Mindfuless and connecting with the world outside myself

(Felicity Hansen) #1

It seems to me, as a trauma survivor who has completed the 8-week online MBSR and also has practised mindfulness for the past several years, that practices such as the body scan and sitting meditation lock me up inside myself. What I feel I want and need are more practices such as the “sound awareness” practice of Jon Kabat-Zin that connect me back to the world outside myself. I lost the connection through the experience of trauma.
Having spent years recovering from childhood trauma, I feel that I have been locked up inside myself, with my focus on myself, my feelings, my reactions, my body memories etc for most of my life. What I want is connection with “the greater whole” not me me me all the time.
Does anyone else feel this way? I appreciate that mindfulness is probably not intended to foster this Kind of “me” focus, but that is the effect it has on me. My current practice includes activities like bird-watching where my focus is on “something other”.
I think my concern as expressed here is also connected to the discussions on mindfulness and creativity. I am an artist, an when I paint, I lose awareness of myself as I “go with the flow” of the work I am engaging in.

(Julie Falk) #3

I, too, have been thinking about your question, and the needs that you may have because of your own particular background. I have had the same experience of feeling that I am being relentlessly focused on my self. At those times, I’m glad that MBSR teaches multiple mindful practices: at times I need most to be embodied, at times the breath is too problematic, or at times I am too jittery to sit. The moving meditations can be very helpful in that regard. Hans mentions using sound as a focus, which MBSR teaches us to do as part of the Choiceless Awareness meditation. I use sound as a focus fairly regularly in my practice because it helps me move beyond the confines of my body, and “get out of my head.” I suspect this feeling that we’re not meditating right is something we all hold in common to some degree. I have to remind myself not to judge myself for having whatever experience or thoughts I’m having at the moment…

(Georgia Cummings) #5

My understanding of the practice is that bringing the mind back to the breath, slowly over time will allow us to be less focused on self, reactivity, memories arising. Not to say that these things will not continue to arise, but that the mind will slowly let go of grasping onto the thoughts. I sometimes feel frustrated with sitting and instead get up and do some walking meditation or yoga then return to sitting. When I did the MBSR course I found the body scan activated chronic pain. I could not tolerate focusing on parts of the body and I no longer use this practice. Mindful self compassion practice has been more helpful too since when disturbing thoughts or pain arise, I can put my hand over my heart, feel the warmth and slowly it settles. Listening to sounds inside myself and outside (JKZ) is really helpful too. I think the practice is about persevering in the face of difficulties. Accepting them as they arise and letting them go with kindness.

(Brenda Bentley) #6

In the Buddhist tradition I think it’s referred to as ‘egocentric’ focus - and the remedy of this is self compassion. In order to feel more connected to others, we must first be connected to ourselves. Mindfulness is the foundation for compassion. Both mindfulness and compassion are trainings - you have to develop it. There are a lot of good resources available on the subject I recommend K. Neff, P. Gilbert.

Best wishes,

Brenda Bentley
Mindfulness Teacher