Gaining Time: Developing a Mindfulness Practice (015) Transcript
<voices overlapping, music in background>
Oh! Good morning — oh! Do we have to get up?
Keep it down; I’m trying to sleep.
Yeah, we want to make that recording.
What are we going to record today?
What? What recording?
You know, the one about multiplicity.
You know, the usual — we’re trying to make a difference in the world or something.
Well — I just really wanna help people!
I have no idea what to say.
I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who have really good questions, and need really good answers.
Why talk to them? It’s not like anybody gives a shit.
Well what makes us an authority?
I don’t really think it matters how long we’ve been multiple, or how long we’ve known we’re multiple — we’re multiple!
<Aliessa laughs richly>
Gaining Time: Developing a Mindfulness Practice. So what is mindfulness? We are hearing an awful lot about mindful meditation or mindfulness meditation in the news. And all of the different benefits that it confers to people. Being mindful is being 100% in the moment, both physically and temporally, the way we feel the sense of time passing. In 2010, I had a big burnout episode. And oddly enough, I was studying to write a book called Healer in the Hotseat. That was the name that I was going to call this book, and it was going to be all about caregiver burnout for holistic practitioners. What ended up happening instead, of course, is that I burned out. But I had all this information in the back of my head from my research. And I got this enormous download - this sudden epiphany of a system, which I wrote about in Surrender to Passion, which is the book I published instead of Healer in the Hotseat. So a lot of the information I would have put into Healer in the Hotseat ended up being in Surrender to Passion. But it ended up being broader, for more people than just holistic practitioners, and I didn't approach it from that level.
So the first step in Surrender, the step that starts with S, is stop. In order to practice mindfulness, which is that whole first step, stop. Practicing mindfulness, there's really this moment where you have to pull back in everything. If you're thinking about the future, or you're wallowing in the past, you have to stop, stop in your tracks. Be here now, that's really the first step of mindfulness, whether you're going to meditate in a sitting posture and, and make it into like a whole meditation practice, that you're sitting still, and concentrating, etc. Or if you're going to do mindfulness the way I do, stop that mental projection, or being bogged down by the ball and chain of your past.
I'm going to show you a little sitting mindfulness meditation, make it very simple, just to get you there. And then I'm going to talk about how you can apply mindfulness in a daily setting, and the things that you can do to expand your mindfulness practice, so that it becomes something you could do any time or even all the time. So first things first, what's the importance of mindfulness for people who dissociate? We as dissociative people are detaching ourselves from everything or anything. We can detach ourselves from the physical. We can detach ourselves from emotions. We can detach ourselves from time. We can detach ourselves from our senses. So we are in the practice of, of separation of our consciousness from the different inputs, the different access points we have to our physical body and our temporal existence. So there's a time and a place for the skill of dissociation. If you're going to do trance work, if you're going to do self hypnosis, or shamanic journeying, you need the ability to dissociate. It's very useful. If you're in pain, and you're waiting for the ambulance, it's useful to dissociate because then you don't have to be suffering while you're waiting. But most of the time, dissociation separates us from reality in some way. And it's less useful once you're no longer in a traumatic situation, once you're no longer in an abusive environment, it becomes less useful. The lovely thing about mindfulness and being dissociative is that you end up with two things in your toolkit. You end up with a new skill of being entirely present, and you always have that old skill of being able to detach. And then you can become conscious and mindful about when you're using one or the other. Make it into a skill rather than liability. Another interesting thing about mindfulness having dissociative identity disorder - this episode isn't about the DID, but just to explain, since many listeners will have DID - is that we can be mindful about each other as well. We can have deliberate conversations we can deliberately choose to do things, we can be entirely present in a switch, we can choose to switch, and so on. So being mindful becomes an anchor, it makes it less likely that we will slip away or, or lose time. And in our system, since we have such high trust, we can allow it to be slippery and feel it as we shift and change. Be entirely present to the moments of of who we are and how our perception and our presence in the world changes depending on who is fronting. So it can be very interesting to to experience mindfulness, as each of us.
