Thursday, 7 November 2013

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind. Week 3

Wow what a mixed bag this week has been in terms of emotions. There have been some great personal achievements and some difficult moments. The roller-coaster of emotions has been difficult and downright exhausting at times. This lead to huge urges to binge and revert back to that safe coping mechanism which has served me so well in the past. 

I found this weeks mindfulness group really triggering. Others in the group disclosed personal difficulties which I couldn't help but get overly emotional about. It's like I suck up the ambient emotions around me and add them to my already overflowing sensitivity. As if I'm a magnet for others pain. I also didn't complete the homework which triggered guilt, a very difficult emotion for me.

While I was paying attention to the other peoples problems in the group I really wasn't being mindful to my own escalating emotional state. We did a gratitude exercise where each of us listed the things we were most grateful for in the present moment. Some mentioned their houses and family, and rather than being happy about what I do have, all I could do was focus on how jealous I was that I don't have those things. I kept homing in on the things others had that I wanted too.

I see now, in retrospect that I really wasn't using the  DBT skill PARTICIPATE, which is vital when practising mindfulness. It is a 'WHAT' skill which allows you to benefit wholly from the experience and enter into your experiences whole-heartedly. When you participate you let yourself get involved in the moment, letting go of ruminating and self-consciousness. 
Participating is entering wholly into an activity, becoming one with the activity. It is throwing yourself into something completely. It is spontaneous behaviour to a certain extent, although you can also do it mindfully. (dbtselfhelp.com)
This lack of mindfulnesses led to me clinging on to my emotions and carrying them around for the rest of the day. It tainted everything I did that day. I was short and gruff with people who did not deserve that and I was mean and harsh towards myself in my thoughts and behaviours.

I cooked a chicken and broccoli bake that night with the intention of cooking enough for leftovers for the following day, but I let my emotions take control and ended up eating twice as much as I needed. I gorged myself, making myself feel ill as if I was punishing myself. I didn't even enjoy it at all and on top of that didn't have any left overs.

At weigh in today I was expecting a gain. I even cheated by taking my jumper off and wearing really light shoes in the hopes I would at least stay the same. So I was really pleasantly surprised when the scales showed a two pound loss. 

In reflection, it hadn't been that bad a week (except for Tuesday). I had cooked really well all week, had upped my protein intake, had stayed clear of alcohol, only had one takeaway and began walking more in an attempt to prepare myself for an increase in activity. Those are all huge achievements for me. A mere three weeks ago I wasn't doing any of that, eating numerous takeaways a week and  not at all aware of my daily food intake.

I'm in my third week now and am 3.5lbs down, but its not just the number on the scale I am happy about. My energy levels are up and I'm sleeping better. My binges are less and hence I don't feel so bloated. My digestive health has improved drastically too! No more tummy cramps and bunged up sensations (Sorry for the TMI!) I haven't noticed a major difference in my clothes yet, but the reduction in bloating is helping my day to day comfort.

This week in my Weight Watchers meeting the talk topic was 'Exercise and how it affects mood'. I totally agree with this but rarely find the motivation to go get active, yet I KNOW that when I do I ALWAYS feel good after. This is part of the EMOTION REGULATION module in DBT. PLEASE is so important for keeping my emotions in check and exercise is the one particular part I have been neglecting. We talked about finding an activity that we find enjoyable and fun. Those of you who have been here a while know that I used to be an avid dancer, so my mind went straight back to the fun I had in a dance class. Ballet isn't really an option for me right now, but I have tried Zumba before and therefore I made a commitment to my WW leader to go back to it. 

The Gods must be looking after me, money is really really tight and the €10 cost of weekly Weight Watcher meetings is about all I can afford right now on top of the expensive healthy food I'm buying and my rent each week. I can't afford a gym membership or expensive exercise classes. Luckily, I found an online coupon for 6 Zumba classes for €17! And its in the city centre and on my bus route. It's perfect, and I couldn't be happier with such a great deal! I'm starting next Monday evening. Can't wait to tell you how it goes.

Here's this weeks chart, hopefully the green line will keep inching towards my goal weight!

Preview of your graph



Stay Mindful. xxx

Friday, 1 November 2013

Healthy Weight Loss After an Eating Disorder - Week Two

I was dreading today. I mean what a bloody embarrassment it would have been if I didn't lose anything in my first week, the seemingly easiest week to lose weight according to the literature. It was small but at least it was a loss! Yippee! 



