How fitting that the launch of my blog should coincide so closely with 2015’s Mental Health Awareness Week!
I just wanted to make a brief post acknowledging the importance of MHAW15 and it’s purpose. MHAW aims to educate on issues surrounding mental health, as well as reducing stigma attached to it, and involving the public in a range of related events and activities.
Each year, MHAW focuses on a different topic such as anxiety, exercise, sleep, etc. This year, and much to the delight of my inner DBT enthusiast, the chosen point of interest is Mindfulness!
So what exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a concept originating in Zen philopshy. It is, in the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the practice of “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgement“.
Mindfulness can be practiced either formally or informally. The former involves specifically allocating time and space to engage in a mindfulness practice of sorts, also known as meditating. The latter refers to going about one’s day-to-day life and momentary activities in an intentionally mindful way.
Mindfulness is a key component of DBT and has played a pivotal role in both the start of my recovery from BPD, and generally within my life. Mindfulness has helped me develop the ability to:
- become more aware of what is going on for me emotionally and mentally
- become more aware of what is going on for those around me
- develop an attitude of compassion towards both myself and others
- become more intentional in my behaviours and interactions
- observe and describe my internal experiences without judging them so harshly
- be more present and participative in momentary experiences
- wallow in the past and worry about the future to a lesser extent
- come out of dissociative states more quickly and with more ease
- experience positive experiences more wholly and with more fulfillment
- more quickly arrive at a place of ‘radical acceptance’ in difficult situations
- observe my feelings and thoughts as feelings and thoughts, and not necessarily having to let them define or engulf me to such an extreme degree – or for them to translate into behaviours
For anyone interested in additional information about Mindfulness for BPD, and the scientific evidence behind its significance, check out this book (written by two clinicians in the residential DBT Program I attended, in America):