Global Influence offered me a chance to review the Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies by Shamash Alidina and Joelle Jane Marshall, and I figured it was something I could really use some help with. If you’ve been following my story for a while, I’ve dealt with some serious issues with anxiety and depression, and it’s really easy for me to get trapped in my own head. It’s very difficult for me sometimes to be mindful, and the two weeks since I received this book to review were no exception. The irony is in losing my focus about this mindfulness workbook in a time when it really could have helped me more to find my center. Alas.
The Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies is over 300 pages long, and there is so much to do inside it – practical exercises that require weeks of attention in the progression. I can’t possibly discuss everything in the book, so I will share with you the most important things I got from it that will help me as I continue this journey toward being more present for myself and my family.
The workbook offers many opportunities to learn new meditation techniques – both mini meditations and those that should last for 30 minutes or more. Meditation has never come easily to me because of my intrusive thoughts and how my mind wanders, but the workbook addresses these issues and offers suggestions for how to cope with them. I haven’t managed to master this yet, but it’s something I plan to work on so that my mind doesn’t always have to work against me. There are guided meditations available as downloadable audio to aid in these techniques.
Some of the activities in the workbook involve movement, and they all appear to be appropriate for most ability and mobility levels. It’s been a while since I last attempted yoga, so this may provide a way for me to get back into the swing of things, but with more purpose.
The sections I intend to focus on most are those concerning happiness and positivity, being present, overcoming external distractions, coping with internal distractions, being mode vs doing mode, and living life intentionally.
Mindfulness for What Ails You
The later sections of the Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies get into some more specific recommendations for using mindfulness to reduce anxiety and depression and heal your body naturally.
My psychiatrist has been working with me for a long time to recognize the mind-body connection the fuels the vicious cycle of my emotional state affecting my physical state – and vice versa. I know that there are real chemical imbalances in my brain that are responsible for my depression and my anxiety, but I also know that I can short-circuit the negative cycle sometimes with some mental exercises, if not to stop my depression completely, then to make my experience a little less awful, at least for a time. The workbook discusses CBT and mindfulness, but CBT and I don’t necessarily work well together. Some of the helpful tips from the workbook, however, include approaching unpleasant thoughts and feelings instead of avoiding them, or recognizing when the depression is about to hit and taking mindful action. I already do the latter whenever possible, but I’d like to get better at it. Surrounding myself with positive distractions – like enjoying time with my friends and family – is something that almost always helps, but I have to make it happen before I fold in on myself and decide it’s better not to see anyone.
Healing your body naturally takes a bit more faith than even combating mental illness with mindfulness techniques, but again, some of the tips are things I’ve used previously. Taking the time to breathe – and slowing down your breathing to also slow a racing heartbeat – is something that can be done with practice. Not defining yourself as an illness – that’s something that takes constant effort. “I’m depressed.” “I’m anxious.” “I hurt.” These are all things I say to myself and others all the time. I am getting better at changing my mindset about at least my physical illness, “My body hurts.” My body is not my whole self. Maybe it makes a difference to acknowledge that. I don’t know yet, but the workbook suggests that it might. I’m looking forward to getting deeper into the mindfulness techniques for managing pain. I’ve had some small success with imagining myself getting a massage (in my mind, it’s Adam Levine as my masseur) and visualizing it so well that the muscles actually start to feel less strained. It doesn’t work every time, but maybe I can get to a point where it works more often.
Thanks to Global Influence and Wiley for sending me a copy of the Mindfulness Workbook For Dummies.