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Think About It... Rumination is a mode of responding to distress that involves repetitively and passively focusing on symptoms of distress and on the possible causes and consequences. Ruminating often precedes onset of depression. However, emotional memory can be managed for those who are haunted by the experiences of their past. ~Joseph Carver, Ph.D
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Author Topic: 1.21 | Triggering, Mindfulness, and the WiseMind  (Read 83922 times)
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« on: October 28, 2007, 06:02:52 PM »

Triggering and Mindfulness and Wise Mind
What is mindfulness all about?  In the simplest sense, we all develop from time to time, thinking patterns that do not serve us well.  When we do, we are easily "triggered" -- having non-constructive reactions to specific words or actions based on prior experiences.  We've all been there - resentment, pessimism, defensiveness, impatience, closed mindedness, distrusting, intolerance, confrontational, defeated...
Mindfulness is a type of self-awareness in which we learn to observe ourselves in real time to see and alter our reactions to be more constructive.
Thought is the Building Block of Our Reality
Cogito ergo sum ( "I think, therefore I am") is a philosophical Latin statement proposed by René Descartes. This is one of those things that is so obvious, and so rarely considered. The world around us is what we perceive in our minds.  The blind man lives in a dark world.  A paranoid man lives in a fearful world.   A loving man lives in a loving world.  
We are how we think.
The Mind is a Friend, Lover, Torturer, and Teacher
Our mind is the source of all misery and of all pleasure. People don’t effectively hurt our feelings or inspire us. People can offer us their opinions,  it is only that which the mind decides has any relevance that we take on for ourselves.  Only the mind that can complement us, insult us, lift us, or destroy us.
We can influence this.
Reasonable/Logical mind, Wise Mind, Emotion Mind
Wise Mind is that place where reasonable mind and emotion mind overlap.  It is the integration of emotion mind and reasonable/logical mind.

The goals of mindfulness practice are simply to practice and to experience “Wise Mind”. You’re in Wise Mind when your emotions and your thoughts work together so that wise action is easy, even when your life and/or circumstances are really hard. You’re in Wise Mind when you can meet each moment of life as it is, not as you would have it be, and respond to it skillfully.
Notice that we’re not saying the goal of mindfulness practice is happiness or having a life free from trouble or having an experience of nonstop joy. However, people who practice mindfulness will tell you that they get better at enduring pain, better at solving problems, better at not creating misery for themselves, and better at participating fully in those moments of life that are joyful.

How Do We Do This?
By paying attention to ourselves in real time. There are books written about this, but the short answer is to paying attention to yourself, observe yourself in a purposeful, in the present moment, and without immediately overlaying the old filters on the situation.
How Does This Help Us?
There are several ways that mindfulness can help reduce the intensity, duration, and frequency of unhelpful habitual response patterns.
  • Loosening the grip of habitual responses that cause (additional) suffering.

  • Slowing the pace of thoughts/reactions.

  • Reducing the intensity of unhelpful habitual responses.

  • Increasing the spaciousness of present awareness.

  • Noticing, enjoying and cultivating positive experiences and emotions

  • Making connections that weren't there before.  

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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2007, 07:16:06 PM »

Thank you so much for this!

Mindfulness helps me realize that the only person I can ever change is myself.  And if I can learn to be a happier and healthier person, I'll serve as an excellent role model for my husband, so that he may find the courage and strength and wisdom to change himself for the better, too.  And even if he doesn't ever find that courage, I'll still be a better person, and that's pretty impressive in and of itself! :-)

There are books written about this, but the short answer is to paying attention to yourself, observe yourself in a purposeful, in the present moment, and without immediately overlaying the old filters on the situation.

I practice mindfulness and non-attachment.  It has made my life so much better, and helped me be a better person.  Marsha Linehan's Taking Hold of Your Mind is very helpful.  My favorite line is  "Cling to nothing. Attach to nothing. Let go of all you have invested in focusing on the borderline or trying to change the borderline. Just observe what you, yourself, are experiencing."

Taking Hold of Your Mind

Peace, love, and bicycles,

dominique f.
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2007, 02:17:16 PM »

LOVE this. Thank you!
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2007, 05:13:42 AM »

Using these tools has made my day to day life easier. It also helps with my PTSD.  So often as Nons we are in constant react mode. This helps us stay more focused and thoughtful.

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learning to stand all over again

« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2007, 01:07:49 AM »

My therapist is teaching me this at the moment, I'm actually really surprised to see it mentioned here.

It's hard to do but it can work, well at least in calming you down so that the crap that is going on with you and your partner isn't so intense and when you can make it work, it helps with focusing so that you can take time out to respond rather than react.

Saying that,  I find I can only make it work sometimes, I'm still learning and struggle with it when things are really stressful.

I wanted to share a resource that my therapist introduced me to. It's by an Australian doctor that has written books and compiled guided mindfulness skills which I personally find really helpful. He also runs courses for psychologists and therapists to train them in teaching clients these skills. His name is Dr Russ Harris.  It's really good.

