Bipolar blog

Mindfulness Meditation Skill #1 – Deep Breathing

→ March 22, 2013 - 5 Comments

Mindfulness Meditation Skill #1 – Deep Breathing

In my effort to document the mindfulness meditation class I’m taking, I introduce skill #1, something easy: Deep breathing.

I know, you think you know how to breathe. In fact, my guess is you’re probably doing it right now (at least I hope you are). Nevertheless, many people don’t know how to deep breathe and this is a problem during mindfulness meditation. Many people, especially women, shallow breathe and this isn’t the best way to nourish your body. Some people even go so far as to occasionally hold their breath, especially when anxious.

Shallow Breathing vs. Deep Breathing

Shallow breathing comes from the chest while deep breathing comes from the belly. (I know all about this because I was a trained signer when I was younger and you have to deep breathe in order to project and hold notes properly.) Women, often, don’t like to deep breathe because they’re scared that breathing from their belly will make them look fat. (Really.)

How to Know if You Deep Breathe or Shallow Breathe

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Tips for Creating a Mindfulness Meditation Practice

→ March 20, 2013 - 2 Comments

(They call meditation “practice.” I suppose it’s to indicate that we’re all students and that we’re never done learning. It’s kind of a warm, fuzzy concept but I think it’s worth remembering.)

Tips on Mindfulness MeditationTips on Creating a Mindfulness Meditation Practice

These are simple, easy-to-remember tips on creating  a mindfulness meditation practice according to the course (and a little bit from me.)

Here are the tips provided when beginning a mindfulness meditation practice:

  1. Choose a sacred space and time – there is no perfect time for a practice but if you make it part of your routine, you’re more likely to do it. Make sure to minimize distractions. (And realize that your space might just be the corner of your living room. We don’t all have ashrams to retire to.) Many people find meditation earlier in the day easier.
  2. Sit in a comfortable and strong position – either in a chair or on the floor, sit with a straight back with your legs uncrossed. Let your face relax into a natural smile and let your hands rest on your lap or cupped in each other.
  3. Use a gentle-sounding alarm to time your practice – so you relieve the worry of time.
  4. Make your mantra, “meditate anyway…” – things will always seem “more important” than meditating and things will always stand in the way of your meditation practice – do the meditation anyway. Even if it is only 5-10 minutes, this is better than nothing and it’s daily practice that’s going to make this meditation useful (not to mention easier to continue in the future).
  5. Be gentle – let go of any preconceived notions of what a meditation “should” be and just be curious about whatever arises.
  6. Gently bring your mind back – when meditating, if your mind wanders, understand that this is normal and gently bring your mind back to the here and now.

I admit to not using all of these tips but I do think they are a good idea.

I’ll talk about how I put these mindfulness medication tips to work with some mindfulness meditation exercised next.

What is Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation?

→ March 20, 2013 - 9 Comments

What is Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation?

I’m going to be talking about an eight-week course I’m taking on mindfulness meditation, but before I start with my experience, I have to define a few terms so we’re all on the same page. I’m going to define mindfulness and mindfulness meditation so we all know what we’re talking about.

What is Mindfulness?

Well, that depends on who you ask. A very simple definition for mindfulness might be, “being right here, right now, and nowhere else.” Mindfulness has also been defined as “purposefully paying attention, in the present moment and without judgement.

Mindfulness MeditationAccording to Sheri Van Dijk, MSW, author of The Dialectical and Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, mindfulness skills, “. . . help people to live more in the present moment, rather than getting stuck in the thoughts about the past or future, which can trigger painful emotions. These . . . help you get to know yourself better, because you’re focusing on the present moment, you’re more aware of your emotions, thoughts, and feelings.”

Multi-tasking is the antithesis of mindfulness. (Personally, I still don’t think multitasking is always bad and I don’t think mindfulness is right for all occasions. But that’s my personality and a function of my job.)

While mindfulness is a form of meditation practice, you don’t have to sit cross-legged on a yoga mat chanting in order to do it. Both formal practice and informal practice can take place.

Formal and Informal Mindfulness Practice

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Managing Bipolar Depression: An Evidence-Based Approach – Free Webcast

→ March 19, 2013 - 7 Comments

There’s a lot to know about bipolar and bipolar depression. How do I know? Because I’ve written about bipolar depression so many times it would make your head spin.

And what I try to do is either present the human side of bipolar depression or the evidence-based side. Here are a few of the articles I’ve written on bipolar depression:

Well now I, and you, have the (FREE) chance to get a genuine look into bipolar depression from an evidence-based approach through the words of a leading psychiatrist.