I had a wobbly week regarding sticking to the programme. I had two major slip ups where I binged. The first was after a night out last Saturday, the second, I'll get to.... I had a fair few tipples on Saturday and soon lost track of how many points I had consumed, actually I stopped even caring about my weight loss plan. I have the best boyfriend ever, as he picked me up from town in the wee hours and 'saved' me from that late night chipper. but as soon as I got home, I actually remember thinking 'Feck it' I'll be good tomorrow, which is saying something... because I remember very little else.

I stumbled into the house and into the kitchen and all of a sudden I was ravenous! I tore open the fridge and turned my nose up at the glossy green apples and colourful selection of veggies I had stocked it with earlier that day. No way was that going to satisfy the roaring hungry lion in my tummy. Within minutes I had the laptop out and I had ordered a pizza from Domino's. Damn the convenience of late night delivery!!!

Despite that set back, I picked up the broken pieces of my programme and tried to glue them back together. I got back to tracking and working out my points, home cooked hearthy, filling and healthy beef meatballs (needed the iron) packed full of zero point veggies and a small portion of wholegrain pasta. Total of 12 points for great sized yummy dinner, and there was enough left over to freeze a portion too.

Great, I am feeling wonderful and it's now bank holiday Monday.... I go to a spinning class and get my weekly dose of torture.. those seats are so painful! Then me and my better half went to my family home where my Mum cooked a beautiful roast chicken and ham dinner with all the works! yum! Points were through the roof... but kept within my 31 daily points and snacked on zero point food for the rest of the day.

I re-started the mindfulness class on Tuesday and have sort of mixed feelings about it. I came home and binged again on pizza after, and it took me a few days to reflect upon why it happened. It was differently emotional eating in response to the new group.

It's very different to the Mindfulness-Based Stressed Reduction group I did last year. It's easier to fit in and actually do the practises as the tracks are only 8 - 15 mins long! No more 45 mins mega sessions. Yay! This course is based on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  MBCT has been clinically proven to be at least as effective as drugs for depression and it is recommended by the UK's National Institute of Clinical Excellence - in other words, it works. More importantly it also works for people who are not depressed but who are struggling to keep up with the constant demands of the modern world. This programme focuses on promoting joy and peace rather than banishing unhappiness. It's precisely focused to help ordinary people boost their happiness and confidence levels whilst also reducing anxiety, stress and irritability. All sounds good so far.

This new style of mindfulness suits me to the ground as I am an expert in postponing my practice and in finding reasons why it doesn't matter if I don't practice each day. In addition, sometimes I am afraid to meditate. I'm scared of what I might feel if I am are not busy distracting myself. I'm fearful of being bored or of feeling intense emotions. Looking back to when I first started mindfulness I remember not being ready yet to experience the intense fear or memories of abuse by myself, alone in my own head. I feared that if I meditated, or let go of my usual strategies of numbing or being mindless, I would feel overwhelmed by the intensity of those memories or emotions.

I remember having "an epiphany", I was just so unused to being in the present moment that that was what was making me anxious. This isn't uncommon seemingly - especially for people with anxiety disorders, who frequently live in the future rather than the present. I was not used to looking at what's happening in this moment, never mind trying to bring acceptance to it! So I came home and ate, ate, ate to numb all those emotions that I being trying so hard to escape from.

What I learnt back then and consequently forgot in the last few months is that often what we find in the present is scary, and that's one reason we've been living in the past or the future. In reflection, I learnt or should I say I re-learnt a very valuable lesson this week: negative emotions are shit, really shit, but running away from them just makes you eat more pizza, put on weight and make said emotions even worse.

Anyway here's a shiny new graph charting my loss this week.


Stay mindful friends

Monday, 28 October 2013

Healthy Weight Loss After an Eating Disorder.

****TRIGGER WARNING**** Weight, BMI and ED behaviours mentioned.

As some of you may know, I have been purge free for the last year now (can I get a whoop whoop!) which is a HUGE personal achievement after years of bulimia ruling my every waking hour. The only thing is, I unfortunately am still not 100% ED behaviour free. I am still over eating and sometime binging, although nowhere near as frequently as before now I don't have a 'release', a way to 'get rid' of that post binge, horrible full feeling. None-the-less all that chomping on cream cakes and late night pizza parties have taken a toll on my body, my health and on my emotional well-being.

