DBT Mindfulness, Radical Acceptance, and Meditation is the first step to happiness. Human beings are the only mammals on the planet that can watch their own thinking. We believe this is possible because we have a very large Prefrontal Cortex (PFC). As a raccoon starts to cross the road, it does not ask itself, “is what I am doing a good idea?” Human are supposed to have a measure of control of their thinking. We achieve this when we have awareness and contemplation. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Mindfulness teaches this concept with the “What and the How” skills of taking control of our minds. Yes, you are supposed to control your mind. Leading it to where you want it to go. You are not to believe everything you think. You are to be aware of your beliefs and judge them by the facts. This is a step by step process that takes practice and Radical Acceptance.
Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes. Page 449 (first 3 editions, pg. 417 in the 4th edition) of Alcoholics Anonymous or The Big Book
With these two principles, I can lean to watch my thoughts and not take hold of them, not have emotional attachments to them (emotional mind not PFC), and not have them rule my life. This is what Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) is all about. Life is about letting go of the demands we place on reality and the demands we place on people, situations and things we don’t like. Our irrational beliefs make us unhappy. “Our Anxieties and eventually our Depressions and Addictions all flow as the direct and indirect consequences of our belief that our Reality does not match up to our expectations. The Principal argument we have with Reality is not only our dissatisfactions with things outside ourselves but ourselves. Most people bury their dissatisfactions with themselves on an unconscious level because they prefer to blame the problems to things outside of themselves but dissatisfaction is never about anything outside yourself. The world goes on with or without our approval and to achieve the serenity that comes with Real Acceptance we must accept the things we cannot change (including certain things about ourselves) now, are PERFECT for NOW! If we don’t accept this we are refusing to accept Reality which is sometimes stated as “Life on Life’s Terms.” The very well-known AA Serenity Prayer is a deep reaching illustration of what we must do to achieve ACCEPTANCE.” Rabi Dr. Lynn Kesselman
God, Grant me the ability to Accept what I cannot change
The courage ( courage=”Acting opposite”) to change the things that I can change, and
The Wisdom (DBT calls this “wise mind”) to know the difference
I must have mindful awareness first to do this. I must watch my own thoughts to make this happen. When I have mastered this process, I can move on to the next step, meditation.
People who practice mindfulness meditation learn to accept their feelings, emotions, and states of mind without judging or resisting them. They simply live in the moment. Several studies have shown that this type of meditation may have beneficial effects on long-term emotional stability and, consequently, on disorders such as anxiety and major depression. A new study reveals that this mind training has an influence on the default brain network of experienced meditators when they are at rest. Differences in the brain indicate that meditation contributes to better concentration and more objective self-thought. Veronica Taylor, the lead author of the study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Advance Access in March 2012. Serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter which is needed for proper function of the brain. Serotonin elevates mood and increases energy. Many medications for mood disorders work by boosting serotonin levels. People who meditate have significantly increased levels of serotonin in their body, after meditation.
There is no magic fairy dust. This process takes time and practice. But is does lead to happiness and we have the science to prove it. When you become discouraged, ask yourself, “What negative self-talk am I telling myself?” Discouragement always has a negative thought behind it. Our thoughts + Our emotion = Our behavior EVERY TIME. This also is a scientific fact. Don’t be judgmental of your negative talk, don’t be attached to it emotionally, just gently bring your mind back under your control and continue to push forward. Mindfulness, Radical Acceptance and Meditation will change the quality of your life. Because when your change your thoughts and change your emotional response, you change your life.
Debra Meehl, DD. is a Certified Pastoral Counselor and Intensively trained Dialectical Behavior Therapist (DBT) and Skills Trainer. She is the founder and President of the Meehl Foundation, Co-Author of the “Friends and Family Bipolar Survival Guide” and documentary presenter of the Life Focus TV series “A Mind Misunderstood” continually airing since October 5, 2012 on PBS, TLN and TNN.