Mindfulness involves consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience with openness, curiosity and flexibility.

Mindflness without Meditation (pdf)
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2007, 03:39:30 AM »

Mindfulness and Wise Mind aren't about Meditation

"What is this thing called mindfulness? It is a practice of being awake, of participating in your life, of learning to inhabit your life. It is also a practice of becoming more intentional with your actions. This combines two vital aspects of mindfulness: attention and intention. With respect to emotion it's about becoming more mindful to - aware of - the emotions you experience, as you're experiencing them.

Mindfulness is something of a paradox. it is both easy and difficult. It is easy thanks to the fact you have all the necessary equipment with you wherever you go and nearly every situation in life presents you with an opportunity to practice. It's hard because so much of our world and our habits militate against it.

Believe it or not, this skill of mindfulness is a big help for sensitive people. Much of the psychological data and literature on emotional intelligence strongly suggests a relationship connecting awareness to emotion regulation. In DBT, the concept of mindfulness is borrowed from the  traditional meditation practices, but it isn't exactly meditation. You don't have to sit in the lotus position, or close your eyes, or fast, or change. There may be a time and place for those more formal practices, and I suggest you consider them. But right now, you can practice mindfulness skills in your everyday life that can be very helpful in regulating emotion.

Page 110, Coming to Our Senses by Kabat-Zinn

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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2007, 04:06:21 AM »

This 12 minute audio Amy Tibbitts, LSCSW discusses the dialectical dilemma. The dialectal dilemma is the invading feeling that results when applying logical thought to emotional responses at the time of the response. While she speaks in the context of a person with BPD, and how to respond to others constructively, she makes the point that over riding the emotional mind with logical mind creates an effect that is unsettling - a dialectal dilemma.

We are beat served not to leave these dialectal dilemma open and festering.  In WiseMind, we seek to solve thes - balance them - bring them into harmony.

Her 12 minute audio is here:


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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2008, 11:36:15 AM »

Skip has often said "good mental health is hard".  Mental discipline is hard. We can't let emotions rule our life or let ourselves become so detached that we are not living.

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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2009, 09:19:28 AM »

I wanted to share STOPP

  • Stop! Say it to yourself, in your head, as soon as you notice your mind and/or your body is reacting to a trigger.

    Stop! helps to put in the space between the stimulus (the trigger, whatever we are reacting to) and our response.

    The earlier you use STOPP, the easier and more effective it will be.

  • Take a Breath.  reathing a little deeper and slower will calm down and reduce the physical reaction of emotion/adrenaline.

    Focusing on our breathing means we are not so focused on the thoughts and feelings of the distress, so that our minds can start to clear and we can think more logically and rationally.

  • Observe.  We can notice the thoughts going through our mind, we can notice what we feel in our body, and we can notice the urge to react in an impulsive way. We can notice the vicious cycle of anxiety, sadness or anger (etc).

    Noticing helps us to defuse from those thoughts and feelings and therefore reduce their power and control.

  • Pull back / Put in some Perspective.  The thought challenging of CBT. Thinking differently.

    When we step back emotionally from a situation, and start to see the bigger picture, it reduces those distressing beliefs. We can do this by asking ourselves questions.

  • Practice what works / Proceed.  This is the behavioral change of CBT. Doing things differently.

    Rather than reacting impulsively with unhelpful consequences, we can CHOOSE our more helpful and positive response.
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2009, 06:22:50 PM »

I must say that this mindfulness technique is quite wonderful.  I am a non, but it has really helped me reduce the anxiety in my life.  I tried to do a little bit of this after reading this post.  It has turned into a mini-self-experiment, if you will, and I have already stopped reacting so harshly to things and focusing so much attention on past events with my uBPDmom.

I like the idea of merely acknowledging the presence of my thoughts and feelings instead of running from one thought to the next. In a weird way, it seems that all my thoughts and feelings are really asking for one thing: validation.  For some reason, it really calms me and gets me to the source of what is going on in my mind.  What really helps is that I am not as reactive to the events in my life because it gives me the opportunity to process.  I speak slower and respond to events slower.  This is a good thing.  Sometimes I imagine that each thought or feeling is a bird that I have caught in my hands.  I look at it closely.  Sometimes it just needs to be held for a moment without judgment, and then I let it go. 

Does this makes sense to anyone?

This mindfulness technique felt weird at first because it was almost as if I was observing myself objectively in the 3rd person.  However, I think that amount of self-observation is crucial and is something that BPDs really lack.  I could be wrong, though.  More knowledgeable people on this subject can correct me on this one. 

And as far as this technique working for BPDs, I don't know.  I imagine my own uBPDmom trying this and getting very frustrated.  She has a hard time distinguishing between the reality of now vs. the reality of then.  She brings so much of her past into the present that I don't know if it would work.  She's not really high-functioning, though, either. 

Does anyone else have experiences with this technique that they could share?
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