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Mindfulness

LifeDestroyer posted 10/4/2019 22:21 PM

I have seen several members suggest this. As someone who is clueless, I thought maybe there are others who are clueless as well, but are interested. Those who use this tool, can you share your experience or suggestions??

SI Staff posted 10/4/2019 22:31 PM

   Moving to Wayward Side

gmc94 posted 10/5/2019 01:01 AM

The term "mindfulness" can encompass a whole lot of stuff. The idea is to become more self aware. To live more in the present. It can just be stopping during the day and breathing, focusing on your body, relaxing your mind, finding gratitude, etc.

There's a great meditation my WH got that says to imagine being in a completely black room, and when your mind wanders to watch the thought just pass by, and identify it as a thought, and let it drift along past you w/o any focus on what the thought is. I imagine them as ghost-like wind passing by, and I'll say in my head: "oh! there's a thought. Goodbye" .

I use a free app for my phone called insight timer. It has guided meditations and unguided,male or female voices, music or no, etc. Lots of choices. I really notice a difference when I don't do it (I can get grumpy if I miss more than a day or 2). I tend to do them at night before bed (which is a high trigger time for me), but the morning is also helpful (I just tend do do the PM more than AM).

Yoga is also a great way to increase mindfulness. You have to focus on your breath and your body/pose, not all the other stresses of life. There's stuff on youtube, but I seem to be old school by still having a DVD player. I have one that's like 10 or 15 minutes, and a bunch of others for exercise. There are studies of the benefits of yoga on trauma / PTSD. As a BS with two PTSD Dx (the LTA and then the suicide attempt), I can provide anecdotal evidence that it helps.

Even just stopping for a minute several times a day can provide some benefits of mindfulness.
Ten times a day my apple watch reminds me to breathe for 1 minute. Again, a way to focus on the present and your body, and who doesn't have a minute for some quick self care?

There are solid studies showing mindfulness and meditation can rewire the brain (the neurons that wire together fire together), increase focus, productivity, etc. My IC recommended the book "Resilience" by Rick Hansen and it really changed my life. You can google his HEAL steps for the basics (it's really about emphasizing the joyful MOMENTS of our lives, getting those neurons to fire, and building resilience & better coping skills). I recommend the whole book (I got it on audiobok and still listen to it).

Starting a gratitude journal can also help. It can feel silly at first (I remember some bad days early on when I'd be grateful for kleenex, so I could wipe the snot from all my crying), but as it becomes more of a practice it can build & reinforce those good neural pathways.

Anyhow, that's what I got off the top of my head. Being consistent in a daily practice of some sort (even if it's just writing those three things you are grateful for on the back side of junk mail) can really change one's view of the world (and it - literally - changes your brain).

[This message edited by gmc94 at 1:10 AM, October 5th, 2019 (Saturday)]

Justsomelady posted 10/5/2019 08:34 AM

In addition to meditation and yoga, I am working on being mindfully aware of the present moment about everyday things as well as feelings. It helps me deal with my emotions. My first impulse is to try to make a painful feeling “go away” but instead of that, I try now to name the emotion and sit with it, to allow it to be there. I say “hello anxiety” or “hello shame” or “hello [insert trauma] trigger” etc. it helps to observe it and just let it be there, to accept it and let it lose power and intensity on its own. We feed it when we try to whack it out of existence and numb it with whatever - scrolling social media, alcohol, fantasy (hello what got us all here).

One way to practice it is to pick up a piece of of food and instead of just chowing down, really observe it on your fork or in your hand, focus on its appearance, shape color etc. Then, put it in your mouth and observe how it tastes and feels, what it brings to mind, etc. and really be present with that flavor and texture in the moment. I only let myself have about four servings of alcohol maximum in a week, now. I will drink one glass of wine on one of my allowed nights and take forever to finish it, savoring and observing every sip.

Repeating myself from elsewhere on SI but Tara Brach, calm app, insight timer, are all really helpdul.

[This message edited by Justsomelady at 8:49 AM, October 5th (Saturday)]

Justsomelady posted 10/5/2019 08:46 AM

Also - google Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn - he brought it to the US and legitimized it with his research. He has books and meditation recordings.
Also - google Palouse Mindfulness, it is a good tool.

LifeDestroyer posted 10/5/2019 08:51 AM

I have an account with Calm because of my classroom, but haven't really used it yet. I tried to listen to one of their night stories last night. Started with visualizing the images they were explaining, but then my mind would focus on something else. Didn't finish either story.

