A look at Mindfulness

Abby mentioned recently that she would recommend Mindfulness among the therapies useful for dealing with many of the symptoms Martin Ellingham seems to be suffering from. Coincidentally, “60 Minutes” last Sunday had a piece on Mindfulness and I thought I’d provide the link. I would also recommend watching some of the additional segments with Anderson Cooper, especially the Mindfulness and Technology one.

In addition, Abby wants everyone to know that besides the breathing and walking exercises shown by “60 Minutes,” there are other ways of following the breath. “Then there are focusing on the body, focusing on a mantra, and disciplines like Yoga and Tai Chi.  There is also simply noticing anything that comes into your awareness and then letting it float by,” according to Abby.

I found this article on Mindfulness that seems worth mentioning. I don’t think ME has as much anxiety as this author, maybe very few people do, but there is something to this method that seems to really work.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried it. I’ve tried meditation and now know I should practice it more frequently – like every day! It looks as though we could all benefit from being more Mindful.



Originally posted 2014-12-17 11:49:46.

11 thoughts on “A look at Mindfulness

  1. Carol

    Karen, This is a great post and very poignant right now for me. I have just recently started using this method (the letting things float by) and it is amazing how much it helps to get my anxiety under control. And I’m sure that you aren’t the only person on this blog who has to deal with a lot of anxiety. Never feel alone in that, is what I’ve found. You have only to look at the meds on the quick pull shelf at CVS and know that anxiety is a country-wide phenomenon!

    One thing I will disagree about, though. I DO think ME has as much anxiety as anyone and I think that’s a big part of his problem. When he is working, he is confident and not anxious. However, in his personal life he is depressed and extremely anxious, and he hides it from the world and himself so much that he doesn’t even recognize it for anxiety.

    And there is the rub. When those who suffer emotional abuse as children are hit with things like anxiety, there is often no realization, because anxiety has become the default coping mode. Therefore, there is often not a recognition until something physically happens to bring it to light.

    Just my take on Martin. I am no therapist or doctor, just speaking from my own observations.

    Great post though. I think mindfulness is going to become a buzzword in American society soon. I hope so anyway, if good practice goes along with it.

  2. Laura H.

    Karen and Abby,
    You gave my heartstrings a titter in posting these “thoughts” and articles on mindfulness. Thank you both for being conduits of very helpful information…maybe for ME…yet also in general. Since the focus is therapy in respect to how mindfulness might contribute to depression, I would like to say that I can certainly believe this…have I had depression and used this?…no. But my experience with mindfulness is that it certainly brings peace, a general well-being…and some might call it happiness. My experience with mindfulness is that it could be called the first step along a spiritual path called A Course In Miracles (ACIM). I’m a student of this path…but we are not about talking about spiritual paths…so I won’t go there. I smiled, though, at Anderson Cooper’s reporting that awareness or watching one’s thoughts is very hard to do. Yes, indeed! Yet the second article pinpointed what it seems to do, in my opinion, which is to bring fears to the forefront, and when aware of them, they diminish. With that comes the peace. And who knows…if the writers of DM could convince DE in the script that the mindfulness therapy can be viewed as very close to the Buddhist practice of meditation, then the Doc might be persuaded to try it, and it might show how the Buddha in the office might claim its significance. Or not.

  3. Linda D.

    What a great post! It set my mind on “run” because I have been studying various forms of it for many years. We live in a Type A, more is better, NO FULL STOP, world where with the advent of endless forms of communication and demands on our time, we are almost NEVER mindful. I just read an article about a dedicated school principal who left her baby in the car in the heat because she and her husband had changed their routine that day. He normally took the child to daycare. That day, she was supposed to take her but she drove to school, with her mind FULL of things about the busy day ahead. She grabbed her purse and coffee from the front seat and went into work. That day, the daycare failed to report that the child had not arrived. Each parent went to work thinking all was well. A passing collegue saw the child, broke the car window and ran into the school to alert the mother. The child was dead. Was this mother being neglectful? No. She was a very conscientious mother. She had forgotten to be MINDFUL.
    She was forgiven because others recognized that they too could have been her. They probably had done similar things with their own kids ,but got lucky. The mother has to bear this tragedy for life. She said that now, she puts her purse, lunch, briefcase etc. into the BACK SEAT. Since reading the article, I have done the same! It always sticks in my mind when I am being flighty and realize I am making mistakes and not driving carefully. Now, I try to be VERY MINDFIUL, especially in the car and with my grandbabies. I try very hard to be in the moment, especially when I have things on my mind. I practice slow breathing, prayer, stretching and softening body parts, meditation. Even 5 minutes of relaxation can help!

