How to practice mindfulness

There are many different ways to practice mindfulness

For more CLARITY try these three techniques;

1. Open Monitoring - helpful to gain insights and clarity when confused.

-In this practice you intentionally notice thoughts, emotions and body sensations as they arise and be with them. If your attention wanders, notice it, be with it and notice where it goes.

2. Body Scan - helpful to develop awareness of feelings and body sensations

-In this practice you sweep your attention progressively through the body from head to toe bringing your focus on various parts of the body. In doing so, you relax the various parts of the body and scan your attention through the body bit by bit. See podcast BODY SCAN in other tab.

-The second method of Body Scan is to bring your attention to a specific area of you body and notice it (if you are dealing with pain, notice the sensation that you call pain). Begin to ask yourself what comprises this "pain"? Is it a pulsing pain, sharp or dull? Does it move around or is it stagnant? What is the sensation you feel and how long does it last? These questions allow the mind to break up this concept of pain and begin to see it as another sensation of the body, one that we can play with, look at and strip down to its essence and discover the conditions that need to occur for it to arise or disappear.

3. Noticing Strong Emotions

- In this technique, when triggered by strong negative emotions begin to notice the space between the stimulus and response. Pause and notice if you have been triggered by some event. If so, reflect, breath, practice focused attention and label the thoughts (see Thought Labeling Article under Article tab). As you label the thoughts or feelings you might notice them changing, label them too. The goal here is to be with the feelings and notice where they are in the body. When you use this labeling techniques you engage the pre frontal cortex to sent signals to your amygdala. This will calm your amygdala which will in turn calm your body and your mind.

To build CONNECTIONS try these;

1. Mindful Listening - this is useful to build relationships, better understand people and situations and to connect with people. In this technique you use the sense of hearing and focus your attention to what you are listening to at this moment. You do this moment by moment. When you notice the mind wandering, you gently bring it back to the person's voice. Be aware of judgments and comparisons created by the mind, notice them, label them (JUDGEMENTS OR COMPARING MIND) and then gently invite the mind back to the act of listening.

2. Compassion - there are many ways to create compassion. Here we want to focus on compassion for others and ourselves. Compassion takes the time out of our busy and stressful lives to empathize, which is the ability to register and mirror the feelings of our fellow creatures. But compassion on the other hand, takes this empathetic response and adds the strong desire to alleviate that suffering.” One strategy to practice compassion is to make a kind statement asking yourself; "Will I allow myself to be good enough, just as I am in this very moment, I don’t have to buy into this anxious thought". Then allow the thought to pass over you giving yourself the courage to accept yourself as you are at this vary moment.

To become more CALM, practice these techniques;

1. Deep breathing - to foster immediate relaxation. Here you need to take 6 deep breaths per minute placing your hand on your heart.

2. Focused Attention - this is used to gain clarity in difficult situations. Focus full attention to the process of breathing. If the mind wanders, gently but firmly bring your attention back to the breath. You can also count the breaths (1 breath in and 2 breath out, 3 in and 4 out). Count to 10 and then start over again. This will increase your concentration too.

3. Mindful Movements - you can use these techniques throughout your day when you are stressed or distracted. First you notice what you are doing (walking, eating or sitting) then pause and take a deep breath, bring your attention to whatever feeling in your body is present at the moment. Notice it and do it again. These are moments of mindfulness. The body is always in the moment so being with the body through your mindfulness keeps you in the present moment and calm.

Try these simple set of instructions for walking meditation, and keep this chart handy for practicing on-the-go.

By Barry Boyce

Walking Mediation Instructions

At some point today, you will most likely walk. You may even go for a walk.

It’s one of our greatest gifts, and when we manage early in life to use our legs to get around, it’s cause for celebration. Parents call their parents just to report on the event. The very fact that walking— or whatever form of ambulation you use to get around—is so central to our lives makes it a ready focus for mindful, meditative attention.