So to do a sitting mindfulness meditation. Wherever it is you're sitting now, you don't have to sit in lotus posture, you don't have to have a special place, or have a special mat. Just wherever you're sitting right now, listening to this, you can do a very, very quick mindfulness meditation. So the first thing I want to do is just a grounding exercise. I call it cleansing and grounding breaths. There's some mindfulness to this because you can pay attention to your breathing. And that's one quick way to get very mindful of your body. So wherever it is that you're sitting, sit up straighter so that your spine is straight, so that you lift your lungs from on top of your diaphragm and your stomach, so that you free up your breathing mechanisms. Slowly breathe in using your belly, then your chest. Picture that tension and impurities in your body are being pushed out as the air fills you. Slowly breathe out. Feel yourself sinking your roots down into the earth as you exhale. Slowly breathe in, using your belly and pulling energy up through the Earth. It vanishes tension and impurities from your thighs and your belly. Breathe out and release all impurities with your breath. In the space between breaths, feel your connection to the earth getting deeper. Breathe in energy from the earth and feel tension and impurities being pushed out of you. As you exhale, sink your roots deeper into the earth. Continue to breathe in and out and feel yourself get cleansed. And then exhaling and growing your roots deeper into the earth. Breathe in and cleanse, exhale and grow your roots deeper into the earth. Let the earth cradle you with love and natural healing energy. Now whenever you feel tension, or worry, concern, panic, anxiety, try some cleansing and grounding breaths. That's just a very simple mindfulness meditation - paying attention to your breathing, being fully present. Feeling yourself sinking into the earth and pushing all of your anxiety and tension out of your body. Sinking into the earth and pulling all the tension and anxiety out of your body. That's a very simple meditation, visualisation, affirmation type of thing. Next, once you've done this, we're going to start noticing things. So while you're sitting in your chair, and after you've done a few breaths - and keep your eyes open for all of this. So while you're sitting in your chair, what is right in front of you? Look at it - look at it deliberately. For me, it's the screen. And on one side of the screen, I've got my recording program. And on the other side of the screen, I have some notes. And I am not looking at reading it, I'm actually looking at the colors. And I'm looking at the shapes. I'm looking at the shapes of the paragraphs on the paper in front of me, I'm looking at the screen colors. So I want you to see what's really in front of you. Look at the physicality of it. Look at the colors and the dimensions, the depth perception. What's closer to you? What's further from you? How can you see the relationship of things to you? Or notice how a picture is hanging straight or not straight on a wall. Or how things line up in rows or the disarray. And just notice what it is that's in front of you. And then, turn to hearing and hear what's going on around you. You can hear my voice on this recording. What other—what other noises are there? Can you hear other noises? Do you hear your computer? Or the motor of the device you're using? Or do you hear people walking or talking? Do you hear sounds of traffic? What do you hear? Now, I want you to turn to your body. I want you to feel your body. The pressure of your clothing. The pressure of the seat beneath your butt. Want to feel the ground underneath you if your feet are on the ground? And if not, where are your feet? What are your feet touching? How about your hands? What's in your hands? Or, or can you feel your skin? And move your hand and feel—how does it feel to touch your own skin of your hands? Rubbing your fingers against each other or moving your hand? How does it feel having skin? And how about other senses? We feel the pressure of things, we feel the heat, the temperature of the room. How about the temperature? How about the breath going in and out of your body? Is it cool? Or is it warm? So that's mindfulness that's being entirely physically present in the moment. You can be present to every moment and the moment start to stretch on.
Here's another interesting thing. So take your hand and touch your face. You have two sensations to feel. How does your face feel to your hand? Like your chin. How does your chin feel? But also now continue rubbing the same place and slowly drawing your hands over your face. And feel how your fingers feel. So feel what your face is feeling. How do your fingers feel? How did the pads on your fingers feel? How—are your hands soft? Are they callous? Do you feel that your hands are a little rough? What is it that you feel? Maybe try a little bit of your nails just gently against your skin? How does that feel? Do you have any nails - I cut mine, so I don't have much. So that's that's another interesting thing is now you have two sensations - you have how your your fingers feel to your face, and how your face feels to your fingers.
So when you want to get back into your body, when you want to ground and get back into the moment, what I recommend that you take away from these two exercises is the cleansing and grounding breath. So breathe deep. Really appreciate that breath. Dig in deep into the earth and pull out all of your tensions and anxieties for just a moment. And then, wiggle your toes. What do your feet feel? You feel the ground? Do you feel shoes or socks? Do you feel slippers? What is it that your feet feel right now That also helps ground you, is paying attention to your feet. Your feet are a long way away from your brain - those signals have to travel a long way to get there in terms of our body. And so it's very important to get back into your body to really know where your feet are and what they're doing, and what they're surrounded with. So, breathe deep, and wiggle your toes. Breathe deep, and wiggle your toes. Breathe deep, and wiggle your toes. How easy is that? That's my very, very simple way to get you out of panic and out of anxiety and back into your body and being a little more mindful.
