Sunday, 14 November 2010

Mindfulness and Doing The Ironing

I'm slowly reading this book The Mindful Way Through Depression. I say slowly. I was first recommended this book by a friend who found it useful, secondly by my therapist, thirdly by my acupressure lady. It took me a long time to buy this book, and then it sat on my bookshelf for many months. I actually forgot I bought it, and finally I searched it out and asked myself why am I putting off reading this book?

Perhaps it's the subtitle: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness. It sounded like a troublesome difficult read to me, not exactly bedtime reading. Also, I wondered am I chronically unhappy, what's the difference between plain unhappiness and chronic unhappiness?

Anyway, a hundred other questions later, and I'm reading the book. I'm three chapters in. It's actually fairly brilliant. It's written by four practitioners who have different experience working with people with depression. It draws on the Buddhist practice of 'mindfulness'.

I'm still in the early chapters, but there have been many recognitions, raw nerves perhaps, and yes moments. It's interesting. Their view is that the idea of 'fixing' depression or problem solving it or taking a 'doing approach' actually drags people deeper into depression.

So, I am trying to learn a 'being' approach, involving being mindful and aware. It's interesting and not a natural way to go about things for me as it involves being in the moment with the difficult experiences as well as the good ones. So, actually focusing on the sadness instead of making it go away. I can understand why, it's just a bit of a scary idea.

The first task in the book is to eat one raisin. In a mindful way. I know, it sounds a bit nuts...!

But it's an interesting way to demonstrate mindfulness. Putting the raisin in your hand and looking at it, properly, in a way perhaps you have never looked at a raisin, see it for the first time, see how it feels to the touch, bring it to your nose and smell it, be aware of how your body responds to the smell. Put it in your mouth slowly, don't chew yet, just be aware of how it feels in your mouth, then chew slowly deliberately, being aware of each bite and the tastes that come from the raisin, blah blah. The key is to be aware of the whole process to experience it, not just chuck a load of raisins in your mouth and chew, swallow without even realising what you're doing.

How many times have any of us eaten a meal, shovelling it into our face without even tasting the food, or really care what we're eating, just because we're hungry and we've got to eat? Especially lunch when I'm at work and haven't got time to eat and I grab anything, eat while driving or typing, worrying about all the things I've got to do, or what I've just done, or what I need to do next.

It's all about being, rather than doing. I've been trying it practice mindfulness while I was doing the ironing. I know!

I guess there is something about the smell of clean washing, the feel of the fabric as the iron runs over it, the steam, smoothing out all the creases. Yes?

I tried very hard, but found my mind wandering here there and everywhere. Wondering about a problem I have, trying to work out how it might get better, worrying it might be about me, then thinking about other worries, whether things will get easier, or harder, what I might need to do, thinking about next weekend, a weekend three weeks ago...etc etc. Ha!

It demonstrated why I might need to be more mindful... to focus on the moment, experiencing it instead of thinking and worrying my way through life. I don't suppose it's rocket science, but ahem, it's not something I'm very good at.

The next chapter is about breathing! I'm hoping I might have some skills already in this area.

PS. Sorry if Forgetting the Time is becoming more depression and angst than writing and books. As usual, heart on sleeve, I'm writing about what's on my mind, and being more honest than possibly some people might approve of. Don't care (sticks out tongue). This is my life, my blog and I'm tired of hiding, pretending, and living in a slightly embarrassed inadequate-feeling kind of way.

Anyway, this post IS about a book...


Anonymous said...

Jon Kabat Zinn is a terrific writer. I first heard about him on a program by Bill Moyers called "Healing and The Mind", which is just fantastic. I think you could probably find the DVDs or cassettes at your library.

Anyway, his book "Wherever You Go, There You Are" is well worth the time to read, as is "Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal" by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. She also wrote "My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging".

We're much alike. And, don't feel the need to apologize for changes in your journal, even when they vary from the original intended starting point (writing and books). I've learned it's all connected, and thinking about one thing leads to a brighter understanding of the next, at times.

A hug for you..
Hang in..


Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thanks Annie. I might just get this book.

sonia said...

I loved this post - it made me smile.

Rachel Fox said...

I too am of the heart-on-sleeve blogger variety... we are what we are (and I think the best thing is to accept that and do the best we can with it... no use trying to be like someone else!). I nearly called my book "Heart on sleeve, defiantly" by the way... still might call something that!

Good luck with the mindful book and approach... it sounds really interesting and I hope it gets you over some humps and bumps and into the next bit of road (as it were).


Anonymous said...

brilliant!! annie very impressive

percy plantpot

Anonymous said...

have you ever tried yoga and / or tai chi? both fantastic for gdtting that 'being' without 'thinking'

annie clarkson said...

Thank you!

Good ideas about yoga, tai chi... there's a free qi gong class where I work, just not been very organised!

Thanks for the reading suggestions Jen, these sound like really good books... on my wishlist.

Plus thank you friends for reminding me to be who I am, accept it and not apologise... working on that one too!