Wasn't sure where to put this, but since it has become my new philosophy here it goes.
A couple months ago I started an 8-week course in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), after being recommended by someone who had also done
Cognitive methods can include educating the participant about depression. Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation, focus on becoming aware of
all incoming thoughts and feelings and accepting them, but not attaching or reacting to them. Like CBT, MBCT functions on the theory that when
individuals who have historically had depression become distressed, they return to automatic cognitive processes that can trigger a depressive
episode. The goal of MBCT is to interrupt these automatic processes and teach the participants to focus less on reacting to incoming stimuli, and
instead accepting and observing them without judgment. This mindfulness practice allows the participant to notice when automatic processes are
occurring and to alter their reaction to be more of a reflection.
This particular course is designed for coping with depression, but in the same schools there are also: Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and
Addiction Recovery (MBAR). Taken from the programs designed by Jon Kabat-Zinn
This is nothing new, I know, mindfulness and meditation have been around since the dawn of Man, or maybe since Man first became stressed and
depressed, I guess.
But I had been practicing meditation for quite a while, and always had been conscious of my mind's depressive and stressed patterns.
But with no guidance it can be difficult to actually pinpoint and focus on what is the cause of the depression or stress, or when they start brooding
in the mind, which is always very personal and unique.
The trick in this way of living is not to attach yourself to a particular outcome, be it being too hopeful that this is the miracle solution to all
problems, or equally, going into it thinking "here, another therapy, after all the wasted time/money spent on the previous ones".
The exercises given each week, mostly consist in body scanning meditations, mindfulness of breathing, mindfulness of thought, and homework such as
writing down positive and negative events, no matter how small or insignificant, and how they made us feel and how we reacted.
Nothing one really has to do or achieve in a "if you dont do this assignement by next week you dont get the grade" kind of way.
I mean yes, one has to be persistent in finding the time for a regular meditation or mindfulness practice at least once a day, from 10 to 40 min a
day. But the whole idea is not to let it become a burden, and just do it for the sake of it.
The changes have been so subtle, but today when I thought about how I felt just a couple months ago, I realised I havent been in a depressive mood nor
have I let myself be overcome by stress or anxiety in quite a while. Which is quite a biggie for me.
I also feel much more relaxed and natural when with others, and don't let stressful situations bother me that much.
It's only a small step, I still have some way to go. Now with the course over, I need to keep in mind to be mindful when the first signs of negative
patterns arise, but it has become so much easier.
I find it encouraging that these kind of 'complementary' therapies are finding their way into mainstream medicine, and there's a growing acceptance
among the medical community that healing the mind is just as important to heal the body as medication is.
Anyways, I'm not trying to promote this particular school, just wanted to share my experience.
The gist of it, for others like me, who feel stressed out or wallowing in self pity when trying to get better and constantly failing, is to let go of
the attachment to your mood and self pity, and just notice it.
Notice the thoughts, notice the feelings, let them go.
(If you've done something similar or want to share your mindfulness based story please do so!)