Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Dear Brain, why so unhelpful.....?

I am not really sure what goes on in my brain, especially after this afternoon when I took my daughter out of school an hour early to go to an appointment that is actually not until tomorrow.  Good grief - I haven't done something like that since I was pregnant and could blame that well known affliction 'placenta brain'.

But my brain seems to have too much time on its hands, because it has the time to frequently bombard me with negativity.  Couldn't it be working away on a plan for peace in the Middle East, or discovering a cure for HIV/AIDS instead of lambasting me with thoughts about how hard my weight loss process will be and questioning me on whether I really think I can do it?

A couple of years ago I had an episode of depression (one of several over the years) and I found mindfulness exercises very helpful in dealing with everything that was going on in my head.  I want to stress that I am no expert in this field but I want to explain my understanding of this valuable strategy.  Mindfulness is an exercise where you think and concentrate about something right here and now  - for example, your breathing.  When your brain throws in an unrelated thought, as it inevitably will, you simply acknowledge the thought and then bring your mind back to your breathing.  Sounds simple enough, but it takes practice. 

Mindfulness can help you acknowledge your thoughts but not ascribe any value or influence to them.  For example, you can visualise a negative thought (eg 'you can't do this, it's too hard) as a car going past your house.  You see it come and then watch it go.  Or you can simply say when your brain suggests that you are a big fat idiot - "thank you brain for that thought" and go back to your breathing, not allowing the thought to change your focus.
It sounds like a cliche, but if you are focusing on the here and now - which is the aim of mindfulness - you can really experience every minute of your life.  For example, if you just take a minute right now to concentrate on all the sensations you are experiencing, you will find heaps.  You might feel how soft and comfy the seat you are sitting on is, how your clothes feel on your body, how tight you have tied your runners up, how heavy your watch or jewellery is, the sound of the tv in the other room, the sound of the shower running, the magpies outside in the backyard, the smell of garlic from your earlier cooking.....  You are really experiencing this moment and when you are doing this, worries about whether your will succeed can't get a foothold.

Now I've no idea if I have explained that coherently, but this strategy is really helping me with the thoughts I sometimes have about my ability to adhere to the 12wbt.  It helps me to defuse those situations where my brain is trying to convince me I need to get a soup spoon out of the drawer and head for the Milo tin. 

If you are at all interested, head to Dr Russ Harris' website and have a look at mindfulness explained MUCH more succinctly and fully......  Remember:

{you can't believe everything you think}


  1. Maybe that naughty little voice in my head could take a vacation with the naughty little voice in your head? Send em packing for the next 12 weeks and beyond :D
    I use similar tactics to combat my negative talk

  2. That is a really interesting concept, I'll definitely look into it further thankyou!

  3. Im going to look into this mindfulness thingo.. its the 2nd time Ive heard it this week and Im becoming despondant that my depression will ever go away. maybe someones trying to tell me something!