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 Post subject: Mindfulness: Personal Experiences, Exercises/Skills, Apps
PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:04 pm 
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I just started a 12 to 14 month DBT group this week. There is one group a week and a one-on-one appointment with the DBT therapist. I don't know if I'll do it every week, but I thought I'd describe a little bit about what we did this week.

This module is on mindfulness. I watched, for the fourth time, the Marsha Lineham video on mindfulness, which she describes as the quality of awareness. She describes two skills: what, and how.

"What" involves observing, describing and participating. Observing is focussing on one thing at a time, just noticing without describing. It can be external (something you can see, hear, touch) or internal (your breath, your heartbeat). If you find thoughts crossing your mind as you observe, just observe the thought and let it float away as you get back to what you were observing.

Describing can also be internal or external. It involves observing and then describing what you are observing. Differentiate between thought and fact. For example, if you are describing you cat and her ears are laid back, a thought is that she is angry, whereas a fact is just that her ears are back. Describe only what you can see.

Participating is becoming one with an activity, losing self-consciousness. It is mindfully doing one thing at a time.

Our homework for the week was to observe and describe three times a day and participate fully once a day. Awwww, I thought this was going to be so boring.

So yesterday, I set the timer on my iphone, and I sat in my kitchen and observed a mobile outside the window. Every once in a while a thought crossed my mind, but I observed it and let it go and went back to the mobile. I was surprised when the 5 minutes was up. I set the timer again to describe the mobile and what I could see around it, and again, 5 minutes passed really quickly. I then spent 30 minutes just doing a crossword, one-mindedly.

I practiced again last night, but didn't make it to three times in the day. But this morning I found myself observing in the bathtub, the reflection of the antique style faucet in the water below it. And I noticed that by even just those three experiences of observing, that I have started to notice more of the world outside me. I am starting to see - where before my world was solely defined by eating disorder - I am starting to notice an interest in my surroundings. Now instead of wondering what the heck am I going to observe and describe today, I am seeing a world of opportunities and even looking forward to it. FYI, my cat is my next subject. She will likely appear frequently in my practice.

Anyway, I recommend trying it as a way of taking you away from the eating disorder for a few minutes at a time, as well as a way of reawakening your interest in the outside world.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:43 pm 
orange is a state of mind

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I'm supposed to be starting a DBT group whenever it gets up and running. I'm not so thrilled about doing it- I did individually last year while waiting to start residential treatment. Is it better in a group?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:04 am 
orange is a state of mind

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Erin...from what my therapist said, it is more effective to have the group support.

Spender...I SO want to do a DBT class, but can't find one in my area -- or within an hour's drive. I might have to look at Charlotte...they probably have one up there -- but then it's a two+ hour drive each way. Though hopefully I will end up in residential (still waiting). Thanks for sharing! I look forward to hearing more about it.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:22 pm 
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I've never done it outside a group, but in addition to the group I get one on one therapist support. I would think that if you were doing it on your own you would at least need a therapist with some experience in DBT to work with you. There is a DBT Workbook that you can order to work on your own, and by all accounts it is extremely good.

Today's observe and describe was a necklace made by women in Ghana with handmade beads, each one different, each one beautiful. It is so beautiful that I struggled to observe without describing, but allowed myself to observe my thoughts and then let them go. When it came to describing, I let myself touch the necklace and feel the love and skill that went into each of the beads as I described it to myself. Wow.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:26 pm 
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this is amazing to read. well spoken of course, and.. your willingness [to use dbt-speak] towards this experience is moving, somehow.

i like your observe and describe. i find some kind of 'non-judgmental, one-mindful' moment of meditation is an important skill i'm starting to employ.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:32 pm 
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^^Yeah, it's amazing how one-mindfulness really affects your emotional state. And I'm loving the fact that I am seeing more and more things to observe and describe; like my siggie says: I once was blind, but now I see...or I'm starting to see.

I'd love to chat and compare with you as we both go through DBT at the same time on opposite sides of the country. I always find your insight and writing compelling and evocative.

