Hey guys, it's me doctor May; I'm here to talk about one of my favorite DBT topics--Mindfulness.
So this is going to be the intro to the mindfulness module. So I'm going to be talking about what mindfulness is and how it's designed to help us. Okay, so, here we go, I will get the screen up for us. And we'll have a lot of good info to talk about it a little bigger as usual. Okay. So here it is mindfulness. Okay, so the big question is, what is mindfulness?
There's a lot of kind of subtle nuances about it. And we're going to talk about what those are. But a definition I found, which is a little bit wordy, is fully awake, and embodied awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment.
Alright, it's quite a mouthful, the POC, packed a whole lot of things into that sentence. Alright, so we're gonna unpack it and break it down a little bit so you understand it better.
It's important that you kind of get what this is all about before we start practicing it, right?
Okay, so the first thing we need to do when we're trying to be mindful is plus, right, stop the action, whatever's going on, and start to tune in with awareness. Okay, and that's the beginning of mindfulness. There's a really important factor about being in the moment, right?
One of the things people always say about mindfulness is being in the moment. All right, our minds can go to the past in the future. But when we check into the pier, and now we have so much more power, you have so much more presence, and we really can make our life a lot better, only right now. Okay, the past already happened, the future is in here. Seize the moment with mindfulness.
Okay, so there's a guy named Dan Siegel, who's a really interesting guy, scientist, neuroscience, attachment, talks about mindfulness, all different kinds of things. And he combines different disciplines together. And he's talked to all different people. And they all kind of came to this conclusion that there's three main aspects of mindfulness, or what he says is three pillars of mind. Okay, and all these parts could be incorporated into our mindfulness practice.
The first one is focused attention. Deliberately a paying attention in this moment, to something specific. Alright, so that's about focus, attention. And sometimes doing that could help to settle and calm our mind. We may want to start with a focus attention practice, such as focusing on our breath. When we settle on line on that one thing, and move away from distractions, and keep bringing it back to that one thing. It has a calming effect on our mind.
The next aspect is open awareness, that's usually good to do after you've done some focused attention and your minds a little more settled, and less of what they call like a monkey mind jumping all around. So open awareness is kind of like when you zoom out, and you allow everything in that whatever floats into your awareness is something that you're just noticing. So you're not zooming in on any one particular thing, you're zooming out, and just kind of like opening your attention to everything that's here.
So anything that's kind of floating by, and then finally, Kind attention. So it's not just actually a neutral observation, it's observation, but also with a certain kindness attached to it and a compassion.
Let's talk about focus attention first. So one of the main ways we do focus attention is by using our senses, okay, so focus on something we're touching.
Even if it's the sensation of our body sitting in the chair, or a close touching our body or our hands touching each other taste, we can do a mindful eating practice, seeing, you could open your eyes and look around the room. And just notice the things that are coming into your vision. Or maybe focus on like one specific spot in the room just to kind of narrow it down and make it you know, a little simpler smelling. Perhaps, you can rub some essential oils in your hand and just breathe them in and focus on the smell.
And another one could be hearing. So there's some beautiful mindfulness music out there.
Insight timer is a great app, and they have all kinds of amazing mindfulness music, or you can just focus on some other kinds of sounds that are going on right now if music isn't available to you.
All of those are ways that we could focus our attention And it's great for bringing us into the present moment because our senses are always in the moment, right on might go the past to the future. But if we want to bring ourselves back, our senses are the best way to do it. And of course, breath, which is not exactly a sense, although some sensations are attached to it. But focusing on your breath is always a great exercise that can bring you back.
Alright, the next one is kind of a big word, alright, but don't be scared. Okay, so this one's called interoception. Right. So in think about, we're tuning in, inside our body, the sensations we feel beneath our skin. So it might be the feeling of our muscles, our bones, blood pumping in our body. You know, different kinds of things like that. So tingling sensations, heat or cold. So that what's going on on the inside.
So the five senses are focused to the outside. So sensory information coming in, whereas interoception is sensory information from the inside. It's just another way we could use our focused attention.
So next one, open awareness. So some different qualities we can think of as we're doing open awareness. It's kind of like a great metaphor is a blue sky.
