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by Melissa Karnaze

flameIn the paper introduced here last month SYNTHROID FOR SALE, , "Mindful emotion: an integrative review," there's a clear contradiction of mindfulness.

The authors define mindfulness in the paper as:

"...the ability to bring a wide and spacious quality of attention to whatever is experienced, such that whatever stimuli are present pass through awareness without engendering any judgment or evaluation (i.e. appraisal)"

Okay, that sounds reasonable, SYNTHROID reviews, right.

Meaning, if you are walking in a field of grass, Order SYNTHROID online overnight delivery no prescription, you observe your movements without having to label things like "walking" or "grass." You just notice the scene unfold.

And meaning, if you are feeling a certain way, you allow yourself to feel it without judging the feeling as bad or good, wrong or right, SYNTHROID duration. Just a feeling, SYNTHROID FOR SALE.

Wrong.

Both scenarios work fine with how the definition is written.

But when it comes to how the authors interpret and use that written definition -- the grass scenario works fine, Where can i buy cheapest SYNTHROID online, but the feeling one doesn't.

Here's why...

Emotion implies judgment SYNTHROID FOR SALE, The thing is, emotion is entwined with logic. And it involves an element of judgment.

Emotion is thought plus meaning, which is expressed as feeling, buy generic SYNTHROID.

Meaning = judgment.

So any time you experience an emotion, you experience the effects of the thought processes/logic/judgment that underlie it.

Or, as it's referred to in psychological literature, you experience the effects of the appraisal of whatever stimuli you are perceiving, SYNTHROID FOR SALE. Online buying SYNTHROID hcl, Each emotion has its unique set of appraisals. For simplification: When you appraise an event at "good," you're likely to feel "good." When you appraise an event as "bad, you're likely to feel "bad."

Judgment is not mindful

What this means to the authors of the paper, is that emotion itself is the antithesis to mindfulness, SYNTHROID price, coupon.

Because you cannot experience judgment/appraisal, through emotion, while at the same time -- not experience it, SYNTHROID interactions, through mindfulness.

So, emotion isn't good for mindfulness (remember, just according to them):

"Disturbing emotions (DEs) are problematic in the sense that they disturb one's ability to remain mindfully present."

What the authors recommend instead

Even though the paper's title alludes to an integration of emotion regulation and mindfulness, it recommends against the most successful emotion regulation technique: cognitive reappraisal, SYNTHROID dose. SYNTHROID FOR SALE, Because cognitive reappraisal "intrinsically results in identification with" emotions. And remember, according to the authors, emotions aren't mindful. SYNTHROID schedule, What they propose instead is this:

"MM [Mindfulness Meditation] involves a systematic retraining of awareness and nonreactivity, leading to defusion from whatever is experienced, and allowing the individual to more consciously choose those thoughts, emotions, and sensations they will identify with, buy cheap SYNTHROID no rx, rather than habitually reacting to them."

Why it's a dysfunctional recommendation

Dysfunctional key phrases to note...

"Nonreactivity" is a great way to mask a disdain for irruptive emotions like anger. Just don't react to your anger, SYNTHROID treatment, and it will go away.

"Defusion from whatever is experienced" is a complicated-sounding way to say, "Detach from your emotions already, 'cause you don't need 'em."

Despite how the authors highlight the negative consequences of emotional expression suppression in the paper, "nonreactivity" and "defusion from whatever is experienced" is a fancy way of relabeling emotional expression suppression, SYNTHROID FOR SALE.

The emotions aren't forcibly suppressed during mindfulness meditation, but the thoughts are rearranged in such a way that they the emotions are suppressed through "defusion."

"In this way, it erodes the automatic process of appraisal that gives rise to disturbing emotions in the first place."

So mindfulness meditation saves the day because you manipulate your thought-processes long enough to avoid having to experience your emotions -- which are often disturbing.

But disturbing is such a strong word, cheap SYNTHROID. Unpleasant, yes. But not the end of the world.

Not something that you can't find a way to work with SYNTHROID FOR SALE, , in order to increase your emotional resilience and well-being. Get SYNTHROID, How the authors contradict themselves...

If you haven't already caught on, the authors contradict themselves in a serious way.

And that's in how they misuse their own definition of mindfulness. Or rather, mangle it to fit their mindfulness meditation agenda, where can i buy SYNTHROID online.

It's true that mindfulness means: not assigning judgment to an experience.

And that it's just accepting what is, SYNTHROID FOR SALE.

But you have to be clear about your frame of reference.

When you do mindfulness the right way, Order SYNTHROID from mexican pharmacy, it's like your mindful perspective is an outside observer.

That outside observer doesn't go in and try to change the scene; it just observes.

So if the scene involves a baby throwing a tantrum -- the observer doesn't do anything to try and change it. SYNTHROID FOR SALE, (And it certainly doesn't go in and explain to the baby not to intrinsically identify with the appraisals responsible for the tantrum.)

In the same way, when an adult throws a tantrum -- their mindful, observing self doesn't do anything to go in there and try and change it. As long as the mindful, observing self doesn't mingle -- only observes -- then it obeys the definition of mindfulness:

"...whatever stimuli are present pass through awareness without engendering any judgment or evaluation"

So the tantrum stimuli that's present passes through the mindful, no prescription SYNTHROID online, observing self's awareness without engendering any judgment or evaluation in that mindful, observing self's awareness -- of that tantrum being somehow bad or wrong.

Or a disturbing emotion. Generic SYNTHROID, Because "disturbing" is a loaded judgment term.

And remember, judgment, let alone loaded judgment -- is the antithesis to mindfulness (non-judgment and total acceptance).

.., SYNTHROID FOR SALE. By making a "special" exception

Except, buy SYNTHROID no prescription, the authors make an exception when it comes to emotion.

