Vajra Blue

Mindfulness and Compassion. Understanding trauma in young people.


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Suicide: Taking up arms against a sea of troubles…..

The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card of some delay
So this is all I have to say
Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
I can take it or leave it if I please
And you can do the same thing if you please.

The theme from MASH

As a teenager I loved the programme MASH.

The adventures of the staff of a mobile army surgical hospital in the Korean War.

I particularly liked the theme tune and used to hum and sing it to myself. 

One day my mother heard me singing the words of the chorus, and became angry with me. It wasn’t for several years afterwards that I fully understood why.

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Repaying the sleep mortgage at three months a year.

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Some people cannot sleep because they have insomnia. Me? I cannot sleep because I have an Internet connection.

Sleep is a sadly neglected part of human life. If we are short of time, if we have too much to do, or are under pressure at work, or with our homework, we tend to scrimp on our sleep. Working an all nighter is a badge of honour in some companies. This sounds like a good idea, freeing up more time for us to deal with the stressful goings on in our lives. However we may just be storing up more trouble for ourselves than we avoid.

Many of the old wives tales and nursery rhymes contain a large element of truth.

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a boy healthy, wealthy and wise.

You need your beauty sleep.

Missing a night of sleep has the same effects on our brains as having a blood alcohol level that is above the legal driving limit.

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Mindfulness: Flow states and staying calm.

“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.”
Dogen Zenji 1200-1253

When I was young my grandmother took me to see a Chinese circus perform in Edinburgh.  One of my favourite acts was the mysterious girl in the red cheongsam, emblazoned with dragons, who span plates on long bamboo poles.  I became quite worried as the plates slowed down and looked as though they were about to topple to the ground and smash at any moment.

Only this never happened.

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Mindfulness for all

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The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

Mindfulness has gone mainstream. No longer the preserve of ancient and inscrutable oriental monks or bearded hippie weirdos, it is now being taught in schools.  Several leading US companies are providing training to their workers and it is touted as the cure for many of the ills that affect modern man.  Even the United States military are training their soldiers in mindfulness techniques.

Adapted from Buddhist teaching and increasingly applied to psychology and then to the mundane world, mindfulness is advertised as helping all psychological disorders from depression, where it is described as being as effective as antidepressant medication, through eating disorders and drug addiction to ADHD.  Although it is less helpful for physical disorders, if you believe the newspapers and the internet, it is said to help with heart disease, cancer, lowering blood pressure, chronic pain, sleep and a myriad of other conditions.  It leads to a longer life, better health and  a much greater sense of wellbeing.  Mindfulness boosts the immune system, leads to sporting prowess and better parenting, reduces anger and sets free creativity. The scientific evidence suggests that it is a key element in happiness.

Has mindfulness become a twenty first century panacea?

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Self compassion: put your own oxygen mask on first.

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Compassion is not just an emotion one might feel after reading something sad or heartbreaking. Our compassion is a source of energy and strength. It is the basis for our actions in the world.

From Zooburbia: Meditations on the Wild Animals Among Us, by Tai Moses

As a young child, I flew the Atlantic several times to spend school holidays with my parents in Quebec.

It always seemed odd to me that the air stewardesses (as they were called in those days) gave this instruction.

A diet of British films, featuring the incomparable British stiff upper lip, had always given me the idea that it should be “Women and children first”, not everyone look out for themselves. so it took a while to work it out.

I suspect that many of us feel uncomfortable putting ourselves first, thinking that this makes us selfish, bad people.

But this is not the case.

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Mindfulness: Right Here. Right Now

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”The brain secretes thoughts like the liver secretes bile”
Pierre Cabanis.

Where rumination is concerned this quote is doubly apposite. Not only do thoughts keep on coming but they also tend to be full of vitriol and bile against ourselves, against the way we have behaved in the past and might behave in the future, and to a lesser extent against other people.

Rumination is not about the present.

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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 particular 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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