Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Years ago I took a course on Mindfulness Stress Relief.  It was four (or maybe eight) Friday mornings.  I found it extremely helpful and would probably take it again if it wasn't so expensive (the first time around my work health insurance paid for it after much fighting, arguing and back and forthing)  It was based on the mindfulness principles of Jon Kabat-Zinn.  (Oddly enough I can't find a Jonkabatzinn.com website, but if you google him you'll get tons of results.  Probably his most famous book is "Full Catastrophe Living")  Although meditation and remaining "in the moment" (way overused phrase) are important parts of the practice there are what he calls the "seven attidunal factors".  (I'm pretty sure attidunal is not really a word but whatever).  The are:

1.  Non-Judging:  We shouldn't judge people because we have no idea what's going on in their lives.  When we judge we assume we have all the facts about that person and their situation and it prevents us from learning the whole truth.

2.  Patience:  This one requires a little faith in that we must assume that all things unfold in their own time and when they are supposed to.  If we are impatient for something to happen or a certain time to come then we are missing out on the present and what is happening now.  (Not necessarily a bad thing when you're depressed but you get the idea)

3.  Beginners Mind:  Try to approach everything like it's happening or you're doing it for the first time.  That way  you can always learn something new and it allows us to see things from a new perspective and helps break old habits.  It also helps to eliminate expectations about how I will fail because I failed before, or that it will go smoothly because it did before.  It helps to get us out of a rut we may be stuck in.

4.  Trust:  Again a little faith required, but isn't that what trust is? (Not rhetorical, I don't know).  In this case we're talking about trusting ourselves, our intuition.  We can take in all the advice, help, information available but we should trust ourselves to make a final decision.  (This is not necessarily a good plan when you are seriously depressed but again, you get the idea.  On the other hand, when you are depressed, you need to trust that you are and not listen to all the ignoramuses who think you are lazy, malingering, faking...you know those people)

5.  Non-striving:  Although we are all ambitious in some ways and that is a good thing.  Non-striving is more about focusing on where you are instead of where you want to be or where you wish you were.  It encompasses all that drivel about "the journey", "the process".  It also talks about being in the moment as it is as opposed to how I wish it were right now.  I think what he's really talking about is not wishing your life away.

6.  Letting-Go:  This is all about moving on.  Enough said I think.

7.  Acceptance:  This means being open to whatever is happening in this moment whether we like it or not.  It includes acknowledging reality, steering away from denial particularly when the facts are plain to see.  It also talks about not wasting energy trying to force things to be what they are not.  For me personally this means not trying to force myself to be a stepford wife simply because I am not working.  No matter how hard I tried (I've finally given up) I am not, never have been and never will be June Cleaver.  This also includes the revolutionary idea that if you don't see and accept something/someone for what it/he/she really is, nothing about it/him/her or your feelings about it/him/her will ever be able to change. (That makes perfect sense to me but if I'm not making sense to you - happens to me a lot - feel free to comment or e-mail and ask).  We are more likely to know how to move ahead and be motivated to do so if we accept the truth and the facts of the moment.

I think these seven things are pretty interrelated when you really start thinking about them and when I'm thinking about them and trying to apply them to myself or a situation I find myself in, they are helpful.  I have yet to find a way to incorporate all seven on a regular basis into my daily life.  I was going to say I should be trying harder but I gotta tell you it is extremely difficult.  You can see though that if you could you would be at much greater peace than you are now.  That applies to anyone, not just those of us that are mentally ill. 

One that I am really quite good at is non-judging.  I used to judge everyone for all kinds of reasons.  Now I have seen and heard so many people judge me based on what they see on the surface that I no longer assume I know why someone says or does anything, or why they look the way they do.
The other one is non-striving.  I guess it's really a combination of non-striving and acceptance.  I'm finally learning to stop hoping/expecting a miracle that will re-create the confident, thin, happy, out-going, professional person I used to be.  I accept that I am depressed and may never be that person again but the person I am now is not all bad and that I do what I can, when I can.  (The non-striving part is easier than the acceptance).
Letting go is the hardest for me.

I'm no expert on this stuff but I would recommend checking out some of his articles or you tube videos.  I think he's a pretty wise man.  I read somewhere a list of thirteen of these types of things but again for the life of me, I can't remember where.


  1. The non-striving is the next to impossible one for me. I have such a difficult time staying in the now. To my mind, life is all about striving, but then I also understand what you're saying here because in order to be in the now you wouldn't be inclined to strive.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I struggle with letting go. Well that the most. Hope you are doing well, I have not heard of that book, will check it out. Hugs, Kim

  3. Timely for me today, Jo. Thank you. I'm in need of non striving and acceptance. Patience wouldn't go amiss either. Anyway, thanks again for posting this and I'll look it up.
    take care. x

  4. Oh.... just looked at this post on my early lunch break and really keen to read it properly later. Funnily enough, it is somthing i was starting to look at the other day and there you are like magic giving me a head start by writing this post. Little breadcrumb trails of coincidence... life is so funny. Catch you later. x

  5. Back again. Thanks for posting this. Really really interesting. I think you've just said in one post where I've tried to get to in 40! But better than that I like hearing the way you tell it... with that slightly dry humour... rather than the clinical and upbeat tone of those self help websites. Good to read, makes me think and laugh and think some more. Thanks Jojesek. x

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