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I've been really trying to work on mindfulness in the last couple of weeks. I think it's really important for someone with MS to focus on the here and now and not get too caught up in what the future will hold. What's important is here and now. In the past I have been guilty at looking backwards in reverie at how I used to climb mountains and also at looking forwards and seeing all kinds of dark things that may not ever happen. I see mindfulness as a tool to help free me from these harmful tendencies.

However, there are two ways of thinking that are not mindful but I see them as completely harmless, what do you think? The first is nostalgia, you know, having a five-minute daydream about your first kiss or similar. The second is anticipation of an exciting event e.g. looking forward to your partner coming home from a long business trip, that kind of thing.

If mindfulness doesn't allow me these thoughts, then I'm not sure I want it.

Gareth
Gareth,

I am no expert in midfullness, but I think you're not getting it. This is what I understand about mindfulness.

You're sitting, focusing on your breathing. A thought comes into view... It's a memory of your climbing a mountain. You start to feel good remembering... then you start to feel sad, thinking you'll never do that again and you'll never be happy again. Then you remember suddenly that you're meditating and you note: I was thinking about climbing again... Back to focusing on my breathing.....in and out... in and out.. All this thinking about in and out reminds you that your partner is coming back tonight from a long trip and you start to feel great thinking about her/him walking through the door...Then you remember you're meditating and you note that you must be excited about her/him returning tonight...but back to your breating... in and out... in and out... now you're back in your mind and you notice how nice it is to have quiet mind. A thought passes by, but only for a second - that was easy.... in and out... in and out... 10 mins go by, now 20 and you're done. You open your eyes and you know you miss climbing, you know you're excited about your partner's return, you know you have MS, but you realise also that a clear mind is a sublime pleasure and that if this is how life is going to go, you'll make it.

The next morning as you go for a walk, you're not concentrating on anything in particular except what a nice day it is. After your walk, you realise you've gone farther than usual. Time to exercise your brain.

Mindfulness is training your brain to stick to the current moment and not get carried away in good or bad thoughts, past or present.
Alex

Diagnosis: Jan 2010, OMS April 2010.
Believe me, I am no expert either. It strikes me that nobody will ever be an expert. It's a lifetime practice and that's the end of it.

Kabatt-Zinn often talks about applying mindfulness in everyday situations, not just on the meditation cushion. For example he talks about being mindful when walking up the stairs or when doing the dishes; I get the feeling that he thinks that mindfulness should be strived for at all times. Does this mean the two-minute daydream about my first kiss when I was 12 wrong? It doesn't feel wrong.

Gareth
Gareth I don't think you have to renounce your happy memories or dreams. Mindfulness and meditative practice is about wholeness, not rejection or denial.

Another way to look at it is that mindfulness is about opening heart and mind to greater depths, encompassing even more, and developing so that you can be more present in your daily life. So in this way you don't get fully caught up in your thoughts--consumed by these thoughts, whatever they may be--allowing for some distance and perspective, even freedom. It is a widening of an inner world without rejecting the outer--developing a way to live and love more deeply and to be a more compassionate person.
I think the Buddhist outlook is useful in that one should aim to remove all suffering.

During the meditation, try to just focus on your breathing, remove all thoughts, (I loved Alex's description above) just focus on being calm and empty.

Then, when you start to 'bum out' (for want of a better phrase) be that worrying about something, stressing about something that has happened or any other form of 'suffering' then use your mindfulness to see that these are not useful thoughts and what will be will be and what is is.

I have spent a lot of time in the past worrying about things that have happened, worrying about things that might happen and stressing about what might happen and if meditation has taught me anything, it's that this is a complete waste of time and worse than that, it maybe unhealthy.

I read about various exercises that go beyond the standard breathing meditation, one of which was to help deal with something that you are worried about. The basic premise was that you think about the thing you are worried about and then think what will happen a month or so afterwards. Will anything be different, will you even think about this event that is causing you so much tension again. Usually, just be thinking things through in this way, the impact in my brain has been less and whilst I can hardly claim any kind of mastery, I am sure that I have calmed myself and think more logically about things in many areas of my life.

My take on mindfulness is that you are concious in what you are doing, in the moment as such. So, for example, if I get down, on a Saturday morning, when I am with my kids, instead of letting it get the better of me, I try to stop and pull myself together, focus on the here and now rather than getting to Monday and then being further upset that I wasted the weekend worrying about things that may never happen.

Meditation is difficult when applied to this whole MS thing, it's unpredictable, their is doubt and confusion with the different approaches so really I guess it just helps us worry less and make the most of good times that we have. It is sure not easy, I know that much but I see this thinking about thinking and calming of oneself as a good process overall.

I guess this is what happens once we have mastered the diet. It takes a lifetime to master this whole meditation thing so we will be talking about this in 50 years time hopefully.
My initial question doesn't apply to time spent actually on the meditation cushion. I don't think that I'm doing too bad in my formal meditation.

The question I am trying to get at is whether or not mindfulness nought to be strived for throughout the rest of the day and if so does that mean that my daydreaming or nostalgia are bad things?

Gareth
I try to be mindfull during the day, but it's hard to know exactly what that is. In simple terms, I think it means instead of rushing to the car/bus/office with our minds full of what we have to do/should do/should have done, etc. We're as if on the cushion, noticing that the flowers are blooming, noticing that we're alive and that whatever worries we have are still thoughts and emotions and still separate from our consciousness. That's what mindfulness is to me - training ourselves to distinguish between the mind's basic state and the constant chatter we normally accept for our minds, but is not.
Alex

Diagnosis: Jan 2010, OMS April 2010.
Dear All,

I am a hedonist, I'm afraid, and I am mindful only about religiously avoiding all exercises relating to mindfulness. I have never liked meditating, it irritates me. This impious attitude about meditation serves me quite well. Personally, I like watching music videos -- Lady Gaga, Tina Turner, you name it. They lift my spirits and give me a feeling of enthusiasm.

I think the point is to find something that relaxes you. It might not be meditation. For many, a good walk does the trick, listening to music, or whatever. So, I say if you hate meditation that's not the end of the world. Something else might serve the important purpose of relaxing you.

Rebecca
Gareth wrote: My initial question doesn't apply to time spent actually on the meditation cushion. I don't think that I'm doing too bad in my formal meditation.

The question I am trying to get at is whether or not mindfulness nought to be strived for throughout the rest of the day and if so does that mean that my daydreaming or nostalgia are bad things?

Gareth


Hey man, that was the point of my post. My take is that mindfulness is just catching yourself when you start to think about anything negative, suffering as such and making an effort to sort your own thinking out. I can't see how pleasant memories or nostalgia can be a bad thing, unless they start to go negative and then you can catch yourself.

Like everything, take what works for you man, i don't worry about the rules too much.
Picking up on the post above by Rebecca is that if you have a way to be relaxed and enveloped in a pleasureable activity then meditation is not needed.
You have created the outcome of meditation in a different circumstance.
These are just labels for I think the same output. A mind still and enjoying one thing.
Be it breathing or listening to music.
For me having a walk whilst is lovely, I have not yet mastered the ability to still the mind while walking, so I need another form of situation to achive that, even if it is more formally labeled mindfulness meditation.
I think these situations are all striving for/or reaching the same end.
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