Vajra Blue

Mindfulness and Compassion. Understanding trauma in young people.


Why Compassion Matters

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Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism. 

Hubert H. Humphrey

The headlong rush to the “I’m all right Jack, sod you.” culture, began in earnest in the 1980s with the rise of the Yuppies and the “Greed is good” mindset. Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at that time, famously stated that ‘There is no such thing as society.”

And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no governments can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.

Margaret Thatcher 

The opinion that she expressed in this speech is chilling in its content. A call to put the self ahead of the rest of the world. A siren call to Ego that was reflected back by Ronald Regan the then President of the United States.

This world view, as expressed by the leaders of the western democracies, helps to explain the shift in mentality seen in much of the western world. A mentality that lies behind a gradual drift to Individualism and Nationalism that has contributed so much to the current turmoil in the world. Not least to the increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots, and where difference is seen as dangerous.

A world view that divides people into two camps, us and them. Fortunately this view is now being challenged by new generations.

Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By putting our interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values.

Emmanuel Macron

If Margaret Thatcher is taken literally, she is saying that governments, that is the people in power, should act in their own interests first and only put those of the people they were elected to serve second.

A prophetic utterance if ever there was one.

The final result has been the alienation of many citizens from the societies in which they live, and a rise in xenophobia and Nationalism..

Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.

Native American Saying

The counterbalance to this is to develop a compassionate mindset. If we work to understand and appreciate the other person’s point of view and their life circumstances, we put ourselves in a position to help both them and ourselves. The scientific research suggests that being compassionate is good for us.

Compassion should not be confused with pity, an emotional state which emphasises the difference between the two parties.

In many ways compassion becomes a shared experience that allows us to focus on what we hold in common. Triggering a desire that others, as well as ourselves, should be free of suffering and its causes. As one definition summarises it..

‘Compassion is’…being sensitive to the suffering of self and others with a deep commitment to try to prevent and relieve it.

The Dalai Lama

Compassion is not only being open to another’s suffering, but also needs to be directed to the self. We all suffer in different ways, and compassion helps us to reflect on this and make an appropriate response. A positive mindset which is of benefit to ourselves as well as others.

The western world has developed a society in which many people have a very low opinion of themselves. Focussing on what is wrong at the expense of what is right. A world in which anxiety and depression have become a normal part of  many people’s lives.

Developing a compassionate mindset allows us to reverse this situation. When we develop an understanding of the causes and effects that are at play in our own lives we can address them more easily, and so become better placed to understand and respond to others suffering as well.

Once we understand our own circumstances, and observe our habitual responses, we can act out of that changed mindset and become a positive influence in our world.

The good news is that the more you practice compassion the easier it gets.

So

Fake it until you make it.

Sandy


Mindfulness: Rumination: a bad idea over and over and over…………..again.

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I recently had a discussion with my son about the ways in which animals get their energy from food.

In articular we were discussing the way cows extract maximum energy from cellulose in the vegetation that they eat, and the process of rumination or chewing the cud that this involves.

“Eeuuh, you mean they eat their own sick?” was his response.

In a way this is what the cognitive process of rumination is like.

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Complex trauma: self harm and cutting to stay alive

Over the last couple of decades there has been a steady increase in the number of young people who are harming themselves.

This seems to be a worldwide phenomenon, at least in westernised countries. 

The act of self harm, which usually involves deliberately cutting, burning or otherwise harming the body, is not a diagnosis in itself, but is a symptom of psychological distress. 

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Mindfulness: where does the research stand?

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aglet, aiglet
ag·let  (ăg′lĭt)
n.

1. A tag or sheath, as of plastic, on the end of a lace, cord, or ribbon to facilitate its passing through eyelet holes.
2. A similar device used for an ornament.
[Middle English, from Old French aguillette, diminutive of aguille,needle, from Vulgar Latin *acūcula, from Late Latin acucula, diminutive of Latin acus, needle; see ak- in Indo-European roots.]

Mindfulness and meditation have been around for thousands of years.  It is only relatively recently that they have started to appear on the radar as potential treatments for physical and mental health difficulties.

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Depression: the effects of mindfulness.

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Your mind is not a cage.
It is a garden.
And it needs cultivating.
Libba Bray

The incidence of depression is rising rapidly, at least in the western world.  It has been described as the common cold of psychiatry and psychology.

Depression is a common disorder, but this does not make it either inevitable, or an acceptable part of modern life.  The lifetime incidence of depression continues to show a steady rise, with each succeeding generation having a greater risk.  For people born before the First World War, the lifetime risk was about 3%, for Americans currently in their midtwenties, current estimates put their lifetime risk to be approaching 25%. This rapid increase shows little sign of slowing down.

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FAMOUS for fifteen minutes: a mindful way to a happier life.

keep-calm-and-andy-warhol

When I grow up
I wanna be famous
I wanna be a star
I wanna be in movies

When I grow up
I wanna see the world
Drive nice cars
I wanna have groupies

PUSSYCAT DOLLS

Humankind is a very successful animal. Some two hundred thousand years ago, the entire human race consisted of a few thousand people living in Southern Africa.  In the ensuing years, we have made full use of our adaptability and survival skills, and have spread to every corner of the globe on the way becoming the world’s dominant species. Our current population is heading for eight billion. Much of this success is due to our ability to survive against the odds.

The systems developed by the process of evolution to detect, and then react to danger, have stood us in good stead. However, these systems, designed to pick up the early signs of danger, can be very unhelpful in the digital age.

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Mindfulness: 3 simple practices to help young people become mindful.

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I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.
Dalai lama.

The term Mindfulness seems to be on everyone’s lips at the moment. A great deal of research has already been undertaken into its benefits, and these cover many of the domains of our daily lives .

Although much of this research has been carried out on adults, there is increasing evidence that there are also benefits for young people. Indeed, even the British government has started to advocate that it should be taught in schools.

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