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Monday, July 12, 2010


The Eve of July 12th (My late grandmother Kae's would have been 101st Birthday...just thought of that)

For the past few days I have been in the most irritable mood I have felt in months. Perhaps I can blame it on pregnancy, bipolar yuck (as I like to call that looming fog)… or perhaps I can blame it on ill-circumstance. Truly, nothing will justify the presence of the dark pit in my stomach and my inability to tolerate anything from conversation with family to the way the wind is blowing; it just is. I used to think that when I felt this extreme irritability that I could simply ostracize myself from the rest of the world and think my way out of it. I thought that the sour mood was just a problem to be solved. It has taken me 37 years to figure out that this behavior simply perpetuates the irritability. The mind begins to run rampant; a vicious cycle that leads to a deeper hole, unjustifiable anger and despair. And ignoring feelings… generally leads to the boomerang effect; they return, stronger than ever! I find relief in only one thing, and you will too: mindfulness. Mindfulness encourages you to be aware of your emotions, thoughts and bodily sensations without judging or interpreting them.
Zindel V. Segal, PhD, the Cameron Wilson Chair in Depression Studies in the psychology department at the University of Toronto discusses this concept in the latest Bottom Line Health periodical. Segal says, “Think about it this way: If someone told you not to think about a white bear, guess what you would do? You couldn’t help but think about a white bear or how you shouldn’t think about it. Suppressing thoughts or feelings doesn’t work.” Zindel continues “…take thoughts and feelings into the realm of mindfulness. Being aware of your thoughts and feelings without reacting to them is the key to keeping negative emotions from cascading.” He explains that in order to understand the concept of mindfulness, simply apply it to an everyday activity such as washing dishes. While washing them, fully focus on how the warm water feels, how your arms and hands feel as you turn a dish over to rinse… how the soap feels and smells. Simply use your senses and observe…don’t think! If your mind wanders, bring your focus back to the dishes.
Zindel advises that in order to practice this, “while sitting quietly, let your attention shift to your hearing. Open your mind to sounds from all directions, near and far, subtle as well as obvious sounds. Be aware of these auditory sensations without thinking about where they’re coming from or what they mean. Note the way they appear and fade. After trying this a few times with sounds, shift your awareness to your thoughts” … and so on and so forth, using all of the senses. Try it! According to Zindel, when you practice it regularly, it makes it easier to use when you need it most, like “when you are upset because you are stuck in traffic…are in the middle of a heated argument…or begin to feel a bout of depression coming on.”
I am going to make it my mission to try this technique faithfully… and report my findings! I find, once again, that MUSIC is a great way to escape the doldrums, and a great way to practice mindfulness. I highly recommend reaching for your MP3 player, IPOD … and just listen. (Download of the Day… “Rainy Day, Dream Away” – Jimi Hendrix –SWEEEEETTTTT Perfection!

Please share your tactics; communication is the key to “sanity.”

1 comment:

  1. Not sure why it came out skewed.... the song o the moment is "Rainy Day, Dream Away" - Jimi Hendrix