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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With love to all brave anxiety slayers, my teachers, my friends, my saviours. From slight personal experience i share with you, i hope it helps.


Mindfulness

What is mindfulness and how can it help me?


Mindfulness is basically re-cognizing or remembering what we have already realised, within our mind. Mindfulness is not present in the first moment of realising something. Mindfulness maintains the continuum of the original object by not forgetting it.

The function of mindfulness is to prevent distractions.

For example, the breath, is a neutral object of our mind and is commonly used to become 'mindful', remembering our breath prevents distraction, causing our mind to become peaceful.

Using mindfulness, we retain knowledge and experience and it helps us develop concentration.


How can we use mindfulness to deal with anxiety?

Focusing on our breath, becoming aware of our surroundings and so forth are ok but they only function to move our mind away from negativity, this prevents anxiety temporarily but does not tackle root anxiety deep within our mind. In a conversation or in a large group it's difficult to stay mindful of our breath, actually we usually become more panciked.

When we look at the mental conceptions that induce anxiety such as 'what others think of me' or 'need to feel loved/liked' we will notice most of our actions around others come from these sources. There are other thoughts that contribute to anxiety but these are prominent. Because these mental habits have become familiar we need to use mindfulness in our life to combat our anxiety.

So what should we be mindful of?

An object in our mind which functions to make our mind peaceful as well as lessening our anxiety in general. The breath cannot combat these conceptions very well but works well at passifying conceptual thoughts. The best objects we can focus on as anxiety sufferers are as follows:

The undesirabilty of others thoughts - others thoughts are mostly negative, deluded, uncontrolled, will never bring us happiness. When our mind focuses on this and realises this, this object functions to prevent major anxiety, especially 'what others think of me'. When our mind remembers this object, we are mindful, we are peaceful.

Change - all things are changing, others, ourself, everything - when our mind focuses on change and impermanece and we can remain mindful, our mind becomes more free flowing, therefor we become more peaceful.

To find these objects within our mind we just need a little preperation to think about them until a special thought or feeling arises in our mind that is a general image of say 'undesirabilty of others thoughts' etc, then we have found our object. These objects combat anxiety directly preventing us from becoming unstable and fearful. They do this because they are based on truth rather than irrational thought, which causes much anxiety.

How do we apply this mindfulness in our daily life?

Important to understand what you are being mindful of, else your mind will wander, searching for an object of distraction.
So, once you have understood your object to be mindful of, you can seek it. The breath for example is an easy one that doesn't take much understanding but if you wish to make good progress choose undesirabilty of others thoughts as an object.

When you 'know' your object, you want to acquaint yourself with it more and more so your mind becomes inseperable with it. Each morning or before anxiety producing situations remind yourself of your object and tell yourself you will remember your object as to encourage yourself. This strengthens your desire to remain mindful. People generally get bored with objects like the breath because they have no desire to hold their attention on the breath so we need to increase our desire to be mindful seeing the benefits of remaning mindful. This also focuses our mind making it less distracted and more peaceful.

When you see that inside your mind something invisibly tells you that what other people think matters so much to you and scares you, maybe you dont know, but you can combat it at its source by remaining mindful of the truth, then of course you will feel encouraged.

The mind is like a muscle and needs training, some thoughts are strong then die down sometimes they are weak. Anxiety is a deceptive mind, but can be weakened. When our mind goes off and we become distracted, we just bring our mind back to our object. Keep doing this again and again until anxiety weakens.

Remember the truth, a non deceptive mind, free of anxiety.


MindfulnessMindfulnessMindfulnessMindfulness
 

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Hi Aron,

I have a book called "Beginning Mindfulness". About 3 chapters ahead of me is a chapter called "Objects of Mind". I am going slowly through it because it is a program for mindfulness. So I am not familiar yet with what is meant by this.

Your suggestion sounds like a combination of CBT with Mindfulness, which is what many people use. (Or, otherwise it reminds me a little of how Stabilising Meditation is combined with Analytical meditation -although I am not so sure about this) It is like you are picking thoughts to look out for (as with CBT) and then following through on these with Mindfulness.

To me, much of my trouble is with just being aware of the unconscious/reflexive thoughts and feelings that I have. And this is a big reason why I like practising Mindful awareness of the present moment -so that I can keep up with my racing (unconscious) mind. This is at least, if not more, of value to me than knowing what thoughts I have that are harming me. I think that more than anything, it is overall emotional reactivity that causes me suffering.

If you take a look at http://www.mindfulrecovery.com, the Treatment section there involves a person meditating to 'see themselves in' a feared situation and to bring to mind their 'maladjusted coping modes' -ways a person has of reacting to try to combat their fear etc- Then the person switches to Mindfulness (stabilising meditation) of the breath.

Here is the relevant section from http://www.mindfulrecovery.com...

"Mindful-Relinquishment of Maladjusted Coping Modes

Important Note: Mindful Exposure to the Present is the relinquishment of maladjusted coping modes. However this application identifies specific over-compensations or avoidances and reinforces their relinquishment.

