Appreciating Life

Welcome to the final instalment of my Mindfulness Journey.


How can we appreciate what we have?

As you read this blog, notice how your eyes move from word to word without any conscious effort; how they go at the right pace for you to pick up the information. The world comes to you through your eyes and other senses. How much would you miss out on if you lost your eyesight? So, you appreciate your eyesight.


Next time you take a drink of water, savour the first sip. Move the water around your mouth and then swallow. Notice how it relieves your dryness.


Next time you’re eating a meal, savour the first mouthful, your tongue does the tasting, your teeth do the chewing, and notice how the food slips down your throat to swallow. It’s a wonder and you need to appreciate it.


We take so much of life for granted, there is so much wonder outside the reality space. Remember, the reality space is the gap between the reality that is, and the reality you want.


We must appreciate our life even in our darkest hours, when it seems the entire world is maximizing our distress and is driving us to exhaustion.

At these times remember your breath. Your breath is there for you as an anchor. It’s like a friend, reminding you that you are okay as you are.

Take a deep breath, hold, exhale slowly through the mouth.


To appreciate something is to recognize its value. All our valued things will eventually be lost in the future. This is a fact of life. So, as long as we are alive, we need to appreciate all that we have, temporarily.


Is the secret of appreciation NOT to look beyond the present?

I’m not so sure. Past and Future have a place in our reality. Although it’s a fact that your consciousness is in the Present and the reality that counts most is in the Present, the past does influence the present and the future is a need that is essential to present morale. So, although the present is the most important, the other two are needed also. We should appreciate all three.


I appreciate the fact that my Mindfulness training has taught me, “How To Feel Good Again”.

I feel good because I now understand that I can live with painful thoughts as long as I separate from them. I am free to reach out for positive thoughts.


I now understand that all the moments in my life are CHOICE POINTS. I have a choice of ATTITUDE. After you ask yourself these questions you should come to a decision about what choice to make about your feelings.

How do I feel about this situation?

How would I like to feel about this?

How do I choose to feel about this?

How do I feel about this NOW?


I also have a choice of ACTION.

What am I doing about this situation?

What would I like to do about this?

What do I choose to do about this?

What am I going to do about this NOW?

I want to reinforce my Defusion and Acceptance skills. I will try to live in the Here and Now. And maybe Resignation has a part to play…


A word about Resignation:

A woman I met at the U3A (University of the Third Age) told me how she used resignation to counter her anxiety feelings concerning her husband’s illness, it also could be used if you, yourself, had an illness.

What is Resignation? It’s the reluctant acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable.

She thought, “Why my husband? Why my family? Why, why, why!


Fighting her anxiety feelings was making her physically sick. So neither her or her husband could enjoy the time they had left. She decided to accept the grim reality of her husband’s illness and all the debilitation that went with it plus the care that also went with it.


What did this mindset of resignation do for her?

Her anxiety feelings and bad thoughts were lifted and she felt her mental pain was gone and the struggle with destructive feelings over.

She realized it was her thoughts about her husband’s illness that was creating her emotional disturbance, NOT the illness itself. By accepting the illness her physical and mental storm became much calmer.

With resignation, she accepted the predicament and both her and her husband began to live each day to the fullest possible under the circumstances. Each day was like a new lifetime!


Acceptance is the willingness to have the bad thoughts and feelings as they come and go, but the struggle isn’t there.

Stop wasting your energy and turn off the struggle switch.


By defusing from the anxiety thoughts and feelings. Separate yourself from them. Don’t give them much attention.

Defuse—“I’m having that anxiety feeling in my abdomen.”

“I’m noticing I’m having that feeling again in my abdomen.”

“I’m accepting the feeling but I’m not struggling with it.”

“I’m separated from it”


Live in the Here and Now!

If you were asked, what’s the best time of your life and you answered, “NOW”, you’ve arrived at a moment of insight. When we are fused on bad thoughts and feelings, we miss out on enjoying and appreciating life.


So, here we are, at the conclusion of my Mindfulness journey

Lets summarize the basics:

ACCEPT your thoughts and feelings and be in the Present.

CONNECT with your Values.

TAKE EFFECTIVE ACTION in line with your values.


My Top Values:

ACCEPTANCE: to be open and accepting of myself and others.

ASSERTIVENESS: to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want.

