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What is Mindfulness and how do I start?

(46 Posts)
JustHereForTheLaffs Fri 15-Apr-16 17:28:40

I've heard about mindfulness, mainly on MN, but don't know much about it. There seem to be thousands of books and I don't know where to start.

I'm suffering with depression and anxiety, meds don't seem to help. Is Mindfulness worth a try?

Paddypaws3 Fri 15-Apr-16 18:13:01

I've been looking into this so I'd be interested in answers too smile.

SofiaAmes Fri 15-Apr-16 18:19:15

The Harbinger institute has some great self-help books for DBT. I have not used their mindfulness books, but I am guessing that they will be good. Here's a link to ordering one of their mindfulness books on Amazon.
I also highly recommend their DBT books. DBT is a form of mindfulness and can be really helpful with anxiety. It was originally developed for Borderline Personality Disorder, but is now commonly (and effectively) used for people with BiPolar and PTSD and Anxiety.

SofiaAmes Fri 15-Apr-16 18:23:10

I would also recommend taking a good look at your life and making sure that you have enough space and downtime and remember that what you need may be far more than what everyone else needs and that's OK. I have a teenage child with BiPolar and I would say that the single more effective thing we have done for treating it is reducing the things in his life that are stressful (ie limited advanced classes even if he's intellectually capable) and making sure he has enough time to just hang out and read and play computer games. This goes against the grain of what society expects from a university bound teenager, but is what he needs to stay healthy and alive and make it in one piece to university and the rest of life.

Stuffofawesome Fri 15-Apr-16 18:23:34

Watch this

JustHereForTheLaffs Fri 15-Apr-16 18:29:46

I do try to keep my life stress free these days, learnt that the hard way!

However, life keeps throwing stressful situations at me and I need some sort of coping mechanism.

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Fri 15-Apr-16 18:34:05

It may sound a bit daft, but getting a colouring in book, there are some for adults, and sitting for an hour doing something that requires some concentration away from the stresses of life can really help. It takes you out of yourself and into the moment which is in simple terms the basis of mindfulness.

keep on with the meds you have been prescribed as they can take a long time to start working or ask your dr if you think they need changing.

Hope you feel better soon smile

dangermouseisace Fri 15-Apr-16 18:42:42

I read this:

It's very simple, very readable, very low-tech…you don't need a CD, or a week by week guide….just to be alive, and maybe have some washing up to do wink you'll get that if you read it.

I can't believe the weighty tomes I've seen when this is really definitive, it's by a Vietnamese Monk, you don't need anything else apart from yourself.

I found it really useful- to a point.

I became really comfortable with my suicidal thoughts. But maybe that would have happened anyway. Anyway, it has led to a whole heap of reduced stress in other areas of my life, and much better ways of handling stress through being in the moment. Despite my suicidal problems, which came years after I read the book by the way, I can honestly say that this very short book changed my life. I think everyone should be given it in secondary school!!

dangermouseisace Fri 15-Apr-16 18:44:46

the miracle of mindfulness was written in the early 70's by the way…I read it before the current 'trend' (a good one) for mindfulness. Maybe it was one of the earlier texts? I don't know. But it explains it succinctly.

ghostoftheMNchicken Fri 15-Apr-16 18:58:58

I really like the Headspace app. You can try the first 10 day foundation level for free. It has Lots of different packs which focus on different things (depression, anxiety, acceptance etc.)

I also really enjoyed Ruby Wax's recent book, A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled. She has a program in there, and lots of info about how mindfulness has helped with her depression.

From what I have read, mindfulness is massively helpful with anxiety. So yes, definitely worth a try.

celandine Fri 15-Apr-16 23:01:39

I am very interested in this too. Have a few problems within my relationship and feel I am following my thoughts too much, getting too reactive to small things and then regretting it. I am going to start practicing mindfulness tomorrow to see how it helps. Feel free to join me!

celandine Fri 15-Apr-16 23:03:37

I have also l started listening to the audio version of ruby wax's book and am finding it motivating and inspiring.

JustHereForTheLaffs Sat 16-Apr-16 03:07:36

Thanks. I've downloaded the first chapter of Ruby Wax's book to my kindle and also downloaded the Headspace app to my phone.