They want a freebie to switch out of mindfulness mode so that they can go in there to change the scene through defusion techniques, so that they can essentially get rid of the disturbing emotion by pretty much shutting off the mind, SYNTHROID recreational, which is responsible, via thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, and expectations (also known as constructs, SYNTHROID brand name, cognitive networks, and appraisals), for co-creating the disturbing emotions in the fist place. SYNTHROID australia, uk, us, usa, Total contradiction.

They're suggesting that you bypass your "disturbing" emotions by using meditation to manipulate your mind so she can't feel. SYNTHROID FOR SALE, Totally irresponsible.

And then try to run with it

Yet totally condoned by the peer review for this paper.

As well as many mental health professionals who use mindfulness-based interventions to essentially shut off the mind so she won't let the body feel so darn much -- for quick-fix aims.

Yes, purchase SYNTHROID online, emotions are scary. Sometimes dark. Often disturbing, SYNTHROID FOR SALE.

We get this. SYNTHROID description, It's why we're such a mess as a human race, and why now more than ever we're in desperate need of some real mindful emotion regulation.

But to twist the definition of mindfulness to push a meditation agenda that leads you to dim your emotional resources until they're so numbed out because instead of allowing yourself to ever let an ounce of anger drop into your bloodstream you have you close your eyes, count to ten, and breathe deeply because the "disturbing emotion" shouldn't exist in the first place.., purchase SYNTHROID for sale. so that over time your ability to discern, set personal boundaries, have the capability to be response able to life's challenges, and be able to build your life as a mindful construct, completely erode, since these abilities absolutely hinge upon your ability to be engaged and in tune with your emotional reactions and why they're there. SYNTHROID FOR SALE, Let alone how emotion-phobic and self-destructive that is, it's not mindful at all.

And you can bet I'm waiting for the papers to surface on that contradiction.

What do you think?

So do you think the authors contradict themselves, or is something else going on.

How can mindfulness and emotion regulation be melded in such a way there is no contradiction. Do you think it's even possible.

I'd be interested in hearing your take.

This is the 2nd article in the series, "Mindful emotion regulation: An integrative review." Grab your feed to stay tuned for the rest of the series.

.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Cole Bitting January 11, 2010 at 7:06 am

Another great post :)

Mindfulness has a homunculus problem. If we observe the baby-tantrum, our mirror neurons insure we will react with empathy and identify with the emotional event. So our observer is not detached. Even if the observer does nothing, the observer first simulated doing a lot of things then inhibited any action.

So who observes the observer? And so on – a homunculus problem.

Many of the most sophisticated neuroscientists and pyschologiest examining the benefit of Buddhist psychology do not define the concept mindfulness. How Buddha of them :) But really, they avoid it for many reasons. We can’t not-judge. If we inhibit emotions, we are being emotional about our emotions. And the aforementioned homunculus problem.

I did write at length on mindfulness. I prefer the concept of attunement.

When my boys and I go out for dinner, no one is allowed to simply say, “I don’t want to for chinese.” The proper response is, “I’d rather go for BBQ.” In other words, “I don’t like this plan because this other one is better.”

If you don’t like the term ‘mindfulness,’ what is better?

Melissa Karnaze January 11, 2010 at 10:53 am

Cole, thanks for sharing your insight. Excellent point about the mirror neurons. Yes, a homunculus problem. Yes, in general there’s a laxness about the research done in this area.

Associating meditation brain waves with all the “good things” in life is not good cognitive neuroscience, at least not how I was taught. It will be interesting to see how the research continues on in the next few years, since the topic seems to have exploded.

I happen to love the term “mindfulness” and will continue using it here to capture my definition of it, which is still unfolding with new articles. It was perhaps one of the *only* terms I could ever think of naming this blog after. (It was pretty damn hard to name this blog. :P)

What I don’t like, is the dual definition… which contradicts itself. I use “mindfulness” in a different way than most of those sophisticated neuroscientists and psychologists you mentioned do (the next article will go into that more).

And as I mentioned here, I think they are misusing the term in an irresponsible way, which has negative mental health consequences. The problem is, most people don’t even notice that (yet).

Thanks for that link, I will definitely check it out. :)

WN January 11, 2010 at 11:39 am

Not too clear on what your stand on judgment is. What is their perspective and what is yours?

I think judgment is necessary. We need to make snap decisions and judgments all the time. It’s just as important as emotion.

Judging judgment as bad or good is judgment. Hmm…

Anyway, I hate meditation!!! It’s such the most overrated easy way out.

“Here’s the solution: do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Here, I wrote a book about it. Just sit. It will change the world!”

First of all, who has the time??? It’s unrealistic. Impossible to achieve. And I’m a pretty patient person.

Second, I don’t believe you have to perform tricks to achieve enlightenment.

Has anyone considered that maybe meditation is so popular simply because of Eckhardt Tolle’s Amazon book sales status? I mean the guy is like the king of self-help. I could see why scientists (ever rational) would think he’s a great read and use his popularity as proof that his method works.

Just because you sold millions of books, does this mean that you’re right? Does it even mean that people are practicing these methods?

I read Power of Now and I must say just reading the words brings about a calming effect like reading the Tao Te Ching or The Tao of Pooh (these were my self-help HELL years, OMG!!!). Like you said, quick fix. But have you ever watched video of Tolle speaking??? He’s an emotional black hole!!!

Anyway, thank you, Melissa, for reading these lame papers so we don’t have to. :D

Melissa Karnaze January 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm

“Not too clear on what your stand on judgment is. What is their perspective and what is yours?”

The next article in the series hopefully will clear that up more, but my stand is basically this:

Emotions are awesome. They serve as fast and accurate signals of important information from our internal and external environments that we need to attend to in order to maximize our response ability. Yes, it’s vague I know, but I try to hatch at the vagueness with all the articles here. :)

So, I think the judgment that is built into our emotional system is *good.* That we’d best not tamper with it, but use it in the most constructive ways we can.

