The worksheets to be used in the course, Mindfulness: An Introduction will be posted on this thread. If you are taking the course you may cut and paste these worksheets on this forum so that you don't have to type out all the content of the worksheets in your reponses.
Worksheet 01.03 Differentiation and Mindfulness Name: Date:
Emotional Mind Emotional Mind occurs when people are driven by emotion. It is usually a result of the fight or flight response being triggered but it can also be a response to overwhelming emotional states. In the space below, list some ways that you or others might engage in Emotional Mind:
Rational Mind Rational Mind occurs when people are driven by reason. It is a logical, solution-focused approach to problem-solving that can sometimes lack compassion or warmth. In the space below, list some ways that you or others might engage in Rational Mind:
Wise Mind Wise Mind occurs when Emotional Mind and Rational Mind are in perfect balance. It is a state of being that is devoid of worries about the past or the future. It is a shift from doing mode to being mode, at one with the present moment. In the space below, list some ways that you or others might engage in Emotional Mind:
Differentiation Differentiation is the ability to separate thinking from feeling in a given relationship or situation. When a person lacks the ability to separate their emotions from their thoughts, that person is said to be undifferentiated. The process of differentiation involves learning to free yourself from emotional dependence and codependence on your family and/or romantic relationships as well. Differentiation involves taking responsibility for your own emotional well-being, and allowing others to be responsible for their own emotional well-being. A fully differentiated person can remain emotionally attached to the family without feeling responsible for the feelings of other family members. In the space below, list some occasions in which you were able to exercise differentiation. That is, list some times when you have been able to set appropriate boundaries with others to avoid being responsible for their emotional states, or some times when you have managed to avoid the temptation of holding others responsible for your own emotional states.
Mindfulness The mindful skill of acceptance allows us to experience emotions without feeling obligated to react to them. This is done by noting the emotion and then letting go of the thought processes that the emotion generates. This isn’t done by telling yourself not to think about it. Telling yourself not to think about it is thinking about it. Instead, mindfulness allows us to experience emotions in being mode. When we experience unpleasant emotions there is a natural tendency to want to do something to try to fix them, when in reality it is not necessary to do anything. Instead, we can just be there with the emotions without trying to fix them, or trying to make them go away, or trying to stop thinking about them. Trying is doing, and mindfulness is being. You have probably already had times in your own life where you have allowed yourself to experience what you were feeling without trying to do anything about it. If so, list a few of these experiences in the space below.
Acceptance The goal of acceptance in differentiation isn’t to become a totally rational person, devoid of emotion. Instead, the goal is to practice Wise Mind. Wise mind is the balance of emotional mind and rational mind, in perfect harmony. Think about your answers to the Differentiation section of this worksheet. In what ways were you able to separate thinking from feeling in your responses? Now think about your answers to the Mindfulness section on page 3 of this worksheet. In your responses on this section, in what ways were you able to let go of the temptation to do something to “fix” unpleasant emotions? How were you able to simply experience those emotions in the moment? Acceptance is the ability to observe and describe your emotions in the present moment without feeling it is necessary to do anything about them. In the space below, list some times in which you were able to separate your thinking from your feeling and to realize that you didn’t have to try to change anything about the way you were feeling. In other words, list some times and situations in which you were able to accept your emotional states.
The mindful skill of observing involves attuning yourself to your experiences in the present moment by paying attention to the information your senses are giving you. Sensory experiences occur in the present moment. You cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell anything in the past or future. You can only engage in sensory experiences in the now of existence. You do this by observing the information your senses are giving you. When you observe the information coming from your senses you bring your conscious awareness into the present moment, without thoughts or feelings about the past or future. It’s not that you’re telling yourself not to think about the past or the future, because telling yourself not to think about it is thinking about it. The more you tell yourself not to think about it, the more you’re thinking about it. Instead, you’re using the information that your senses are giving you to shift your conscious awareness away from thoughts about the past and the future and towards thoughts about the present moment. The first step to observing is to focus on one thing at a time. For example, close your eyes for a moment and observe what you might be hearing. Were you aware of these sounds before this exercise called your attention to them? Now look around you. What do you see in the immediate environment? If you were an artist, and you had to draw the things you see around you, how would you see things differently? What would you notice about the shapes and colors around you? What about their proportions relative to each other? What about how the light and the shadow fall on the various objects that you see? Now notice your sense of smell. Are there any pleasant aromas in the air around you? What about unpleasant ones? What memories do these aromas evoke? Direct your awareness now to your sense of touch. What do you notice about your body as you read this? If sitting, how does your body make contact with the chair? If standing, or lying down, what do you notice about how your body interacts with the environment? Is the temperature too hot, too cold, or just right? Is there any tension in your body? Are there any pleasurable sensations? And pain? Any comfort? Finally, direct your attention to your sense of taste. Unless you are eating or drinking something it may be hard to experience your sense of taste in the current moment; however, you might experiment by taking a few deep breaths. As the air passes over your tongue can you detect any taste to it, however faint? Are you able to taste the changes in the weather? Don’t worry if you have trouble tasting the air at first; it’s a difficult skill to learn, but it does indicate the level of awareness and sensitivity that can be achieved through observing. Experiment for a few moments with observing through your senses in this manner. When you feel you are ready, go on to complete the exercises on the next page.
