Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Comments to Mindfulness - The Ultimate Mood Stabilizer

Opening of article

Mindfulness is essentially the mind watching the mind. The Buddha came up with mindfulness 2,600 years ago, but all modern talk therapy is derivative of the practice (though only dialectical behavioral therapy explicitly acknowledges its indebtedness).

These days, mindfulness is the new recovery buzzword. There is even something called “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” (which is something of a redundancy). ...

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  1. Hi John,

    My name is Jay Busemeyer. I have enjoyed your page and video on mindfulness as it relates to bipolar disorder. I'm surprised you do not mention anything about meditation exercises such as following the breath. I have lived with bipolar for many years. Please see my meditation link at
    http://www.holisticstressrelief.com/page5.html. I like your integrative approach to living with bipolar. It makes sense for most eople, I'm sure. I have been fortunate in that I have been medication free since 1990. Mindfulness has been a big part of that, but so has spiritual healing, regular exercise, fish oil, other herbal treatments. I'd be happy to dialogue with you. peace, jay

  2. Hi, I run a website and have written books about mindfulness. The word is a little misleading. I call it Awareness.

    I've been able to let go of anxiety and depression with the letting-go techniques of mindfulness. I am no longer on meds.

    What remains though is apathy. I don't yet have an answer for this.

    Thanks for a very helpful site.


  3. I agree with you. It took a long time for my psychatrist to recognise that I am a rapid cycling BP II - and still longer to realise that my work stress had been overcome by job change coupled - but replaced by over medicating. I have been on a low dose regime for 18 months with good results. I'll never enjoy 'average' happiness, I have had two very bad depression bouts, but I have 'saved' myself from countless other episodes of mania and depression by listening to my body. The moment I recognise the rollercoaster is departing sanity-station I use my sleeping, anti-anxiety or pain killer tablets. The latter are softer on my body for following day, but relax my muscles at night. I also openly talk about my illness. Keeping secrets stresses me big time. I may have been fortunate, but my workmates and bosses have given me exra consideration when the times have been difficult for me as they know I eventually come good. So they are aware too. Just wish my family would be as understanding but they are all in denial ... afterall they may have unherited, given me the gene, And yes I bet there is a gene as too many on one of my family trees has suffered severe psychiatric illnesses.

  4. I really need this one...thanks for sharing!

  5. Hi John,
    I found this article to be very helpful. It is easier said than done to fully stay focused on the moment but it really does help when one feels overwhelmed by events, and helps stop thoughts and feelings spiralling out of control.

  6. John, this article is absolutely life-giving. Thanks for sharing yourself and your wisdom.

  7. Hi John,
    I couldn't agree more. Everyone is unique and so is their perception, attitude and so on and so forth. Mindfulness is something bespoke to each person as they are the ones who discipline of the self and maintain the self via knowing oneself. My lows may differ to yours and so may my coping strategies. I see the lows as an enemy that influences my thoughts and beliefs. I defend myself from depressive attacks from that stand and use writing, thinking and art to counter strike any nasty low. I know I sound like a military man, I am not but in these circumstances this works for me. I feel that the bipolar mind or depressed mind is a battle field at times. It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination but I fight and will continue to do so because no matter how bad they get, they do lift and then life can be magnificent again.


  8. Hi John. I've struggled with the very thought of practicing mindfulness. A few years ago, a nurse insisted I attend her new DBT group. When I declined, she lowered her voice in a menacing way and said, among other things, "It's all about you...you're addicted to turbulent relationships...you bully people into thinking the way you do. DBT will teach you how to regulate your emotions...(then the patronizing kicker)...please believe what I'm saying to you comes from the heart."
    I was devastated. Was I really that awful? I felt stripped of my dignity- degraded and dehumanized. Afterward, when anyone mentioned DBT or mindfulness, I associated it with her rant and became agitated. Later on, I saw a new pdoc who dx'd ADHD comorbid with bipolar. With appropriate meds and therapy, I'm doing much better. I took a class in buddhism and meditation, using another framework in which to practice mindfulness. As the saying goes, I can forgive this nurse for what she said, but I'll never forget the way she made me feel. Letting go isn't always that easy. May she be well. May you be well.

  9. I dunno ... I've spent time in DBT and find it inappropriate because I'm an evangelical Christian. That doesn't mean God has any problem with me paying attention to my cycles: God cares a great deal about how I treat others and myself, so the same kind of self-observation and self-discipline that some describe as with Buddhist language is appropriate. What doesn't work for me is any kind of self-emptying. My mind simply doesn't quiet. An attempt to focus on breathing alone will become an internal rant (or a creative up-spin) that can send me dizzyingly out of control. But I can focus on singing (even internally) all seven or ten verses of a Gregorian chant, or a sacred harp hymn, or even "count" my way in prayer through the entire extended family, my colleagues, and friends, like a 6-year-old: "Bless Mom and Dad and Jon and Don and Janice ..." And those exercises still and center me.

    There have been a couple articles in the NYT's health section over the last few months about how working professional people w/schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia manage their illnesses in part by keeping their minds full, and I would say that this is a significant part of my strategy as well. It is best to limit the illness' space to speak, as it were.