During a therapy session last year I was introduced to the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness in short, is the practice of being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations (emotions). Seems simple and an everyday approach in theory, but for a person with bipolar disorder being mindful of moments can get lost in our impulsive nature.
I recall the first time I actually engaged in mindful therapy. I felt real. Sounds weird I know, but it was like I was fully aware of the floor beneath my feet for the first time, the wall in front of me, the air I was breathing. Being conscious of that very moment and enjoying the fact that I had life was giving me life. It’s so minuscule but when you live a life where you are distracted most days because it’s hard for you to focus and pay attention, you will appreciate those little things that you often miss from being distracted.
Mindfulness isn’t something that I work on everyday, but when it crosses my mind I am fully engaged because of the peaceful and appreciative awareness it gives me. Bipolar disorder will have you feeling like you’re all over the place with no end. People who suffer from bipolar disorder are debilitated in attention, memory, and executive functioning (managing oneself and resources to accomplish a goal) often times because of the racing thoughts, mood swings, and depressive episodes. The premise of mindfulness is teaching your brain how to become aware of those thoughts and feelings and disassociate from them without taking on the stress of trying to figure out what you are going through while at the same time judging yourself. Most of the time this is done through meditation however there are other methods therapist coach to accomplish it.
I can only speak for myself but more than often I tend to not recognize my wins and spend much of my thought process on what’s wrong with me, what I’m not doing right, or what I’ve done that’s not right and I regret. I hate that my brain functions like that but in order to counter those thoughts I have to work twice as hard to stay conscious of the good in me. Our brains our made up of neurons that are like transmitters that become programmed based on our experiences. So feeling and thinking this way probably has a lot to do with how we have been conditioned to feel about ourselves. I know when I was teenager I questioned how I viewed myself as it was contrary to the things my parents and family was saying about me. I find myself still battling negative perceptions that I can say without a doubt aren’t true, but I wouldn’t have ever thought about or realized this was something that I could reprogram if not for therapy (check out my blog about my opinion of therapy).
In hindsight we have to be doubly attentive to our thought process as it is recognized that our thinking has so much to do with how we live our lives and the outcome of it. You owe it to yourself to live an optimistic productive life. I owe it to myself to live my life with promise and positivity. Along with other treatments, practicing mindfulness can be a beneficial element in accomplishing such. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Feeling good about yourself? Living in the moment? Being grateful for the little things? I don’t see nothing wrong with any of that.