Their stance is something like this:

Emotions can be useful sometimes. But for the disturbing emotions (they’re not really defined), we should really just shut them off, via mindfulness meditation.

By stopping the judgments that take place in the mind — so that the emotions don’t “follow” as an expression of those judgments. And viola, we’re happy and healthy again!

Tell me if that still doesn’t make sense. :P

This article came out more dense than I had wanted it to, so if you have any suggestions on how next time I can convey such a concept clearer, please let me know. :)

Ahh, The Power of Now. Don’t get me started lol. Let’s just say, I stretched my logical mind pretty darn far just to get through the book. And I forced myself to get through it, because I had to understand what all the hoopla was about.

In principle, enjoying the moment is stellar, no doubt. But all the other stuff that he cakes on is the same spiritual jargon that the Kill-Ego Crusade and this up and coming mindfulness meditation movement use to obscure (and in their illusory hopes, eradicate) our experience of emotions.

I’ve not seen Eckhart before, but first impressions like that are important. Seeing someone in person (or on video) can sometimes tell you all you need to know about what they “really” think, and more importantly, how they behave.

And yes, I think quick fixes will always sell mega in our society as she stands today.

My pleasure reading these papers, especially this fascinating “love-hate” one — it’s probably a habit I won’t ever give up. :P

WN January 11, 2010 at 12:23 pm

The speed at which you respond to comments is my own personal quick-fix. You’re like a self-help crack-pusher! :) Smart tactic for the quick-fix world (and Web) we live in, btw.

Okay, I read the article too fast to catch what your stance was on judgment, but yeah it’s actually very clear.

When you come across a paper that proves that emotions such as anger and sadness are our friends, can you ring a giant bell on a mountaintop for us? Thanks…

Melissa Karnaze January 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Oh no, I’m perpetuating the quick-fixedness! Hey, it’s the same on my end. Comments and tweets are like instant gratification.

Good to know that article’s main point does get across. But holler if that’s ever not the case. ;)

LMAO @ the giant bell. I admit, I’m more behind in that department than I’d like to be. You’ll find that “more balanced” take on anger, sadness, and co. in evolutionary biology literature, and you’ll get a neat take in reading about primates. Basically, evolution grounds it in that these emotions do serve some purpose living as an animal in the physical world.

For now, I’m semi-juggling two books on the topic: The Emotion Machine ; Healing through the Dark Emotions. So far, they seem pro(ductive) in their view of emotions, but I’ll explore them more through articles here once they’re finished.

(You should probably know that finishing books comes terribly hard for me these days, as I’m actually supposed to be spending most of my time writing right now — so check them out at the library if you just can’t wait.)

Jackemeyer January 13, 2010 at 8:13 pm

M,
Could you write a little wrt interacting with one another, when the other’s emotion (e.g., anger) are being expressed, and vice versa.

I find the interruptions to be awkward and often. Yet, I hang in there in presuming the long-term gains will be greater than the many short-term distractions.

In Sum, please write about individuals integrating into a social dimension where mutually benefitting adults are fully experiencing their emotions (thus, while sharing space).

If you’re unable to, fine, or if you have good resources to recommend, please do :)

Thanks,
Jack

Haider January 14, 2010 at 7:23 am

I seriously don’t get people who think it’s evil to make judgments, or that “putting labels on things” conflicts with awareness and mindfulness.

Making judgments is essential to human life. When we are faced with options, we are bound to judge which option is best for us, given our values, goals and ambitions. Also, since we can choose how to behave at any time, we are always making judgments on what to do now, and what to do next.

And as WN pointed out, being critical of making judgments is a judgment in itself.

Using labels is instrumental to thinking. Without thought, I’m not sure what mindfulness really means, or if it’s of any use at all!

Passing judgments or using labels on individuals, however, is problematic. Not because judgments and labels are bad in and of themselves, but because they are often inaccurate when placed on human beings, because we have volition and can choose to change our thoughts and behaviors.

Therefore, it is more accurate to place the label on behaviors, rather than on individuals. “You are lazy” can imply that you cannot do anything about your laziness. “You’re being lazy” acknowledges that the *behavior* is “lazy” and that the individual has a choice on whether to be lazy or not.

As long as judgments and labels are accurate, they can be considered fact. Shooting yourself in the head *is* bad for you, if you value your own life.

To develop a healthy relationship with our emotions, we need to be aware of our values and our judgments, so we can be mindful of how we cultivate them, and how consistent they are with each other.

Melissa Karnaze January 15, 2010 at 12:38 am

Jackemeyer , I’ll chew on this. :)

From my take, what you are asking about is largely uncharted territory in the personal development and psychological literatures, but I have some article ideas… and do let me know if you have more specific questions or personal experiences to draw from.

“I hang in there in presuming the long-term gains will be greater than the many short-term distractions.”

Has the hanging-in-there paid off for the most part? If not, do you have a feeling for why that might be the case?

As for a resource recommendation. Hmm, I’d say read a book about personal boundaries, since boundaries are the seams of relationships. And when you can trace boundaries — or the lack of them — with ease, you’ll be able to figure out more of what is going on during these “emotional interruptions.”

My favorite book on boundaries, Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life. It does have Christian overtones however, which I reframed while reading.

If I can think of any books that are more specific to your question though, I’ll reply again below to your comment in this thread. Thanks for the request Jack!

Haider, thanks for all your comment awesomeness today! I really appreciate it.

“I seriously don’t get people who think it’s evil to make judgments, or that “putting labels on things” conflicts with awareness and mindfulness.”

As I’ve come to understand it, people who take on this reasoning have been conditioned to be deathly afraid of their negative emotions. So their “mindfulness” language is really a highly intellectualized defense mechanism.

You bring up a mindful distinction between labeling people versus their behaviors. It’s much more constructive to pinpoint the behaviors.

