Mindfulness is not just a trend; it is not merely a buzzword. Mindfulness is an essential aspect of wellbeing. It is the key to recovery.
Being mindful is not easy. It takes practice. A lot of practice, but once you get into the habit you reap the rewards.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) teaches a number of mindful practices, and there are plenty of books and resources out there. Along with my DBT workbook, a little book that I have found amazingly helpful is “Mindfulness for Borderline Personality Disorder” by Blaise Aguirre, MD and Gillian Galen, PsyD. I picked my copy up from eBay but most of the good bookstores have this book, and it is readily available online.
I found this little book to be sympathetically written, and my copy is already dog-eared, with pages I find particularly useful bookmarked with sticky notes. It explains the disorder in plain English, the neurophysiological side of things and gives us simple solutions to the problems we face throughout the day. It’s what kicked me off into DBT actually, it is less ‘dry’ than formal workbooks. It is where I learned the critical skills for emotional control. Yes, I am still working on control, and I will always have to. The key is to keep doing it until it becomes habitual.
But in saying mindfulness is the key, don’t expect it to be easy. For when your brain travels at warp speed in a million simultaneous directions, getting it to stay still and focus involves supreme effort.
It is easy when you get up in the morning in a completely disordered and exhausted state to just put it aside; to tell yourself you have too much to do; you have to study; you have to work; you have to tend to your kids, or you just can’t be bothered because really you only want one thing and that is for it all to stop, to shut up, go away and die.
But you have to do it. You have to train your brain to approach everything you do mindfully throughout the day. I do mean everything. How to mindfully walk; move, to be aware of every muscle, every ligament; every stretch, every tingle, every constriction, every breath, every change in balance … to just focus in on the moment and everything that is happening in that moment.
I do find mindful walking extremely helpful. It soothes me as I tune into all body sensations. My mind stops spinning, and awareness of everything within me grows. It teaches me to extend that awareness outward, to the sounds around me, first those up close, then those further away; to smells, to sights, to the way the light touches on the leaves on the trees, and dances between the leaves as they sway. My focus becomes not on me, but on the colour and light and sensations of everything around me. It gives me a connection, a calmness, a warmth and a sense of being a part of something and takes away that small lonely, insignificant thing that is me.
Mindfully doing the dishes; mindfully making beds; noting and feeling the texture of the sheets, slowly describing each sensation in my fingers, feeling the weight of the cotton, feeling down into the fibres; the scent of freshly laundered linen. If I do everything mindfully, focusing in on precisely what I am doing in that moment and training all five senses to absorb it, it just feels fantastic. The world, my day, myself, my being takes on a whole new meaning.
Everything slows right down. I have control.
But me being me, I am still working out how to go about my daily life doing everything in a mindful manner. I have too much to do. My wise-mind knows that this is what I have to do; that I have to sacrifice other things in my life to continue this practice and to heal. I know it is the only way because I can feel the difference when I practice this technique.
I have to change my lifestyle. I have to change or cut back on what I do for a living. Because it means having to slow everything down. I cannot live at full bore. I cannot multi-task, something I always prided myself on. That has to go. Always and ever only one thing at a time. Mindfully. Carefully using all of my senses to experience each moment.
The peace it brings is worth the sacrifice.
I must change my lifestyle if I want a life.