Free Webcast on Managing Bipolar Depression

Here is the information on a FREE webcast by doctors (technically, for doctors) and Global Medical Education on an evidence-based approach to treating bipolar depression. I believe there will be a lot to learn here.

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Trying Bipolar Therapy You Don’t Believe In – Mindfulness Meditation

→ March 18, 2013 - 21 Comments

Trying Bipolar Therapy You Don’t Believe In – Mindfulness Meditation

When people ask me about bipolar treatments or bipolar therapy here, I tell them about the research on the therapy or treatment and I tell them this, “different bipolar treatments and bipolar therapies work for different people so try it and see if it helps.”

And I consider this good advice. It’s absolutely true. Different bipolar treatments and bipolar therapies do work for different people – but that doesn’t mean that I, personally, believe in them.

And, to be clear, it’s not so much that I don’t believe in them entirely, it’s more that I don’t believe in them for me.

Enter mindfulness-cognitive therapy or mindfulness meditation.

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How to Tell Someone You’re Feeling Suicidal Pt. 2

→ March 13, 2013 - 25 Comments

How to Tell Someone You’re Feeling Suicidal Pt. 2

Last time I talked about feeling suicidal and who to tell if you’re feeling suicidal. This time I talk about how to tell someone you’re feeling suicidal.

How to Tell Someone You’re Feeling Suicidal

If you’re telling a professional, it’s actually not that hard. Just come straight out and tell them. Don’t dance around it and try not to be afraid because they’ve heard the words, “I’m suicidal,” so many more times than you can imagine. They know those words and they know what to do with them. Remember, you can’t get help and you can’t feel better if you don’t tell anyone.

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Interview – A Carer’s Role in Bipolar Recovery – And a FREE Ebook

→ March 12, 2013 - 16 Comments

You might remember Karen Tyrrell from her last interview wherein she talked about writing her way to mental health wellness. Well, this time Karen gives us advice on recovery and insight into the role a carer can play in bipolar disorder wellness.

Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a free ebook of Karen’s new writing.

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How to Tell Someone You’re Feeling Suicidal Pt. 1

→ March 11, 2013 - 66 Comments

How to Tell Someone You’re Feeling Suicidal Pt. 1

People ask me about suicide, and I talk about suicide, all the time. I talk about suicide warning signs and suicide attempts and getting help for suicidal feelings.

And, of course, one of the big things I say in bold, underlined letters is that if you’re feeling suicidal you need to tell someone. You absolutely, positively need to reach out for help.

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Take Personal Responsibility for Your Bipolar

→ March 8, 2013 - 30 Comments

Take Personal Responsibility for Your Bipolar

Recently I was talking to a friend (also with bipolar) about personal responsibility. She is a very successful, high-functioning person and one thing we agreed on was the importance of taking personal responsibility for your bipolar disorder.

Personal responsibility means a lot of things to a lot of people but I’m specifically talking about taking responsibility for your actions – even when they are mostly as a result of bipolar disorder.

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A Psychiatrist’s View on Mental Illness Stigma and Win an iPad!

→ February 26, 2013 - 9 Comments

GMEToday on the Bipolar Burble blog I’m pleased to offer an interview with Prakash Masand, M.D., the CEO and founder of Global Medical Education (GME). Dr. Masand has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, serves on editorial and review boards for psychiatric journals and is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine. Dr. Masand offers his view on psychiatry, mental illness and stigma.

And make sure to check out the end for your chance to win an iPad!

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I Hate Myself for Having Bipolar, I Forgive Myself for Having Bipolar

→ February 25, 2013 - 30 Comments

I Hate Myself for Having Bipolar, I Forgive Myself for Having Bipolar

Bipolar disorder feels like a curse. It feels like somewhere, somehow, I’ve ticked off an old, horror-movie, crone and she’s cursed me to 1000 years of suffering. 1000 years of grating, clawing, slicing, pounding agony.

Any why do people get cursed? People get cursed because they did something wrong. I must have done something wrong. I must have done something unspeakably wrong. And I hate myself for it.

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Motivation and Bipolar Disorder

→ February 20, 2013 - 29 Comments

Motivation and Bipolar Disorder

The way I see it, bipolar disorder presents a problem with motivation (you know, among all the other bipolar problems). Many people in acute bipolar moods suffer from too much, unrestrained motivation or no motivation at all. Either way you slice it, it’s a bitch.

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