With one caveat.

When you’re emoting anger for instance (safely and appropriately of course), political correctness flies out the window. It has to. Because the raw emotional reactions do see the *person* rather than the behavior as insert_negative_label_here. And it’s smart too, because the anger emotion is just the alarm signal for self-preservation… the whole person becomes a threat when they demonstrate threatening behavior even in just one incidence.

“As long as judgments and labels are accurate, they can be considered fact. Shooting yourself in the head *is* bad for you, if you value your own life.”

Indeed, and you’re getting onto a very complex topic here!

“To develop a healthy relationship with our emotions, we need to be aware of our values and our judgments, so we can be mindful of how we cultivate them, and how consistent they are with each other.”

This is most likely going into “Mindful Echoes from 2010.” :D

Haider January 15, 2010 at 2:03 am

It’s been a pleasure reading your articles! :D

I certainly agree with your caveat. When a person is infuriated because he’s been wronged by someone, trying to draw a distinction between person and behavior isn’t very helpful. They – at least – want acknowledgment that their anger is valid and that they *have* been wronged. Trying to direct attention to the behavior sounds like a defense of the person.

Again, not healthy (or safe) when the person you’re talking to is fuming!

M March 4, 2010 at 1:24 am

You questioned whether the authors contradicted themselves.

First off,
“Defusion from whatever is experienced” is a complicated-sounding way to say, “Detach from your emotions already, ’cause you don’t need ‘em.”
is your own interpretation of the authors’ word “defusion”, you did not mention the authors’ definition (or perhaps they failed to provide one). “Defusion” could also easily mean as you yourself say “When you do mindfulness the right way, it’s like your mindful perspective is an outside observer. That outside observer doesn’t go in and try to change the scene; it just observes. ” Instead of “fusing” with your emotions, you defuse and act as an observer.

Also, they did not say that they recommend to “switch out of mindfulness mode so that they can go in there to change the scene through defusion techniques”. If you look at the language, the article does not say to go in and defuse anything, it just says that those processes “lead to defusion”.

Melissa Karnaze March 4, 2010 at 2:17 pm

“Defusion” could also easily mean as you yourself say “When you do mindfulness the right way, it’s like your mindful perspective is an outside observer. That outside observer doesn’t go in and try to change the scene; it just observes. ” Instead of “fusing” with your emotions, you defuse and act as an observer.

No, you *are* fused with the emotion. That’s the scene as it’s playing out. The outside observer part of you *observes* that your being-fused-with-the-emotion is a *part* of the scene — that will remain *untampered* with.

I’ve looked at the language many times in this paper, which is why I wrote this article. It’s pretty clear to me what they are saying, albeit in a roundabout and abstract way that slips by a casual reader’s attention. Or anyone who hasn’t studied cognitive science or something similar. :)

Thank you for your comment, and feel free to mention direct quotes from the paper you want to delve more into, question, or challenge my interpretation of. I’m happy to discuss.

M March 4, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I assure you, I’ve dabbled a fair bit in psychological studies :)

For the subject of “defusion”, maybe this definition clears things up a little
ACT breaks mindfulness skills down into 3 categories:
1) defusion: distancing from, and letting go of, unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and memories
2) acceptance: making room for painful feelings, urges and sensations, and allowing them to come and go without a struggle
3) contact with the present moment: engaging fully with your here-and-now experience, with an attitude of openness and curiosity

Although admittedly, I do not know whether the authors have based their definition on this one. It has been taken from here http://www.actmindfully.com.au/acceptance_&_commitment_therapy. It’s about letting go not pushing away, engaging fully, not dimming or numbing, and making room for these things.

As to whether or not you ‘are’ fused with your emotion, Buddhist teachings say that we are made of 5 aggregates: form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness. Some might say there isn’t an “I” for emotions to be fused with, but that would be beyond my understanding. If we take the existence of “I” for granted, “I” interact with my feelings, but might not necessarily be ‘fused’ with it. Take the following statements and see how fused with the emotion you are for each of them:
“I am angry”
“I feel angry”
“I have an angry feeling”
“I am experiencing an angry feeling”
“There is an angry feeling”
“There is an experience of an angry feeling”

Finally, I think it is unfair to say that they are irresponsible, or their definition of it is irresponsible. From their abstract, they say “a model is proposed outlining the likely critical processes and mechanisms that underlie mindful emotion regulation”, they’re just proposing a model which is likely, and not claiming to be an authority on the matter. They are doing the exact same thing as you are. Writing something based on their understanding, research, experience, and publishing it. Just because it is different from yours doesn’t make it irresponsible, unless you are without a doubt that your definition is the best and only accurate description.

Melissa Karnaze March 4, 2010 at 6:08 pm

M, the reason I brought up cognitive science is because it is slightly different from psychology itself. In psychology, you can get away with more interpretation and rely less on what the brain studies show.

1) defusion: distancing from, and letting go of, unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and memories

Okay, this definition of defusion is a contradiction of mindfulness (and #2 on the list without enough careful timing).

*Letting go* of unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, and memories that give cause for certain emotions is a direct *action* — an interference if you will. (It’s a good practice in itself, one which I promote, but I don’t consider it mindfulness when it’s done at the expense of a mindful emotional experience.)

True mindfulness would be experiencing those certain emotions regardless of how unhelpful the thoughts, beliefs, and memories behind them are.

Do you see the difference?

If you can, maybe it will make sense why I view the authors as being irresponsible in this regard.

ACT seems to me — and I know I have a lot more research to do on the modality, but I have read into it — to interfere *too* soon, and change the emotional response (by changing the thoughts behind them) BEFORE you are truly mindful of your emotional experience.

