1) Try the “Touch and Go” Practice:
Settle in, close your eyes and gently begin to locate your breath. Where do you feel it the most? Rest your awareness on the breath, as if noticing the breath for the first time. You can place attention at the tip of the nose or the belly and as you breathe in, just acknowledge the breath coming in and as you breathe out just acknowledge the breath going out. As if you were greeting and saying goodbye to an old friend.
Practice noticing when your mind wanders. Then go back to the breath, practicing “see,” “touch,” “go”when the mind mind wanders—noticing when your mind is wandering, being able to touch it for a moment and gently going back to wherever your attention is. When the mind wanders, as it will always do, just say to yourself “wandering” and then gently bring your attention back to the breath just noticing it coming in and going out.
Return to the breath again and again as the mind wanders, gently bring it back billions of times. You can do this for as little as 1 minute or as much as 30 minutes or more.
2) Restore self-confidence by labeling defeating thoughts
Catch your inner critic. When you’re not feeling well and the mind begins to ruminate, as you practiced with the breath, just label it as “ruminating” and then gently bring your attention back to whatever you were doing. Like learning an instrument, you can develop more skill as you practice.
Notice the “choice point.” Being more present may also give you the ability see the space between stimulus and response and see the “choice point” to be more flexible and call a friend or do something that then gives you pleasure or connection with others. This is what I referred to as The Now Effect.
Recognize when you’re feeling low. Feeling low mood is normal for everyone, but if we’ve experienced depression in the past, this may be a trigger for a relapse. If we feel tired or if we notice sadness, the mind pops up with the worry: “Uh oh, that is how I felt when I was depressed, maybe I’m getting depressed.” Our minds begin to go in overdrive with negative self judgments, “I am a failure” or “I am weak” or “I am worthless.” It then tries to solve the mystery as to why we are becoming depressed again and the more it tries to solve this puzzle, the deeper it sinks into depression.
Be kind to yourself. Think of your worried mind like a judgmental person coming at you trying to solve your problems when you’re already not feeling well. Probably not what you’re looking for. You see, it’s not the low mood that’s the problem here, it’s the way we get stuck in habitually relating to it, talking to ourselves about it, that pours kerosene on the fire. Know that practicing mindfulness is an act of self-care and helps stop the cycle of rumination and cultivates more patience, compassion, and peace.
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