It would be wrong to say that the mentally ill are undisciplined. Yes, I have been scattered, unkempt, flighty, undependable, and absent. But I have also, at times, been able to carry out with incredible focus to minute detail tasks that I could never stick with if not at least mildly manic. While the energy to work and the attention to detail did not always congeal on a reasonable or desirable task, the results were often impressive. But then, I’ve spent an awful amount of time lying around doing nothing. Not contemplating, not planning, not even daydreaming. Just depressed. Could there be a way to predict moods? A way to harness and apply a disciplined approach to managing symptoms?
Monday, October 15, 2012
Most people who teach mindfulness meditation recommend counting breaths to keep the attention focused on the breath. Methods vary little, all some variation of counting to ten. Some recommend counting inhales and exhales, others count only exhales. Most count each breath from one to ten and then start over again at one. Another method has the meditator count exhales to ten, and then count exhales down from nine to zero. Repeat. But you get the point. Focus on the breath by counting each breath. If you lose your count, or realize you’ve counted past ten because your mind has wandered, just return to one and start over.
But sometimes the counting becomes so automatic, so routine, that I can count from one to ten and repeat, barely noticing the count, my mind wandering all the while. Little work with focused attention is being done. To counter this I learned a very effective counting method from James Austin at a workshop on Zen and the Brain.