View Full Version : Frustration and mindfulness


anonymouslyadd
01-25-17, 12:07 AM
Sometimes, practicing mindfulness makes me frustrated. It makes me want to give up, even though that's not in my best interest. What helps you become less frustrated and more willing to keep up the practice?

dvdnvwls
01-25-17, 02:39 PM
Knowing that what you're doing is already helping, even though you don't see that at the time. It's exactly like having been exercising or going to a gym, for only a few times. The novelty is wearing off, you can't possibly see the benefits yet, but it's important to remember the benefits are there and keep going.

anonymouslyadd
01-25-17, 09:54 PM
Knowing that what you're doing is already helping, even though you don't see that at the time. It's exactly like having been exercising or going to a gym, for only a few times. The novelty is wearing off, you can't possibly see the benefits yet, but it's important to remember the benefits are there and keep going.
This is good!

Kunga Dorji
03-25-17, 10:26 PM
Sometimes, practicing mindfulness makes me frustrated. It makes me want to give up, even though that's not in my best interest. What helps you become less frustrated and more willing to keep up the practice?

Simply calmly observe your frustration and let it go - that's the textbook approach. What method of mindfulness practice do you use? I find some of the psychologist based ones are a little light on compared to the ones that involve formal meditation.

BTW- this skill does flow over to real life- I used it yesterday when I was involved in a debate with someone who had very different views to mine on vaccination (my view is that there is no room for any medical procedure to be done on any patient without the patient/guardian's consent- except in the situation of comatose patient and medical emergency).


Anyhow- this woman was getting very het up and cutting in and interrupting me- then responding to what she thought I had said, rather than what I had said. To make it worse she was actually making up statistics on the spot to win the bloody argument. I was pleased that I could see my irritation and frustration coming and going and just let it go. That's a result of my own often frustrating attempts at meditating, which I have persisted with for several years give or take a few gaps.

Kunga Dorji
03-25-17, 10:30 PM
Sometimes, practicing mindfulness makes me frustrated. It makes me want to give up, even though that's not in my best interest. What helps you become less frustrated and more willing to keep up the practice?


One of my teachers (who I have only ever heard through the Insight Meditation Centre's free archive of talks) makes the great comment that it does not matter what state you are in so long as you are aware of that state. Loss of mindfulness means loss of awareness of the state.

Ongoing practice makes it easier to settle out of these undesirable states
( and they are all undesirable, and ultimately physiologically damaging).

dormammau2008
04-07-17, 05:52 PM
my minds like a rapide river all the waves splashs is how my thoughs are and I feel them all just like noise I hate noise it hurts,,,,makes phical pain,,,,and casue over loud

WheresMyMind
05-11-17, 03:00 AM
If you have the time to do so, I recommend listening to the unabridged version of Jon Kabat-Zinn's book "Wherever you Go, There You Are". It's on YouTube, it's 3 hours and 18 minutes long and I used "listentoyoutube.com" to turn it into an mp3 and put it on my mp3 player and listen while I did my daily exercises.

Kabat-Zinn is the chap who discovered Mindfulness while in Asia and brought it to the USA.

He defines Mindful as "being aware of the present moment with no judgement". By "aware", it means you are detecting what your senses detect. The feel of your clothing on your skin, the sound of the blood flowing in your veins near your ears, the feel of your hair follicles on your head, the press of your feet on the floor and your butt on the chair. "Present moment" means right now. Not that you felt a cold breeze 30 minutes ago, but that you're right now, right here.

And it goes past the normal senses to thoughts. Such as "I'm frustrated". Initially, you feel frustrated. And, by "feel", it means a physical sensation. Frustration may feel like pressure in your head or a sick feeling in your stomach, but it has a very physical feel. But - if you're feeling this, then you are judging "frustration" to be negative. No matter. Your higher mind says "Oh, hey look, I'm feeling frustration" and amazingly, once you are able to say this to yourself internally, frustration magically becomes an intellectual concept and the actual physical feeling goes away.

This extends to your "failure". I'm failing at Mindfulness...at first it hurts, but when you step back one step, it's just an intellectual exercise and you get back to the present.