Here’s a simple set of instructions for one form of walking meditation. There are many variations. This one relies on a pace that is close to how we might walk in everyday life, and in fact it can be adapted for walking in the street—just as long as you remember to pay attention to street lights, other people, and not looking like a zombie.

1.

Stand up STRAIGHT with your back upright but not stiff. Feel your feet touching the ground and let your weight distribute evenly.

2.

Curl the THUMB of your left hand in and wrap your fingers around it. Place it just above your belly button. Wrap your right hand around it, resting your right thumb in the crevice formed between your left thumb and index finger. (This creates some balance for you and keeps your swinging arms from being a distraction.)

3.

Drop your GAZE slightly. This helps you maintain focus.

4.

Step out with your left FOOT. Feel it swing, feel the heel hit the ground, now the ball, now the toes.

5.

FEEL the same as the right foot comes forward.

6.

Walk at a STEADY pace, slightly slower than in daily life but not funereal.When your attention wanders, bring it back to the sensations of your feet touching the ground.

Daily Practice Sheet

Five Steps to create a mindfulness practice

Back straight, drop your shoulders, close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax.

Notice your breath; focus on the air coming in and out of your nostrils

As thoughts/feelings arise, notice them and invite the mind back to the breath

Notice - your mind wandering, your judgments and be kind to yourself

Practice 5-10 minutes a day for a week, practice makes perfect.

Set a timer/bell so that you can focus and not keep looking at the clock

Try to practice in the same spot each day

Gradually increase the time of your sittings

There is no "bad meditation", whatever you experience is ok.




Other concepts to consider about mindfulness

What are common themes when doing therapy for people who want to use mindfulness to manage their anxiety, stress and/or depression?

First of all, there are conditions that arise which increase the feelings like anxiety, depression and stress. Then there is the habit mind that continually repeats patterns that it thinks work (and maybe they did before) but now they are not working. So how do we notice the conditions and modify the habits to increase our happiness and reduce the influence of feelings of anxiety, depression or other feeling expressions?

Well, we can notice the mind and becoming aware of it’s patterns. This is where mindfulness comes into play and as Dan Siegel would say, in Chapter 6 of his book The Mindful Therapist, we use mindsight. In this chapter he specifically discusses three concepts that we can cultivate to increase our mindfulness/mindsight in a way that allows us to be more present. I think that those concepts can be used to notice the conditions and habits.

He uses the analogy of the tripod, with these three concepts holding up mindfulness; Openness, Objectivity and Observation. Openness or acceptance is such a big topic because it is the essence of what we do in meditation. We accept this moment as it is. If you can do this, you are well on your way to becoming a person who is centered in the moment. With this mindfulness, you can now begin to notice the conditions that arise that bring forth the anxiety you are experiencing. As you notice, you then start to open to the experiences and the emotions that arise and learn to be with them. I teach this to my clients all the time and sometimes they are scared to do it. Heck, I am scared to open up to the restlessness that arises in my mind when I am bored. The more I teach my clients to stay open and “be” with these experience, the more they befriend them and the more comfortable they get with them. So that at some point, various conditions may arise for anxiety or depression but they are open to being with the experience of the feeling, then in time the scariness of the feelings is lessened.

The other skill I wanted to note in this blog (which Dan talks about) is the use of observation. That ability to name experiences without getting caught up them. Dan refers to it as Name it to Tame it. I like this concept because if you can be open enough to see the habit experience, label it and then finally notice that it doesn’t define you, you will be able to change that habit mind occurrence. For example, when I get anxious I tend to shut down and get angry. That is my habit mind, by observing myself I can begin to decide if I want to change this habit.

These are just some of the ideas and techniques that one can become more aware of as they explore the conditions and the habit mind which can create turmoil in our emotional world.

What are other strategies that you have discovered that you use to work with the conditions and habits of the mind?

Untitled Post — Aug 4, 2015 1:59:47 AM