Listen to this Reading:
Kyle Tolle reading “Let’s Talk Workshops”
I’ve debated whether I should write on this topic, but I have finally decided to. Lately, I’ve again taken advantage of the Counseling and Consultation Service (CCS) here at Ohio State. I used CCS a few years back, and decided to return earlier this year after several major stressors tag-teamed on me. My experience with the counselors there has been very positive.
The person I’m speaking to there recommended me to two workshops they have: ‘Mindfulness for Stress and Anxiety’ along with ‘Mental Skills for Stress Management and Performance Enhancement.’ I will refer to these from here on out as Mindfulness and Mental Skills, since I didn’t even know the longer names until I looked them up. I’m interested in the workshops because I’ve struggled with managing school, personal life, stress, all sorts of things and want to learn what I can now because moving to Colorado Springs in a few months is going to be a huge change and there’s likely to be a lot of stress come at me before I even get out there.
This is my second week (of eight) for the Mindfulness class, and it’s very challenging. We meet for 1.5 hours on Mondays, and for the other days of the week we have some homework. The first week was to listen to the body scan track from the CD accompanying the book we use. It’s a half-hour meditative track which focuses on breaking out of the “doing” mode and into the “being” mode. You focus on different areas of your body (each area for a few minutes before moving on to the next; hence the scan) and see what you notice or don’t notice there. It’s meant to help you slow down, focus on what you are feeling at this moment and look at your observations curiously and non-judgmentally. In the track, Jon Kabat-Zinn says that this is a chance to step out of clock time. I find that interesting because I have noticed that when I do the body scan, it does feel that the time goes by rather quickly. It feels like maybe 5-10 minutes instead of 30.
Last week there were a few days I just did not do the body scan. One day I straight up did not feel like doing it. The second time it was a mixture of not really wanting to do it and it being really late. For the most part, I do the scan pretty late at night (midnight or after), because it’s hard to get myself to do it any earlier. This week is turning out to be even more difficult though. I’m struggling with not seeing a real point to this practice. Even though this is just supposed to be me stepping back and I shouldn’t feel like I need to accomplish something with this meditation, I want to feel that it’s doing something for me. The past several times I have done the scan, my mind really wanders and I wonder what the point of me even doing this is. That’s my judgmental self though. I’m supposed to note what I think and then turn my attention back to the scan, but it’s hard to not have that thought creep up again, along with other random thoughts.
Along with the tracks, we’re supposed to also do a routine activity mindfully. That doesn’t mean we necessarily slow it down or anything; we’re just supposed to pay more attention while we do it. You’d be surprised at the number of things you do without thinking about them. This week, we’re also supposed to keep track of one thing per day that makes us smile. I am not sure if someone making me laugh really counts. If so, I can think of a few times, but I haven’t really been aware of them at the time (which is the goal). Other than that, I haven’t really noticed anything that I remember making me smile. I’m probably just overlooking something. Another thing we’re to do is the Mindfulness of the Breath track which is a 10-minute meditative track which focuses on breathing (as I’m sure you could guess from the title). Needless to say, I’ve had trouble getting myself to do this one too.
It’s not necessarily that I don’t want to do the practice, but that I have no motivation or focus. I have zero motivation for classes this quarter and it is leaking out into other areas of my life. It’s extremely difficult to get myself to eat or go to bed, let alone sit down for 30 minutes (now 40 with the breathing track) and do something. This is another time I wonder whether I have some degree of ADD.
Mental Skills is a 3-event workshop that had the first meeting today. There seems to be an overlap between the two (Mindfulness and Mental Skills), so I’m hoping that the more pragmatic Mental Skills will help me see a practical use for the Mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn mentions that we’re not really trying for a goal other than to hopefully see the mindfulness we cultivate during the practices spill over to other parts of our life, but unless we learn what we can really do with the mindfulness to manage stress, anxiety, depression, whatever… what’s the point!? Maybe that’s something we’ll get to in the Mindfulness class. I will write another post soon about the Mental Skills in more detail, since this one is already rather lengthy.
It’s been a while since I posted and I wanted to throw out what I’ve been up to recently. I’m interested in hearing from you though. How do you manage stress, anxiety, depression, gloomy days, that sort of stuff? Do you have a method you turn to? Maybe you just wade through it? Maybe something I’m not even thinking of? This is really an open-ended question, so be honest!