone!
It is a momentous time of traumatic loss. However close they are, they are missed. The impact they’ve had on everyone’s lives…such emotions wash over that it is hard to put it in words. But sharing the grief emotions with other close friends seems to help. Sharing good memories of the person lost seems to help….Reliving some of the events shared with them seems to help.
It is indeed a wide open world with umpteen possibilities….However, a tragic abrupt loss of a person in your life, makes such a drastic impact and makes one realize that life is too short. It’s all about living the moment holistically and even better, mindfully. Rather than worry about the next steps, we can cherish this second in hand. Feeling the breeze on our face….enjoying the smile on our child…while gently allowing the race of life to slow down for savoring THIS moment. That single breath of fresh air, one thought of gratitude for what we have is good so far, the ability to say this is enough for me!… All wrapped up in a moment’s glory…
Savor what you have for it *may* vanish the next second….
Sitting with my own emotions has been the hardest during recovery. Not knowing the reason behind certain emotions have always been a trigger of their own. But my own words to encourage myself to stay with them helps in a way to take a step back, acknowledge the presence of strong emotions currently, understand that these are present and finally accept them as they are. Acceptance is key in mindfulness. Moreover, self acceptance is crucial. If there is no self-acceptance, there is this new void created expecting it to be possibly filled by others. This becomes a never ending cycle after a few personal storms of our strong emotions, and can possibly lead to depression.
Going along, I realized sitting with my emotions, even while am doing other day to day activities, can be possible on a background thread, being the multitasking individuals that we all are now. It is much different than brewing on “worries”. It is differentiated by focusing on the emotion itself and appreciating its presence. Slowly we may observe that there is an unwinding in ourself, after identifying a triggering event. After this I try to draw a parallel to possible past experiences that come close to this triggering event that caused the strong emotion within. If there are past experiences that come close to this triggering event, then we struck gold! How did we handle that? How did we feel emotionally then? How did we feel physically then? What bodily reactions happened? A quick body scan meditation would help. Taking in these, one step at a time was crucial for me, as steps can be mixed up, especially when multitasking…There are plethora of options on how to move forward after this step of body scan, like personal journaling, one’s usual coping skills, exercise and meditation, and good therapy.
Hope you can sit with this process.
Have a wonderful day ahead!