I knew my clothes size had gone up but I had gotten used to it going up after re-feeding. So I was NOT prepared to be told my BMI was in the overweight section during a recent Dr visit. I was shocked. She recommended cutting back on the sweet stuff and taking up exercise. 

In the last two years I have gone from being under weight for my height; bringing with it all the negative health risks that go along with that, to being over weight for my height, which has brought about some unexpected twists to my long list of maladies. My blood pressure is now high for the first time ever, I have nasty stretch marks on my legs and boobs. My iron levels are all over the place and cant make it up a flight of stairs without feeling like my heart is going to explode. 

Now I must say that I am not obese or anywhere near that category on the BMI scale (not a reliable scale I know, but I use it from time to time) I am just tipping into the overweight category. I'm super tall (5''11) so I tend to carry weight easily without knowing it, especially if I am not weighing myself, which I haven't as it used to be a major trigger in the past.

My Dr and I came up with a plan. Go to weekly weight watcher meetings, do one fitness class a week and get back running twice a week also. And also check in with her monthly to discuss any returning ED thoughts or behaviours. She also singed me up to an 8 week mindfulness programme to re-assert myself with awareness skills which will allow me to notice any negative thoughts creeping back in. A solid plan I think. My team believe in letting me make my own choices, including how I life my life. I love how they don't coddle me or insult my intelligence. I told them that I felt I could trust myself not to take the weight loss to the extreme and they agreed with me.

So I joined my local weight watchers last Thursday and found it really motivating. I've been cooking healthy home-made meals everyday from scratch, taking into account all the food groups and incorporating knowledge I learned from nutrition sessions over the years. Nothing is off limits, just eating in moderation. My goal weight gets me down into low end of the healthy weight BMI section. 

I'm back to tracking my daily food intake and now add values to everything I eat in the form of weight watcher pro points. The Weight Watchers program is based on a points system. Food items are assigned a point value, and based on your current weight you are given a daily allowance of points to consume. Weight Watchers also encourages a continuing education in nutrition through weekly meetings, which also offer support and accountability. The Weight Watchers program encourages slow and steady weight loss, but like any diet plan it has its dangers....

The main concept in the Weight Watchers diet is portion control and limiting the daily intake of calories. Each food item is given a point value based on the number of calories, fat and fiber it contains. Many vegetables have no points while a piece of pizza will have five or more, depending on the size and toppings. The problem with this system is that it recognizes points instead of the quality of those points. Two points is two points whether is a cookie or a small serving of low-fat cottage cheese with pineapple. The latter is the healthier choice, but the system sees them as equal. It is up to the individual to make healthy choices.

I have some peeves with adding these values to foods but I think I will do a different Blog entry on that though ... I can ramble a bit if you don't know!

Okay, so in the interest of accountability I am going to do a weekly weigh in on here to chart my weight loss. I do like a chart, I'm a numbers geek and proud of it. So here is week one.

Preview of your graph


I would really love to hear your thoughts on whether weight loss can be achieved in a healthy way when there is a history ED and disordered eating.

Stay mindful xxx


Monday, 7 October 2013

Lying as a way of avoiding distress.

Masking the truth

This is a topic I find quite painful to discuss. It brings up a lot of shame, leaving me feeling as if I tumbled naked out of a warm bed into a cold room and there was no time to cover up before a crowd arrives to view my embarrassment. Yet, I feel it's important to talk about this. After doing a good deal of reading on shame recently, I see how confronting it head on seems to be the only way to dissipate it fully. 

I must have been about four years old, when my nursery school teacher turned to my mother with a furrowed brow, a concerned tone and said something along the lines of ... "Some children lie, maybe to get out of trouble or to play 'make believe'.... that's harmless and can be corrected as the child grows older, learning it's not nice to be dishonest. But your little one's fibs are troubling. She truly believes her made up fantasies are real. I don't think she sees the difference between reality and fantasy."

When I was in second class in primary school (8 years old) I told my teacher and friends at the time that my Mum was expecting another baby with my Dad. My parents had been separated since I was four, it was a messy break-up, with lots of anger, manipulation and public arguments.  So you can imagine my Mother''s surprise when she came to pick me up and the other Mum's were congratulating her on her pregnancy and recent rekindling of her marriage. Looking back now, I think I did it to try and solve the problem. If I told enough people I had a happy family, then maybe it would come true. I remember fully believing what I was saying was real. This particular lie had a horrible outcome, it was of course found out and I was humiliated by having to publicly apologise and recant the lie to all my classmates. It not only filled my heart with shame, but compounded the reality of my distress of living within a fragmented family.

