Practicing mindfulness means being fully present in the ‘now’ of your situation, and not brooding on the past or fretting about the future. It is immersing yourself in your current task, and being aware of what’s happening in your body and mind. It’s ok if your mind wanders – everyone’s brain does that. But mindfulness is being able to stop and notice the wander. To say to yourself “I am wandering. What am I thinking about? Let’s release it and refocus”.
In concurrence with my Mindfulness Monday practice, I’ve adapted a mood technique from Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns called a ‘Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thought’. In it, you chart the negative automatic thoughts that pop into your head after an event or situation that would typically make you feel bad. You examine the thought, and determine what distortion is happening, and then respond rationally to it. For example, I had an encounter with a co-worker, and she was a little bit frosty and didn’t make eye contact. My automatic thought was “She hates me, she hates me oh God she thinks I’m awful.” But guess what? That’s not rational. So a little bit later, I caught myself, recognized that I was mind reading, and responded to myself by saying “How do I know what she’s thinking? It’s true we don’t have the best relationship, but that does not mean hate.” My mood felt automatically lifted after recognizing the truth of that response.
Here’s more examples from the book:
What Dr. Burns is recommending, is to be mindful of your thoughts. To be present in the moment of your pain, to examine what’s happening, and respond rationally and compassionately to yourself. You are asking yourself “What is this thought? Is this true?”, and more often than not responding with “no, this is not true“.
Today will be my third Mindfulness Monday, and I have noticed a significant uptick in my mood since instituting the Daily Record, the mini breathing meditations, and the three Live Open check-ins. I’ve consistently felt better overall, and much more able to pull myself out of my occasional low moods. I’ve experienced a lot more motivation to get out and do things as well. If you’re working through your own personal mood swamp, I highly recommend giving these methods a shot.