COMPASSION: to act with kindness toward myself and others.

COURAGE: to go forward in the face of fear or difficulty.

HUMOUR: to see and appreciate the funny side of life.

MINDFULNESS: to be conscious of and open to, the Present experience.

RESPONSIBILITY: to be accountable for my actions.

SELF-AWARENESS: to be aware of my thoughts, feelings, and actions and defuse from the negative ones.

SELF-CARE: to look after my health and get my needs met.

SUPPORTIVENESS: to be supportive, helpful and encouraging to myself and others.

LOVING: to act affectionately toward myself and others.


I try to follow each value but I sometimes fall short! I’m only human.


If your problems can be solved, take action.

It your problems can’t be solved, accept and defuse from them.

No matter what difficulty you encounter, there are two courses of action:

Accept it.

Take Action to improve it or resign yourself to it.


What’s in your control?

Your Attention and Your Actions.

You act in accordance with your values, because your values are reflections of what is important to you, what is meaningful to you, and they provide direction in your life.


Last important thought to remember:

APPRECIATE what you have in your life right now, because NOW, is the ONLY time you ever have!


Healthy Mental Functioning and Mind Flexibility

This is the 6th instalment of my Mindfulness journey.


The lesson started off with telling me about something that was at the core of my being. It’s always present when I’m not engaged with my “thinking” mind. Your Healthy Functioning is where your common sense and wisdom lies, plus your feeling of wholeness and your satisfaction in life. I was feeling good just thinking I had this wonderful thing at my CORE.


This Healthy Functioning gives you mental equilibrium and buoyancy. It sees beyond your difficult circumstances.


But when you’re fused with bad thoughts it gets buried and disappears from you mind. You need to ACCEPT bad thoughts and your difficult circumstances. Then as the negative thoughts are dismissed and you separate from them, your equilibrium will return.


This Healthy Functioning is NOT concerned with what happens in your life, it is concerned with How You Relate to what happens. You have to take your extreme attention off your problems and allow your mind to rest. Using your Healthy Functioning allows you to see things differently and make productive decisions.


Your Healthy Mind Functioning can help when trying to cope with your illness or an illness of a loved one. It’s how you think about the illness that creates your emotional disturbance, not the illness itself.


Of course you don’t like or want to deal with the painful parts of life but when they come you have to be able to cope. Thoughts come and go, but when faced with illness you feel angry and frustrated.


The important thing is how you relate to the difficulties. You must face the truth. When someone hears regrettable news about their health or a loved one’s, you must tap into your Healthy Mind Functioning. It will tell you what to do, such as accept your predicament and live each day to the fullest. Your Healthy Functioning helps you not to become panicked and frustrated with self-pitying thoughts. It won’t take away the illness but it will make you feel better about it.


In the midst of physical and mental suffering you know there will be times when your mind is clear and you are free to enjoy your present. In this session I was reminded that life is nothing more than a constant series of present moments to be experienced one after another.


You must appreciate the moment, you have no time to lose. You realize the present is the only time you have to live, so enjoy. Whenever we fuse with negative thoughts, we stiffen up, we make ourselves experience the bad effects of those thoughts and to feel the destructive emotions tied to them.


But, and this is a BIG BUT, when we learn to dismiss and separate ourselves from the bad thought we begin to feel better. So you have to enjoy the present as best you can. Remember the NOW is all anyone has.


Now, we get to the nitty gritty, the principles to develop flexibility in your mind. The greater your flexibility the better you can cope with painful thoughts and feelings.

DEFUSION—Separate, defuse and dismiss your bad thoughts, they are just words and pictures. Allow them to come and go without fighting or running from them.

Example of the Defusion process:

Put your bad thought in a sentence:

“I’m fearful of the future and my anxiety feelings.”

Now, replay the thought with this phrase in front:

“I’m having the thought, that I’m fearful of the future and my anxiety feelings.”

Replay the thought again but add this phrase:

“I notice I’m having the thought, that I’m fearful of the future and my anxiety feelings.”

What happened?

“I felt a separation, a distance from the thought.”

“It lost some of its sting.”

“It didn’t bother me so much the last time.”

“It was as though I dismissed it.”

“I feel better already!”


Live In The Present—Bring awareness to your here-and-now. Focus and engage in whatever you are doing.


Values—What’s important to you, what do you want to stand for in this life?