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 Post subject: Re: DBT
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:36 pm 
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Posted originally by Vega, but this is something that you can use in the practice of mindfulness for a few minutes of your day. It's live stream, and when I checked in there was no action, but I scrolled back to the beginning and spent a few minutes on it. I used this for the "observation" aspect of mindfulness:

Quote:
Observing is focussing on one thing at a time, just noticing without describing. It can be external (something you can see, hear, touch) or internal (your breath, your heartbeat). If you find thoughts crossing your mind as you observe, just observe the thought and let it float away as you get back to what you were observing.


But it would also work very well for describing:

Quote:
Describing can also be internal or external. It involves observing and then describing what you are observing. Differentiate between thought and fact. For example, if you are describing you cat and her ears are laid back, a thought is that she is angry, whereas a fact is just that her ears are back. Describe only what you can see.


http://new.livestream.com/accounts/398160/events/1594566

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 Post subject: Awesome mindfulness app
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:43 pm 
orange you prolific
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It's called headspace and it's AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! {and free} The first 10 days are 10 minute meditations and then I think they get a tad longer. I've done quite a bit of meditating and this app by far is the best I've found.

http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/shop/he ... n-app.aspx

I'm on day 7, anyone care to join me?

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-she learned a simple, obvious thing she had always known, and everyone knew. that a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn, not easily mended.


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome mindfulness app
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 6:14 pm 
orange you glad?

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YES! My phone accepted it :)
I'm in! :D

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He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome mindfulness app
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:39 pm 
orange you prolific
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:carrot2:

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-she learned a simple, obvious thing she had always known, and everyone knew. that a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn, not easily mended.


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 Post subject: Mindfulness
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:06 pm 
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Quote:
Listen To The Silence

“Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence. The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote, ‘Only let the moving waters calm down, and the sun and moon will be reflected on the surface of your being’...”

~ Deepak Chopra

Quite often, early in the morning before I do my meditation for the day, I will go to my piano and sit quietly. With my eyes closed, I gently place my fingers on the keys and when inspired, begin to play only single notes very slowly, with no song in mind, just allowing my fingers to go where they are led to go. As a form of mindfulness practice, after each single note I play I draw in a deep breath, and while slowing releasing that breath I listen to the silence between each note played. From a musician’s perspective, the space between the notes is as important as the notes themselves; without the silence between the notes, there would be no music it would be one long continuous run-on noise that becomes meaningless. Likewise, from a metaphysician’s perspective; the silent spaces between our breaths and between thoughts are equally as important because life’s greater meaning will always be found in the moment.

I use this analogy because just about everyone can relate to it. We are all so busy “doing life” that at times, if we are not intentionally mindful of the sacredness of the moment, and the blessings it offers, it slips right on past us, becoming one looooong run-on noise--and thus, like the run-on music, our lives end up taking on less and less meaning. If we want to test this truth first hand to see if we fit into this category, we just have to take a scan of our physical and emotional body at the end of our typical day--if we feel wrung out and like we forgot to breathe all day, we probably have. The spiritual truth is; the calmer our mind is, the more efficient we will be in whatever we are doing, and, our emotional body as well as our physical body will reap the benefits. How can this be? A calm mind reflects the Light of Wisdom that lies inherent within us. Infinite Intelligence, being Life Itself, knows how to “do life” better than we do. It knows what we need, when we need it and how to lead us to what we need, if we will just take time to listen. It is sort of like when I breathe and listen between each note I play on the piano, that Divine Intelligence within knows what note needs to be played next--I simply follow Spirits lead.

As Rumi suggests, our job is to still the waters and trust that the Light will be reflected clearly into our lives. Silence really is the great teacher. What lesson does it hold for you today? Pay attention to it and learn to follow Its lead, trusting that God not only speaks to us with Sacred Words, but Sacred Silence also.

. . .without the silence between the notes, there would be no music. . .