Focusing on One Thing at a Time Negative thoughts tend to come in bunches. Usually when you have one negative thought or feeling, it leads to another, and to another, and so on until you’re soon wrapped up in a tangled ball of negative thoughts and feelings. This process is referred to as ruminating. It is also sometimes called snowballing because of the way it works. If you picture a snowball starting at the top of a hill, gaining speed, momentum and size as it rolls down, you will probably have a pretty accurate picture of what snowballing or ruminating feels like to the person experiencing it. Focusing on one thing at a time is just the opposite of this ruminating or snowballing experience. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but if you focus on the thousand miles you’ll be too overwhelmed to take the first step. The key is to instead focus on the first step, and only on the first step, until it is accomplished. Then focus on the next step, and the next, and so on. Eventually you will find that the thousand miles are over. This is because small change leads to bigger change. If you find yourself snowballing, the way out of it is to focus on one thing at a time. The first step is to ask yourself, “What is the smallest thing I can do right now to make a difference?” When you’ve answered that question, go on and do that one thing. Don’t worry about anything else until that one thing is accomplished. When it is done, then go on and ask yourself, “What is the next smallest thing I can do that will make a difference?” Then do that thing, and so on until your “thousand mile” journey is done. In the case of feelings or negative thoughts, it may not be necessary to do anything. In fact, sometimes there may be nothing you can do. If that is the case, you may leave doing mode and enter being mode, just noticing the thought or the feeling in the moment. You don’t have to follow the thought to the next thought. Just focus on the thought before you. For this exercise we’re going to practice observing in a natural setting. First, go outside and find a relatively calm outdoor spot where you will be undisturbed for the duration of the exercise. To begin focusing on one thing at a time, close your eyes take a few deep breaths in this outdoor setting. Continue breathing until you feel calm and centered. When you are ready, open your eyes and focus on the first thing that catches your attention. Practice observing by answering the questions below.
What is the first thing you noticed?
In observing this thing, is there anything about it you have never noticed before?
What are the visual characteristics of the thing you noticed? What does it look like? What color is it? What shape? Describe it here:
What are the auditory characteristics of the thing you noticed? Does it make any sounds? If so, describe them here:
Are there any aromas associated with the thing you noticed? If so, describe them here:
Are there any aromas associated with the thing you noticed? If so, describe them here:
Is it possible to touch the thing you noticed? If so, do so now. If not, just imagine what it might feel like to hold this object, and describe these sensations here:
Is the object edible? If it is, are there any tastes you might associate with it? If so, describe them here If not, take a deep breath and see if you notice any taste to the air, and describe it:
Does observing this object in this manner change your experience of it? If so, how?
Now that you have some experience with observing things outside of yourself, let’s go on to observing things inside of yourself. Continue to sit quietly in your peaceful outdoor setting. Take a few deep breaths and notice the first thought that comes to mind. What is that thought?