I understand that Buddhist principles are increasingly popular in mental health as well as mainstream self-help. But in terms of how the brain actually works, it is not so easy to simply remove the Ego construct or remove feeling from your “identity.” That’s all spiritual abstraction based on a specific belief system, and not a scientific framework by my book. :)

“There is an experience of an angry feeling” demonstrates exactly what I am getting at. Using language and abstraction to essentially avoid having to experience the discomforting emotion longer than you want to.

Go ahead and continue with ACT principles if it’s working for you. If that’s the case and you don’t agree with this particular article, this site is not going to be your cup of tea. From my perspective, defusing your emotions only cuts you short in the long-run. It’s by working *with* them (which means, *allowing* them to be without having to *let* anything go until you’ve mindfully emoted) that you can sustain emotional resilience and well-being.

M March 4, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I’m not a practitioner of ACT, it’s just something I know of. So it’s not that I want to defend it, or the people who wrote that paper.

Coming in as a third party, it’s just your word vs. theirs. You written something based on your experience, knowledge, perhaps research; they have done the same. Keeping in mind mindfulness does not have a universal definition: Buddhists have their own which is slightly different from ACT which is different from the authors of the paper which is different from yours, whichever school it may be from. Your school does not have a monopoly over the word “mindfulness”, hence you can’t say that they are irresponsible because their definition differs from yours. What you call “true mindfulness” in your reply is really just “your version of mindfulness”. I could say the same of you, that you are irresponsible because you are promoting a type of mindfulness that I do not agree with and is different from mine. But I would be wrong to say that, won’t I?

Another issue with your arguments is you add your own interpretation to what others say, and then form arguments based on that. In essence, you are arguing your own points against your own points. For example, I’ve merely implied that “There is an experience of anger” is less ‘fused’ than “I am angry”. I did not mention anything about utilizing such methods to avoid having to experience the emotion. One could very well sit with the feeling of “there is an experience of anger” to the same intensity or period of time as whatever your brand of mindfulness prescribes, just looking at it from a different angle.

Also, “allowing them to be” is no more or less of an “action” than “letting go” is. At some point you notice an emotion, and you make a decision to do something with it. Whether you allow them to be or let them go is a conscious decision to go a certain way. “Ah, sadness, I will let it be”. Also assuming from the creation of this blog that you have a certain amount of practice in being mindful, your “allowing emotions to be” is radically different from what people without a practice would be like. For the layman, allowing emotions to be might mean throwing a tantrum, or an emotional breakdown. Which of course, one can still be mindful in such situations, but those without practice will not have the quality of mind to maintain it in such intense situations.

Melissa Karnaze March 5, 2010 at 10:46 am

M, I have not said that this blog has a monopoly over mindfulness. I disclosed my bias in this article.

Some might say there isn’t an “I” for emotions to be fused with, but that would be beyond my understanding. If we take the existence of “I” for granted, “I” interact with my feelings, but might not necessarily be ‘fused’ with it. Take the following statements and see how fused with the emotion you are for each of them:

“Some might say” — M, are you Buddhist? Or do you follow Buddhist principles?

You’re explaining the perspective of some Buddhists who might say that Ego can never be fused with feelings. Because you agree with it? Or just want to borrow that perspective to play devil’s advocate?

As I interpret your comment, you are implying that the statement, “I am angry” can never be true in the Buddhist sense of truth — according to those some that might say the above. Is this correct?

I assumed so. And I also assumed that’s why you ended the list with the most ideal reframe of the emotional experience — that has the most distance from the emotional experience itself. You’re telling me that you are not implying that we should look at anger from that different angle, but showing me you are.

That the Ego cannot be fused with feeling is a spiritual interpretation of reality, not a scientific one. Because psychology review articles are held to the standards of the scientific method instead of spirituality, it’s irresponsible for the authors to conjure a spiritual notion of defusion that doesn’t hold up scientifically.

I did not mention anything about utilizing such methods to avoid having to experience the emotion.

I was referring to ACT, since that’s what you were defending when you challenged my interpretation of defusion.

One could very well sit with the feeling of “there is an experience of anger” to the same intensity or period of time as whatever your brand of mindfulness prescribes, just looking at it from a different angle.

I highly highly doubt this. That’d be a great study if it’s not already been done. Studies have shown that language mediates emotional processing. Why do you think presidents use so many euphemisms when sending troops to go kill people in other countries and be killed? It’s meant to ease the emotional response.

For the layman, allowing emotions to be might mean throwing a tantrum, or an emotional breakdown.

Indeed. Welcome to Mindful Construct. :)

Which of course, one can still be mindful in such situations, but those without practice will not have the quality of mind to maintain it in such intense situations.

It’s more natural for a tantrum or an emotional breakdown to run its course, based on human biology. It’s social programming and conditioning that teaches the toddler to stop doing that in order to act more like an “adult.” So yes, it does take practice to allow the emotion to run its course. But the reason it’s tricky is because there was an earlier program that said, “No, it’s not okay for you to be so upset for so long/to lose control/to breakdown.”

We’re wired to feel — not to defuse feelings with abstract language so as to avoid having to feel or to such an intensity (though our wiring sure let’s us play around with that). When you really get this, you see there’s no need to defuse emotions for the sake of control or the reduction of the suffering that comes with negative emotions. The need to defuse emotion comes from a fear of the emotion itself. Yet the defusion camps aren’t mindful of this.

Like I said, if you’re not interested in working with your emotions down and dirty, this here school won’t be your cup of tea. I do appreciate your thoughtful comments in extending the conversation. :)

M March 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm

See, you often put your own interpretation on others’ comments and then argue with your own interpretation, instead of listening to what others have to say.

I am Buddhist, but I neither agree with that comment or am using it to ‘play devil’s advocate’. I’m saying it in that way because, as I made clear in the previous post, I know that such a theory exists but do not have the personal understanding to discuss it.

You say that I said I’m not trying to look at it from a different angle, when I made it pretty clear that I was: “One could very well sit with the feeling of “there is an experience of anger” to the same intensity or period of time as whatever your brand of mindfulness prescribes, just looking at it from a different angle.”

