Re: Mindfulness - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-21-2007, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mindfulness


I’ve read a few posts here about mindfulness and wanted to post what I think about it.

Someone posted that anxiety is a distraction. I agree with that to some extent. The poster then basically said that by being aware of one’s breath, one can be “mindful” and avoid distraction. I don’t completely agree with that. In fact, I think that focusing on one’s breath can be just as much of a distraction, albeit a more healthy one.

A distraction from what? Like all "ill" conditions, whether they be psychological or physical, anxiety (or being obsessed with one’s breath) is a distraction from/a defense against some unresolved emotional conflict. So, can breathing really put one into a state in which self-awareness can be attained, when the self-awareness that is necessary involves looking at one’s psychological history and re-experiencing all of the pain that was part of that history? Certainly, breathing would produce a calmer state than one would feel when anxious and in which one could be more self-reflective. Still, doesn’t the work that needs to be done to heal involve much more than taking deep breaths or fixating on some other “object”, as was also suggested?

Something further was posted about mindfulness and “the truth”. I think the truth lies in one’s psychological history and only in being mindful of that - i.e., in being mindful of when and how one is acting out one’s past by knowing one’s past versus when one is truly acting in the present, all of which is or should be learned in psychotherapy.

I understand that mindfulness is a tool, but I think it's only a tool for managing anxiety, not understanding and resolving it or what's underneath it.
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post #2 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-21-2007, 07:53 PM
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Re: Mindfulness


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Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
I understand that mindfulness is a tool, but I think it's only a tool for managing anxiety, not understanding and resolving it or what's underneath it.
I essentially agree, since mindfulness does not use conceptualization, which is what people use when analyzing rather than perceiving. It's up to you do determine whether your analyzing will resolve your problems. There doesn't seem to be a single option that is helpful (or unhelpful) to everyone in the same way.

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Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
Still, doesn’t the work that needs to be done to heal involve much more than taking deep breaths or fixating on some other “object”, as was also suggested?
The way I see it, being mindful does not require either of those actions. Once people begin to think about what they should be focusing on, they are taken out of the present moment. Mindfulness is simply being present and aware of immediate reality. With this broad description, it is the exact opposite of distraction (anything else is distraction since one is not longer "present" in reality). The "past" doesn't "exist" after all. It's an illusion.

In any case, good luck resolving any emotional conflict you might be experiencing!

Please keep us posted about what works/doesn't work for you, as I find those sort of posts to be very interesting.

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post #3 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-21-2007, 09:14 PM
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Re: Mindfulness


Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
Someone posted that anxiety is a distraction.
Anxiety can make it difficult to concentrate on the present, but it doesn't have to be a distraction. It can actually be a point of focus for mindfulness. We can focus on our anxiety. Become aware of your heart beat. Sense the areas of your body that are tense and the sensation that is tenseness. You'll find that the anxiety will soon fade. But if the anxiety is distracting you from perhaps paying attention to an instructor or a book you are trying to read, if you focus on the breath at the same time you're engaged in those activities, you'll be better able to concentrate. Since it doesn't take much brain power to focus on the breath, you still have plenty of room to focus on another activity simultaneously.

Quote:
The poster then basically said that by being aware of one’s breath, one can be “mindful” and avoid distraction. I don’t completely agree with that. In fact, I think that focusing on one’s breath can be just as much of a distraction, albeit a more healthy one.
Focusing on the breath is a mindful technique for being in the present and can help keep you in the present when worry and ruminations are trying to get you out of the present.

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So, can breathing really put one into a state in which self-awareness can be attained, when the self-awareness that is necessary involves looking at one’s psychological history and re-experiencing all of the pain that was part of that history?
No, mindfulness is simply being in the present.

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Still, doesn’t the work that needs to be done to heal involve much more than taking deep breaths or fixating on some other “object”, as was also suggested?
Yes, understanding the root of our problems is a big part of recovery.

Quote:
I understand that mindfulness is a tool, but I think it's only a tool for managing anxiety, not understanding and resolving it or what's underneath it.
That's true. Mindfulness alone isn't going to make you better but it can help quite a bit. The practice of mindfulness and meditation can actually change your brain chemistry so that you are better able to handle stress. It also makes you more aware of the all interesting things there are in the world.

Mindfulness doesn't have to be just concentrating on your breath. Like I mentioned before, you can concentrate on your heart beating, which can actually lower your heart rate. You can concentrate on all your senses such as how your clothing feels against your skin. I like to concentrate on sounds -- especially sounds of nature, but any sounds can be a point of attention. Even annoying sounds can be relaxing if we concentrate on them.

