My Introduction to Mindfulness

ImageThe survival and development of humans was dependent on an ability to think – to plan and reason.

It seems that this remarkable ability to think can also be the cause of our emotional distress.  We regret and we stress over a continual internal dialogue, comparing ourselves to others, while harbouring a general discontent over who we are and what we have.

Mindfulness teaches that this desire for more and better, with persistent judgements of others and ourselves, influences how we feel emotionally and physically.  Is it any surprise that life can feel so difficult?

I joined the Introduction to Mindfulness class on Tuesday, mainly to control my habit of obsessive thinking.  My mind never stops.  The stressful rumination can make me feel ill on a daily basis, both emotionally and physically.

The first class went well.  There are two Trainers and eight participants.  Everyone was nervous and rather quiet.  We have a kinship in our mental health and an unspoken understanding for our awkwardness.

ImageMy knowledge so far is that Mindfulness is not about avoiding our turmoil through meditation or by applying a set of principles.  If we struggle against our thought patterns, we are more likely to engage in internal battles.  Mindfulness seems to be more about being aware of ourselves – thoughts and all – and consciously directing that awareness into the present moment.

Since Tuesday’s class, whenever I become aware of ruminating, I try to acknowledge the thoughts and then make a conscious effort to tune my awareness back into the five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

For an obsessive thinker, it can feel as if there is an internal tennis going on within.  During the course of a 16-hour day, I probably spend a sporadic fifteen minutes grounded in the present moment, but that is fifteen minutes more than yesterday.

When we are centred in the present moment, there is less chance of the past affecting us, and it’s even less likely we will worry over what might happen in the future.

Mindfulness practice teaches that if we accept what IS in this moment in time, without attempting to achieve any particular outcome, then the acceptance can release us from mental AND physical suffering.

Developing an attitude of acceptance towards the present moment, is one of Imagethe most difficult transitions for me.  This new awareness of the ‘here and now’ does feel a little weird.  It reminds me of Star Trek, when the astronauts say, “Beam me up” and  they are miraculously transported between planets and spaceship.  Becoming aware of the present moment does feel as if I am switching between planets.  Suddenly there are trees, birds, sky, life, and even beauty.

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Advertisements

37 thoughts on “My Introduction to Mindfulness

    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Ziya, that is a lovely comment….I’m pleased you could relate to the positiveness of being with acceptance in the here and now. Another blogging friend calls it “The welcoming practice”

      Thank you for the reblog

      Like

      Reply
  1. Gel

    Great going…taking a class in mindfulness. It is a really hard topic to write about. There is so much more in the DOING of mindfulness than can be put into words. But you did a good job. I also love how Thich Nhat Hanh writes about it. So much heart, and gentleness.

    I love that first comic….the first frame depicts it pretty well for me. I can’t read the little sign in front of the thought-monsters…in the second frame…do you know what it says?

    🙂

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Gel. You are so right about the actual doing of mindfulness being difficult to explain in words. I think someone needs to have had experience of it to instinctively understand exactly what is involved (if that makes sense?)
      Yes, I love the little cartoon. The caption simply says, “before and after”

      Like

      Reply
      1. Gel

        Not the caption between the frames…but the little sign that is part of the comic in the second frame. It’s in front of the creatures. I tried clicking on the comic but even though it got bigger I still couldn’t read it…but it might start with “thoughts”….

        Like

        Reply
        1. Cat Post author

          Ah yes, it says “thoughts que here” and the little thoughts are lined up behind it. I didn’t actually notice the sign, well spotted

          Like

          Reply
  2. Susan Irene Fox

    I’m lucky enough to have a window view of the sunset in my room. It’s not difficult to take the time to stop what I’m doing and watch the sunset, simply being mindful of what is occurring in the sky, moment by moment. The changes in form and color of the clouds, the movement of the sun as it falls behind the mountain, the shifting shadows on the homes and trees, even the birds perched atop the highest, barren branches, all requiring focused attentiveness to each passing second.

    If there is a window in your home, allow yourself to sit in peaceful repose and just…be. Let the view take you outside of yourself. If it’s difficult, set a timer, and increase it each day. It’s amazing what creation (nature, humanity, whatever you want to call it) can do to allow you to gently surrender to mindfulness.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you for commenting, Susan. I do try to practice that awareness while walking Jack, but do probably need to take more time to sit…

      Like

      Reply
  3. littlevoicetalks

    I often feel so trapped inside my own head, reality feels like it’s behind a big window. Food for thought. I too think obsessively and ruminate; I am often surprised I haven’t been run over before now as I am so disconnected from my own surroundings at times. Your post remind me to keep up with my meditation!! Great read as ever. X

    Like

    Reply
  4. survivor55

    If your present is filled with constant torturous behavior by other individuals over whom you have no control, what can be done? Nothing that I know of because I and another one I know who is in similar circumstances which neither of us can get out of, have tried all we know. Escaping the present by getting on the net, watching shows, playing games, etc. is the only way to get our minds off the habitual torturous behavior in which we find ourselves trapped. My only hope is in God and what lies in my future.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      That is a very difficult situation to be in. I hope you can find peace. Thank you so much for dropping by and taking the time to comment

