Vajra Blue

Mindfulness and Compassion. Understanding trauma in young people.


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Conscious attention: looking after our inner world.

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If your mind carries a heavy burden of past, you will experience more of the same. The past perpetuates itself through lack of presence. The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future. ― Eckhart Tolle

Our brains have a very narrow bandwidth for the conscious processing of information.  This means that we spend a lot of time letting autopilot run our lives, based on how the unconscious mind processes incoming information.  The unconscious processes information rapidly while the conscious mind is much slower.  This has important consequences for our survival but can create difficulties in the modern world.

The unconscious mind is not able to tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined.  The same pathways in the brain can be triggered by either of them.  This means that we may respond to our internal thought processes or our current emotional tone, as if they were a response to real events in the outside world. Continue reading


Mindfulness: Minding the Gap.

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The guy in the bright blue ute who cut me up on my way to work this morning, did not act to make me angry and reality would say that absolutely nothing happened.

I had to brake a bit harder than I wanted and the action disturbed my reverie and highlighted my being absent from what I was supposed to be doing at the time – driving. My mind flashed onto this event bringing to bear all the other times when I have felt discounted, unvalued, taken for granted, ignored or other similar experience. This results in a flash of rage bursting out “How dare he treat me so!” “How dare he put my life in danger.” And I am even further detached from the present moment, in my car, driving, right here right now.

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Mindfulness: a safety catch when dealing with difficult emotions.

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Light the blue touch paper and retire.
Instruction on a firework box.

The human mind has only a very limited bandwidth available for the conscious processing of incoming information.

This means that much of our response to events is unconscious.

Because of this, we have developed highly effective systems for processing most of the data that reaches our brain without bringing it to full awareness.

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Depression: Activation in action. Setting goals and training the black dog.

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You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.
Winston Spencer Churchill.

Sir Winston Churchill, the British wartime Prime Minister, used the childhood expression “Black Dog”, to describe periods of altered, gloomy mood, that plagued him throughout his life.

These dips in mood could be so severe as to render him bed bound, yet they usually recovered over a period of weeks. Despite this, he managed to lead the United Kingdom from almost certain defeat to victory.

The  expression, Black Dog, has since become almost synonymous with depression.

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Mindfulness: guarding the gates to our senses.

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In 122 CE, Hadrian, the Roman emperor, drew a line in the sand, and set limits to the size of the Roman Empire.

This step was necessary as the Empire had become increasingly unwieldy to administer. Instead of throwing even more money, and yet more troops at the problem, as many suggested, Hadrian determined on a different solution.

Boundaries were marked around the Empire, and although the walls and defensive works that he ordered to be built, did serve a military purpose, the main idea seems to have been to control what came in, and what went out of the Empire.

For many of us, deciding what we allow into our inner world is a major problem.

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Mindfulness: solitude, spending time with ourself.

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My parents and my lecturers could never understand
Why I gave it up for music and the Free Electric Band.
Well they used to sit and speculate upon their son’s career
A lawyer or a doctor or a civil engineer

Albert Hammond

In the modern world with its lifestyle of continuous connection and instant availability, it is not surprising that we seem to have become afraid of being alone.

As a social species, human survival has depended on being part of a group.  The greater the crowd, the smaller the chance of any one person being eaten.

There is safety in numbers.

The accompanying fear of silence, presumably related to the silence that falls when a predator is close at hand, seems to go beyond a sensible degree of anxiety about our safety, to a genuine fear of being alone with our thoughts.

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Mental health: taking a BET on treatment.

Mental health has become a major concern of the modern world.

There are rising levels of depression.

Ever increasing numbers of work hours are lost to stress and related disorders.

There seems to be an epidemic of suicide and self harm among the young.

Current treatment regimens seem to rely too much on medication, often as the only intervention, and fail to address the holistic picture.

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Mindfulness: why living ain’t easy!

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What prevents us from doing things?

Especially the things that we would like to do, and know are in our best interests?

What causes us to fall short?

In traditional Buddhist writings the causes are called Hindrances.

Unlike the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, they are five in number, and we all have our favourites.

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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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