Why?

So the logical question about my journey is “Why?” What motivates me to commit substantial time and money to getting 8 weeks of relatively intensive training (there will be homework of meditating for a lengthy stretch daily, I think) in Mindfulness?

I’ve been reading about Mindfulness for years, starting with reading and getting the tapes for Jon Kabat-Zinn’s
Full Catastrophe Living years ago. I’m not actually sure how I found out about the book. Kabat-Zinn has done some amazing work with people with chronic pain, stress, and other difficulties at U Mass Medical School. For people that the medical community can’t otherwise do much for, his meditation training has been a godsend. He teaches people to live in and around the “catastrophe” rather than fighting against it, and as a result, gives them back a greatly enhanced quality of life. More recently, some pretty substantial research has shown that mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to prevent relapse in Major Depression. You can read a little more about this in a recent Wall Street Journal article, and if you really want to go nuts following the research, you can subscribe to this research update. So that is part A.

Part B is that I can’t do this by myself. My ADHD brain/life is not easily disciplined. In fact, there are ways in which the ADHD brain is the antithesis of the mindful brain. It likes to hop around wildly and multitask. For example, I tried to just wash dishes awhile ago with my focus just on washing the dishes. Not counting the interruptions by the 3 year old munchkin who is home cause she had a fever yesterday, but is plenty perky today, I still couldn’t maintain it for more than one item in a row. I tended to start narrating this blog entry in my head as I washed. I did discover that I just really like my cool yellow blown-glass wine glass. Maybe if I washed dishes more mindfully on a regular basis, we would still have the matching green one… In the larger scheme, I’m great at starting things with intense enthusiasm, and then I tend to let them drop without finishing them (evidence of this lingers in my home in the form of the various craft supplies I’ve acquired but not finished things with). So getting a mindfulness practice securely integrated into my life wasn’t happening with just me and some tapes. And the research says you can’t help patients learn this stuff unless you really do it yourself. So professionally, not just personally, the course feels like a really important step.

On the application, I had to answer the “why” question. You could give 3 answers. I wrote the obvious one first. I want to develop a mindfulness practice. My second answer was that I thought it would help me manage my own tendencies toward anxiety and depression. My third was that I thought it could make me a better wife and mom. Who couldn’t benefit from having a mom/spouse more there in the moment with him or her, right? I’m actually very curious to see what types of things will change in subtle ways with a more mindful approach to my life. I’ll keep you guys posted!

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About Beth Parks Aronson

I am Associate Professor of Psychology at Lamar University. Previously, I was a psychologist in private practice in Jenkintown, PA where I specialized in anxiety disorders and working with people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I am a little addicted to good literature. Ok, a lot addicted.
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2 Responses to Why?

  1. Good on ya! I’ve done some MBSR training and found it effective. I went on to do vipassana meditation retreats here in Thailand. I’ve come to understand that “practice” of mindfulness is in every moment. Whenever I notice that I’m not being present, I gently and without judgement bring my mind to whatever I’m doing. The more often my mind wanders, the more opportunity for practice!

    People often say “good luck” before someone begins such a journey, but I find that the journey often takes us and hence luck isn’t required. :~)

    Be well,
    jamison

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