Another example is a bit more recent. I don't tend to tell people I had to leave my university course because of illness, I mince the truth, I brush it off, say I did finish and quickly change the topic. There are sooo many other examples, but I don't feel able to disclose them just yet. but I can allow you a glimpse at some conclusions I have come to about my lies.

I lied to avoid the distress and the chaos in my life. However, the truth can and does emerge at times which leads to more chaos in an attempt to avoid the past and the destruction that always follows. I can understand why so many family members and friends started to distance themselves from the me. This then started the cycle of avoidance and low esteem. The feeling of abandonment and the lies. No one likes to admit to making mistakes or "wrong calls".

It was about control with me. When my life was so out of control, I could have a little through lying. Sometimes it was to avoid conflict. I couldn't stand anyone being mad at me. I often find myself lying simply because I can't stand one more moment of my real life. Sometimes the lies are of how I wished things were or happened instead of what the real situation is.

When I am really distressed I can't tell the difference between lying and telling the truth because I say what I think people want to hear. I don't tell whoppers as I am too terrified of being rejected if I am found out - but I fudge, exaggerate, deny things and change my facts all the time. I only just discovered this as I have been lying to myself for so long too about this! It's really hard to realize and admit that lying comes so naturally to me that I don't even notice I'm doing it. I would characterise it against the DSM criterion 'frantic attempts to avoid real or imagined abandonment' - I would say my pathological lying is part of my ongoing attempt through frantic 'relationship management' to make others happy and therefore unlikely to reject me.

People with BPD often experience deep and entrenched shame; lying may be one way to conceal mistakes or weaknesses that increase shameful feelings. People with BPD are often also very sensitive to rejection, so one function of lying could be to “cover up” mistakes, so that others will not reject them.

I think I lie lie as a means of protecting myself from rejection or a survival technique, and it did seem that a good deal of my lying was some kind of defence mechanism to avoid any intense feelings of failure and self-loathing.

Given that a BPD hallmark is interpersonal relationships that alternate between idealization and devaluation, the person with BPD may distort facts aimed at the person with whom they desire a personal relationship. … In the moment, their desired objective, whatever that may be, takes such precedence over speaking the truth or behaving honestly that the potential consequences of their conduct are reduced to shadowy details.”

Sometimes we may judge ourselves harshly and expect others to do the same. Lying serves to deflect shame when something might make us look bad, thereby maintaining whatever self-esteem we have on a temporary basis. … We believe that anything ‘bad’ would make others reject them. … Lies may mask real feelings and put up an impressive fa├žade. Lies may help make sense of why things happen to us in our mixed-up identity.

In other words, some of us with BPD lie to avoid abandonment or to avoid self-hatred.

What are your experiences with lying and the presumption of lying?



Tuesday, 9 April 2013

There is a Difference Between Difficult and Impossible. Using OPPOSITE ACTION to curb WILLFULNESS


I find a colossal urge to resist being truthful to myself. Even though I can’t quite fathom this period of dissociation which seems to be here on an extended and highly unwelcome visit, I have also not been doing anything to actively pull myself out of it, even though I know that there are ways to help myself.

I have spent the last two years learning that DBT and my treatment team are not going to magically ‘fix’ my emotional vulnerability. And even though I would love them to just magically take all my difficulties away for me, they can’t.

It IS true though, that I have proven to myself that with hard work and dedication to my health I can help myself with the skills which have been thought to me. When I weigh up this evidence, I still find myself being willful. As stubborn as a mule!

Recovering from dysregulation requires action, but taking action when you’re emotionally overwhelmed is hard. In fact, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like going for a walk or spending time with friends, can be exhausting.

It’s the Catch-22 of emotional sensitivity: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There’s a difference, however, between something that's difficult and something that's impossible.

Looking back on past blog entries I am reminded that the key to getting over being willful is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Draw upon whatever resources you have. You may not have much energy, but you probably have enough to take a short shower, care for a pet or pick up the phone to text a loved one or someone else who could also do with a boost.

While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can choose to do things that you used to or know you do enjoy. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Go out with friends. Take a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or the pick up a trashy magazine.

Push yourself (with compassion) to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. This is all down to OPPOSITE ACTION. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if the dysregulation doesn't lift immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities.

