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Mindfulness Skills for Living with BPD

By March 13, 2011

In the past decade, more and more psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals have incorporated mindfulness meditation training into their psychotherapy practice. Mindfulness meditation has many treatment applications, including major depressive disorder, chronic pain, generalized anxiety disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Mindfulness meditation has been defined in many ways, but perhaps one of the most widely-used definitions comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., (the creator of a treatment for stress and chronic pain called "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction"), who defines mindfulness as "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."

When you practice mindfulness meditation, you practice being in the present moment, and noticing all of your experiences. You practice being aware of things happening outside of yourself (e.g., things you see, smell, hear), and things happening internally (e.g., your thoughts, feelings and sensations). Importantly, mindfulness meditation involves being aware without judgment. So, you are paying attention to all of these experiences, without labeling them as good or bad. Read more...

March 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm
(1) gjdagis says:

Nice plays on words but, for one, there is no possibility of living (or experiencing) the “now”. As soon as one attempts to do so, it is already the past. This “new age” jargon is nothing more than that and “techniques” such as this simply serve as a distraction and nothing more. Distraction has its place but it should be called what it effectively IS.

March 14, 2011 at 4:35 am
(2) Elizabeth Lofgren says:

Dear friend! What is life if it is not en experiens of each moment, feeling and being awere of what is going now and what is there?

March 21, 2011 at 5:39 pm
(3) Ex Mainer says:

Of course, we all live a series of “nows” – here is my take on mindfulness – it is far far better than the alternative. There is distraction and then there is distraction. Yup, we can distract the angry rageful BPDer – by fighting back; by laughing; etc – none of these work. Mindfulness in the way to go!

April 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm
(4) William says:

Wow, now just isn’t what it used to be.

April 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm
(5) Babs says:

I think that the person with bpd can benefit from these “mindfulness techniques”, which are a way of distracting a person from her escalating cascade of negative emotions by focusing on something else instead.

The hard part for the person with bpd is learning to begin utilizing the technique BEFORE her emotions become too extreme. Its hard to learn to recognize the signals that he or she is *approaching* “melt down”. Because once the bpd person is in a full-blown melt-down rage/tantrum, then, basically all you can do is leave the vicinity or hang up the phone in a calm and rational way, because the volcano *has* erupted.

My person with bpd, however, can *instantly* trigger into rage with no rumblings or seismic warnings *at all*. So, I’m not sure how “mindfulness techniques” can work under those circumstances.

For the non-bpd loved one, I think the best and most effective way of handling having a bpd loved one is to establish rules or boundaries *for yourself*, meaning, deciding what you will and will NOT tolerate behavior-wise from your bpd loved one. And then enforcing consequences in a *very* consistent and predictable way when the boundaries are violated.

Boundary setting and enforcement is difficult to accept and learn to do even in an adult-adult chosen relationship, but its overwhelmingly difficult (if not impossible) to learn to do when you are the child of a bpd mother, however. The children of bpd mothers are trained from birth to *accept* and *endure* emotional abuse, and sometimes physical or even sexual abuse / emotional incest, from their bpd mother and that bleeds into accepting and enduring abuse in chosen relationships. But… that is another discussion for another thread, though.

So, in my opinion, mindfulness training/distraction techniques can’t hurt. Its possible that they can even help the person with bpd, at least the ones who aren’t subject to being instantly triggered into violent or extreme rages.

April 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm
(6) DHFabian says:

I don’t really understand how or why it works, but to a remarkable degree, this really does work. It takes practice, but after a while, it becomes more automatic when one encounters a stressful/threatening situation. When practiced routinely, it does give an individual far more control over “emotional overload,” and this enables the person to deal with the problem much more calmly. I learned to do this about a year ago, and it truly has had a profound impact on my daily life.

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