Kabat-Zinn emphasizes that Mindfulness is not a competition or a goal. It is a practice, like playing a musical instrument. And like the instrument, you practice to practice, not for a goal. sometimes you can tell you're better, sometimes you can't. And whether you can tell or not, sometimes you really are better and sometimes you're not, and when you can feel it, may or may not be when it's real. You just do it.

However - you WILL be able to tell you're improving, but not WHILE doing it! The real benefits to Mindfulness are that the more you do it, the more ABLE you are to do it. Fact is, when you're already calm, Mindfulness doesn't pull you on track - you were already there. Mindfulness, once you've practiced, becomes a tool for getting you away from the distraction.

I use "Mind Bell" an app for smartphones. Every 15 min I have it ring and that's my key to "go Mindful". Even if I'm up on a ladder, I do a Mindfulness check-in. Am I standing or sitting? Is it hot or cold? I am happy and healthy (that's an affirmation that's part of my own Mindfulness meditation). What am I working on at the present moment? Is it important for my declared top objective? #2? #3?

Dr. Chike Nwankwo, in his TEDx talk, claimed that people who practice mindfulness report reduced needs to respond to unpleasant conditions such as hot/cold/stink/loud/dirty restaurant tables. You become more able to simply notice that those things exist without the judgement of "bad". I, personally, have noticed this in myself. Big bonus for ADHD: those are the kinds of things that can cause us to sidetrack!

IMO, ADHD can't be cured. I really don't care where it comes from, at the end of the day, ADHD is measured by behavior. I did say IMO, please keep that in mind. So, to me, if I find something that helps me behave in a way that's more productive, I believe I'm actually reducing the ADHD symptoms.

I swear, that Mind Bell, and a few months practice before using it, with Mindfulness, has helped wonders.

Sometimes, the bell goes off and I do the "Mindful check-in", and say "hey, I'm on the internet, on a forum, posting what I hope is a helpful although lengthy post. This has nothing to do with my goals for today, but it makes me feel useful and invigorated, so I will permit myself to finish this one posting and then I'll climb back on the roof and complete that repair job." Without Mindfulness, I might have finished one posting and sought another reason to post again.

On the other hand, like music practice, my few months of it has not allowed me to become Mindful in all situations...just as my meager piano practice does not allow me to play Rachmaninoff. Or, for that matter, Chuck Berry. Last weekend, my SO came back from a few weeks away. I asked one question, and she did what she always does - she avoided it, and began reciting a history lesson. I blew up at her. I thought about Mindfulness, but I was not strong enough in my practice..I could not dissipate my anger. Anger, by definition, is not in the present moment, so if I could have become Mindful, this would have helped.


Finally...an ADHD breakthrough?

When I first read this story (which I will summarize after an overly-long introductory section), something clicked in my brain and I said "of course".

If ADHD is a problem of being able to point our attention where we want it to go, WHEN we want it to go there...then any practice which helps us INTENTIONALLY put our attention where we want it must help, yes?

There is one step above Mindfulness - Mindsight. Presently a small-scale thing promoted by Dr. Dan Siegel, it has (IMO) promise. Once you've situated yourself into a Mindful spot, where your attention is pretty well steady on your breath or whatever, you then intentionally move your attention elsewhere.

In a simple but amazing in its way Youtube talk, Dr. Siegel takes you through it.


"Close your eyes..now focus on that spot right between your eyebrows. Think about it. Feel it. You probably can. Now open your eyes. Assuming you're in a room, look across the room and find any object on the wall, whether a dirt spot, an outlet or a picture on the wall and pay attention to it. Finally, visualize a book you want to read, floating in space, reading distance in front of you and focus your attention right there.

"You did it. Did you see that? You intentionally directed your attention to different spots, the final one being fictional, and you did it. What this means is that you can always do this, but somehow you just need a trigger or a reminder."

When I listened and tried this, it was breathtaking. Dirt simple but for me, he was right - I COULD direct my attention, at least when nothing else was pulling on it!

So, and here's the "seriously?" kind of thing.