      Like

      Reply
  5. ziggy40

    Dear Cat,
    What a wonderful description of mindfulness, I’ve been learning it for the past year. I find I can now connect with using, ‘the five fold way’, which uses all your senses and naming five things you see, feel..[like hair on shoulders..etc], it’s a difficult skill to get. I still struggle not to get lost in my inner self critic…sending peaceful moments…brightly colored rainbows…lol
    love Ziggy

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      That sounds really interesting, Ziggy. I haven’t quite reached the “five fold way”. It sounds a very useful tool. I do kinda use those senses already when I’m trying to drag my mind from rumination, which is almost constantly.
      Thank you for commenting

      Like

      Reply
  6. Ellen

    Our minds can definitely land us in strange swamps and on torturous paths! I haven’t had much luck with mindfulness, but meditation does help me sometimes. I think I did learn though that sometimes, thoughts are not true. Which seems obvious but wasn’t to me. I’ll be eagerly following your progress.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      I like that statement, “thoughts are not true”. I think probably 99.9% of our fears turn out not to be true, so why waste our time worrying?
      Thank you, Ellen, I really appreciate your comments.

      Like

      Reply
  7. Priceless Joy

    Excellent post! When my mind would get the way you described, I would take many walks and get into my surroundings and think as many positive thoughts as I could. For me, it helped a lot (plus I got exercise and got outdoors!)

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      I go for lots of walks with the dog, but they were so disconnected from the surroundings with chronic rumination. Now, I am trying to concentrate on everything around me. It’s a constant back and forth from rumination to awareness, but I really do feel some benefit from the little I’m achieving already.
      Thank you so much for commenting

      Like

      Reply
  8. RiisngSong

    Cat, I thought about you when I attended a continuing education seminar earlier this week. Because the course dealt with emotions, mindfulness was briefly discussed. What you wrote in your first three paragraphs is very similar to the way this topic was presented to us. I am not familiar at all with mindfulness, but it seems to encompass many different branches.

    Thank you for writing about this. It seems like it is something that may be very beneficial. I hope you will continue to take us through your journey. I, myself, am interested in learning a little bit more about how mindfulness works.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. the things I say, I think, are the basics of mindfulness. I do intend to write more as the weeks go on. It’s a 6 week course.

      Like

      Reply
  9. Mandy

    I enjoy your blog a lot. That’s why I nominated you for the Sunshine Award 🙂 If you choose to accept, go to my blog and look for my latest Jan. 11 post about the Sunshine Award to read the details.

    Like

    Reply
      1. Mandy

        Absolutely, Cat! I just updated that post–I forgot to add WHY I nominated the 10 ….Love your blog especially 🙂

        Like

        Reply
  10. halfasoul

    Thank you for posting! I have been learning about mindfulness for probably close to a year (it’s the main principle behind DBT, of course) but am only starting to actually “get it” right about now – wish it didn’t take me so long to come around, but there you go! The minute mindfulness really became effective and useful for me was when I heard the phrase Tara Brach uses so often: Real but not true. We can acknowledge that our thoughts and feelings and reactions are real – incredibly real – but they are not necessarily TRUE. Validates the thoughts begging for our attention without giving them more power than they deserve. xxxx

    Like

    Reply
  11. mindretrofit8

    Thank you for writing this post!

    “my extremely damaging habit of obsessive thinking. My mind never stops. The stressful rumination can make me feel ill on a daily basis, both emotionally and physically. ” I do this too and that is a reason why I decided to try using mindfulness.

    “Developing mindfulness, with an attitude of acceptance towards the present moment, is one of the most difficult transitions for me.” Me too! I struggle some days more than others and it depends on the trigger and what is going on in my environment. My sensory challenges can keep me in a fight or flight mode from being so overwhelmed and unable to process it increases anxiety and triggers.

    However, since applying mindfulness in my life I have seen much healing and quicker recovery in several areas. My triggers and PTSD episodes still happen, but I have a useful tool to help me with that and my anxiety. It’s the only thing that has actually worked for me.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      That’s amazing. In such a short space of time, I am recognising the benefits. Thank you for commenting. It really helps to hear other people’s take on it

      Like

      Reply
  12. that3d

    Thank you Cat, this is something I need to try harder at because it feels like I am constantly fighting my head every day. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone and that there is hope for people like me

    Like

    Reply
  13. derb523622013

    Gosh, you have perfectly described what goes on in my head. I remember in the 6th grade, my science teacher asking us for examples of thoughts that we all had go through our minds but did not usually share. I spoke of trying to sleep at night but being kept awake, trying to stop the movement of the metronome I saw in my head (my friend had one to keep time while she practiced piano) so that I could close my eyes and rest. I need to get myself signed up for one of these classes!.

    Like

    Reply

Your feedback counts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s