Just notice this thought, and this thought alone. If this thought tries to lead you on to more thoughts, just gently return your attention to this thought. Step back and watch what your mind is doing. Thoughts and feelings are not who you are; they are just processes of the brain. When observing your thoughts in this manner you develop the awareness that you are not your thoughts. You are not your feelings. If another thought comes into your mind during this process, just notice it. It may help to picture your thoughts and feelings like a river. Sometimes negative thoughts and feelings float to the top, and sometimes negative thoughts and feelings float to the top. If you find yourself in a part of the river where the negative thoughts and feelings are on the surface, your goal isn’t to dam up the river. You’re not trying to block the flow of thoughts and feelings. You couldn’t even if you wanted to. If you tried to stop your thoughts by building a dam on the river, they’d eventually rise up behind the dam until the dam burst and flooded your consciousness. Instead, if you find yourself floating in negative thoughts, you don’t have to let them wash you downstream. You can make a conscious choice to get out of the river for a moment, and allow those thoughts and feelings to float downstream on their own. You don’t have to stay in the river and drown. Instead you can choose to sit on the riverbank and watch them flow by. Do this now by choosing one thought or feeling to observe. Allow yourself to experience it for as long as you’d like. When you feel you are ready, go on to answer the questions.
What was the experience of observing your thoughts and feelings like for you? Did you find it easy or difficult?
How similar or different was this to the way you usually experience your thoughts and feelings? Why?
Were you able to avoid the temptation to follow your thoughts and feelings into “snowballing” mode? Were you able to focus on one thing at a time? What might have made it easier for you?
Describing is the experience of putting into words the things that you observe. You can describe things external to you (the environment in which you find yourself) or you can describe things internal to you (your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and beliefs). When you are observing and describing your thoughts, feelings, behaviors and beliefs you may find it helpful to label them and put them into categories. Some of these categories might include: Anxious thoughts Worry thoughts Planning thoughts Critical thoughts Judging thoughts Happy thoughts Sad thoughts Fearful thoughts Angry thoughts Ruminating thoughts There are no right or wrong category labels as long as the labels are useful to you. The reason that we put labels on thoughts and feelings is so that we might learn to distinguish thoughts and feelings from facts. Thoughts and feelings are not facts. They are merely processes of the mind. Here’s an example to illustrate: Suppose I have an important test coming up, and I think to myself, “I’m going to fail that test.” This thought is not a fact, because I haven’t taken the test yet so there is no way I could know whether or not I am going to fail the test. It is perfectly natural that I might worry about failing the test, but if I believe it to be true that “I’m going to fail that test,” I’ve just substantially increased the likelihood that my thought will come true. If I go into the test thinking I’m going to fail, I’m going to give up on myself and not put my best foot forward. In doing so, I have a much greater chance of failing. If, on the other hand, I have the thought, “I’m going to fail,” and I am able to recognize is as just a thought and not a fact, then I will still be able to make my best effort to pass the test. Note also that if I do have the thought, “I’m going to fail,” I’m not going to tell myself not to think about it, because every time I tell myself not to think about failing, I’m thinking about failing. Instead I’m going to tell myself that it’s perfectly natural to worry about failing, but the thought, “I’m going to fail” is not a fact; it’s just a thought. To successfully recognize the difference between thoughts and facts, I will need to describe only what I observe, without adding to it or making interpretations. For example, suppose I’m walking down the hall at work and someone frowns at me. Further suppose I have the thought, “I wonder what I did to make this person mad?” The fact in the situation is that the other person frowned at me; however I have no reason to suspect that the reason that person frowned at me was because she was mad at me. Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe she had a fight with her partner last night. Maybe her shoes are too tight. There are dozens of reasons why this person might have frowned, and only one possible reason is, “This person is mad at me.” If I assume that my conclusion is correct, and then I act on that conclusion, I may be causing a lot of trouble for nothing. By simply describing the situation to myself in the present moment I can avoid adding interpretations that may not be true. To gain practice describing, complete the worksheet:
Go outside on a sunny day and find a tree or other plant. Observe it in detail. If you cannot go outside, you may use a house plant or any other object that you have handy. Imagine you are an artist about to draw what you have observed. After doing this for a few moments, in the space below, describe in detail what you saw.
Now that you have gained some experience in describing what you observed, we are going to practice describing thoughts and feelings. To do this, first take a few deep calming and cleansing breaths. Now notice the first thought or feeling that comes to mind and focus on it. Avoid the temptation to go on to the next thought or feeling until you have observed and described your experience with the current thought or feeling in the present moment. After doing this for a few moments, describe what you saw in the space below.
Now attach a label to the thought or feeling you just observed and described. Is it a happy thought? A sad thought? A planning thought? A worry thought? Some other type of thought? Why did you choose this label for this thought? Explain below. NOTE: Avoid the temptation to add or subtract from what you observed and described about the thought. Don’t try to interpret the thought; just stick to the facts.
