Core Mindfulness

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Let's start at the very beginning. . .

In DBT there are three primary ways we use to refer to our states of mind.

They are:

  • (1) Emotion Mind,
  • (2)Reasonable Mind, and
  • (3) Wise Mind.
  •   1.Emotion mind occurs when our thoughts are being controlled by our emotions. If the emotions are fear, or anger they may keep our thoughts so volatile that we have trouble being reasonable.
      2.Reasonable mind is when we can think logically, be rational about what is occurring.
      3.Wise mind is the interception between emotion and reasonable mind. Wise mind is part reason and part emotion and what makes us know we're in this mind is often a sense of intuition. It can sometimes be described as that 'aha' moment.

    When I experience wise mind, I have a sense of stepping back from the situation. Like I might look at a person and be able to see how they're struggling, but I'm not taking their struggles personally. Rather, I have a sense of compassion that makes me want to be validating toward them.

    Here's an example: I have a relative who is extremely self-centered. When I talk to him he goes on and on talking about himself. Occasionally, he might ask me a question, but he never remembers the answer. The only times he remembers what I have told him is when I talk about him. For many years, I took this personally. I thought he didn't really care about me at all and only wanted an audience.

    Then one day it hit me. He was talking, but I had put up a bit of an emotional shield because I was tired of being disappointed. I suddenly saw how sad it was that he couldn't listen to me or anyone else, that his self esteem was so damaged that in all his social encounters he tried over and over again to prove that he was okay. I could understand what that felt like and I saw him with more compassion and didn't get caught up in caring about whether he ever listened to me.

    I saw his desperation and without thought or effort, I began to be more validating.Instead of walking away wounded, I congratulated him for his achievements. When he talked about problems, I didn't give him suggestions or advice, I just said, "That must have been very difficult for you." He stopped trying to pull a response out of me and said. "That's right. It was. I'm glad you understand."

    That realization and acceptance without taking it personally is an example of wise mind.

  • Wise mind can be an experience that you have when listening to someone else and realizing that you can relate to their behavior. Wise mind is sometimes experienced in the center of the body (belly) or in the center of the head, or between the eyes.
  • Sometimes a person can find it by following their breath in and out.
  • Some people experience wise mind when making a decision that they know is absolutely know is the right thing to do. They know they are in wise mind because they don't have any sense of dread or anxiety. They just "know" they are doing the right thing. There is absolutely no doubt.
  • Sometimes wise mind is like the calm that follows the storm, something experienced immediately following a crises or enormous chaos. It's about suddenly getting to the heart of the matter, seeing or knowing something directly or clearly. It is grasping the whole picture when only parts were previously understood. It is "experiencing" the right choice in a dilemma, when the feeling comes from deep within rather from a current emotional state.

  • My Personal Notes Taken on Mindfulness in DBT Classes
  • Mindfulness is to be aware of what is going on within myself, switching energy (and my attention will follow).
  • Wise mind is a balanced place of creativity, inspiration, intuition, and letting go.
  • I go to wise mind so that I can switch to another state of mind.
  • A certain sensation occurs in wise mind, it has a quality of calm and peacefulness about the moment.
  • Sometimes I have to let go of emotional action temptation and use all willingness to go to a difference place so that I can anchor myself.
  • Mindfulness isn't so much a change in thoughts and images as a change in awareness of thought.
  • The practice of mindful meditation, over time, increases concentration so that when PTSD memory images come, I can separate from them like I would with thoughts.
  • When the image or thought or emotion comes in, do deep breathing to stay in the moment and tell yourself that the reaction was appropriate in the actual situation but not appropriate at this moment.
  • After mindful concentration, if the flashback continues, go to distraction,
    then radical acceptance.
  • Suffering is about fighting the pain. When I observe and describe the experience of the moment, suffering makes the pain seem bigger because I'm always saying, "I can't stand this. It never goes away." But if I stop telling myself these things and stop fighting the pain, then I could view it from a mindful perspective, without judgments. The pain comes, I acknowledge it, don't fight it. Then the pain dissipates without suffering.
  • I can intervene between stimulus and response in order to enter wise mind if I practice finding wise mind using mindfulness meditation. Achieving intervention (thus changing my mind state) can become an option, a choice in the way I respond to certain situations. But if my history is such that I have no experience for alternative ways of responding, then there is no option because I have no frame of reference for it.
  • need to build skills to have more options.
  • Mindfulness can continue to build in layers. For instance: first, maybe I become mindful of the sounds around me. Then, I become mindful of the sounds and the descriptions I use to describe the sounds. So, I observe them both. Next, I may become aware that I am making judgments about the sounds. So, I observe the sound and the way my mind describes it and the judgment my mind places on it. Gradually, I learn to observe and let go, empowering my mind to choose its own course in regards to how it will react or not react to the sound.
  • Ultimately, what should I be mindful of? Whatever is effective.
  • Discussion

    Using the above as a description of being in wise mind can anyone relate their own experience of wise mind?

    What has it taken for you to reach wise mind? For example, sometimes a person may reach wisdom only when suddenly confronted by another person. Or someone else may say something insightful that unlocks an inner door.

    What similar experiences or other examples have any of you had in experiencing wise mind?

    Can you think of a situation in your life in which using this skill might have been helpful? How do you think the outcome would have been different? Can you make a plan to use it in a situation that is upcoming and might be difficult?


    Set an alarm clock for a certain period of time each day (like every hour). When the alarm goes off, check in with yourself. How are you experiencing the moment? Observe your thoughts and emotions. Don't judge them as right or wrong, just observe and describe it by writing it down. At the end of the day, do you see a pattern? Have you learned anything about yourself? No matter what the experience you had, allow yourself to let go of all that happened. Let go of the judgments. Be in the moment. What is this like for you?

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