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Cesar Bujosa December 21st, 2004 09:48 PM

Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
I have concluded that Mindfulness meditation is a form of therapeutic exposure. This is why I believe it seems to have efficacy in treating numerous conditions:

pain management (Kabat-Zinn, 1982, Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, & Burney,1985, Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, L., Burney, & Sellers,1987), anxiety(Kabat-Zinn, Massion, , Kristeller, Peterson, Fletcher & Pbert, et al., 1992), psoriasis (Kabat-Zinn, Wheeler, Light, Skillings, Scharf,, Cropley, et al., 1998), depression (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002), immune functioning (Davidson, J. J. in press) and heart disease (Tacon, McComb, Caldera & Randolph, 2003). It has been incorporated to treat symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder (Linehan, M. M., 1993a, Linehan, M. M. 1993b), eating disorder (Kristeller, & Hallett, 1999) and generalized anxiety disorder (Roemer & Orsillo, 2002)

There is a radical acceptance of ourselves and our conditions when we interrupt thought and imaginings. We're left with "what is." This results in an adjustment to the presence of fear producing impressions and recollections. We habituate our emotonal wounds and existential terror. Meditation is interrupting escape, and compulsion just like exposure therapy.

It seems to me that mindfulness meditation seems to integrate imaginal exposure and in vivo exposure into one package. It's an awsome therapeutic tool. However, REBT, CBT and other functional therapise have been using mindful toleration of our core fears and symptoms for the last 50 years.

The problem with mindfulness meditation in America is that the practice is so foreign to what we're used to. We must proceed along the track of advancing the therapeutic application of mindfulness meditation, however we are in the early stages of its acceptance. Some day it will be an established norm. But for now, we are lucky to have numerous other approaches that provide therapeutic exposure. I would guard against relying to much on mindfulness. I say this as a committed meditator and therapist.

Lindsay Smith January 15th, 2005 06:18 AM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
In 2002 my wife & I visited friends in Mombai. I had previously mentioned to Varni that I wanted to hear some Classical Indian Music & go to a Meditation centre. Varni's sister in law sang several Hindu hymns in praise of Lord Siva for me after lunch & Varni's mother took me in a motorised 'trishaw' to the Raga Yoga Centre that she belongs to.

I was introduced to a 'sister' in white sari. In India women wearing white sari are usually widows. The 'sister' & told me about Raja Yoga practises & showed me into Large meditation area with a wooden floor. Meditators sat on the floor & focused attention on a large spiral diagram rather like the one that was in early hypnosis books. No mantras, chanting, instruction, movement, music. Simply look at the diagram. I was also taken to a small rectangular room with benches on the side walls & the spiral diagram opposite the door. People were looking at the diagram.

I often give my hypnotherapy clients homework to do 'whenever they need to or want to.' Often it is just to sit erect on a stool or chair & stare at the wall, closing & resting the eyes if they get tired & then opening the eyes again to look. I also suggest that they monitor their posture, their breathing, physical sensations, ideas & thoughts that may occur & so on. Cheers

Lindsay Smith January 19th, 2005 07:23 AM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
This afternoon a young instrumental music teacher came to see me about performance anxiety on recommendation from the mother of one of her students. So we discussed her work & her concerns & about 'just getting students to show up' for class & band. We discussed educational goals. The short term goal may be just to teach a small skill like getting a smooth soft sound from the trumpet. And how to do just that. It takes a lot of breath control & mind control as well. The performing arts are full of opportunities that mix theory & practise on many levels. It boils down to follow me, 'the demonstration' & discuss 'the effort' then try again. Slowly, slowly & mindfully skills are aquired without the need for anyone to be anxious.

Recently I read 'Five Past Midnight in Bhopal' by Dominique Lapierre & Javier Moro, a beautifully written book about the night of December 3, 1984 when toxic gas escaped from an American pesticide plant killing between 16 & 30 thousand people, 'the most murderous industrial disaster in history.' Page 334 tells how a sadhu meditating under the great tamarind tree in Kamla Park watched impassively as people fled the deadly cloud. All through the night the Naga Baba, naked holy man remained cross legged in the lotus position. He had lived there for 35 years ever since a five day samadhi, spiritual exercise in which he was buried alive, had turned him into a holy man. His only possessions, a pilgrims' stick with Shiva's trident & a food bowl. Detached from all desires, material things, appearances, aversions he spent his days meditating & rolling beads. His gaze seemly vacant behind half closed eyelids he seemed indifferent to the chaos that surrounded him. Monomethylamine & phosgene asphyxiated dozens of men & women around him. Trained to breathe only once every 3 or 4 minutes by his ascetic exercises the Naga Baba did not inhale the vapours from the passing cloud & was the only person to survive in Kamla Park.

Lindsay Smith January 20th, 2005 06:18 PM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
Cesar says, "The problem with mindfulness meditation in America is that the practice is so foreign to what we're used to."

'Mindfulness' is about being aware of what you are doing while you are doing whatever it is you are doing. Buddha in the Pali instructions told his listeners to be aware of the breath, the coming & going of the breath, the flow at the nostrils, the movement of the chest & abdomen & so on. We all breathe so that is somewhere to start & there is nothing 'foreign' about about breathing.