I wasn’t defending ACT, as I have stated clearly elsewhere as well. I was just presenting something I know exists. Plus, if you read the description ACT does not promote avoiding the emotion either, as it states “contact with the present moment: engaging fully with your here-and-now experience, with an attitude of openness and curiosity”.

But these aside, reflecting on why I decided to make a comment, it’s probably the same reason you could not resist commenting on that paper: we each think that the other’s description of mindfulness differs from our own and hence is “irresponsible”. Yet the audience they’re writing for seems happy with what they’ve got since they passed the peer review, your audience seems happy with you, and I don’t need to think about an audience. So, I shall leave it there, and I shall probably not come back.

As a farewell, perhaps you might find this interesting
http://www.101zenstories.com/index.php?story=1

Melissa Karnaze March 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

And the final farewell with some Buddhist arrogance. After conveniently ignoring my explanation of “irresponsibility” on the authors’ part.

In the field of psychology, it’s not uncommon for papers to get passed by peer review that aren’t sound science. Especially when it comes to looking at the brain. And with regards to this paper’s topic — at the brain during mindfulness meditation.

Qrystal May 18, 2010 at 6:03 am

Good article, with great thought-provoking comments. I’m looking forward to exploring more of this website.

One concern I have with this article is that I don’t consider labels to be the same thing as judgements. Labels assist with attentiveness, which I take to be acknowledging what is, what exists, what is happening. Most things (situations, feelings, perceptions) have names, and when we use those names we are understanding these things in a certain way. Many things can be called by different names, and some of the names may invoke a sort of judgement, but not all of them do: in fact, there may be a way to objectively describe just about everything, if the labels are chosen carefully enough.

Judging, on the other hand, is a comparison or evaluation which assists with deciding what to do about the thing to which attention is paid. It can involve rating the amount of positivity or negativity, or varying degrees of desirability, or appropriateness, or comfort, or even how much belief one has in something. Labels, on the other hand, can be completely neutral; we can say, “Hey, that’s anger surfacing,” and that is how we are being attentive to what is happening. Judgement is when we say, “the anger is making me feel uncomfortable,” or “the anger is okay and natural in this situation” or even “I am not as angry about this as I was about something else”. The way I see it, any comparative statements are the sign of evaluation occurring.

Mindfulness can be involved in both labeling and judging. In fact, being mindful of the difference between the label and the judgement will help us understand better when our own biases or thinking habits are turning our observations (objective labels) into evaluations (subjective judgements). We can be mindful of when a judgement sneaks into our observations, and call attention to that realization, observe it without judging it negatively, but instead just noting that it isn’t the same thing as an objective observation, and take note that we have made that judgement and be careful not to let it colour the rest of our observations until we are ready to make a mindful decision of what to do about them. Even though there are emotional judgements taking place, we can separate ourselves from them enough to observe how we are reacting and even observe how we are reacting to our reactions. When we get really good at that, we learn to be more careful about what judgements we make, and make them more mindfully. In this way, the mindfulness has a recursive quality: the mindfulness was used to observe, and to observe our reactions to the observations, and to notice our judgements of the observations, and ideally/eventually, to mindfully ensure that we approve of the judgements we are making as well as all of their consequences.

Sometimes the emotional impact can make it really hard to keep the judgement out of the observation, and can even blur our ability to observe the emotion for what it is. The latter seems to be what is meant by fusing: we associate so intensely with the emotion that it feels like a part of us. I suppose this also means that I adhere to that Buddist idea that the feelings and the self can be dissociated, but at the same time, I see it as the self that is experiencing the feelings, and so there really is no dissociation, although there is a way to look at the feelings impartially, even if doing so is tremendously difficult at times. To look at the feelings impartially is something many would judge to be helpful, no matter whether the feelings are judged to be worth experiencing or better suppressed for the time being. Either way, the observation must come first.

Meditation is about practicing the attentiveness, the observing, the noticing of what is happening and keeping it objective or impartial. Usually one thinks of the purpose of meditation being relaxing, but that is only because relaxation is more intense when it is done attentively. The mindful part of meditation enhances the awareness. Here’s what goes through my head in a typical meditation session: I’m relaxing by unclenching my muscles and breathing deeply, relaxing by thinking about relaxing, and then suddenly I’m thinking about my thinking about my relaxing which I judge to be okay and let it continue; I’m just thinking about my thinking, thinking, thinking; oh wait, now I’m worrying about something, and I judge it to not be helpful to my meditating, and so I turn my focus to thinking about my breathing, thinking of relaxing, feeling my body relax, feeling my body expand as I inhale, etc.

Qrystal May 18, 2010 at 6:35 am

Oops, I forgot my concluding statements. I guess accidentally judged my time spent here to be longer than I intended, and un-mindfully hit Submit without consideration. :)

To wrap up… you had asked: “How can mindfulness and emotion regulation be melded in such a way there is no contradiction? Do you think it’s even possible?”

I do not think these ideas can be merged. Emotion regulation depends on mindfulness because it is hard to regulate something without paying attention to it. Mindfulness requires emotion regulation, because otherwise the emotions may be interfering with the observations. But this does not mean that they are the same thing.

To answer your other question… yes, it does seem that the authors may be making contradictions, or at very least, trying to push the idea that mindfulness is about removal of emotion. Instead, I see mindfulness being able to be applied to emotion, if one can separate oneself from the emotion enough to just look at it. I’m not even suggesting allowing oneself to experience the emotion is necessary in order to be mindful of it, because that can interfere with the mindfulness. The trick is to put the emotional attachment on pause, even for a moment, to look at the emotion and see what caused it and evaluate the implications of it and then even if the emotion unpauses, it may be reduced in intensity or maybe there was time to leave the situation so that the emotion is experienced fully in a safer place.