So open awareness can be symbolized by a big, beautiful blue sky. And the things we're aware of are kind of like the clouds passing in the sky. So we're grounded in that blue sky awareness. And just noticing the clouds that come and go. Okay, so that's kind of what it's about.
So one quality we can use with that is curiosity. If you think about a curiosity is kind of like a positive thing. It's kind of like, Huh, that's interesting. What's that all about? Let me investigate. Let me check it out. Right. So there's a certain openness about it, that we're not greeting whatever passes into our awareness with fear.
We're greeting it with curiosity and openness. Right. So that's kind of nice. Um, another thing is, instead of assuming Yeah, yeah, I've seen that already. I know about that. Yeah, yeah. I saw that I could just tune out, right? adopting a beginner's mind. So a beginner's mind is kind of like, like that picture of a baby. They're like, what if you saw this, or perceived a certain thing for the first time?
Like, what if this was the first time I ever noticed my breath? Like, wow, what am I gonna notice about that? Right? It's kind of like, seeing something for the first time a brand new wise, okay? Or let's say, I'm being mindful of a shell? of Yeah, I've seen shells before, but you've never seen this shell? Have you really looked at it that closely? Right, like really see it? brand new.
Another word, which is a little cut off by my my window here is equanimity. Right? So it's kind of like the word equal, right. So when we have open awareness, we have kind of like, equally, openness, open mind greeting of whatever comes our way. So whether it's something positive, something negative, or something neutral, it's just part of the flow of events in life. And when to try to have that calm, kind of steadiness as agreed all of these different things. That's part of that open awareness, mindfulness.
Okay, another one is allowing, right, just allowing everything to come in and pass through, everything does inevitably pass through it did, nothing is permanent. The only thing that's permanent is your awareness itself, the things that float in and out of your awareness are not permanent, and making room for a full range of experiences. Right. So in order for us to feel more integrated, and whole and healthy, we have to be willing to allow in all different kinds of things in our life.
Right, that's like playing every key on the piano, instead of just a couple, right, you can make much more beautiful music, if all the keys are included. So just like with our life, like our life becomes much more beautiful and musical so to speak, if we are allowing ourselves to be fully human and experience at all, okay? So when we're openly aware, we allow all of it in with curiosity and a beginner's mind.
And finally, there's a certain aspect of just be a just be with that awareness and just be open. So there used to be a Calvin Klein commercial for a Cologne and they say just be so I always kind of had that in my mind. Alright, so that's open awareness. Next, is kind intention. So as these things flow in and out of your awareness, you're going to greet them with a certain kind of loving kindness, or compassion or empathy. Okay, loving kindness is actually a type of meditation.
One of the words I use is metta ntta. That's like the original word for it. But basically, it's kind of like greeting your experience. Other people, and other things with wishing us well get a wish yourself, Well, I wish other people will wish the world well, and just kind of having a loving intention toward everything and everybody. And that really shifts the way we see things.
Empathy means to feel kind of like to someone else's feelings and kind of put yourself in their shoes, kind of like validation. and compassion kind of means to suffer with.
Whereas empathy means to feel with compassion actually means to suffer with. And when you allow yourself to feel the suffering of another, or allow yourself to feel self compassion, and greet your own suffering with kindness, then that shifts the way it goes about. Okay, so they say that self compassion actually includes mindfulness and kindness, and remembering that we're all in this together, so to speak, that, you know, we're not we're not you're not alone in this experience that other people share it. So that's part of the compassion. Okay, so introducing, that is another aspect of mindfulness. Okay, so the big question is, well, how does mindfulness help?
So why should I bother? What's it going to do for me? So I'm going to answer those questions.
First, if you're in DBT, chances are, you struggle with some degree with emotions and impulsivity. And you probably have some target behaviors are working on.
And mindfulness is a perfect way to start to deal with those things. Okay? So when you're aware, and mindfully aware of what you're feeling, and what your urges feel like, and what your your impulse to do is, you can have some power to make a new choice.
And you could think before your act, and that gives you a little bit more self control. Okay. And when you realize what's going through your mind, when you have these impulses, and what this feels like in your body and all those things, it gives you more insight into what's going on. And when you have more insight and awareness, you have much more power, okay?
And you can make the choices you need to make in order to be more skillful in your life. Okay, so essentially, in order to break a habit, you need to be aware of what's triggering the habit, and then make another choice, okay.