Commit To Action—Take mindfulness action so you can cope with difficulties.


In conclusion: I learned to appreciate what I have right now, because NOW is the ONLY time I have. I have this moment, so I have to make the most of it.


Coming up: The final instalment of my Mindfulness Training. It’s titled,







Anchor Yourself and Take A Stand

I’m combining the fourth and fifth instalments of my Mindfulness training.

***                                                 4th

Negative thoughts are often the source of sadness and fear, and if you have no training in getting your attention away from them, you’re helpless. The capacity to separate (defuse) from them is essential for us to be fully in the present.


Live in the Present because there is no point worrying about the past or being fearful of the future. Dwelling on the past and future will only DRAIN your energy so you miss out on the only life you have, the Present.


Be Here, Now! Be psychologically present, engage in what’s happening in this moment. When you are in the present, you are aware of the physical world around you and the world within you.


Life happens NOW!


When you are living in a storm of emotional distress you can’t connect with the present. So, what do you do?


The larger the reality space, the greater the emotional storm it unleashes within. Remember, the reality space is the gap between the reality that is and the reality you would want.

When this space is large, two emotions show up: ANGER and FEAR. These two emotions can dominate your life, if you let them. Your “fight or flight” response is triggered.

The fight response turns into anger. The flight response turns into fear.


So, as the storm waves are rolling over us, here is an interesting idea:

When we have discomfort and suffering in our body and mind, instead of reacting to it we must respond to it and then a change takes place.

We begin to experience the suffering, fear, and pain NOT as “our” suffering but as “the” suffering. So, we then are experiencing the personal pain in a universal way.


When I say, it’s MY pain or MY depression, I am isolated and locked into MY suffering and unable to give it any succor (support, compassion or separation).

But when it’s “the” pain, I take it less personally and I’m not threatened to investigate it. The pain is shared universally, it has the whole world to float in and I’m NOT standing alone in it.


So, how do we drop anchor and calm the fury?

Push your feet hard on the floor and straighten your spine. Take a slow, deep breath and exhale slowly through the mouth. Look around and notice five things you can see. Notice where you are and what you are doing.


This exercise brings us back into the present so we can engage in life. During hard times we will have to drop anchor many times.


When you face the storms of life you will have good days and bad days, strong moments and weak ones. But when you persevere with mindfulness you will not do much running from the reality space and you will stop fighting it.


You must try to live in the present and ask yourself these questions:

“What do you stand for in the face of trauma? What values do you have?”

We will cover this in the next instalment.


Concluding thought:

Keep Your Chin Up and Persevere With Your Mindfulness Skills.


5th Instalment

At the start of this session I was asked some questions to reflect on:

What matters to me?

What do I stand for?

What sort of human being am I?

What are my values?

Values are how you want to behave in relation to your purpose and relationships.

Some values are:

Acceptance: to be open and accepting of myself, others and life itself.

Assertiveness: to stand up for my rights and request what I want.

Courage: to be courageous in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty.

Mindfulness: to be conscious of, open to, and curious about my here-and-now experience.

I was told to think of life as a huge network of relationships:

Relationships with our body and mind, with family and friends, etc.

How can you make your relationships flourish?

You need to Connect, Care, and Contribute.

Connect- in any relationship means to engage and participate in the here and now.

Care- do we really care about the relationship? We need to act in caring ways.

Contribute- to nurture and give to the relationship.


Then there is “Taking A Stand”.

When life hits us hard, we tend to run and retreat. But, what we need to do is:

Take A Stand. Stand up to the difficulties.

There are 4 approaches to problem situations:

  • Leave the situation. Sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t!
  • Stay and change what can be changed. The reality gap sometimes can be closed but many times it can’t. But, we still have to do something. We are still breathing and life goes on! We need to activate all our mindfulness skills to steer our life in a meaningful direction.
  • Stay and accept what can’t be changed. You have to ACCEPT all the painful feelings and thoughts and DEFUSE from them, separate from them, distance yourself from them, give them the space to come and go, engage in the present and choose to live by your values, and live each day fully despite the hurtful challenges you face.
  • Stay and give up. Worry, rant and rave, cry, turn to alcohol and drugs, all of which make your problems worse. This option sucks the life out of us.

A Thought To End With:

Through mindfulness skills you can acquire what we all want:

Psychological Flexibility.