Mindful Acceptance and Meditation Training: Maximum Mental Health Chapter 5

Maximum Mental Health" Overcome Depression, Anxiety and other Mental Illnesses with 20 Principles of Happier and Healthier Living

Maximum Mental Health: Overcome Depression, Anxiety and other Mental Illnesses with 20 Principles of Happier and Healthier Living

Mindful Acceptance: Overcome negative thinking through mindfulness meditation training exercises for stress reduction and positive wellbeing

This is chapter 5, and outlines the 5th of 20 mental health and happiness principles revealed. Each week a new chapter will be placed on the blog and the previous chapter removed. To get the book go to: http://ow.ly/K3p6E

You cannot control your mind. You can inspire, trigger, lead and focus it, but STOP TRYING TO FULLY CONTROL IT! You will lose, every time!

I assume you are familiar with the metaphor of “the elephant in the room.” It relates to the idea that there is something in the room (either a physical room or your mind), and the more you try to avoid it, the more obvious it becomes.

Imagine there actually was an elephant residing in your living room. You have no idea how it got there and you would very much like it to leave. You are afraid of its size and its power and you feel it doesn’t belong there. You can’t push it out because it’s too big. You tell it to leave but it doesn’t listen. You try shouting at it, asking politely, commanding it and nothing works. Strangely, the more you try to make it go away, the larger and more burdensome it seems to become.

That’s because you’re putting all your attention on it. When you put more of your mental attention on something, it feels bigger; it takes up more of your mental space. The question is: Are you putting positive, neutral or negative attention on it? In this scenario, you are putting frustrated attention onto it, and so you’re frustration will only increase.

What’s the solution?

Stop fighting against the elephant. Accept it and let it be there. Perhaps you need to make a few adjustments and then continue to use your living room as before.

Now what happens?

Does it go away? It might! But, then again, it might not! It might get bored and leave but then come back another time. Regardless of what it does, the elephant will appear smaller now as you stop trying to force it away.

What’s its purpose?

Elephants are large, stable, protective creatures. Your elephant guards the door to your living room and has a say in what comes in. Elephants are also known as patient and wise. Your elephant has something to teach you, it carries a message. However to receive the message you must be kind and patient towards it. You cannot force an elephant. Once the message is received, the elephant may then go to return another time, or may stay and continue to guard your living room door. Either way, you now are at peace with your elephant. You might even be able to go for a ride on it one day.

Whatever You Push Pushes Back

Just like the elephant, you cannot push away your experience. The more you try to suppress (push down or push away) your experiences, the more attention you give them and the more they push back. Trying not to feel, think, or remember something once it has been triggered never works.

Right now, don’t think about an elephant in a room. Don’t think about its color, or shape or that it is now eating chocolate cake. Now try to not notice the sensations in your left hand, or your right foot. Now try and not notice what it smells like around you? Now try and pretend that you didn’t fail at everything I just asked you to do and notice how you fail at that too!

Dealing with Negative Thoughts: The reason why you can’t not experience something once it is presented to you is because your brain must process everything that is presented to it to see if it is dangerous. The need for protection will always override logic. You can’t help it. In fact, there is a very strong correlation between people who try to push down or push away experiences and those who suffer depression, anxiety and other major life challenges.

That potential danger can be physical like watching out for snakes that like to bite, but it can also be psychological. A psychological threat may be a fear of failure, embarrassment, poor performance, or rejection, basically any unknown experience that is going to lead you into feeling an emotion you generally don’t like.

Your brain is always trying to protect you from feeling more pain than necessary. But, your brain isn’t always right. Have you ever had to make a speech, and your brain started coming up with all sorts of catastrophic thoughts and images?

Things like: “They will all laugh at me, I won’t know what I’m doing, I am going to get rejected and feel humiliated.” When you actually look at all the times you presented before, none of these things even came close to happening.

Unfortunately that won’t stop your brain initially from trying to protect you from a possible danger. One option is to reframe negative thoughts (look at Optimism Wins) and to continually practice Positive Focus. However, these are not perfect systems; you will still have negative thoughts at times.

To deal with this we need to remember the very first principle: Behavior is King! A thought is just a thought until you believe it and act on it. If you accept the thought for what it is, “just a thought,” your brain has a chance to process it without you trying to get rid of it.

Because you’re allowing the thought or image or sensation to be there, your brain has a chance to process it to see if it is dangerous or not. Because it realizes it is not, the power of the thought will reduce, and the thought itself is also likely to be processed and pass more quickly.

Going back to public speaking, you now know that your brain has come up with all these catastrophic scenarios to try and protect you. Rather than trying to force them away, if you accept that it is just your brain trying to protect you and you know that they will pass in its own time, those fearful thoughts will pass much more quickly. At the same time, you continue to implement your positive focus principles.

Mindfulness as the Science and Art of Acceptance: Knowing that acceptance is the key, the question is how to make it a skill? It is easier said than done, especially when emotions are high. The art is learning how to become a better observer of your internal world, to look at the elephant without reacting negatively to it.

Mindfulness, which is a form of meditation, can easily be described as simple and highly calming exercises of attention, awareness and focus. Mindfulness has been shown to increase energy, focus, concentration, creativity, intelligence, memory, learning ability, inner calm, happiness, self-esteem, overall health, and reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

It is the most successfully researched mental health building and mental illness reducing skill. Consistent practice changes lives and re-wires brains. Mindfulness exercises have been shown to be an incredibly powerful way to shift down into the longer brain wave states that give you access to your intuition, numerous unconscious processes and all of the abilities mentioned above.

