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Dr. Cassel’s Musings- “Catching Yourself in the Act”

Sunday June 6, 2010

“Catch yourself in the act” is an important way to get information and data as to how you are experiencing the moment you are in. What was once called developing an observing capacity is now popularly called “mindfulness”. Many of us go through life rarely “catching ourselves in the act” of behaving with others. In particular in relationships that matter to us, when we have conflict we stop observing ourselves.

What I am suggesting is not just focusing on cognition’s (thoughts) but on the whole gestalt of thinking, feeling, and behaving. In particular to aspects of our behavior and feeling states such as “hearing” our tone of voice, and noting if we are feeling or sounding defensive or out of touch with ourselves at any given moment. As with all endeavors mindfulness can be misused and corrupted by those of us who tend to be obsessional thinkers. If you tend to take yourself on ” negative thought adventures” (credit Ken Morris with that phrase and concept) I suggest you shift your focus to aspects of your behavior you don’t usually focus on such as tone of voice. Listening to ones own tone of voice reveals a lot of warded-off awareness of how we are being at the moment.

Again any form can be used for many different functions (ie a carpet can be used as a wall covering). So with that in mind I am not suggesting to not be “in the moment”. So what  exactly am I suggesting. I am thinking about times when things aren’t going so well. That’s when being mindful, in particular can be useful.

The basic premise I believe is that a lot of our being in the world is warded off from our awarenesss. Mindfulness has it’s limits however. TBC later

It’s later….What I was thinking about is hidden meanings that are kept out of awareness through the use of defenses.  For those issues God invented therapists…and it’s a good thing so I can keep making a living. Defenses are different then defensiveness. Defenses are unconscious and are necessary for functioning. Not enough defenses or inadequate defenses and one will be overly anxious, depressed, chaotic, psychotic or generally low functioning. Defensiveness on the other hand is close to being conscious and is easy to spot for most of us. It is when we try to consciously”defend”  our actions consciously.

The most useful times to be mindful is when we are in conflict with other’s but that is the most difficult time to be mindul. Since our nervous systems are in fight or flight mode at those times, stress hormones are released and the part of our brains that is responsible for keeping things in perspective is shut off.  At those times it is helpful to take a time out-by washing your face or taking a walk etc. One research article I read suggested that it takes women around 30 minutes to “calm down” after a disagreement, but takes men longer, about an hour. Hence the suggestion to use a “circuit breaker”. Many people have told me how much easier to resolve an issue after “cooling down”. One person mentioned that whenever he and his wife fight, they usually resolve or “make up” after one or the other goes to work and then talk on the phone.

4 Responses to Dr. Cassel’s Musings- “Catching Yourself in the Act”

  1. Ken Morris says:

    I recently created a personal ‘mantra’ like technique using my calendar function on my iPhone to remind me everyday the phrase “Are You enjoying the ride?” Its an everyday reminder like a having a 3X5 notecard that flashes up every morning. Maybe that’s extreme, but hey…I go on negative thought adventures just about every day…who needs a vacation when you travel all the time? 🙂

  2. Robyn says:

    Interesting thoughts. I will be mindful and aware. I enjoy your blog.

  3. admin says:

    What I am suggesting is not just focusing on cognitions (thoughts) but on the whole gestalt of thinking, feeling, and behavior. In particular to aspects of our behior and feeling states such as “hearing” our tone of voice, and noting if we are feeling or sounding defensive or out of touch with ourselves at any given moment. As with all endeavors mindfulness can be misused and corrupted by those of us who tend to be obsessional thinkers. If you tend to take yourself on “ill themed, negative thought adventures” (credit Ken Morris with that phrase and concept) I suggest you shift your focus to aspects of your behavior you don’t usually focus on such as tone of voice. Listening to ones own tone of voice reveals a lot of warded-off awareness of how we are being at the moment.

  4. Ken Morris says:

    The concept and term of ‘mindfulness’ is one that is often discussed by HH Dalai Lama and is a core concept in both the Buddhist and Hindu spritual traditions. Basically, what your conciousness is focused on dictates your reality. I guess the challenge for us all (and me personally) is recognizing when our minds have carried us away on ill themed, negative ‘thought adventures’ that serve only to poison our daily moment to moment existenceand most often have nothing to do with reality. What it comes down to is do you want to live life or live in your MIND?

    Terrific that you are blogging! Please keep them coming.

    Ken

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