So how do we apply mindfulness? You can sit and you can do a mindfulness meditation and make it very deliberate, but many of us don't find time during the day to set aside even for just two or three minutes to do something very deliberate like that. So what I do is I practice mindfulness all the time. I can wash my dishes mindfully. I can feel the heat of the water. I can feel the water sliding across my skin. I can feel the sponge in my hand. I can feel the dishes, you know, in the different textures of the dishes. I can be very present to what I'm doing - the clink as I put something in a dish drain, or the sound of the water coming out of the faucet. Or if you're using a wash basin, you know, looking at the suds or, or feeling when your hands enter the water, how the water parts around your hands and kind of hugs you as you're dropping your hand into the water. You can be very mindful of every moment while you're washing the dishes. You can walk mindfully. You can feel the ground underneath your feet. You can feel the air brush past you as you're walking, or the way it plays with your hair or brushes against your face. You can feel your body going up and down, you can feel all these different muscles you use when you walk. You can feel your body walking. And you can look around you while you walk and see the things that are moving past you as you're walking. So you can be very mindful in everything you do. You can and really should be mindful while driving. Feel the steering wheel, looking out the window, see the signs. Look in the mirrors and who's around you? Can you, can you stretch your senses so that you're almost able to put invisible hands outside of the car and feel as the cars go by? Can you keep track of where all the different cars, vehicles, pedestrians, where everything is? See the exit signs, watch the lines on the road, tune into all the different senses, hear the other engines, hear your own car, so that you can tell if there's something going on with it. The car speaks to you, says "Chugga chugga chugga chugga chugga, I'm fine" or [clunking noises] and maybe there's not so fine, or the brake squeaking when you press them. So you can really be very present while you're driling—driving, and pay attention to your car, and pay to attention to yourself, and the car as an extension of yourself, and all these different things so that you're really fully present in the moment while driving. Aware of your surroundings and aware of what you and your car doing and where everybody is going.
So I look at mindfulness as this entire attachment to what is happening right now. All of the sensory input. Now why do I call this gaining time? Because when you dissociate and you're pulling away from reality, you lose it. And this goes - even as people get older, I guess they dissociate more, because they talk about how years are going by so fast. He talked about "Where did the days go?" They, they watch months and days fly by - or probably don't watch them. So part of the point is watching them, right? So the days fly by and the years fly by, and oh my god, they got older so fast, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, if you get more and more into this mindfulness, and you're present with your moments, moments start to expand. Moments turn into minutes. Minutes turn into hours. Hours turn into days. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Months turn into years. And suddenly time dilates. And you have more time - maybe not more time to get more done, but more time to get things done deliberately. If that makes sense. More time to get the right things done. More time to get things done by choice, rather than habit. So I highly recommend bringing mindfulness off the mat, off the, the cushion, and into your daily life. Feel the keyboard under your fingers when you're typing. Listen to your computer humming. Watch when, when different things are happening on your screen, or listen to what's going on outside while you're on your computer or - be present, be there. Whatever it is you're doing. Be entirely present to it. It's the opposite of multitasking. By far. You're not even planning ahead while you're doing something. You're like, "Okay, I'm doing this. Okay, I'm giving it 100%." And you may find the task takes less time on the clock. But you're enjoying it more in the moment. Because you're fully present to it. You're enjoying the process more of doing whatever it is you do.