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post #4 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-21-2007, 09:31 PM
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Re: Mindfulness


It is certainly not safe to assume that someone with SA has 'unresolved emotional conflicts'.

Anxiety and a predisposition to anxiety are, in my opinion, the real culprit for those that suffer with SA.
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post #5 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-21-2007, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mindfulness


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Originally Posted by Johnny_Genome
It is certainly not safe to assume that someone with SA has 'unresolved emotional conflicts'.

Anxiety and a predisposition to anxiety are, in my opinion, the real culprit for those that suffer with SA.
4% of the population are natural birth parents. That means it is safe to say that 96% of the population are narcissistically wounded and have unresolved (or resolved) emotional conflict.

That is why mindfulness is not enough.
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post #6 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 05:43 AM
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Re: Mindfulness


Hi Johnny,

It is tempting for me to rubbish therapies like CBT and the kind that you are suggesting actually get to the 'heart of anxiety' ....the thing is though that I won't make such a mistake.

From what I've found out about peoples' experiences, research that I've read about CBT vs Mindfulness, Buddhist ideas ...it tends to tell me that in it depends on the individual as to whether Mindfulness or more analytical approaches are helpful.

In fact, research done on Mindfulness and CBT therapies used for patients sufferring from depression showed that for those with a history of fewer bouts of depression, Mindfulness was reported by the patients as having little effect or benefit, whilst those with a past history of more than a few attacks of depression reported a real benefit from Mindfulness practise. Similar to this, whilst some anxiety sufferers find CBT to be enough, others find that it aggravates their anxiety -and I have read this same point of view is held by at least one psychiatrist.

Similar to this, Buddhists themselves (from what I know so far) tend to have slightly different takes on 'analytical' vs 'stabilising' (eg, Mindfulness) approaches. Some believe that Mindfulness, with the awareness that it builds, is all that is necessary to resolve any problem; others believe that analytical (mediation) approaches are necessary in order to delve into what is really going on and to really resolves things.

Likewise, apparently this whole issue depends very much upon one's own point of view -being that there are many different opinions as to which ONE method works.
...in which case: why not be open to both and just trust one's own intuition as to what is needed at the moment. And likewise, I figure, give each person their due respect for being able to decide what is working for them.

A month or so ago I told my psychiatrist that CBT wasn't helping me but that Mindfulness was. Her only response was to tell me that Mindfulness is only used for those with depression and who are suicidal (...apparently she is less up to date with current information as me, because I've read a lot about how Mindfulness is being used to treat a few conditions). And my GP, when I asked to be referred to a psychiatrist who used Mindfulness, ignored my request essentially telling me that my current shrink knew better.

My last trip to my GP was different. Apparently she had found out more about Mindfulness or been to a conference or two (it is really very much a new thing in Western Psychotherapy -only really happening here in this decade) and she was all of a sudden much more willing to give credit to my opinion that Mindfulness was helping me. -before she had described it as just a way of helping me be calm and of being of little value.

...the moral of the story is: each person is pretty good at deducing what helps them. Provided that a person does their best to be open minded -which is in their best interests- then all should work out well. It is wise, I think, to observe -and it is an observation!!- that different techniques are needed depending on the person and also their present situation. And likewise, each person's individual experience of anxiety, and also their intelligence to know themselves is, given due respect.

For me personally, I am focussing on Mindfulness. Later on I may try some more analytical approaches if I find that this is what is needed and it may also be my next step. For now however, I intuitively note that I really need to step away from such ways of thinking. (...in fact, my psychiatrist barely bothered to help me with CBT. She told me that I was unusual, in that unlike most patients I was already very good at CBT and that she didn't need to help me with it. ...analytical thinking is something I'm perhaps too inclined towards as it is.)

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post #7 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 09:08 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Mindfulness


Quote:
Originally Posted by ardrum
The "past" doesn't "exist" after all. It's an illusion.
Have you looked at your past closely enough to know that it doesn't exist?
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post #8 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 09:19 AM
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Re: Mindfulness


Mindfulness (and Buddhist philosophies in general) work well in conjunction with other therapies. When I was in group CBT, we learned some relaxation exercises, one of which was concentrating on the breath -- mindfulness. There's nothing wrong with attacking your SA from all angles: CBT, self-esteem improvement, your sense of self-efficacy, relaxation exercises... The problem with CBT alone is, you can often revert to the old bad habits. With the practice of mindfulness, there's less chance of that happening. It makes you a more relaxed person and more at peace with the world.

