Tuesday, November 10, 2015

OMG BRILLIANT BOOK!!!!!!

I am reading the BEST BOOK EVER ABOUT EMOTIONS AND HOW TO APPROACH THEM.

IT IS BRILLIANT AND YES I KNOW THAT I AM YELLING BUT SERIOUSLY, THIS BOOK IS THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ ABOUT EMOTIONS AND HOW TO APPROACH THEM!

Ok will stop yelling and repeating myself now. But this is the book I have been looking for since I got sober. It is targeting and answering all my questions about how to manage emotions.

It's called The Happiness Trap (which is kind of a silly name) and it is by Russ Harris who was interviewed on the Mindfulness Summit. It is based on the style of psychotherapy he does called ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and it is bloody brilliant!!

The blurb on the front of the book says: "The mindfulness based program for reducing stress, overcoming fear and creating a rich and meaningful life."

It is full of practical tips and easy to follow techniques on how to accept your emotions and detach from your thoughts about them - how to recognise the observing you and the thinking you and distinguishing between the two. How to not always believe your thoughts are real, don't let them hook you and carry you away into an inner dialogue which is unhelpful, don't try to over analyse them, don't seek answers to tough emotions or try to fight them or deny them.. oh my god I could try to summarise this book but really you just have to read it.

It is fantastic I am going to buy my own copy so I can own it - the one I am reading is from the library.

One of the tips he gave which I love so much is to say to yourself whenever you have a fear-based through or hear a limiting self-belief in your mind 'thank you mind' .. 'thank you mind for that unhelpful thought but now I am going to get on with what I am doing'.. i.e. you detach from the thought, thank your mind for creating it (in a warm but slightly condescending way!) and then you move on to the task at hand.

Also asking yourself often 'Is this a helpful thought?'.

So often we create so much bullshit with our thinking!!

I am doing well post summit with my mindfulness practice. I am doing lots and lots of semi-formal practice during the days (pausing to breath and take stock of what is happening in my mind and body, bringing myself back into the present by focusing on my breath or what is specifically in my hands/in front of my eyes at that very moment).. and I have even done teeny bit of formal practice, times where I have sat in a considered pose, shut my eyes and looked at what was happening inside my mind with a warm curiosity regularly stopping my thoughts from running away with me and bringing my focus back to my breath and the present moment.

Happy.

Love, Mrs D xxx

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mindfulness is Heartfulness..

And then it was over. The Mindfulness Summit is done. I'm not sure how I feel about that. A bit sad and deflated? A bit relieved that I don't have to listen/blog every day? A bit scared that I now have to take all this information and do something with it?! Probably all of the above.

I lay in bed this morning at 6am and thought 'now is the perfect time for me to get up and go and sit in the spare bedroom with the door shut for 10-20 mins and meditate.' But I didn't. I stay warm in bed with Mr D and our 6-year-old who had just woken us up by snuggling in.

I will work towards having a morning meditation practice. I like the idea of practicing awareness and focus and inner calm. I think I have to lay out my intention to Mr D that this is what I am going to try to do every morning from now on. I need his cooperation and the whole families actually so they respect my time and leave me alone. Why am I too scared to take this leap? I need to take this leap! I need to capitalise on all this great learning I have been doing over the past month and this really strong feeling I have that this is a fantastic way to live (mindfully, regularly bringing myself back to the present moment, working on being aware of my thoughts, disassociating from my thoughts so I don't get lost in them, cementing the belief that 'I am not my thoughts', minimising the time that I spend on auto-pilot etc etc).

Now just quickly to recap on the last three speakers on the Mindfulness Summit.

First there was a chap called Judson Brewer. He did a presentation that was just 20 mins long. He was intense - spoke fast! - but was totally awesome. Apparently it's a thought leader in the 'science of self-mastery', has 20 years experience in mindfulness training and scientific research. He's the Director of Research at the Centre for Mindfulness and an internally known expert in mindfulness training for addiction! So of course I was interested in hearing from him (being a recovering addict myself).

He said mindfulness drives a wedge of awareness between craving & behaviour. He said the task of mindfulness training is don't get caught up in yourself! He said we are addicted to ourselves (he also said Facebook was like crack cocaine) .. and his biggest message was 'You are not your thoughts'. The main thing I got from him was that I am still very addictive in my behaviours (food, online feedback etc etc). But I won't let myself get too down about that.

Next was a question and answer session between Melli (Summit organiser) and Vidyamala Burch who runs 'Breathworks' (mindfulness for chronic pain) - she had been interviewed by Melli earlier in the summit. She's a kiwi who has been living in the UK for years and is very experienced and cool.

Some of the questions were pretty gritty (didn't take notes unfortunately as was in bed and didn't have my notebook with me) .. things about uncomfortable or negative thoughts & feelings that arise after you become more mindful (like fear of impermanence and death) and Vidyamala was very experienced at answering them with kindness and compassion, helping people to look for the hope and positivity in every moment we experience - despite the fact we live knowing we're all going to die. It was a great session am sorry I didn't take more notes actually.

The final session was with the guru Jon Kabat-Zinn and I took heaps of notes! Will type out what he said.

"Mindfulnes is not about bettering yourself, it's about knowing yourself more fully. It doesn't immunise you against bad feelings - you are not trying to achieve some special state. It's just about being with things as they are. It's not always easy because we don't like bad feelings but with a compassionate approach we can accept."

"Mindfulness is about love and sanity. Stopping all the doing for a moment and just dropping into being is the ultimate act of sanity. It's a radical act of love or sanity. Not to get some result or benefit. Just to remember I am alive."

"Mindfulness helps you to no longer believe the narratives in your head that make you the most important person on the planet. No longer believe that it's all about I, me, my."

He quoted the French philosopher Blaise Pascal who apparently once famously said "All of humanities problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." I like that.

He also said this (which I love!) - "You're the original researcher in the laboratory of your own life. The discovery is yours. Everyone's realisation is our own" Yes! He is talking about the 'awakening' that can occur when we start to practice mindfulness.

He also had one final note about how the mindfulness work we do is hard to convey to others around us who aren't also practicing. He said 'It looks from the outside to be almost nothing but from the inside it is almost everything.'

I am going to do this. For fucks sake if not now then when. Why would I not go down this track. This is it! This is my one life!! I am the original researcher in the laboratory of my own life. I am going to lay out to Mr D my intention to meditate regularly and am going to see if I can implement it as a regular morning practice. I don't want to forget all these teachings. I don't want to go back to autopilot mode. Gulp. Wish me luck.

Love, Mrs D xxx