Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mindfulness - HALT

I am reading a book on Mindfulness - Eight weeks to peace. I picked it up at the library while I was looking for a book that I had put on hold.  I missed my deadline for picking up my book and was perusing the new arrivals on my way out when I saw the title and decided to check it out along with a book on Thai cooking.

I had a rough day alone yesterday for no reason really. I think it was because I had something on my to do list that I was refusing to do and therefore I was at an impasse with myself. I refused to get past it and do something fun because I was punishing myself with the shoulds so I did nothing. I sat paralyzed on the porch staring out at the trees. (I guess that is something)  Of-course only today can I identify what was happening. A day of my life wasted.

I have read a lot of  books on mindfulness. I have practice meditation and even lately worked on active mindful meditation. Focusing on the task at hand.  I am washing the dishes. I am sweeping the floor. My mind is not too happy with this practice after a life time of pinging off the walls solving everyone's problems along with world peace all at the same time. I am sure someone out there can relate.

Anyway the books starts off talking technically about the brain. About how the right brain lights ups during creative or analytical exercises. Creativity is the name of the game. It problem solves and when a person feels down it kicks into high gear and starts analyzing what has gone wrong. How was it that only moments ago we were happy and now were not.

The mind starts reviewing the past looking for clues bringing up possible reasons. Pretty soon the brain has a whole list of  reasons for the sadness. This makes us sadder. The brain stores this in a lump sum to be retrieved at the next dip in our mood. A package easily retrieved at a moments notice. Like muscle memory.

It all sounds so hopeless. Their point was that it is the creative brains job to solve problems for us it can't help it and without this process nothing would get done. The good news is that the other side of our mind is the side that is aware. The on looker. I call it the gate keeper that shows up in the nick time.

The author says that we can see the moments of depression for what they are moments and not try to solve them. Not to exhaust ourselves with focusing on a solution.  He says sometimes it can be the process of finding the solution that brings us lower.  I can here myself saying to myself  "What is wrong with you?" "Why can't you just be happy for once?" This doesn't help my mood.

I am not saying that all sadness can be solved by ignoring it. Grief is warranted when life hurls something really ugly at you. But for me I can see that my mind does try to solve momentary sadness by bringing up the past and this does take me down further. It gather momentum and makes me feel awful about where I am in my life. It makes me feel like I am slipping back into long term depression and grief.

He said moments of sadness can actually caused by lack of food or boredom. Feeling uninspired about work not taking time for lunch burning the candle at both ends. Not having balance between work and leisure time.

I do this all the time go without eating or eating protein bars that don't make me feel nourished or satisfied. It made me think of HALT - In the program they say if you are unhappy check HALT first. Are hungry, angry, lonely or tired? I think for me I fall in the H and L category most often.

It was good for me to think about how my mind with it's best intentions can work against me. In the book the meditation part helps you to view your feelings objectively and let them float on by without reacting. Without judging them as good or bad.

I am sitting here eating a homemade sandwich and some cantaloupe that I scooped with a melon baller. Taking care of myself. Trying not to take myself too seriously.

Of course this is my interpretation of what I have read take what you like and leave the rest.  


  1. Thanks! Very interesting post. I, for one, can totally relate...

  2. Sounds like a good plan to take care of yourself and not take yourself too seriously. I've learned these since Al-Anon. Still a work in progress.

  3. oh do i get those pinging thoughts... and HALT is a life-saver, to more situations in life than we give it credit for. nice post, got me thinking...