Paying attention, being 'mindful' about other everyday things such as walking can be an exercise in 'mindfulness.' An old Chinese friend, now gone told me that a Buddhist monk staying at his house took 3/4 hour to very slowly & mindfully to walk the length of his lounge & when he told me that I recalled reading a report of a British soldier who after WW2 did some Buddhist training in Burma. The abbott took him to a small hut where he was to practise walking up & down, slower & slower paying close attention to what he was doing. Food & water was placed at the door of the hut once a day to sustain him.

I went to a Taiji workshop years ago where the instructor, Wee Kee Gin took us through the form increasingly slower & slower. It was very demanding mentally & physically. The purpose, to build up mental focus, balance & strength.

Lindsay Smith January 30th, 2005 03:41 PM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
Meditation is fundamental in Buddhism. To practise Meditation adopting a belief system is not necessary. Neither is that so with Tai Chi training even though one of my students 20 years ago told me that he couldn't keep doing TaiChi after he became a 'born again' Christian because his preacher said that TaiChi was the work of the devil. I wonder about what Jesus would think about what people have said & done in his name since he walked the earth. Especially since a lot of what he taught was Buddhist, Hindu doctrine anyhow & quite different to the god of wrath stuff of the Jews. After all he did go into the desert to pray. Was he doing meditation or was he praying? That is a interesting question. Is prayer to the Christian is a different act & idea to what it is to a Moslem, Jew, Buddhist?

Try this site for some insight.

Lindsay Smith January 30th, 2005 03:44 PM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
What evidence is there that Jesus taught Buddhist Hindu philosophy. Try this site.

Lindsay Smith February 27th, 2005 03:07 PM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy

This site gives the 4 foundations of mindfulness & a lot more.

Lindsay Smith March 2nd, 2005 12:31 AM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
'MEDITATION FOR DUMMIES' written by Stephan Bodian.. Former Editor-in-Chief, Yoga Journal is a very useful instruction manual that covers all the essential techniques. Mindfulness is the important thread tying the instructions together.

Healer March 5th, 2005 09:12 PM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
I'm just throwing this out as something to think about.

It's my experience that when one first starts to practice meditation the "thinking" mind plays an enormous role in the process. So, it may feel, and it may be, that mindfulness meditation is indeed a form of exposure therapy for CBT patients. One must in fact "think" about what one is thinking about and try to change the thoughts and feelings, I think. I don't actually practice this form of meditation. You give the example of accepting what is--acceptance. However, the thinking mind still thinks it's a good idea to accept, but the feeling mind often holds on for dear life to fear, loss, and all those other horrible vexing emotions--just like with CBT. And repeated practice--exposure--seems to alleviate the pain over time.

However, it has been my experience with meditation, that after YEARS of practice, grace sets in. Another mind begins to emerge. Acceptance. Detachment. And most of the other things that are described and seem as though are brought on by a thinking mind aren't. And, it's not exposure that releases pain. In fact, it's not even a thought process that releases pain. Thinking actually blocks the process. Another mind, which defies description, emerges. Things like acceptance just happen. This I think is what a goal of meditation is, if meditation has a goal.

Let me give you an example. I fear elevators. I ride them anyway. I have my tricks that make it less painful. Several years ago, I spent a few days at a meditation retreat. I stayed in a hotel. After meditating all day, I pushed the elevator button, the door opened, I said to myself, "I fear elevators." Because I was still experiencing that meditative state, simply acknowledging the fear seperated me from the fear, and I road an elevator, fully aware of my fear, but without fear. This was totatally seredipitous. I didn't use any technique. I wasn't even practicing mindfulness. In fact, again, it's not the type of meditation that I do.

One the other hand, several years passed, and I now live in a building and am forced to ride many floors in an elevator several times a day. At first my fear was as strong as ever. It didn't/doesn't matter if I acknowledge my fear as I step into the elevator, I'm still afraid. However, after many months, I finally can ride the elevator without much fear, due to exposure, except when unexpected things happen, like getting on an up elevator when I expect to go down.

I think that mindfulness can act as a form of exposure therapy, but the state that ultimately emerges after practicing meditation is not the result of exposure. It is not the result of the thinking mind either.

Jamie Peterson, Ph.D. March 7th, 2005 02:29 AM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
Since my Masters is in Theological Studies (Christian) I feel compelled to add to this thread, although I'll probably regret it. I do respect all religious practices, and believe that any one of them leads in a helpful direction - a spritual practice of any kind is often a helpful addition to any path of (emotional) healing.

But just as a sort-of picky, academic note - Jesus was, in fact, a Jew. So the idea that he didn't teach the "god of wrath stuff of the Jews" is rather ludicrous. Almost everything Jesus said (save for his parables) he was quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Jewish Bible - HIS bible). There is no evidence that he was teaching Hindu or Buddhist practice - no evidence he taught anything but a purely Jewish practice...which includes the God of the Psalms who is "slow to anger, and abiding in steadfast love"...the God of Israel who proclaims "comfort, comfort my people"...I could go on and on about this "God of love stuff of the Jews" - perhaps suffice it to quote Jesus' most famous line, which he took directly from the book of Leviticus: "love your neighbour as yourself".

Perhaps the therapists should leave the broad-sweeping, overgeneralized religious reflections to the theologians. Your remarks come dangerously close to anti-Semitic.

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