making a life worth living (part 3 of an ongoing conversation)

Mindfulness is a part of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) that I’m still learning about. From what I can tell, there are different ways of practicing mindfulness, but at its core, mindfulness’s goal is to allow you to observe and describe your feelings, to recognize them without being driven by them (and without forming myriad secondary and tertiary feelings about your feelings.)

Mindfulness exercises are often meditative in nature. For instance, you can observe and describe an object. The goal is to focus on the simple facts and avoid judgments or feelings about those facts. You can also observe your breathing to ensure you’re breathing deeply (which is calming) instead of from your chest (which can tire you and reinforce your anxiety). For me, though, my mind is so hyperactive that it’s hard to focus on breathing for any length of time. Maybe that just means I’m a novice.

I was in a cute little shop the other week, though, and the cashier came over and demonstrated a handheld Tibetan Singing Bowl for me. I didn’t ask her to — she just came right over! And then she was so deliberate and careful in her demonstration, not seeming to mind that it took awhile to show me. When things like that happen, I always consider that it might be God-appointed. I don’t jump to conclusions, but I do get ready just in case. Sure enough, this seemed divine. The Tibetan Singing Bowl is a meditation tool: you run the wooden striker around the rim of the bowl to make the bowl “sing” louder and louder. The catch is that you have to be mindful! You have to move the striker consistently around, apply consistent pressure, modulate your speed to change the sound. I immediately knew it would be helpful for my mindfulness exercises.

After thinking about it for a couple of weeks (I hate impulse buys — they make me feel guilty!), I went back to the store. The bowl I wanted was gone! There were others, but they weren’t quite as loud and nice. Thankfully, though, the cashier was helpful again! She showed me bells with a similar idea — and a much louder singing “voice”! You held the bells like normal, but instead of striking them or tilting them to ring them, you again ran the striker around the outside to make them sing. I bought the loudest bell and now I practice with it every day. My brain is still hyperactive, but I feel more able to focus on creating the sound than just on my breathing (something I still hope to put in place later!)

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