Did observing and describing your thoughts and feelings in this manner change the way you experience your thoughts and feelings? If so, how? If not, why not?
Worksheet 01.06 Fully Participating Name: Date: When we are fully participating in an activity, we are aware and in the present moment. This means that we are not “living in our heads” by ruminating over past or future issues. Instead, we are actively conscious and aware of the current present activity. If we are eating, we are focusing our attention on eating, not the tv or the newspaper. If we are having a conversation, we are giving our full attention to the other person and not texting or playing on the tablet. If we are dancing, we are dancing like nobody else is watching, fully aware without self-consciousness. For this exercise, you will need a small item of food like a raisin, a grape, a cherry, or a piece of chocolate. It should be small enough to fit into the palm of your hand. When you have such a food item, complete the activity worksheet below.
STEP ONE Hold the food item in your hand. Observe it and describe it to yourself. How many colors do you see? What is its shape? How do the light and the shadow fall on it? Do the views of the food item change if you rotate it around in your hand? Observe and describe it using the spaces below. Describe the food item’s color. How many colors do you see? What are they?
Describe the food item’s texture. Is it smooth or rough? Variegated or uniform? Or some other texture?
Describe the food item’s weight. Is it light or heavy? Dense or porous? How does it feel in your hand? If your eyes were closed, could you identify it solely by its weight and texture?
STEP TWO Now place the food item on your tongue, biting it once and only once to release the flavor. Allow the flavor slowly dissipate across your tongue. Where on your tongue can you first taste it? The four basic taste buds are sweet, sour, salt and bitter. Can you taste each of these sensations? Which did you taste first? Which did you taste last? Observe and describe its taste using the space below.
STEP THREE Now continue to chew the food item slowly, savoring the experience. Nothing exists in the world but this food item, and all of your attention is directed solely on the experience of eating and enjoying it. Pay close attention to your sense of smell as you continue to chew. Can you notice any aroma as you eat the food item? If so, describe it. Imagine you had no sense of smell (it may help to briefly pinch your nostrils as you chew). Would that change the experience of enjoying the food? If so, how?
STEP FOUR Now savor the food item as if it is the last piece of food on earth. There is nothing to do right now but to enjoy this piece of food. Continue to fully participate in the eating until the food is completely gone. Notice the aftertaste that remains on your tongue, and note any lingering aromas now that the food item is gone. Pay particular attention to your appetite. Did focusing your attention this way leave you more satisfied with less food? Did the exercise above change your experience of the food in any way? If so, you’ve learned the art of fully participating. Describe your experience below:
Worksheet 01.07 Being One-Mindful Name: Date: Being one-mindful simply means focusing on one thing at a time. It is the skill of fully participating put into action in daily life. There are three characteristics of being one-mindful: 1. Acting on purpose or with intention 2. Paying attention in the present moment 3. Focusing on one thing at a time in a particular way with a mindful attitude Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This means that great things always start from humble beginnings. When seeking out our own goals and intentions for our lives, it is sometimes easy to get overwhelmed by the number of things we have to do. Lao Tzu teaches us that if we focus on the thousand miles we’ll be so intimidated by the journey that we may never make the first step. But if we focus on the first step, and only on the first step, we can devote all of our attention to that step. Then we can go on to the next step, and to the next, by focusing on one thing at a time in the present moment. When we approach things in this way, with deliberate attention and intention, we are able to accomplish great things because we are acting on each task that is before us as it presents itself. The way to do this is to start by asking, “What is the smallest thing I can do today that will make a difference?” Once we have defined that one small thing we are free to focus all of our attention on that task, and only on that task, until it is completed. Only then do we return our attention to the next step on the journey. And then the next, and so on until we are done. When doing things in this manner we will eventually find that we have completed the journey of a thousand miles.
PRACTICE BEING ONE-MINDFUL To the skill of focusing on one thing at a time, first think of a goal you’d like to accomplish in your own life. It could be a small goal, like adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, or a larger goal, like being successful in your career. Pick the first goal that comes to mind and write it in the space below.
Now that you have a goal, practice being one-mindful (focusing on one thing at a time) by answering the following questions about your chosen goal: What is your intention in setting this goal? What do you hope to accomplish by it?
Right now, in this present moment, what is the first, smallest step you could make towards accomplishing this goal?
Right now, in this present moment, what would help you to be able to focus on one thing at a time with a mindful attitude until this goal is accomplished? Be as specific as possible, using your observing and describing skills.