Yes Celandine, I'll start tomorrow too. Let me know how you get on.

Thanks dangermouse, I'll have a look.

8FencingWire Sat 16-Apr-16 04:07:08

I am sensible and have a good support network, but I would have lost the plot in the past two years had it not been for mindfulness.

I bought this book and I think it is fantastic.

I also colour in and run.
It's all good smile

mugginsalert Sat 16-Apr-16 09:17:01

I've been practising mindfulness for 10 years now on and off. I am so much better when I am doing it!

I have several mindfulness books and this one is good for this purpose:

The Mindful Way through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

The authors are credible and it also includes a CD for guided meditation which I find helpful especially when energy is low. I also found it a really helpful discussion about how the depressed mind works and how you can work with it.

Also recommend Mindfulness for Women by Vidyamala Burch - she is a British Buddhist who (I think) runs a mindfulness programme in Manchester supporting people with chronic illness/stress. (She has other books with that focus). I haven't read this one but have some of her older books and I really like her voice.

Fo me it was worth investing some time in reading more in depth books because it increases my motivation to practise over the longer term.

The practises I found most helpful are the basic ones - body scan, mindfulness or breathing, and loving kindness. Body scan bring your attention back to your body, mindfulness of breathing is about attending to the present moment (and whatever arises in your mind at that time, without baggage). Loving kindness is about compassion, for yourself and others. I find that this is really important because it supports my attention to my thoughts being kindly in nature - as when depressed my tendency is to think critically especially of myself.

My preference would be to go for books that focus on these core meditations rather than those that guide you to think 'about' different images etc.

A classic book about lovingkindness meditation is 'lovingkindness' by Sharon Saltzberg.

If you are seriously interested though I would really recommend learning through classes. I attended a buddhist retreat centre weekend course on mindfulness and loving kindness meditation and it was a brilliant way to learn the technique so I could practise at home, they also check things like your posture and so on that can make a difference to your practice, and they explain some of the barriers you're likely to come across and how to deal (boredom, fatigue, wanting every meditation to be nice, etc.).

Thanks for posting your message. I was about to post a general upset wail, and instead you've prompted me to re-engage with my own practice! Good luck

blueobsessive Sat 16-Apr-16 09:34:54

Another vote for Professor Mark Williams' books and meditation tracks. I find his voice very soothing (but then I do like a bit of radio 4). The best place to start is the raisin exercise. You might be able to find an audio track for this on YouTube/ Google.

I also found the you tube clips from Aussie Dr Russ Harris good. Have a go at searching for you tube videos on
- the happiness trap
- the struggle switch
- demons on a boat
- passengers on a bus metaphor
Only a couple of minutes each. I found them to be very helpful.

JustHereForTheLaffs Sat 16-Apr-16 10:29:34

I'll look into the colouring.

JustHereForTheLaffs Sat 16-Apr-16 10:33:40

Thanks muggins. Unfortunately finances and also no one to look after dd prevent me attending something like that. Also my ability to concentrate is very low at the moment, so in depth books probably aren't suitable right now.

JustHereForTheLaffs Sat 16-Apr-16 10:34:50

8fencing, the link didn't work for me?

8FencingWire Sat 16-Apr-16 11:16:51

Does this link work?

mugginsalert Sat 16-Apr-16 12:29:01

oh sorry, didn't think of that although should have as I am familiar with both those issues right now!

this website might be helpful, it has very clear and accessible beginner's guides to posture, mindfulness, lovingkindness etc.

it's a buddhist site but these guides are relevant to all. x

JustHereForTheLaffs Sat 16-Apr-16 17:48:45

muggins otherwise a retreat would be fabulous ... one day!

I'll look at the website ...

Thanks 8fencing, yes, the link works, looks good.

I've just bought a colouring book smile

ghostoftheMNchicken Sat 16-Apr-16 20:03:33

Btw Laffs, if Headspace appeals and you decide you want to subscribe, I have some 1 month free vouchers to give away. PM me if interested. And that goes for anyone else too. smile

JustHereForTheLaffs Sat 16-Apr-16 20:18:13

Thanks Ghost

bingisthebest Sat 16-Apr-16 23:12:34

Following. Great post.

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