Melissa Karnaze May 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Hi Qrystal,

I like your distinction between labels and judgments.

Sometimes the emotional impact can make it really hard to keep the judgement out of the observation, and can even blur our ability to observe the emotion for what it is.

You and I view emotions “for what they are” in different ways. I don’t see them as things you can always dissociate from or do so (which I call suppress) without long-term negative consequences that naturally come when you shut off a basic survival circuit.

Buddhism didn’t originate in scientifically looking at emotions, how they work in the body, and how they relate to consciousness. That wasn’t possible back then because we are only now beginning to see how emotion works in the brain-body system. Buddhism is a belief system that was developed (and this is loose terming, because Buddhism branched off into many sects), and then after the fact, or in the process of explaining, it was said that emotions and “the self” (even though “the self” is also illusory) aren’t “fused.” This sounds like a neat way to explain it, but too many people take it as if it’s a scientific explanation.

It’s a philosophical way to avoid having to experience emotions, which are a natural (and useful) part of human life. The language is that you “choose to fuse” with your emotions, as if the two were disconnected in the first place. You aren’t disconnected, but if you tell yourself this for long enough, you definitely perceive it this way.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment Qrystal and for answering my questions as well. :)

Mike Kirkeberg May 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Great post. On Angerflex.com, when I talk of mindfulness, I see it as simply noticing, cultvatng the ability to take a step back and see thoughts and emotions as they occur, as they rise, crest, and then recede. When they get a name, their feeling may not be lessened, but their power to influence behavior is weakened.

Melissa Karnaze May 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Hi Mike,

When they get a name, their feeling may not be lessened, but their power to influence behavior is weakened.

It’s counter-intuitive that allowing your emotions to be — helps you experience and express them without letting them control your behavior. But like you say, this is the case.

When you are mindful of what you are feeling, you already have more choice how you will respond to the situation — after the emotion has run its course. Mindfulness is powerful stuff!

Steven H September 28, 2010 at 5:30 pm

We can become less judgmental of our emotions, however, by taking a step back and observing them without clinging.

Jackemeyer September 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Melissa wrote:
>Jackemeyer , I’ll chew on this. :)
>
> From my take, what you are asking about is
> largely uncharted territory in the personal
> development and psychological literatures,
> but I have some article ideas… and do let
> me know if you have more specific
> questions or personal experiences to draw
> from.

A tantrum about ‘things not going as planned’ is common in my circle, and in the moment of such, the complainer is verbalizing while…
…another is deeply engaged in studying molecular genetics. For the student, currently contemplated sub-topics occupy the mind, while meaningful recall and recombination of old memory “truths” with new info are simultaneously occurring, i.e., learning. Whammmo! The highly structured process is blasted with a sudden ping by the tantrum, and the dominos of learning all fall to the floor.
Knowing the importance of tantrum expression, the aspiring geneticist lets go of the dominoes, and connects with the loved one engaged in tantrum in order to aid in healthy balance of expression, visibility, and eventually, continuing problem solving, etc.

> Jack wrote:
>> “I hang in there in presuming the long-term
>> gains will be greater than the many
>> short-term distractions.”
>
> Has the hanging-in-there paid off for the
> most part?

I still do not know how to quantify, and to date, have been unable to duplicate myself for control experiments ;)
Though I do have a dream of cloning my genome, then raising myself (with a small tweak for better eyeball shape)!!

> If not, do you have a feeling for
> why that might be the case?

Unable to compute ;)
I am skeptical though, and so lean toward expressing self by oneself for the most part, especially if surrounded by those who have deep and numerous interests in fields outside of psych, social development, political processes, etc.

Regarding my experiences on the interrupted end, I am skeptical that my “listening skills” are really all the important, and wonder about them as a co-dependency device.

> As for a resource recommendation.
> Hmm, I’d say read a book about personal
> boundaries, since boundaries are the seams
> of relationships. And when you can trace
> boundaries — or the lack of them — with
> ease, you’ll be able to figure out more of
> what is going on during these “emotional
> interruptions.”

Understood. I like studying boundary conditions ;)

> My favorite book on boundaries,
> Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to
> Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life.
> It does have Christian overtones however,
> which I reframed while reading.

Thanks for the recommendation. As you can see, (9 full months later), I continue to be interested in this topic and will reply again once investigated (I don’t read immediately, rather, “investigate”).

Later,
Jack

Jackemeyer September 30, 2010 at 7:08 am

Melissa wrote:
> And the final farewell with some Buddhist
> arrogance. After conveniently ignoring my
> explanation of “irresponsibility” on the
> authors’ part.

I thought “M” had points worth considering and that your responses indicated misunderstanding. Given that M replied suggests s/he was relatively pateint too. I would like to see more dialog with M.

Two cents,
Jack.

Melissa Karnaze October 1, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Hi Jack, great to hear from you again!

Okay, your example of being interrupted with an unwelcome rant while studying is great for dissection. I’ll tackle it in an upcoming article, hopefully this month. (As you can see, today’s article tackled another reader question.)

“Regarding my experiences on the interrupted end, I am skeptical that my “listening skills” are really all the important, and wonder about them as a co-dependency device.”

This is really a separate issue and is pretty complex. Again, I’ll have to chew on this. ;)

Also, since “M” has dismissed discussing with me, feel free to continue the discussion forward by asking me direct questions regarding my responses that indicated to you a misunderstanding. Feel free to quote “M” or rephrase into your own words. :)

Melissa Karnaze November 5, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Jack, the article is up. :)

Jason Ellis February 16, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Melissa, as profound and fascinating as I find almost all of your posts, there’s this inner conflict where I feel like I’m gaining greater insight into the human psych AND a realization of what a dummy I am at the same time :)

This one made my brain swim in circles but I enjoyed the ride nonetheless, so thank you.