Now that you have created a plan for the first step in your goal, implement it and observe the results. Then go on and repeat this process again for the next step towards your goal, and the next, until your goal is accomplished. Does this process help you to focus on one thing at a time? Does focusing on one thing at a time in this manner reduce your stress and make fully participating in your life easier?
Thoughts and feelings are not facts; they are merely processes of the brain. A lot of the stress we experience in life comes from observing and describing things, then placing judgments of “bad” or “good” on them. Being non-judgmental means being able to see things as they are, and not as we think they ought to be. The first step to reducing judgments is to be able to recognize when we’re making them in the first place. When you are able to recognize your judgments, ask yourself, “Is it a priority for me to reduce judgments, or not?” One way to determine whether reducing judgments is a priority is to look at the pros and cons of judging. To do this, ask yourself, “What will lead to more suffering and stress, judging or not judging in this situation?” The more you do this the more you will be able to replace judgments with consequences. You will also gain practice in knowing the difference between judgments and facts. A list of statements follows below. Practice learning the difference between judgments and facts by placing a checkmark by each statement that is a judgment. “This is too hard, I can’t do this!” “Jane said something untrue.” “Carl is a bad person because he forgot to pick me up at the airport.” “I’ve tried mindful meditation. I can’t do it.” “Today at work Bob frowned at me when I passed him in the hallway.” “Bob frowned at me so he must be mad at me.” “I don’t have time for all this mindfulness stuff.” “I can’t help it; that’s just the way I am.” “He has long hair.” “He should get a haircut.” “The couch is red.” “The couch is ugly.” “I got a bad evaluation at work; the boss must hate me.” “She does her job well.” “She’s better than me.” “Everybody should love me.” “I’m able to meet my goals.” “Sometimes negative consequences happen.” “Nothing bad should ever happen to me.” “If I work hard enough I can make everybody like me.”
Worksheet 01.09 The Power of Intention Name: Date:
“How you start your day is how you live your day.” - Louise Hay
A key aspect of mindfulness is the ability to live intentionally, with purpose. In doing so we are mindful of our actions and our intentions. The way to achieve our goals in life is to ask ourselves if what we are doing, thinking, feeling, saying and believing is supporting our goals. For example, when a married couple comes to me for counseling, the first thing I ask them is, “What is your intention in coming here? The answer to this is most often, “We want to have a happy marriage.” I then ask them what they are doing to support that. If they tell me that they go home and argue with each other, I then ask them how this behavior is helping to support that intention. Living intentionally means living in such a way that your actions support your goals. The easiest way to do this is to set your intention each day by establishing your goals on a daily basis. The exercises below will help you to live an intentional life, full of purpose.
LIVING INTENTIONALLY: DAILY AFFIRMATION To begin living intentionally, it’s a good idea to start your day with an affirmation of intention. Here’s the one I use at the start of my day: “Today I will make a conscious effort to live without assumption or judgment, allowing the universe to show me whatever it has in store for me today. I will endeavor to know more at the end of the day today than I knew yesterday. I will act in a compassionate and kind way whenever possible striving to do no harm to others and to help whenever I can.” Your own affirmation can be similar, or something completely different. Practice your daily affirmation by writing a sample one below.
LIVING INTENTIONALLY: AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE At our house we practice the “attitude of gratitude.” This means we make a conscious effort to say “thank you” to each member of the family at least once per day for something. It doesn’t matter if it’s something we’ve already thanked each other for a thousand times before; each time we hear it, it brings a smile. Another aspect of the attitude of gratitude is that it can be used to reduce negativity in our lives. Every time I catch myself making some sort of negative judgment I immediately say two things I’m grateful for. That way I have at least twice as many positive and grateful statements in my life as negative and judgmental statements. It’s easy to focus on the things we don’t have in life, but in doing so we often forget to be grateful for the things we do have. By making this attitude of gratitude a part of your daily practice, you become more fully aware of life in the present moment. When you are living with such awareness it becomes much easier to live intentionally. Thing of at least ten things you are grateful for in your own life, and list them below. Whenever you are feeling down and feel that your intention is starting to fade, it may help to review this list. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
LIVING INTENTIONALLY: SETTING YOUR INTENTION When you have said your daily affirmation and practiced the attitude of gratitude, you may set your intention for the day by completing the statements below. Make this a part of your daily routine and you will have taken the first step towards living a life of intention.