In 2013, clinicians associated with the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) of U Cal Berkeley were called in to help with a public school system problem. For some reason, there'd been a flurry of ADHD...the last three or four classes of kindergartners had included some 30% of kids who were either diagnosed as having ADHD before entering school, or the teachers had recommended such a diagnosis. The GGSC was, at the time, performing myriad scientific experiments into the results (positive and negative) of mindfulness practice. It was easy to find adult participants, but difficult to find children. They managed to get ALL of the children diagnosed with ADHD into an integrated 8-week Mindfulness program. These children would attend the program during the day, a teacher's assistant would be along to also teach the regular class materials, but it was all interspersed with Mindfulness meditation.

After 8 weeks, the children were returned to the normal classroom. The original diagnosticians (whether external clinician or the classroom teacher) were asked to re-evaluate the student..not "do they still have ADHD" but rather "what is their current condition." This was the 30% who had been DXed ADHD - and in one week, then after two and then six months - NONE were diagnosed as exhibiting ADHD symptoms.

Whether this has more reflection on "real" ADHD, or the over-diagnosis of it, or the (IMO) dubious practice of letting classroom teachers diagnose it are valid questions. But a result of "all cured" is news, no matter what.

Kunga Dorji
05-11-17, 05:07 AM
And it goes past the normal senses to thoughts. Such as "I'm frustrated". Initially, you feel frustrated. And, by "feel", it means a physical sensation. Frustration may feel like pressure in your head or a sick feeling in your stomach, but it has a very physical feel. But - if you're feeling this, then you are judging "frustration" to be negative. No matter. Your higher mind says "Oh, hey look, I'm feeling frustration" and amazingly, once you are able to say this to yourself internally, frustration magically becomes an intellectual concept and the actual physical feeling goes away.


A higher level of this practice is to learn body scanning. Once you learn (and it takes 2-3 weeks of about 30 minutes/day for most people to get a result) you become much more aware of body sensations- even tiny ones that don't normally enter your consciousness. It can feel too good and become a distraction.
However the practice is then to use that baseline to define feelings like frustration. ie Where in the body is it? Is it diffuse or sharply localised, what does the sensation feel like (hot/cold, sharp/dull, heavy/light solid/empty)? are there areas in your body where you cant feel it, and if so what is the boundary?
Usually that takes a couple of minutes, but by the time you are done the feeling is gone.

The really vital thing in all these practices is the repeated placement of your attention on a focus of choice- be that the breath at the nostrils, the task of body scanning, the space of your mind or something else.

The crunch is that every time your attention wanders and you notice it and bring it back to the focus, you are re-firing and strengthening the pathways that are involved in metacognition (knowing what you are focussing on) and attentional stability.


Dr. Chike Nwankwo, in his TEDx talk, claimed that people who practice mindfulness report reduced needs to respond to unpleasant conditions such as hot/cold/stink/loud/dirty restaurant tables. You become more able to simply notice that those things exist without the judgement of "bad". I, personally, have noticed this in myself. Big bonus for ADHD: those are the kinds of things that can cause us to sidetrack!

Interestingly I used to get a lot of random itchiness at night. That settled with meditation.


IMO, ADHD can't be cured. I really don't care where it comes from, at the end of the day, ADHD is measured by behavior. I did say IMO, please keep that in mind. So, to me, if I find something that helps me behave in a way that's more productive, I believe I'm actually reducing the ADHD symptoms.


ADHD is a syndrome, and by definition a syndrome cannot be cured.
What is worse is that nobody actually has a good working definition of attention and there is no reliable way to measure it (see paper linked to below).
However I will suggest that the troublesome attentional symptoms can be mitigated to a point where our attentional issues no longer create disability and disorder.

More recent neuropsychological studies are linking ADHD with oculomotor problems (the ONLY reliable sign of ADHD in adults is difficulty with inhibiting spontaneous saccades).
Here's one study of interest: leonardkoziol.com/publications/Attention_Evolution_Revolution_2015.pdf

Now this is really promising, because focused attention is largely determined by placement of central vision, and disabilities in this area are able to be rehabilitated successfully.

I think that thinking of " ADHD" as "incurable" has real dangers of weakening us and making us think less of ourselves, and do less to better our existences.

