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Unread March 5th, 2005, 09:12 PM
Healer Healer is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 17
Default 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.
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