Worksheet 01.10 FEAR to ACT Name: Date: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) uses the FEAR acronym to explain and identify problems with experiential avoidance and cognitive entanglement. FEAR is as follows: 1. Fusion with your thoughts 2. Evaluation of experience 3. Avoidance of your experience 4. Reason giving for your behavior
To practice moving from FEAR answer the questions that follow.
Fusion In the past, in what ways have you fused with your thoughts that might have led to anxiety or depression? That is to say, in what ways have you chosen to believe thoughts and feelings that didn’t turn out to be true?
Evaluation In the past, in what ways have you judged your feelings or thoughts as “good” or “bad,” and how might these evaluations have led you to suffering?
Avoidance In the past, in what ways might you have avoided thought or feeling by telling yourself, “Don’t think about it” or “pretend I don’t feel it?”
Reason-giving In the past, what reasons or excuses have you given for trying to avoid what you are thinking or feeling? How might those reasons have led to suffering?
The antidote to the FEAR response is the ACT response, which is: 1. Accept your reactions and be present 2. Choose a valued direction 3. Take action To practice moving to ACT answer the questions that follow.
Accept In the present, what can you do to help you accept your thoughts and feelings without feeling you have to act on them?
Choose In the present, what valued direction can you choose? How can you think in ways that support your values in life?
Take Action In the present, what valued actions can you choose? How can you act in ways that support your values in life?
Worksheet 01.11 Experiential Avoidance Name: Date: Think about some of the thoughts and feelings you’ve tried to get rid of in the past, then answer the following questions:
The thoughts I’d most like to get rid of are:
The feelings I’d most like to get rid of are:
The behaviors I’d most like to get rid of are:
The memories I’d most like to get rid of are:
Now that you’ve created your list, look at the list of strategies below for avoiding experiences. Place a check mark by each strategy you’ve ever used in an effort to get rid of the thoughts, feelings, behaviors and memories that you listed on the previous page. __ Worrying about it __ Trying not to think about it __ Trying to distract myself __ Staying busy __ Finding other things to do __ Dwelling on the past __ Catastrophizing about the future __ Fantasizing about escaping the situation (e.g. quitting your job, leaving your spouse, etc.) __ Imagining revenge __ Imagining suicide __ Thinking “Life’s not fair” __ Thinking “I must” or “I must not” __ Thinking “I should have” or “I would have” or “I could have” __ Second-guessing past decisions __ Anticipating future problems __ Blaming myself __ Shaming myself __ Guilt-tripping myself __ Blaming others __ Shaming others __ Guilt-tripping others __ Blaming the world __ Substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc.) __ Overeating, or not eating, as a method of stress relief __ Addictive behaviors (gambling, worrying, being depressed, “woe is me” pity parties) __ Other:
Now ask yourself: 1. Did any of these strategies work in the long run? 2. Did any of these strategies actually make the things worse instead of better? 3. If you were able to live in the “now” of existence, instead of in the mind trap, how many of the things you were trying to get rid of would still be a problem? Think of one thing from the list that you would like to get rid of Go outside to your own sacred space, ground and center, and just allow yourself to experience the thing you were trying to get rid of. Open yourself completely to the experience in the present moment, without assumptions about the past or expectations about the future. Just be in the now with the thing you were trying to get rid of. Did this change your experience? By accepting it instead of trying to avoid it, do you look at it in a different way? What did being in your sacred space add to the experience, if anything?