MINDFULNESS PRACTICE FOR TODAY:

It’s rubber band day! Place a rubber band loosely around your wrist for the day. Throughout the day, when you catch yourself in the “run-on” mode, that is, doing life so mindlessly that everything is running together, stop whatever you are doing, snap the rubber band and take a deep cleansing breath...and listen to the silence. (This can be done, even in the middle of Grand Central Station, because the silence comes from within, not the world around you.) What does the silence have to teach you in the moment? As you listen, do so with an awareness that Infinite Intelligence is waiting patiently for you to make a space for It to be revealed. With this intention, the silence then becomes Sacred Silence.

OK, Now breathe.

Peace, Dennis Merritt Jones, D.D.
Subscribe FREE to Dr. D’s daily message at http://www.onespirit.org
© 2003 by Dennis Merritt Jones
Listen To The Silence

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 Post subject: Re: Awesome mindfulness app
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:52 am 
orange you prolific
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Have you tried it yet? I noticed today for the first time I was using the things I have learned through the day. I really like it because he teaches you how to bring everything into life. Have never really had a meditation program do that before.

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-she learned a simple, obvious thing she had always known, and everyone knew. that a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn, not easily mended.


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 Post subject: Mindfulness
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:07 am 
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Description of mindfulness with examples:

Quote:
A Definition of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is “awareness without judgment of what is, via direct and immediate experience”.
You’re being mindful when
• you eat dessert and notice every flavor you are tasting, instead of eating the dessert while having a conversation and looking around the room to see who you know. If you’re being mindful, you’re not thinking about “is it good or bad to have dessert?” you’re just really having dessert.
• having gotten free of your anxiety or self-consciousness, you dance to music and experience every note, instead of wondering if you look graceful or foolish.
• thinking about someone you love or someone you hate, you pay attention to exactly what your love or your hate feels like. You’re not caught up in justifying the love or hate to yourself; you’re just diving into the experience, with full awareness that you’re diving in.
• you walk through a park, you actually walk through the park. What does that mean? It means you let yourself “show up” in the park. You walk through the park aware of your feelings about the park, or your thoughts about the park, or how the park looks, or the sensation of each foot striking the pavement. This is different than taking a walk in the park and not “showing up” – instead, walking through the park while you are distracted by thoughts of what you’ll have for lunch, or the feelings towards a friend with whom you just argued, or worries about how you’re going to pay this month’s bills.

If you stop to think about it, you’ll realize that very few of us devote ourselves to living mindfully, meeting each moment of life as it presents itself, with full awareness, letting our judgments fall away. Instead, we do things automatically, without noticing what we’re doing. We churn out judgments about ourselves and others. We regularly do two or three or five things at once. We frequently get so caught up in our thoughts and feelings about the past or future that we’re lost in them, disconnecting from what is happening right now in front of us. There are lots of rewards for living this way--we can get a lot done quickly, think of ourselves as efficient, and be seen by the world as productive and smart. In highly industrial or technological societies, a high value is placed on doing a lot at once. In fact, people sometimes make fun of each other by saying, “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you do two things at once?”

We also live without awareness because sometimes living with full awareness is very painful. We avoid painful thoughts, feelings, and situations when we are afraid or angry or ashamed or sad because we’re convinced that we can’t do anything to change them AND because we’re convinced we can’t stand to live with them.

For instance, have you ever avoided bringing up a problem in a relationship with someone because you’re afraid the person will get mad at you, attack you, or leave you? You keep avoiding bringing up the problem because you feel so scared. So, you get yourself off the fear “hook” temporarily by not talking it over. In the meantime, you’re ashamed of yourself for not speaking up. You get more and more annoyed with the other person. You try to ignore what he or she does that bothers you, but the problem gets worse and worse. Finally you just give up, letting the relationship end. Maybe the problem could have been solved; maybe not.

But there’s an important distinction to make between the unavoidable pain of having a problem with a person you love versus the suffering you cause yourself by letting fear control you, judging yourself for feeling afraid, assuming nothing you’d try would work instead of trying out solutions, feeling guilty about feeling anger towards someone you love, or judging the person for causing the problem.

