The fundamental core module of DBT is Mindfulness. I first came across Mindfulness a few years ago. There was a course advertised at my local Community Mental Health Team. I was interested, but at that point in life I was in my almost legalistic brand of Christianity and I wo dered whether it was a bit too dodgy to get involved with- a bit too new age. So I didn’t pursue the opportunity but I did do some research on it.
I typed into google ‘Christian view of Mindfulness’ and as you can imagine I got quite a few weird and wonderful responses ranging from warning about it’s buddist roots to those likening it to Brother Andrew’s ‘Practising the Presence.’ My own personal jury was out. I could see the value of being in the moment and how I could still meet God there but I was also concerned at opening myself up to spiritual influences that weren’t going to be hugely helpful. I met someone who had done the aforementioned course and read some of her material, which I found very helpful indeed.
A few years on, my faith is in crisis, but some of those concerns remain. Mindfulness has certainly become more mainstream and has a significant scientific credibility to it, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is now available with huge research centres based at Oxford University. My current view, which I know many will disagree with, is that I remain slightly fearful of it, but also see a huge value for it and I hope that I will be able to meet the Judeo-Christian God within this tradition.
I didn’t realise that mindfulness would be so hard! Unlike yoga it is not about emptying your mind- rather the opposite- it is about focussing the mind on one thing at a time. I was shocked at how multi-tasking I am! Penelope asked me to focus on making and eating my breakfast mindfully- well, it was nearly impossible. Usually I would come down stick kettle on, while it was boiling I would feed the fish, put the toast on, unload the dishwasher if it needed… being mindful meant stopping and doing nothing except focus on making the tea… what can I hear? watch the steam rising… feel the kettle getting hotter, consider my posture… by necessity it meant slowing down and slowing down is something I find difficult, especially when on the whole I am trying to keep busy and distracted to manage my mood.
Earlier, I went for a mindful walk- trying to focus on the impact of my feet, the sights I could see, looking upward, smelling the freshly cut grass. It made the whole thing a lot more enjoyable. As I walked, my mind digressed (it happens quite a lot) and I realised that writing was one of the few things I did where I was fully present in the activity. When I play the piano I am everywhere else except at the piano… when I colour, my mind is all over the place… when I watch TV I’m not sure I am even in the room. However, when I write, I manage to keep my whole attention on the words and sentences I am creating… so writing is most probably something I should try and do a bit more of!