Justsomelady posted 10/5/2019 08:55 AM

They have good guided meditations too. Sometimes I use the stories to fall asleep but sometimes they don’t work for me either. I use Michael Seeley or Jason’s Stephenson - both on YouTube, for falling asleep. They have hypnosis and sleep talkdowns that I find useful.

If you need help sleeping then also look for yoga nidra, I like what they have on DoYogaWithMe dot com.

[This message edited by Justsomelady at 8:56 AM, October 5th (Saturday)]

Justsomelady posted 10/5/2019 08:57 AM

Also also - mindfulness is a skill that builds over time, be patient. It can feel silly at first and like it isn’t working, but you are training yourself and with time and practice you will see a difference

Justsomelady posted 10/5/2019 09:03 AM

Another tool is to sit upright, feet on floor and just feel really grounded and focus on the connection your feet make with the floor. Hold a marble or stone or something in your hand. Sit quietly with it, look at it, turn it around in your hand, breathe slowly as you move it and observe it. Then continue to breathe in through your nose and with belly expanding, out through your mouth and belly falling gently back in, and then close your eyes and do the same observations of the object, but on texture and shape, weight, close your hand around it.

And be quiet for a few minutes, allow whatever to come to mind but don’t try to follow a thought process and resolve it as you normally would, just continue to sit and name a thought/feeling and welcome it to sit with you. Do it over and over, as thoughts and feelings arise, grounding yourself with the object in your hand and feet on the floor.

I think about myself like a tree rooting itself to the earth and how I am connected to the universe...my practice is a pebble falling in the pond and sends out ripples of peace to the world. Kind of woo but it is true that when we bring peace to ourselves and our family it changes the world one moment/ripple/person at a time. This is a good time to send compassion out to yourself, your husband, your daughter, family, people at the grocery store, etc the world. I throw in my Catholic prayers at the end, you can make it spiritual if that is your path. That works for me may not for you.

Mostly I rely on guided meditation recordings as I have trouble doing it myself but the tool above helps me too

[This message edited by Justsomelady at 9:18 AM, October 5th (Saturday)]

Justsomelady posted 10/5/2019 09:11 AM

Also - don’t be surprised if some styles of guided meditation make you antsy and don’t help. For me, I do not respond well to body scan types of meditations. They make me get a little anxious sometimes, I can’t predict it. I do well with focusing on breathing but I have a friend who gets antsy over that but not the scans.

LifeDestroyer posted 10/5/2019 09:15 AM

I think the breathing and visualizing would be good for me. The breathing for when I feel myself about to lose it.

Justsomelady posted 10/5/2019 09:19 AM

(((LD)))

strugglebus posted 10/5/2019 09:41 AM

LifeDestroyer the sleep stories are for helping you to fall asleep, not so much mindfulness. Start with the 30 days of Calm, it’s a great tutorial course on the app.

goalong posted 10/5/2019 10:26 AM

meditation/ mindfulness is not very successful if you are 'aiming' for something. These Buddhist practices are to understand the impermanent nature of everything and getting rid of severe attachment /guilt which lead to suffering.
So the approach is not to regularly check whether you have achieved your goal after starting mindfulness.
The basic statement is - past is gone, the future does not belong to you. So concentrate your mind in the present which lead to high productivity in whatever you do. The meditation also should be related to some teaching (like four immeasurables) that lead to understand/comprehend the impermanence and getting rid of negative feelings. just counting breath or repeating a word may not help.
Like fast food this has been put on speed dial as a quick remedy for difficulties people face

[This message edited by goalong at 10:35 AM, October 5th (Saturday)]

FearfulAvoidance posted 10/5/2019 11:20 AM

Justsomelady, thank you for taking the time to write all that out. I feel more relaxed and grounded just reading your words. Which I really needed in this moment, so thank you.

JBWD posted 10/5/2019 11:53 AM

For some reading on how this can be effective, “Why Buddhism is True” by Robert Wright. He’s an evolutionary psychologist who highlights how consistent meditation helps refine neural networks.

Yes such practices are distinct from Eastern Buddhism, but Wright also addresses this, ably defending the position that if this does such good for so many, there’s no harm in it.
To the point of this being seen as a “quick fix,” I think most here are on the path to lifelong practice.

Pema Chodron’s “How to Meditate” is a fantastic introduction- I believe her most important guidance is that as you begin, you will potentially face frustration. Just keep practicing, don’t worry about doing it right etc. It’s a great parallel to the hard work we’re all doing. You just have to show up. Day after day.

ETA yoga is also high on my list.

[This message edited by JBWD at 11:54 AM, October 5th (Saturday)]

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