    I know I need to SLOW DOWN and listen to my breathing which is always shallow and rapid. I need to pay attention to the back of my neck being on fire, and my mind racing. I have juggled a lot of balls in in my career to the detriment of my health and well being. I try hard to” live in the moment” and to take things in. Mindfulness, might just be the greatest cure for depression, anxiety, and many other things and it is FREE but for the practice of the technique. Everyone should be doing it!

    Of greatest concern is texting and talking on cell phones while driving or walking. It is ILLEGAL in Canada but you might not realize it because people still brazenly do it. They are even taking steps to stop hands-free talking and eating in the car.

    There is an interesting study about PTSD being conducted and I read a bit. The just of it was that wild animals don’t suffer PTSD. After a fright or trauma, they shake, cry, slow breathing, and the image and fear go away. Their Autonomic Nervous System re-sets and they do not internalize the incident. Humans, it appears, are not able to re-set the ANS in the same way so they “stuff” feelings and don’t let them go. They fester and increase anxiety. They are teaching PTSD victims to meditate, exercise, practice mindfulness of happier times, and to do anything which prevents them from “stuffing” their feelings down. Once these anxieties are internalized, they are very hard to heal. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

    Can Martin Ellingham learn to be mindful at times when he is befuddled and anxious? He may have PTSD, which stems from his childhood and the trauma of losing his career. I think he needs to but he is unaccustomed to looking inward so it would be difficult. He’ll need a great therapist and a positive attitude if he is to progress. We know this will be monumental but he has GREAT INCENTIVE to do something different to save his marriage and family!

    Louisa too, needs to learn to be less reactive and more mindful, especially when she is trying to figure out Martin.

    This post is a great start to a great conversation ahead! In fact, we have a lot to digest from the last 3 posts still! Thanks to everyone who has written these excellent and thought provoking new posts!

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    The one thing we know is that when the therapist Edith recommended sent him a CD that he could use at home, he did try to follow it. He was interrupted fairly quickly, but he had his eyes closed and had the appearance of making an effort to be guided by what he was being told. This brief scene gives us some indication that he would be willing to try Mindfulness.

  5. Linda D.

    Yes, I forgot about that part. That WAS mindfulness! It seemed to be working too, except that he rushed things and then the baby arrived.

  6. Maria

    Great topic! I’ve been doing yoga and mindfulness meditation for about 10 years and can just echo what everyone else has said about it. It is simple, but not easy. The effect can be immediate (or not), it can be dramatic, subtle, or anything in between. It can seem as if nothing is happening. But over time, the practice of observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment or the need to do, fix, or change them, can be very transformative. Does mindfulness make you a blissful, unfailingly generous, kind, and loving person who is never stressed, irritated, or rushed? Sorry, but…..no  It does bring you to an awareness of the present moment, how you are responding to it, and that thoughts are just thoughts, not reality.

    If anyone is interested, an excellent book on this topic is Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

    I think ME has a tremendous amount of anxiety in every area of his life except the professional arena. He would strenuously deny that because he has walled himself off so much from his feelings that he doesn’t even really know what they are, let alone accept them. This is why I think meditation would be a great place for him to start. It is totally non-threatening, does not require active introspection (although it can certainly lead to that), which I think he would feel resistant and threatened (and anxious!) about . The scene where he started listening to the CD was great. I loved that they included that.

  7. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I am truly impressed by how many of you have tried Mindfulness and consider it good therapy. It also would work well in this show because ME would not really “change” per se; he would become more aware and better able to achieve some control over his anxieties. Could Louisa and Martin do couples Mindfulness training?

  8. Linda D.

    I have now listened to the shows and read the articles. I highly recommend taking the time to do so, at least once. The information struck a chord with me for sure! Mindfulness is NOT another thing to add to our list of ‘must do’s” Learning to be mindful is something to BE, not DO. It has the potential to help anxiety prone people of every stripe. It means being PRESENT and AWARE of sights, sounds, breathing, physical sensations, smells etc. It starts with being aware of breathing. It means shutting out thoughts from past traumas, present worries, future challenges which overwhelm us. It means becoming quiet and cutting ourselves off from the NOISE of technologies. It means living EVERY MOMENT fully.

    Martin Ellingham does not look inward often or well. He is brilliant at his job. He shows that he can be VERY focussed when he is treating his patients. He just does not know how to process FEELINGS. Hopefully cognitive therapy, including mindfulness, will help him to recognize that his adult life has been damaged by his early life and it is in the understanding of this, that he will solve his hemaphobia. We can only hope and pray he is able to accomplish this so that he can repair his relationship with Louisa and become abetter husband and father. Hopefully too, he will return to surgery and regain his identity which means so much to him, with his wife and son at his side.

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