So with this in mind (and an extremely willful mind it can be) I took myself off a yoga class with a friend today and went to support another friend of mine who lost her father a month ago. 
I have tons of work building up for my course which I have had to put on the back burner due to grief and sickness, so I am facing it tomorrow, going to the doctor to get a sick note and asking for an extension. 
Do I feel any better? Not hugely, but ever so slightly yes. And each day being skillful all adds up to achieving a life worth living. Just remember… Rome wasn't built in a day.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Give the Child a Chance.



It’s a reality that this blog has drawn people to me, but it has also pushed others away. I realize that the “me” revealed in these posts isn't always the “me” that is seen across a table at Starbucks, at a family meal or on a night out with the girls.  I know that some former friends can’t deal with the more complicated “me” they meet on this blog. I can’t help that. It’s unfortunate that sadness drives me here much more than celebration does. So from that a reader may conclude that I am sad much more of the time then I am happy. But emotions are not stable, I am often undisturbed by my internal troubles and I am often a fully functional member of society.


From the time I appreciated the therapeutic practice of writing, of purging the spiraling thoughts from my distressed mind, it has been my way to survive, to protect myself. It was actually a former psychiatrist (with whom I failed to connect with on any other topic!) who must be credited with planting the seed of starting this blog in my mind.  Along with meditation, writing is my spiritual discipline. Inside my head I am torn with conflicts. I struggle to understand myself and my world, I write because I want to bring to myself and perhaps those who read my posts more light, more grace, more understanding. It helps heal the little girl who hurts, it gives her a voice. Finally.

Friday, 8 March 2013

DBT for grief


I am worried what to say to her, but I am sure everyone worries about what to say to a grieving person. But what I really feel is that knowing how to listen is much more important. Oftentimes, well-meaning people avoid talking about the death or mentioning the deceased person, I felt I should bring her Dad up, but when I was grieving for my friends that died a few years ago, I really needed to feel that my loss was acknowledged, I wanted to talk about it.
I wanted to let her know that she had my approval to talk about her dad’s death, even if it had only happened a few hours ago, yet I tried not to force her to open up. I just let her talk when the subject of her dad came up.
I brought food and made pots of tea. It’s what I do. I want to ‘mother smother’ her. That’s my term for looking after a person in time of crisis. I did it for my sister when her baby boy came early and was sick in the hospital. I got some healthy salads and soups, and also some comfort food like pizza and soda bread and giant cookies and coca-cola.
I am going out to her again tomorrow, I would like to make her some food for the freezer, but I am very low on money and can’t afford to buy the meat this weekend. From what I could see, she has enough food in the house for a few days, so can hold off for a while.
Okay… so the point of this post is to figure out what DBT skills to use to stay regulated so I can be the shoulder to lean on my friend needs right now.
MINDFULNESS
I need to be aware of which emotion I am experiencing. I will do this with OBSERVE, by checking in regularly with myself, and through my meditation practise. Then I will DESCRIBE the emotion and how it is affecting my body, thoughts and behaviours. I will be NON-JUDGEMENTAL towards my thoughts, my emotions and the feelings and emotions of those who are grieving. I will do this by putting myself in their shoes. I will let my friend know that t’s ok to feel whatever way they feel, let her express her feelings without judgement, argument or criticism.
INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVNESS
This is a time to use the relationship effectiveness skill GIVE
·         Be gentle
·         Be interested
·         Validate
·         Have an easy manner
I will smile at my friend and her family and be MINDFUL in my conversation.
EMOTION REGULATION
I really need to reduce my vulnerability with PLEASE, take my medication, go to yoga (even though this friend normally comes with me). Absolutely no drink or prescribed drugs…! I must endeavour to get the right amount of sleep. I will continue with my healthy diet and stick to my meal plans.
I will try to INCREASE POSITIVE EMOTIONS by going to my meditation group tonight. I will notice how I feel in my body, what’s passing through my mind, what I am doing, how I am behaving.

DISTRESS TOLERANCE
DISTRACTION is my best bet here, in particular focusing on others, in particular my friend. I will focus on her and concentrate on her needs. This will help direct my thoughts away from the difficult emotions which accompany death
I am AWAKING OPPOSITE EMOTION by listening to my favourite music, calming and soothing music.
PRAYER is helping me too to not make the situation worse. I am also bringing my friend and her family into my meditation.
I self-soothed by taking a really long hot shower this morning which gave me the strength to go see my friend after.
Finally RADICAL ACCEPTANCE is greatly needed. Death is the ultimate test for this skill. I hate that he is dead, yet I must accept it. 

