Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. Sound like a hippie- mystical bunch of crap?
Hahaha. It might. But there is much more to it.
This practice can be developed through meditation or other training. Its purpose is to help you know what you are feeling in the moment and give it a more realistic dimension.
Us, people with borderline personality disorder, are often taken over by our intense feelings. If only I could tell you how many times I drown – yup, I still do – in what feels like but it’s is not necessarily a tsunami. This does not mean under any circumstances that we are awful emotional monsters waiting to explode. Our emotions are valid and real because oh, fuck, they are absolutely real. The thing is that many of us would prefer at times not to feel some things so intensely. Because it can be exhausting. Because if it is a blue emotion it might bring us to the ground for a horrible couple of days. Because it if is an angry emotion it might make us react against others or even ourselves in ways that maybe we regret later. And because who truly truly truly enjoys feeling shitty on a regular basis?
So the first point is to remember feeling what we feel is ok. It’s us. We are human.
That being said, all of us, people with BPD or without it, are usually taught to automatically grant a value to how we feel and that might have a larger impact on our emotions and sometimes it can make them worse.
I feel sad. (Fuck I am so stupid for feeling sad again! I’m so weak!)
I feel angry. (Damn! I’m horrible to be around. I always make it hard for people to love me)
I’m anxious. (I cannot do this. I’m unfit to do fucking anything)
… and more things of that sort. Many of us have a mean little voice in our heads ready to tell us horrible stuff to doubt and hate ourselves. So, what mindfulness does is first to help us identify our physical reactions:
I recognize feeling a void in my stomach.
I recognize feeling my face getting warmer.
Then, after some practice it allows us to relate those sensations with some emotions:
I recognize that feeling this void in my stomach sometimes is a sign of anxiety.
I recognize that my face feeling warm might be a sign of anger.
The important thing is that we learn to name these sensations and emotions without providing them with a value: neither good nor bad. It just is. And eventually, getting to these conclusions allows us to react with a clearer head because stuff becomes more NEUTRAL.
For a long time I still believed that all this was nonsense hippie-mystical bullshit, until a great friend of mine gave me this book: Mindfulness for Borderline Personality Disorder
It explains WAY BETTER that I do what mindfulness is and how it can help people like us. But the thing I liked the most is that it includes practical examples you can do at home on a daily basis. Like staring at your meal before eating it, like a weird kind of ninja training!
The reality (I don’t mean to be a party pooper, only to be honest) is that during our lives we will most probably still have these mood swings or more intense feelings. It does get better, that is true, but what helps getting better is how we deal with these experiences, not necessarily the fact that they will disappear forever. So, mindfulness is a great tool that will support us feel as grounded as possible when we are taken over by our emotions or impulses, and this might help us have different reactions and bounce back to feeling “neutral” or “good” or even “not as shitty”, which is already a nice step forward.
Just like training your muscles, this exercise will help your mind become more accurate, more effective, and being as calm as possible gets easier and is triggered more automatically the more we practice.
Receive lots of hugs!