Meditation and Wise Mind
Mindfulness exercises like meditation develop inner calm, emotional control, perseverance, and a strong sense of self. Herbert Benson, MD of Harvard Medical School was one of the first to research the therapeutic value of meditation. He found that meditation could elicit what he called the "Relaxation Response," which is the physiological opposite of stress and anxiety. Meditation heals the damage of stress. One of the simplest meditation exercises is to follow your breathing. When you meditate on your breath, you can find Wise Mind in the physical center found at the bottom of your inhalation. You can develop the ability to find your center during meditation and get to know this calm centered place well. If you learn where your center is and how it feels, you can go to this place, confident that you are responding in Wise Mind. Although meditation may be unfamiliar, you can cultivate the ability to be mindful.
Meditation and mindfulness develop your ability to observe what is going on within yourself in any situation. One way that people commonly experience this is to step back from one’s thoughts and feelings and release your attachment to these mental phenomena. The goal here is to reflect on your thinking and feeling, independent of the circumstances, observing what is going on in one’s mind like watching clouds drift through the sky.
Qualities of Wise Mind
Wise Mind is calm. It is almost always quiet and peaceful. When change or acceptance is necessary Wise mind is the serenity of knowing which course to take. Wise Mind is not trapped in all-or-nothing thinking and can focus on what is effective and functional.
In Wise Mind, you are in control of emotional mind. Behavior is not mood dependent (controlled by one’s emotions) but at the service of one’s inner wisdom. Eventually, objective self-observation and self-description are attainable from this slightly detached point of view. In fact, you can learn to experience extreme emotions like anger or fear while staying in Wise Mind. This takes lots of practice – for everybody. Likewise, in Wise Mind, you are able to access the knowledge of reasonable mind.
Wise Mind is courageous, i.e. feels scared but does what is needed in the situation anyway. Willingness is doing what is needed in each situation. Willingness often requires courage.
Wise Mind is confident. Self-confidence is knowing you can handle whatever problems in life comes along. When Wise Mind becomes clear, fear disappears. Wise Mind knows you are doing the best you can under the circumstances. When you skilfully approach your problems causing misery and distress, you are in Wise Mind and doing the best you can.
Clear and coherent sense of self: In Wise Mind, you can maintain your own feelings, opinions and decisions when around others.
Self-description, a core mindfulness skill, helps you know yourself and resist unhealthy urges to conform to social pressure and change one’s mind. At the same time, you are strong enough not to be defensive when presented with alternative views that warrant your consideration. You can see more clearly who you are when you are quiet and peaceful.
Self-observation develops self-understanding and accurate perception. The opposite of “automatic pilot” or doing something without thinking. Wise Mind is “being in the present on purpose.”
Through mindfulness, you will develop the skills to access your Wise Mind. With Wise Mind as the basis for problem solving, you will improve the quality of your life.
Linehan, Marsha M. (1993). Cognitive behavioural Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guilford Publications. ISBN: 0898621836.
Linehan, Marsha M. (1993). Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guilford Publications. ISBN: 0898620341.