PS - sorry for the thread hijack

Kunga Dorji
05-11-17, 05:09 AM
In 2013, clinicians associated with the Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) of U Cal Berkeley were called in to help with a public school system problem. For some reason, there'd been a flurry of ADHD...the last three or four classes of kindergartners had included some 30% of kids who were either diagnosed as having ADHD before entering school, or the teachers had recommended such a diagnosis. The GGSC was, at the time, performing myriad scientific experiments into the results (positive and negative) of mindfulness practice. It was easy to find adult participants, but difficult to find children. They managed to get ALL of the children diagnosed with ADHD into an integrated 8-week Mindfulness program. These children would attend the program during the day, a teacher's assistant would be along to also teach the regular class materials, but it was all interspersed with Mindfulness meditation.

After 8 weeks, the children were returned to the normal classroom. The original diagnosticians (whether external clinician or the classroom teacher) were asked to re-evaluate the student..not "do they still have ADHD" but rather "what is their current condition." This was the 30% who had been DXed ADHD - and in one week, then after two and then six months - NONE were diagnosed as exhibiting ADHD symptoms.

Whether this has more reflection on "real" ADHD, or the over-diagnosis of it, or the (IMO) dubious practice of letting classroom teachers diagnose it are valid questions. But a result of "all cured" is news, no matter what.

I separated this out of my other reply.
Very interesting.
Can you dig up the reference?

WheresMyMind
05-11-17, 02:50 PM
I separated this out of my other reply.
Very interesting.
Can you dig up the reference?

I took a free online course called "The Science of Happiness". The description of this activity was in one of the lectures.

Another sidetrack but this is pretty big...

A UCal Berkely professor emeritus, Paul Ekman, and the Dalai Lama, are working a program called "Global Compassion". They believe they have created scientific support for the notion that if this program can be grown and implemented, there can never be another human-inspired war. They estimate this can be done in less than 100 years.

The Greater Good Science Center - part of UCal Berkeley - is one of the results of the Global Compassion program.

And the course I took is one of the courses within the program.

As the course goes along, the student is taught about "happiness practices" and given a chance to try them. As a scientist myself, I was quite pleased that in each case, they provided at least modest details of how they had scientifically demonstrated the effectiveness of the practice. They're careful, in fact, to indicate that while the given practice has a lot of evidence supporting it, they also point out contradictory evidence, so the student is not left with the notion that it's a "proven" thing. Science, by the way, never proves anything. The scientific method itself places a strong emphasis on evidence and cautions that it's possible to prove something wrong, but almost impossible to prove something right.

For the past six months, I've been wanting to learn a lot more about neuroscience, and this class is based mostly on neuroscience and partially on psychology. Thanks to fMRI and other modalities, we have learned more about the brain and nervous system in the past 5 years than in the previous medical history combined. This class puts a great emphasis on reviewing the most recent discoveries.

I did not expect applicability to ADHD, but when I implement any of the practices proposed, I am finding my ability to stay on-project quite a bit improved. Then it was somewhere about week 6 of 8 that they brought up the ADHD in school children study...which is continuing. The school system found the 8-week Mindfulness practice sessions with students to be so effective the first time that they requested the program continue.

I took the course through the website edx.org. New sessions appear every 3-6 months, and the professors claim that once the course is over, the materials stay online "in perpetuity", which usually means until someone revamps the website. There's an amazing amount of very good and free collegiate level education on the web nowadays. This particular class is a for-credit class for UCal Berkeley students...but for those of us not in a degree program and not wanting credit, it's free.

WMM

WheresMyMind
05-11-17, 04:46 PM
Forgot to mention one thing - science is on the verge of "detecting" ADHD in a physical sense.

In particular, one of the topics in the UCal Berkely course underneath "Mindfulness" is Mind-Wandering. This is also known as the default mode of the brain - what the brain does when we are not trying to concentrate (aka hyperfocus, or be in flow). The brain drifts and floats and lands for a moment here then dashes over there.

In fMRI studies, people who are in brain-wander mode show sparkles of activity in various portions of the brain, including centers that seem associated with displeasure. The actual act of changing our focus from one item to another carries with it some physical displeasure...small enough that we probably don't perceive it.