You will focus on one or more of your overcompensation modes in the effort to unseat them. Maladjusted over-compensations are insidious, habitual and reactive. By focusing your full attention to the contemplation of the maladjusted mode, you expose it. The exposure undermines its sway over you.

Instruction: Sit upright. Cast your gaze toward the ground about 4-5 feet in front of you. Begin breathing steadily. Gently still your body without allowing yourself to become rigid.

Then, trigger your maladjusted coping mode by thinking about an issue, situation, event, or person that characteristically leaves you upset or worried. Then get a strong picture of your over-compensatory behavior like Being Judgmental, Being Right, Being Seductive, Being Impressive, Getting Back or Being Worried. Use all means necessary to keep the image of the compensatory mode in your mind. Focus on the mode as you continue to breathe steadily. If you Seek Acceptance, focus fully on the behavior; if you Seek to Be Exceptional, see yourself seeking to be exceptional; if you rely on Being Judgmental, recall the behavior and the feelings associated with being judgmental. You will reactively experience what it is like to not use your maladjusted coping reaction. This will result in the therapeutic exposure of the emotional wound that generally drives the maladjusted mode. Allow yourself to respond emotionally. Tolerate your discomfort, accepting your experience completely.

Intermittently cease the contemplation of your maladjusted coping mode, shifting your full attention on to your breath and sensory experience. Suspend all thoughts and imaginings as you focus on your physical presence, releasing mental and physical tension."

...............................

Anyhow, I would love to be able to say more, however, I am very much still learning about what Mindfulness is, stabilising vs analytical meditations, etc.... There is a fair bit to learn and to do.

Your idea sounds interesting. Thanks for posting it up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Muffy,

I love you, we have discussed this many many times.

Being mindful of the present moment. Let's look at what your mind is doing when it focuses on the present moment. Where is it going? What is it holding? What does it seek? The mind functions to know things, objects of the mind. Then we say, i know such and such.

When you practice this present moment awareness what is it that your mind knows? Effectively, you are training in non-conceptual thinking. You are training to cease these distracting thoughts and conceptions that overwhelm and disturb your mental peace. Thereby you gain a clarity to see things more clearly. This has an effect on your senses so you 'feel' more in the moment/present. Although this feels peaceful and temporarily prevents anxiety from arising, it cannot destroy negative conceptions that our mind has created, it only functions to subside such thoughts. This practice however works amazingly well for you because like me, you overthink quite often and so you feel generally more peaceful. This being mindful of the present moment is like a stepping stone to realising the more subtle states of mind. It can also help us identify as the section you posted suggests maladjusted coping modes.

You may think that to focus on something at all is missing the point of being mindful in the present moment but you can only enter such subtle states when you realise the different levels of mind and be able to distinquish them from one another clearly, this takes much wisdom and one needs to understand what ones mind is actually holding. Focusing on nothingness is actually detriment to the mind and makes it dull and stupid.

The section you post is actually wanting our mind to imagine or vividly create situations in which these negative conceptions dominate our mind, making it easier to see them and easier for us to identify them. Although not an example, once we entice our conception of what others think about us in our mind we will feel strong anxiety and experience it. It describes being aware of such an experience to notice what the mind is doing, where it's energy is focused. Anxiety comes from within the mind, generated from within so this section teaches us from within how it is our own mind which is in fact harming us and more importantly which conceptions or beliefs we hold which are causing such anxiety.

Generally though, do what ever works for you at this time. But i have already detailed one of the main conceptions and how to remain peaceful as it arises. But i would say watching our mind is of paramount importance in overcoming anxiety.

Aron
 

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....Hi Aron,

Well, I wouldn't say "many, many" times -perhaps "many".

I'm going through my "Beginning Mindfulness" book slowly. The author Andrew Weiss has made mention of the need to use more direct methods other than mindfulness of the breath and thoughts alone, and I have seen this view expressed by a few people. I have also read the view that Mindfulness of the breath and/or thoughts alone can essentially do all that is needed. ....so there seem to be differing opinions about it all.

It is perhaps not so different from the debate of Mindfulness vs CBT. I tend to hold the view that different things may work for different people.

Most of all I try to keep my mind open and work at the stage that I am at. For now I am just focussing on Stabilising (mindfulness) Meditation and Mindful awareness of the present moment with a look towards maybe trying something like what you have suggested later. I am still reading my book also and this seems to elaborate and go further than simple mindful awareness.

I think one of the really good reasons why I have such a strong preference towards building my mindfulness is not only because I have a lot of discursive thinking going on but also because I have a lot of reflexive/reactive anxiety; and that simply being aware of such reactive emotions and thoughts is a big thing for me.

I think that once I've built up this skill of being able to be aware in the present moment, as well as becoming familiar with my reactive emotions and thoughts, that I'll have built up a good picture of what is really happening for me and I'll also have much better control over my feelings and reactions in the moment that they happen (which is important I think). .....Then I will take it from there and see what else (if anything else) needs to be done.

So I'm keeping an open mind at this stage and doing things step-by-step according to what I am ready for and for what needs doing right now.

Thanks for the advice and the information. I'll keep a copy of it for later.
Ruby/Muffy/Elisa
 
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