So when you do a behavior chain analysis to deal with your behaviors, that, that come through, that helps to build mindfulness in while you're in the moment the next time. So if you realize what the steps were that led to the behavior this time, next time, if you start to experience those steps coming up, and you're aware of it, it's coming back to mind, now you're aware of it, now you're mindful and you could do something else. Okay? So a great tool for helping yourself deal with impulsivity.
Some people, when they do mindfulness practice, expect that they they should feel relaxed. Should is a tricky word. But the idea is that mindfulness isn't a relaxation exercise.
And some relaxation exercises have a mindful component, but not all of them do.
And they actually have different effects in your body when you're mindful versus when you're just relaxing. If you do a mindfulness practice, and you don't end up feeling relaxed, it doesn't mean you did it wrong. It's just that the goal of mindfulness isn't to relax.
However, if you practice mindfulness on a regular basis, you might find that you're less stressed out and more relaxed.
It might be an after effect, but it doesn't mean you did it wrong if you're not feeling relaxed. Okay? That makes sense. Okay. All right. So here's what I got an image I want to share with you actually two sets of images.
Let's say, the clouds on the left represent all the cloudy, emotional turmoil you're experiencing, okay?
And so if you pause, and step back, and are mindful of them, and you kind of examine them with curiosity, and you kind of step back from them a little bit, it's like the clouds start to break apart a little bit, and see how the second picture, there's a little more blue sky, like, there's a little more space around that experience, and it's not as overwhelming. And with that extra space, you have a little more choice, and they start to relax and it changes the way your emotions are operating.
So then eventually, you can get much more back to that blue sky mind which is on the right side of the screen.
Another image you could think about is that when we're emotional, sometimes we're literally like, knotted up, like our muscles are really tense, our bodies really tense. And when we kind of breathe through them, and mindfully look at them, the way we're feeling distress, it starts to like loosen that knot. Give it more space and eventually, the non untangles.
So see how mindfulness can help in that situation, it really can be very, very helpful. Okay? another bonus for mindfulness is that when you're mindful when you're with people, it can help you have better relationships. Okay? If you're paying attention to somebody, and you're paying attention to what they're saying, and their social cues and their body language, you know, you're in a better position to respond to them in a, you know, more understanding, find, you know, you know, responsive way. And, and they'll appreciate that when people love to feel listened to and validated. And it's impossible to do that if you're not paying attention.
When you're really more in the moment with people, your relationships have a better chance of improving. And also, if you're living a more mindful life, right, you kind of take it off the mat so far, so to speak, and into the world, as they say, like, so offer off the cushion into the world, and your quality of life gets better, right? If you go through your day, with your eyes wide open, and you're really paying attention. And you're kind of like being aware of all the different things you're kind of experiencing and perceiving. It kind of gives you much more vitality, you feel like you're living in Technicolor, rather than black and white.
And you can really enjoy your life that much more when you're much more present for it. So that's an extra bonus for being mindful. Okay.
And at a physiological level, there's a lot of research that talks about how mindfulness is one of the healthiest things we could do for our brain.
Okay, I'm not going to bore you with all the little nuances of exactly what it does. But just know that like, if you practice mindfulness on a regular basis, it literally reshapes your brain, it changes the way your brain functions in a healthier direction. And that's great for anything that you need to do in your life. Okay, so if I do a bonus video with that information, but trust me on this one, this is really good. Next, it actually also helps boost your immune system, it changes the chemicals in your body, so that you're better able to fight off disease when it comes your way. Okay, and when you're mindful, you practice mindfulness, it lowers your blood pressure and your heart rate.
So that's associated with decreased stress response, right. So like I said, before, helps with stress. And even it helps physical pain, like they have special mindfulness protocols to help people who are suffering from chronic pain.
Okay, and that's worth looking into if you have that problem, because it's sometimes, you know, people can get hooked on opiates and other kinds of medication and drugs to help with pain, which are, you know, addictive, and not very good for you.
But if you could have a more natural side effect, free way of doing it using mindfulness, why not give it a try?
Alright, so we had a whole lot of benefits today. So again, why not try it out? You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.
And in future videos, I'm going to talk more about exactly how we could do mindfulness together.
Alright, so I hope you got a lot out that video. So go forth and be mindful and I'll see you the next time.