Meditation and hypnosis allow you to go deep into your unconscious mind and begin building new pathways in your brain which will translate to a greater ability to learn, problem solve and stay calm when facing difficult situations.

Mindfulness trains your focus and attention. It allows you to take a break from the “chatter” and busyness of your active mind. It is a fantastic way to find a neutral (usually slightly positive) feeling and be able to enjoy the moment you are in now and develop a greater appreciation of all that is around you.

So, how does it work? Informally, all you need to do is choose a sense and immerse yourself into it. You can pretty much do it anywhere, anytime. Due to mindfulness, I am pretty much never bored! Whenever I am stuck somewhere waiting for something, I practice different mindfulness exercises.

As I said, all you need to do is choose a sense and immerse yourself in it.

(Important Bonus: Because mindfulness, like hypnosis are much easier to follow by listening than reading (especially hypnosis), I have decided to give you three mindfulness recordings to listen to with the book. You can get the book and the bonus mindfulness recordings at  http://ow.ly/K3p6E).

However, you can still develop some of your mindfulness skills now. Let’s begin…

We’ll begin with vision. Sit up nice and tall and begin to breathe more deeply if you like. Now expand your vision and notice everything that is around you. Spend some time noticing all the different colors, shapes and textures around you. Zone in on particular things and really look at them, examine them and enjoy noticing them.

Let’s move on to a different sense, hearing!

Move your attention to what you can hear. Pick one constant sound and really zone in on it. Notice its rhythm, timbre and volume. Really immerse yourself in that sound. Then choose another sound and do the same.

Let’s do one more sense for the time being, touch!

Wherever you are sitting, take the time now to zone in and really focus on where and how you are sitting. Notice the sensations of your feet against the floor…

Notice the sensations of your back and legs against the chair…

Notice your internal sensations now, perhaps the sensations in your hands or beating of your heart… and when you’re ready, we can move on. Take your time and enjoy!

It’s time you learnt a more formal exercise. This one will teach you to be able to move into that positively-neutral and self-observant place. In this exercise it is recommended that you close your eyes. So, you may want to read over this bit several times before you do this. Or, you can download the recording now and listen to it which would make it much easier.

TAKE YOUR TIME WHEN YOU DO IT. ENJOY DOING IT SLOWLY!

The first part of this exercise requires you to create a visualization. I will give you three to choose from or you can make up one of your own: a conveyer belt, steam clouds evaporating, or a river with leaves on it. In the recording, the river is used.

During this exercise, every time you have a thought about anything at all, you are going to imagine taking that thought and either placing it on a conveyer belt to watch it be taken away, put it in an evaporating cloud, or put it onto a leaf in a river and let it float away. Only choose one image.

Whenever you have a thought, any thought, you are going to allow that thought to drift away. So choose a particular image and we will begin.

Close your eyes and firstly notice your breathing… notice as you breathe in and breathe out… pay attention to the sensations you feel, the rise and fall of your chest…

And, whatever thoughts you have, just let them go as you notice them.

Shift your attention to what you can hear. Like before chose one sound and just notice it for a while, then choose another, and perhaps a third.

Whatever thoughts you have, just let them go as you notice them each time they come.

Shift your attention to your body. Notice several different sensations one by one, starting with external and moving into internal, and whatever thoughts you have, just let them go each and every time.

Then bring your attention back to your breathing… and when you’re ready you can open your eyes and stop.

There you go! A fantastic simple exercise you can practice daily to sharpen your awareness, focus, and concentration. Deepen your levels of calm by learning how to observe yourself and let go of thoughts and sensations. Mindfulness is something we will be returning to regularly as we proceed into the other sections of this book.

Principle Summary

Mindful Acceptance: Overcome negative thinking through mindfulness training exercises for stress reduction and positive wellbeing.

The more you try and suppress an internal experience, the more it will bounce back because your (often overprotective) brain must process it to check for danger and decide what to do about it. Acceptance of the (negative) experience, whilst still focusing and acting on what you do want, allows for faster processing (greater habituation – to be explained in “Expose Yourself” chapter) and more meaningful living to occur.

Fast-Action Techniques

1. Daily mindfulness practice is highly recommended. Use the above script or the recordings to practice one formal exercise, 5-10 minutes only a day. Just 5 minutes a day of silence is great for your mental health. It is usually good to practice before any stressful events or before bed, especially if you struggle to let go of your worries at the end of the day.

2. After any mindfulness practice, reflect on the experience and seek any lessons that may have arisen from your experience. It is often good to mindfully contemplate a problem after you have done your practice as your mind will be calmer and open to finding more unique solutions.

3. Challenge yourself to practice when out and about, even if it is in very short increments. You can do anything mindfully, by choosing one sense at a time and fully focussing on it. You can wash dishes mindfully or observe all the drivers around you when stuck in traffic, during a conversation or when waiting in a queue and so on.

 

This is chapter 5, and outlines the 5th of 20 mental health and happiness principles revealed. Each week a new chapter will be placed on the blog and the previous chapter removed. To get the book go to: http://ow.ly/K3p6E

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