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Mindful Photography


 Last September I choose to do a year long course in photography. I wanted a break from my usual academic pursuits and had a longing to nurture my creative side through mindful activities and I thought photography would suit my desire.


Mindful photography is simply the process of being truly present and paying attention while photographing; being Here, Now. It is perceiving and engaging, without judgment, photographically, that which is. It is the path of incorporating photography into my practice of mindfulness, and incorporating mindfulness into my practice of photography. My path leads me through the beauty and serenity I find in nature, so this is the context in which I will most often speak; your path may lead you another way, but I trust that we will still be able to understand and help one another in our respective journeys. 

With photography, there’s often a feeling of built-up anticipation by the time we reach our destination. Whether we’ve traveled a thousand miles or driven two hours from home to a favorite spot, the temptation to mount camera on tripod and start photographing immediately can be powerful. However, there are real benefits to slowing down and taking a more contemplative approach.

On a personal level, slowing down and connecting with my environment can help me relax and ease the self-imposed pressure to Get The Shot. It lets us enjoy the location for what it is, and not just as a photographic target. Mindful photography reminds me that the process, the journey, is its own reward.

 


On an artistic level, I will many times find perspectives I might not have otherwise noticed. Even if I end up not making them into photographs, they will inform my approach to the photographs I do make. Being present in the landscape will often lead me away from the tripod holes of those who have been here before us, and toward those compositions that speak to our own vision.


So, how do I go about establishing – or, better said, recognizing – this connection? Here are three ways I relax into a more mindful awareness of my environment.


One of the first things I do is find a safe spot (out of the way of other visitors and away from potential hazards like cliff edges or slippery rocks), close my eyes, open my mouth a bit, and breathe.  I breathe slowly and deeply, inhaling the scent and the flavor of the place, bringing it into myself. In the forest, I smell leaves and branches decaying to soil, and new plant life growing from that soil. In the woods, I smell the evergreens, the tamarack bogs, and the tannins in the soil and water. Standing next to a waterfall, I catch the tang of ozone from the rushing and tumbling water. Smell is a powerfully evocative sense, and can in an instant recall connections across the years and miles.



While my eyes are closed, I also listen. When I think I am surrounded by either noise or silence, it means I’m not paying attention. The noise is the movement of wind through trees, water roaring over rocks, geese honking in the distance, a mosquito buzzing near my ear. The silence is really the backdrop for the thump of a clump of snow sliding from a single branch, the periodic drip-plop of water seeping through limestone, my breath, my heartbeat – and yes, a bee buzzing near my ear. And in between the extremes I hear a marvelous range of the sounds of life, of my presence in the physical world – sounds I don’t want to miss or take for granted.

Friday, 1 February 2013

OBSERVE - Listen like a sponge

This very useful skill was taught to me by a extremely talented key worker when I was on the intensive outpatient program last year. She really got through to me and helped me see how little attention I pay to others when they are talking to me.

This is what she told me to try to help improve my relationships by using mindfulness:

"Listen to others as if you are a sponge, soaking up what the other person is saying. Let your mind be quiet, and just take it in. Don't formulate any response in your mind until a response is requested or required."

At first I was quite annoyed, even offended that she thought I didn't listen to people . I became defensive and shut down and guess what... I didn't listen to word she said after that!

Maybe she had a point.

But what I failed to understand is that mindful listening is not common place in our society. It's also known as absorptive listening and really ties in with the DBT skill of OBSERVE. It does not come naturally to most people and most certainly does not come natural to me.

Recently I have started practicing absorptive listening and have become very aware of my inner dialogue;  a mental voice urging the person talking to "hurry up and finish speaking so I can tell you what I think!!!" As you can imagine this voice can interfere with tranquil, attentive listening. I discovered I rarely just allow myself to 'absorb' what the other person is saying without trying to tie it to my own life somehow or come up with a solution to the problem they are telling me about.

I 'but' in to other people's conversations and jump to a new topic before the last has really ended and to be honest I have come across as plain rude in some cases.... not intentionally... but just due to a lack of awareness, a absence of mindfulness.

I know how great it feels to be on the receiving side of absorptive listening, and am blessed to have some fantastically mindful friends who I feel really 'witness' me when I talk, (or write, as I have some great on-line friends). I would love to nurture that talent within myself so that others may feel that total attention from me.