So I wanted this to be an easy episode. We just went through several weeks of very, very tough episodes. And I wanted to bring to you a skill that would be refreshing, and not as much of a challenge as what we've been talking about. Something that you and your group can share in those new moments of system trust, and of these new relationships that you have. Now you have something that's kind of a treat, in some ways. Even if you can only do it for a minute or two to start with. It's still a treat, to savor your moments. Oh, speaking of savoring, mindful eating is very important. Tantra is the overall practice of celebrating your body and your incarnation. It's a Middle Eastern philosophy. Tantra is this philosophy that our incarnation is a divine gift to be cherished. And there are many ways in which we cherish the gift of life, the gift of having an incarnation. Okay, in a culture that believes in reincarnation, each incarnation is a gift, and there are things to be learned. And one of the things for humans to learn is to celebrate the gift - of life, that is. Having a body, being incarnated, having time stretching before us and taking advantage of every moment is a very Tantric practice. Mindfulness is a very Eastern concept as a rule. Buddhism and Tantra incorporate as spiritual practices the art of mindfulness. So in Tantra, there's Tantric eating - eating mindfully, eating as a celebration of life. Eating as a celebration of incarnation includes tasting every morsel and rolling it around in your mouth and enjoying the scents and the flavors and the textures and, is it cool or is it warm? How, how it makes different parts of your tongue feel. You know, how it slides down when you're done chewing, or the texture while you're chewing it. Every little bit of eating that food becomes a mindfulness meditation, something new that pay attention to. The differences in each spice, the difference in the texture of each food. How it feels when it's going down your esophagus, and how it feels when it lands in your belly and is being digested. Mindful eating incorporates this idea, the same ideas that Tantric eating does, that every morsel, every gift from nature to you to eat, is something to be cherished. And, and so you can add if you want the spiritual aspect of it, or you can simply honor the physical aspect of it, and just taste it and smell it and feel it and feel the temperature. We have different nerves for sensing temperature, versus texture, versus flavor. So you can enjoy the texture, you can enjoy the temperature, you can enjoy the flavor, you can feel the, the, the resistance of the food as you chew it. Is it stringy? Is it crunchy? You know, all these different textures as you're eating. So mindful eating is the act of slowing down your your eating, which can help you with a lot of things. It can help you control your portions, it can help you control your weight, and it can help you really feel better about your food, if you're eating it mindfully and really enjoying every morsel of it. So mindful eating is very important as well.
And there's many benefits to all of the different types of mindfulness. So if you come up with new ways of being mindful, new things that, that come up in your life. Being mindful to your emotions, allowing yourself to feel them fully. Or being mindful when somebody is talking to you, and being 100% present with what they're saying, rather than thinking about what you're going to say next. That's a gift - your attention is a gift. And in this day and age, I really truly believe that what businesses are purchasing from their employees is attention. Okay, more and more things are becoming automated. What they really need from us, as human beings, is our mindfulness. They need our attention. So the more distracted we are, the less they're really getting from us. And I would shy personally, I would shy away from places that expect me to multitask. I'm great at multitasking - I'm dissociative, my right hand can be doing something my left hand could be doing something completely different. But what's the value of what those hands are doing? You know, that, that say a machine couldn't be doing or whatever. The value is my brain, the value is up here in my head and the thought that I put into things, and my ability to brainstorm in my head. I can call a group together of 20 different people and get 20 different perspectives, have a really fast conversation, brainstorm, come up with a million ideas, and write them down in a little, you know, notebook and just jot all these ideas down and hand them over to somebody very quickly. There, they would get 100% of 20 of our attention, you know, for five minutes and have a plethora of ideas. That's value, you know - much more value than, than say a computer trying to spit up ideas. Or, you know, I don't know. Anyway, so robots can't do that. Computer algorithms aren't doing that. So I can do that. And I know, I don't see how, how we go into the future. You know, right now with, with attention being a commodity - a highly desirable commodity. I think that if you can develop your mindfulness, that you will have much more to offer the world. You can mindfully brainstorm. You can mindfully do your work. You can mindfully answer the phone. You can mindfully listen to conversations. You can mindfully take notes. You can mindfully take tests. You can really be 100% present.
And you know what? This is.... wipe the slate clean for a moment. There are no expectations here. We don't expect people to be 100%, mindful 100% of the time. It's a practice, it's something you develop. It's like muscles and skills. If you can be 5% mindful, 5% of the time, that's better than zero. Right? So tomorrow work on 6%. And whenever you do get distracted, let it go, forgive yourself, pull it back, come back to the moment. And relax. Be present. Okay? There's no blame here. This is all good. Just come right back. Let it anything else go. Another thing that can help you be mindful, if you need it, is keep a list. When something comes up and it's important, and you don't want to forget, you don't want it taking up space in your head. Put it on a piece of paper, keep a list, put it in - jot it in your phone, whatever it is. But get it out of your head, so you can clear your mind and be entirely present. The thing that you had to remember is written down, just trust that it's written down, and move on. So hopefully this will help you. Developing this as a skill for your daily life is almost as important as learning how to breathe properly. So don't forget to breathe. And be more in every moment. And make it into a practice. Practice a few minutes a day, practice a few minutes more every day after that. And maybe a few minutes more after that. So maybe each week, you add another minute to your practice. Maybe you choose different tasks today - it's just gonna be mindful dishwashing. Tomorrow's me mindful dishwashing, and mindful putting things in the laundry. And then the next day is gonna be mindful dishwashing, putting things in the laundry, and sweeping. It doesn't hurt. Just make things slow so that it is handleable. Do one thing at a time, build it into a process that you can use in your daily life.
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