Any activity center in the brain that is stimulated more than others actually gets physically larger. There is hope that at some time, the particular brain centers that people with ADHD stimulate more than NT people do will be identified, and at that point, an MRI image of a brain could quite possibly be a physical diagnosis - although it would not diagnose the cause, it would diagnose that yet, this person's behaviors cause activation of brain centers in an ADHD pattern. Really quite fascinating stuff. Wish I could remember the name of the chap who is studying mind-wandering....

jkimbo
05-11-17, 04:53 PM
I never knew we should practice mindfulness, for me it either happens or it doesn't. I don't know anyone who is in complete control 100% of the time, I think that would be boring. Perhaps I simply do not have a issue with this or perhaps some people expect too much? Not sure. I personally think we are always mindful at some level. As for exercising our brain, like it or not we all do that every minute of our lives whether we want to or not. I usually get frustrated in situations I have no control in or can not change. The frustration feeling is normal and should be welcomed as it allows us the opportunity to learn why. Now if one gets frustrated a lot and it effects his quality of life then I would recommend seeing a therapist as there could be something else going on. We are all suppose to feel all good and bad things. How we handle those feelings and what we do about them is everything.

Kunga Dorji
05-11-17, 10:31 PM
I never knew we should practice mindfulness, for me it either happens or it doesn't. I don't know anyone who is in complete control 100% of the time, I think that would be boring. Perhaps I simply do not have a issue with this or perhaps some people expect too much? Not sure. I personally think we are always mindful at some level. As for exercising our brain, like it or not we all do that every minute of our lives whether we want to or not. I usually get frustrated in situations I have no control in or can not change. The frustration feeling is normal and should be welcomed as it allows us the opportunity to learn why. Now if one gets frustrated a lot and it effects his quality of life then I would recommend seeing a therapist as there could be something else going on. We are all suppose to feel all good and bad things. How we handle those feelings and what we do about them is everything.

The point of mindfulness practice is not to control anything or be in control of anything, but it is also to not be controlled by anything, including the random wanderings of your mind.

Certainly when you sit in meditation you are practicing something quite specific, namely the skill of not following every random thought that appears, and not responding to every random emotion or physical sensation.

We've all had plenty of practice at uncontrolled obsessional following of thoughts, but we have had much less practice at simply not going there.

With practice, the habits of not following thoughts obsessively do build stronger wiring that supports a calmer way of being.

You can still lose your temper, for instance, but the episode is likely to be much more short lived, and do less harm.

One of the Buddhist masters said "If you can change the situation, why worry? If you can't change the situation what is the point of being frustrated?"

In that world view frustration is a problem, as the agitation associated with it obscures our mental clarity, and makes us function less efficiently.

jkimbo
05-12-17, 07:48 PM
As I said, if it has a significant impact on one's life then I would recommend a therapist. Meditation does not work for people more often then it does. If it works for you that's great! I'm just saying there are usually other factors at play.

Kunga Dorji
05-12-17, 08:17 PM
As I said, if it has a significant impact on one's life then I would recommend a therapist. Meditation does not work for people more often then it does. If it works for you that's great! I'm just saying there are usually other factors at play.


As a rule the biggest reason that it does not work is poor teaching- either in the primary technique or in its application to the clinical problem at hand,

I have seen lots of people screw it up through trying to learn just from a book or audio instructions --- as did I for many years.

What is really needed is a number of sessions- usually at least 8-10 with an experienced teacher who can answer your questions and refine your technique as you go.

If it is to be used as a therapy it also needs someone trained as a therapist-- ie in MBSR, MBCT, or MiCBT.

The next biggest reason for failure is usually going for unachievable goals in terms of sitting time, Some formats demand 20 minutes twice a day- which is not easy to achieve. Regularity and setting the habit are more important.

jkimbo
05-12-17, 08:27 PM
Can't blame it on the teachers in studies :)

In all fairness, it's certainly worth a try! If it works that's great! but like I said I think their are a lot of factors going on and that helps to explain the various results better then pointing the blame to bad teachers or techniques.

Like hypnosis, which has a 50/50 chance at best. I can not be hypnotized. I wouldn't blame the teacher or technique, I'm more inclined to blame me lol