Worksheet 01.12.01 Letting Go This Letting Go Worksheet is used in conjunction with the Letting Go Diary Card. Before using the Diary Card, it is often helpful to know exactly what it is that you need to let go of. Imagine that you are trying to get to a friend’s house, and you’ve never been there before. You ask your friend where his house is, and he responds, “In the United States.” Obviously, that’s not enough information to be able to find his house. He’d have to get more specific. Letting go is like that. The more specific you can be about what it is you need to let go of, the more successful you will be. In fact, simply completing this exercise below may be enough to enable you to let go of the problem. Just remember to be as specific as possible when answering these six questions. If you are completing this workbook for the Mindfulness: An Introduction course through the Mindful Ecotherapy Center at www.mindfulecotherapy.com there is no need to write down your answers to this worksheet. You’d only need to complete the Letting Go Diary Card that follows. Complete at least one week’s worth of exercises on the Diary Card. 1. Who is involved in the problem? a. Is the problem about another individual, or is it about me? b. If it’s about another individual, is there something I can do to change the problem (remember, you can’t change other people’s behavior, you can only change your own)? c. If the problem is about me, is it something I can change? d. If it’s something I can’t change, is it something I can accept? e. If I can’t accept it about myself, why not? 2. What is the nature of the problem? a. Specifically, what worries me about this event/situation? b. Is it something that is within my power to change? c. If it’s in my power to change, what steps do I need to take in order to change it? d. If it’s beyond my power to change, what steps do I need to take in order to accept it? e. What’s the worst thing that can happen in this situation? 3. When is this problem likely to happen? a. Am I worried about something that happened in the past? b. If it’s in the past, the past is over and done with. Why am I worrying about it now? c. Is it something that may happen in the future? d. If it may happen in the future, have I done all I can to prevent it from happening? e. If I’ve done all I can to prevent it, why am I still concerned about it (be specific)? 4. Where is the problem likely to happen? a. Is this problem associated with a certain place? b. Is this a place that I can avoid going to? c. If it’s not a place I can avoid going to, is there something I can change about the situation? d. If there’s nothing I can change about the situation, what would I need to change about myself in order to accept the situation? Mindful Ecotherapy Center copyright 2017 Charlton Hall, LMFT/S, RPT-S www.mindfulecotherapy.com 5. How likely is this problem to occur? a. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = “no anxiety at all” and 10 = “maximum anxiety,” how worried am I about the problem? b. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = “no chance at all” and 10 = “will definitely happen,” how likely is it that this problem will happen? c. If the rating from “a” is greater than the rating from “b,” am I needlessly worrying about a situation that isn’t likely to happen? 6. Why is this a problem? a. Being as specific as possible, why does this problem worry you? b. What would need to change in order for you to worry less about the problem? c. Is the answer in “b” something you have the power to change? d. If not, what would have to change in your thinking in order for you to be able to accept the problem?
Once you have answered all the questions above, write the specific nature of the problem in the column labeled “CIRCUMSTANCE IN WHICH YOU NEED TO PRACTICE ‘LETTING GO’ on the Letting Go Diary Card below. When describing the problem on the Diary Card, remember to be as specific as possible. For example, instead of writing, “I’m worried about money problems,” write something like, “I’m worried about making the house payment,” etc. in the space. Try to keep the problem focused on things you have the power to change. If it’s something you don’t have the power to change, try to focus on what you would have to change about your thinking in order for you to accept the problem ‘as is.’ After writing the specific nature of the problem on the Diary Card, rate your success on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = “no trouble at all letting go of this problem,” and 10 = “I simply cannot let go of this problem, no matter what.” After rating your success, practice the mindful breathing exercise below. Try mindful breathing for at least ten minutes, but if that is not possible, do as much as you can. The amount of time isn’t as important as the exercise itself. After practicing mindful breathing, rate your “letting go” score again, using the same scale as above. Did the number change? As you become more adept with different mindfulness techniques, you may want to experiment with them to see which ones help you the most in “letting go.” Keep your Diary Cards in a notebook so you can chart your progress as your skills grow. If you ever get stuck, keep this worksheet handy so you may refer to it again as needed.
Worksheet 01.12.02 Mindful Breathing The Mindful Breathing Exercise may be used any time you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed, stressed out, or depressed and in need of “letting go.” It is three simple steps, outlined below. You don’t have to do it for exactly ten minutes. You just do it for as long as is necessary. The answer to the question, “How long does it take?” is “as long as it takes.”
STEP ONE Focus on your breathing. Place one hand on your chest, and another over your navel. When breathing in and out, the hand over your navel should move up and down, while the hand over your chest should not move. Make the exhalation longer than the inhalation, and breathe deeply into your abdomen, from the diaphragm. Feel all the sensations of your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Can you feel each individual muscle in your abdomen as you breathe in and out? Can you feel your nostrils flare with each breath? Can you sense the air being warmed by your body as you breathe?
STEP TWO Leave Doing Mode and enter Being Mode. In Being Mode, you are not trying to go anywhere or do anything. You are simply ‘being.’ Note that if you engage in Mindful Breathing with the goal of ‘trying to relax’ or ‘trying to calm down,’ that ‘trying’ is ‘doing,’ and you are not doing. Your goal is to ‘be,’ not to ