Mindfulness is an ancient practice that has been adopted and adapted for use in psychological treatment, especially for self-regulation, in other words, not losing your shit. Two very famous people who are noted for their work in mindfulness are Jon Kabat-Zinn (up until 30 seconds ago I thought he was a psychologist and he actually has a Ph.D. in molecular biology; anyway, he is the writer of Full Catastrophe Living and other books) and Marsha Linehan of the University of Washington who developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) originally for severely suicidal adults in the 80’s and over the years she has broadened her work to a wide variety of mental disorders and life circumstances that challenge emotion and behavioral regulation. (By the way, if you ever get a chance to hear Dr. Linehan speak in public, I highly recommend that you attend. I have heard her a number of times and she is amazingly brilliant and funny. You also may have seen the NY Times interview last year, when she disclosed her own history in early adulthood of suicidality, self-harm, and repeated psychiatric hospitalizations. She is quite a courageous person.)

I am on a mindfulness email list because I attended a FACES conference at U.W. a few months ago with my dear friend, Nancy Cohen. I received an announcement about the book, A Year of Living Mindfully: 52 Quotes and Weekly Mindfulness Practices. Each week begins with a quote selected by a mindfulness teacher, followed by a lesson, and a practice for the week. The book is divided into several themes. Being the Western-minded impatient cheater that I am, I skipped to Section VI, “Being in Difficult Life Situations: Stress & Suffering.” Here’s the quote (selected by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.) followed by the exercise. I invite you to join me this week if you feel so inclined:

Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s were the light enters you.
-Rumi, 13th century poet/philosopher extraordinaire

Dr. Goldstein’s exercise (plagiarized directly from the book):

When you feel an uncomfortable feeling, try this experiment for a single minute:

“Breathing in, I feel this feeling; breathing out I let it be.”

You can shorten this to just saying “feel” on the in breath and “let be” on the out breath.

The instructions are simple, but the practice may not always be easy. Be kind and gentle to yourself through this process.

Okay kids, let’s be mindful. In the words of the Dalai Lama, “On your mark, get set, go! First person to the finish line wins!” (See, I already have the perfect mindfulness mindset.)