There’s so many ways mindfulness could help with the above example, it’s hard to know where to start. Because of limited time and space, I’ll only discuss a few.
1 - You could use mindfulness skills and bring your full attention to the feelings of annoyance, instead of pushing them away or trying to talk yourself out of them. Maybe you’re afraid you can’t stand to feel annoyed, but actually, watching how you feel inside, you realize, “hey, it’s just annoyance for 10 minutes and I CAN stand it”.
2- You could use mindfulness to become a great detective and notice exactly how and when you feel annoyed. Maybe it’s when he or she has had three cups of coffee before seeing you; maybe it’s when both of you are tired; and, maybe it’s when he or she’s had a bad day at work. In this way, you use awareness to get specific and clear about what contributes to the problem. The more specific you get about what goes into the problem, the better chance you have to solve it. Ask her to drink less coffee or switch to decaffeinated coffee; make plans to get together when you’re both rested; don’t meet on bad work days.
3- You could use your mindfulness skills to watch how your mind generates thoughts like “It shouldn’t be this way; why can’t we just get along! Real friends don’t have problems’. Listening in on your thoughts, you realize that your expectations don’t fit with reality, so you work on changing your expectations.
4- You could use mindfulness skills, as you talk through the problem with your friend, to bring your full and open awareness to whether or not you experience your friend listening to and understanding you or defending herself and criticizing you. If she’s really listening and caring, you might notice relief inside and decide to keep working with her on the problems in the friendship. On the other had, if you notice that she is dismissive or non-responsive each time you talk about a problem, you might notice that you are sad and disappointed but not willing to put more energy into a friendship that makes you unhappy.

To summarize, mindfulness is awareness, without judgment, of life as it is, yourself as you are, other people as they are, in the here and now, via direct and immediate experience. When you are mindful, you are awake to life on its terms – fully alive to each moment as it arrives, as it is, and as it ends. Of course, in order to build and maintain mindfulness requires specific skills that are practiced over and over. That’s what comes next.

How and Why to Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a skill that can be learned like any other. There is nothing mysterious about it. It’s like learning to ride a bike or cook good meals or paint with watercolors or play a musical instrument. You start with easy practice and progress to harder practice. You take classes in it from people who know more about it than you do. You make friends with other people who are interested in it so you have a built in support group to keep you going when you get discouraged. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re making a lot of progress; other times you’ll be discouraged. But, it is certain that if you practice, practice, practice, your skill at mindfulness will improve.

So what’s the practice? The practice of mindfulness is “the repetitive act of directing attention to only one thing in this one moment”. And if you are brand new to mindfulness, you may respond with either “I can already do that” or “Why on earth would I do that?’

My reply is :
a) it’s a lot harder than it sounds
b) the reason you do this kind of practice is to gain control of your attention.

I hope you’ll stop and think about the following sentence:

Whatever your attention is on, that’s what life is for you at any given moment.

EXAMPLE: Perhaps you’ve decided to take a break from working so you can make yourself some tea; as you stand at the stove, your mind wanders off and ruminates about a conversation you had yesterday. You don’t get a break because your mind isn’t on the tea; your mind is worrying and carrying you away.

EXAMPLE: Perhaps you are sitting in a session with a therapist who cares about you and has a kind expression on her face; but you’re not looking at her face…not really. Instead, you are feeling so self-conscious and ashamed that you begin to “space out”. You miss out on a moment of connection with a person who cares for you and instead have one more moment of rejecting yourself.

