I’ve been attending an online course and came across this book by Ben Sedley:
It’s a small, easy to read book, based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I’d recommend this to any younger teenagers especially. Of course it isn’t and can’t replace therapy, but generally many parents and adolescents have found it helpful for general teens related struggles.
One criticism it receives is that there isn’t much of “practical application”, they said it tells you what stuff sucks, but didn’t tell you what you do about these stuff that sucks. I would disagree on that one, and would suggest those people to read again, because the answer/approach is in there… perhaps not obvious enough though!
Do you feel unmotivated and find it pointless when you were told to practice mindfulness and/or meditation?
Do you think that it is a waste of time? Especially when you have such a busy schedule and so much to do, how can you still sit still and do nothing?
Do you sometimes feel like “I have to do something”, not “do nothing” to become better?
Over the years I have often received questions like this when I suggested mindfulness meditation practice. And people from all backgrounds, walks of and experience in life often respond in those ways mentioned.
So, what are the benefits of practicing mindfulness meditation?
Learning to become less reactive in your life and in your mind. You see that you do not need to keep thinking about those things that pop into your mind
Usually sleeping better at night after starting to practice regularly
Feeling calmer in the day too if you are able to generalise it beyond the practice itself, i.e. becoming more mindful in life.
Calming and feeling peaceful after doing it. (but it’s not the purpose usually, the process is more important)
Helps lowering stress level
Feeling less anxious when you practice it more
Improving attention span, whether it’s for your learning or work! You don’t get distracted so easily as you used to be.
Helps memory and learning
Reducing chronic pain
Better sense of coping in general
Developing a more open and non-judgemental attitudes towards most things in life (which might cause irritation and stress previously)
Developing a problem-solving attitude instead of a “worrier” habit
Helps regulating emotions (emotion doesn’t go out of control so easily)
Quite often helps feeling more connected too!
Increasing clarity in thinking and perception
If you have other illness(es), it aids recovery and enhances your coping abilities
The “I have to keep doing” could be the cause of your problems. Sometimes, “not doing” could be the answer!
Don’t you think that for these many benefits, or even if it’s just for half of those benefits, it’s worth to spend 10 minutes or so each day or every other day to just practice mindfulness meditation? Isn’t it much better than many other things that you are trying to do?
It might feel “boring” and “really uninteresting” and “not my kind of thing”. Believe me… I had been there too, being an active person and labelling this sort of things as the “elderly stuff”, just like many others. But no, just stay open and curious, notice those thoughts and judgments, notice those sensations and feelings, notice any changes and stillness…
Now I’m going to practice it myself after writing this!
Sometimes I get this question from patients’ family, asking why the patient is hearing voices, how did it happen and what else do we know about these voices.
Here I’m referring to auditory hallucination commonly seen in people suffering from schizophrenia and psychotic disorders.
Yes they hear voices in their head, usually talking to them, quite commonly saying harsh and mean things to the sufferer. Sometimes they hear a few different voices having a conversation, and it’s not difficult to guess, the conversation is about the sufferer.
“Look! She has no friend! She looks so ugly and stupid!”
“Indeed. I wouldn’t want to befriend someone like her.”
“She should just kill herself. Nobody likes her anyway. Why is she still living?”
I mean, who with a sane mind would say such things to others? Nobody. How was these produced?
When the patients are hearing voices, which do not sound like their own voices, the “speech production” area of the brain has increased blood flow, less so in the “speech comprehension” area. We can’t conclude anything from here obviously, but it becomes clearer to the researchers that those voices are produced by the brain itself, almost like their own’s thought processes (which we all do: talking to ourselves or having inner talks), but “presented” as somebody else’s voice.
So it seems likely that it’s their own thoughts. At least that’s what research has found. And I believe many clinicians would agree with me — often we see those voices are actually the patients’ core beliefs, worries, and are what they were told (by their parents, significant family members, teachers etc) when they were much younger. As a therapist, when I look at it this way, it opens up a lot more possibilities to help people who are suffering from auditory hallucination. And indeed, quite a number of techniques in mindfulness-based approach and cognitive therapy have been found useful.
The behaviour that Pooh and Piglet do are the same, i.e. they both don’t think about the scary dream. But what Pooh is doing, is “letting go”, whereas piglet? He’s trying hard to chuck it away.
Quite often people overlook this key distinction, they think they copy the same behaviour, and will then achieve the same results. But the beliefs and intention behind the behaviour are important too. Are you worrying about the dream so you don’t think about it? Or do you not care about it so you don’t think about it?
Similarly, on anxiety, are you practicing relaxation because you think anxiety is bad and you can’t tolerate it? Or are you practicing relaxation because it helps you perform better when you’re less anxious? It’s the beliefs and intention behind that differ, the behaviour done or presented is the same.
It’s like on “acceptance” (a word I tend not to use with clients). Do you accept the pain because it doesn’t really matter anymore, or do you accept it because you have no choice (is it still acceptance?)?