One thing worth mentioning thought. When we take a step back and examine our judgements too closely, it can lead to a sense of ambivalence. I think sometimes it’s good to jump to our own conclusions for the certainty it gives us (in how we perceive the world). Thanks for the lesson, as always.

matthew June 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm

‘secularization’ of mindfulness techniques is the real issue here.

“the ability to bring a wide and spacious quality of attention to whatever is experienced, such that whatever stimuli are present pass through awareness without engendering any judgment or evaluation (i.e. appraisal)”

it’s unfortunate that the author would engage with the scientific extraction of the content without much reference to the context which these practices arise. only unfortunate though because the scope of the conversation is severely limited :)

for instance, take the abhidharmic approach. these are simply lists of psychological states encountered in meditative states. these stimuli are to be scrutinized and analyzed in the highest degree. when analyzed, they are found to be dependently originated – that is, a product of cause and effect. each psychological state is traversed consecutively, like rungs on a ladder, and movement upwards is dependent on a thorough understanding of the cause and effects of each psychological state.

meditation which attempts to ‘empty’ the mind of judgement are based on very real judgements concerning the nature of ’cause and effect’. without a thorough understanding of cause and effect, ‘empyting’ the mind is certainly not mindful.

imho, western academia and therefore all meditative institutions east and west seem to gravitate to the most highly developed treasures of meditation (‘zazen’, the most exotic of the tantras etc) without any leg work on the basics. judgement and evaluation form the cornerstone of meditation. the ‘lack of judgement of phenomenom’ can only be justified with a thorough judgement of why phenomenom ultimately have no characteristics to be judged on their own. am i saying this too many times? :0

emotion, then, has to be seen in this context. no tradition denies emotion – emotion can only be understood and accepted if seen as not appearing out of nowhere, but the result of something else. this is why the attitude of acceptance towards emotion, rather then one denying it, is universally a part of the doctrine and any scientific, rational or ‘feel-good’ extraction of the doctrine that denies this is false.

there are many famous monks who, out of anger, gave up on meditation for years. this anger was not denied but embraced as effects of a cause – not a product of individual agency – and this emotion moved them forward in their practice. anger and doubt are two powerful emotions that have to be fully embraced in serious practice.

there are parallels of ‘gentry buddhism’ in china in the mindfulness fetish of america. mindfulness is a type of meditation with some scientific backing, it’s true, but decontextualized from wisdom it’s purposeless feel goodery. meditative techniques based on devotion and faith have always found a more solid crowd among the less educated – those who are easily willing to admit to something outside of themselves.

those dealing with extreme emotions should not pretend that they are the audience of the advanced techniques that some describe as only suitable for buddhas. imho most sane people can only practice zazen and these types of meditation for like five minutes unless they are really tricking themselves with their gear. many expedient means were created by religious heros to reach out to all people – those undergoing the crushing emotions of reaching a level in practice that they were not prepared for, for instance, or undergoing any crushing emotions, should use meditative techniques geared towards them. two broad categories encompassing thousands of meditation techniques pop into my head right away –

1. imaginative, colorful visualizations of the full world
2. faith and devotion in the the religious geniuses who provide a way

these are not ‘austere’ and do not have the image of sophisticated intellectualism in the way that mindfulness techniques do, but they lead back to the same place – a profound understanding of cause and effect.

Simon October 28, 2013 at 9:03 am

I haven’t read the paper you are talking about, but I have some experience with Vipassana meditation. Now…if I understand right, you are saying that mindfulness meditation advocates are making a mistake by saying they should be mindful, but excluding emotions.

The way I understand it is that they aren’t making an exception for emotions. Being mindful means to be totally aware of the sensations without being forced to react to them. As you stated yourself, emotions imply judgement. They are therefore reactions, not sensations in themselves (although they may create some as they start going into vicious circles).

Trying not to indulge in emotions may be felt as numbing down for us who are so used to them that we consider them to be a part of our being. The way they are interpreted in the paradigm of mindful meditation advocates, though, is that they are some form of corruption of our true being due to reaction to the external world. Now you may not agree with that, or you may agree but believe that they are either inevitable or an interesting part of life; but I don’t believe I see the contradiction you are seeing.

John Davidson December 8, 2013 at 8:13 am

Hi Melissa.
I was hunting for critiques of mindfulness meditation when I ran across your articles. I’ve read this one and its predecessor.
I think your critique is excellent. I’ve argued (in my book The Soul’s Critical Path: Waking Down to the Soul’s Purpose, the Body’s Power, and the Heart’s Passion), in much less detail and less analysis, that mindfulness is a form of dissociation adopted for and by people in an American culture that is already dissociated.
I’ve taught meditation on and off for over 20 years. I’ve concluded that all meditation techniques devolve into two processes: learning how to control attention and learning where to put it. The Asians have gifted us with many techniques for the first process, but have a bias for putting that attention outside of the body and in unity consciousness, or some lesser analog.
In my experience with shamanism over the last 13 years, I’ve concluded that the indigenous cultures suggest that we put our attention into the human relationship with both the earth and the cosmos. My particular experience with plant medicines suggests an indigenous technique for clearing the unconsciously held patterns that arise from trauma and result in a fearful approach to life.
I’ve sat in the zendo. The process is helpful as far as it goes, but it is incomplete.
I’ve wound up teaching a heart-centered attention process that incorporates the HeartMath approach, but transcends it. I don’t care for the idea of killing the ego. Rather, I use the soul construct as a way of suggesting that the ego needs to be transformed and infused by attention itself.
I just wanted to give support to your work. I think it is precise and helpful, and it cuts through the uncritical support often given to meditation in this sanitized form that is called mindfulness.
John Davidson

Kate Gladstone February 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Re:
“And viola, we’re happy and healthy again!”

I don’t know much about meditation, so I’d appreciate some info on “viola” in this context. Are meditators forbidden awareness of the correct spelling of “voilà”?

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