“The repetitive act of directing your attention to only one thing in this one moment” means training your mind to pay attention to what you choose to pay attention to instead of letting your mind hijack you. There are lots of metaphors that describe what the untrained mind is like and they provide a good contrast to the trained mind. Here are several:
* Your mind is a TV that’s always on but you can’t find the remote. The TV set gets 300 cable channels but because you don’t control the remote, your untrained mind keeps playing the same painful or scary or enraging show over and over again.
* This one’s from Zen. The untrained mind is like a new puppy. You tell your puppy to sit and stay, but your puppy immediately runs away, rummages in your closet, chews up your new shoes, goes through the garbage can, and has an accident on the carpet.
* A third metaphor comes from a Christian contemplative, Thomas Merton. He said the untrained mind is like a crow flying over a wheat field in winter. The crow spies lots of things that sparkle in the field, swoops down to pick them up, only to discover that what’s glittering in the field are old pieces of scrap metal, not something delicious to eat or something to use for a nest.

If you train your mind to pay attention, then you’ve found the remote control, trained the puppy, and become a smarter crow. To teach your mind to pay attention, you practice paying attention over and over again. Here’s an example of a typical practice. If you want to, you could take a break from reading right now and do the practice.

Quote:
TYPICAL PRACTICE
Get in a comfortable position that won’t cause you discomfort, with your feet on the floor and your back straight but not tense. Sit very still, breathing normally, in a quiet room. Now, just watch your thoughts for a few minutes. Don’t try to force thoughts or think specific thoughts. Don’t push some thoughts away or hold on tight to others. Just watch what your mind generates. If your mind wanders away from watching your thoughts (e.g., you get stuck on one thing, like planning what you’re going to do after you read this web page) just notice that it wandered and gently bring it back to watching thoughts. If you start to judge yourself (“I’m terrible at this”), your thoughts (“That’s a stupid thing to be thinking”), or the practice (“This is a real waste of time”) just notice your judgments and go back to watching your thoughts. Practice for five minutes.


Linehan has a helpful metaphor for this type of practice: Your mind is like a boat that is tied to a chain with an anchor. Mindfulness is the anchor and chain that gently pull the boat (your attention) back each time the waves start to carry it away. Even if your mind wanders off 1,000 times, you’ve done the exercise if you gently pull your attention back to your point of focus. There’s no right or wrong to it. All that matters is paying attention to your experience while you do the exercise as well as you can. You can do this type of practice with anything you care to bring your full and undivided attention to. In doing so, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, about other people, and about any situation in which you find yourself. And, just like a muscle that gets stronger and stronger with exercise, your capacity to move your attention to what you want it to focus on will grow stronger.

This is one type of practice but there are others. In Linehan’s Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder (1993), there is a clear explanation of mindfulness, as well as lots of suggestions for practice. It’s an excellent place to learn more about the topic. Further, she has broken mindfulness into six specific skills that can be practiced by anyone to strengthen the capacity to pay attention in a way that leads to greater and greater awareness.

The Goal of Mindfulness Practice.

In DBT, the goals of mindfulness practice are simply to practice and to experience “Wise Mind”. You’re in wise mind when your emotions and your thoughts work together so that wise action is easy, even when your life and/or circumstances are really hard. You’re in wise mind when you can meet each moment of life as it is, not as you would have it be, and respond to it skillfully. People have different names for wise mind. Some people call it the “true self”, others call it “spirit”, and others refer to it as “being centered”. The name doesn’t matter. What matters is the capacity to have it. And everyone has that capacity. Further, anyone and everyone can decide to work on making the capacity for wise mind stronger and stronger.

Notice that we’re not saying the goal of mindfulness practice is happiness or having a life free from trouble or having an experience of nonstop joy. However, people who practice mindfulness will tell you that they get better at enduring pain, better at solving problems, better at not creating misery for themselves, and better at participating fully in those moments of life that are joyful.

Excerpt from: Mindfulness for Clients, their Friends, and Family Members
More references are listed at the end of the article.

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~~ John Lennon


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome mindfulness app
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:18 am 
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I'm downloading it right now, and I'm really excited to try it out :)


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 Post subject: Re: Awesome mindfulness app
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:17 am 
orange you glad?

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Location: Mid North Coast, Australia
It's taken me till now to figure it out #lame
I'll let you know how I find it! ;-)

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He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.


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