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post #9 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 09:24 AM
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Re: Mindfulness


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Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
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Originally Posted by ardrum
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Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
The "past" doesn't "exist" after all. It's an illusion.
Have you looked at your past closely enough to know that it doesn't exist?
The only place the past exists is in our memory. The repercussions from our past may exist in the present, though. We just have to accept the past and move forward by living a life of integrity and self-respect.

Nobody loves me but my dog, and I think he might be jivin', too.
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post #10 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Mindfulness


RubyTuesday,

I wasn't intending to rubbish Mindfulness. I think I said that it can be used as a valid tool. I was just trying to make the point that it's not a complete answer. I don't think CBT is, either. The research I've done by talking directly to my Buddhist therapist, who pretty much agrees with me, is that one's psychological history is important and that it speaks very much to how one acts in the present.

Anyway, I was trying to talk about something more universal than just the treatment of anxiety, but I guess I made a mistake.
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post #11 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Mindfulness


Maslow,

Like I said, I know that all of the "angles" that you are talking about can be useful tools. I'm just going to stop here.

EDIT: Don't you think you have to know the past to accept it?
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post #12 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 09:48 AM
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Re: Mindfulness


Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
Have you looked at your past closely enough to know that it doesn't exist?
Where is past to be "looked at"?

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post #13 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Mindfulness


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Quote:
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Have you looked at your past closely enough to know that it doesn't exist?
Where is past to be "looked at"?
In your present actions, at times.
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post #14 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 10:47 AM
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Re: Mindfulness


Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
Maslow,

Like I said, I know that all of the "angles" that you are talking about can be useful tools. I'm just going to stop here.

EDIT: Don't you think you have to know the past to accept it?
Not only know it, but understand it.

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post #15 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Mindfulness


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Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
Maslow,

Like I said, I know that all of the "angles" that you are talking about can be useful tools. I'm just going to stop here.

EDIT: Don't you think you have to know the past to accept it?
Not only know it, but understand it.
That's what I meant - and that's what I've been trying to say.
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post #16 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 02:29 PM
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Re: Mindfulness


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That's what I meant - and that's what I've been trying to say.
Understanding one's past is not mindfulness. It's more in line with the Buddhist element of the Noble Eightfold Path called "right view" or right understanding. Peace comes with understanding.

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post #17 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mindfulness


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Originally Posted by JohnnyEnnui
That's what I meant - and that's what I've been trying to say.
Understanding one's past is not mindfulness. It's more in line with the Buddhist element of the Noble Eightfold Path called "right view" or right understanding. Peace comes with understanding.
I know understanding one's past is not mindfulness. That was my point - and the whole point of this thread - that while mindfulness may be a useful tool, it does not bring about a knowledge and understanding of one's psychological history, and a knowledge and understanding of one's psychological history is necessary to heal and understand one's actions in the present, AND psychotherapy is a method for accomplishing that.
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post #18 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 03:27 PM
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Re: Mindfulness


Why do you act like I'm disagreeing with you? I've agreed with you all through this thread about the need for understanding our problems and where they come from.

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post #19 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Mindfulness


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Why do you act like I'm disagreeing with you? I've agreed with you all through this thread about the need for understanding our problems and where they come from.
Okay, sorry. When you quoted me and continued to go on about mindfulness and Buddhism, I thought you weren't understanding me, but I guess I was the one who wasn't understanding you.
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post #20 of 51 (permalink) Old 09-22-2007, 05:50 PM
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Re: Mindfulness


Hi Johnny,

I stand by what I wrote in my first post. Different people have different views. Some believe that Mindfulness is enough. Others believe that CBT is enough. Some believe in a combination of the two. ...and by 'some' I am referring to Buddhist teachers and psychotherapists alike.

So, apparently some people are of the opinion that practising Mindfulness alone brings awareness of underlying problems and the solution to them. -Something along the lines of the 'corrective thoughts' that CBT is all about, come naturally to a person from simply having built their Mindfulness. ....you can check the literature if you want to read about such a point of view.

(Personally, one of the aspects of Mindfulness that I prefer over methods of looking at one's past -is that there isn't a focus on 'the cause'; and the 'beginning'/the 'end' is not approached in such a way. ....and maybe, this approach of focussing on the present and not the past, appeals more to individuals for whom their problems are more genetic rather than to do with past conditioning...)

It all seems to depend on the individual. (And it is likely that it has something to do with the level of skill -my guess is that Mindfulness is (more) the key therapy of choice -and not just "a tool"- in the case of people with either very weak mindfulness and also, on the other hand, probably for those who have actually built up very good skill in mindfulness.) You may be one of those who prefers either a combination of the two or even CBT and other such therapies on their own.
For me, I am waiting to see -having found Mindfulness to be what I need so far.


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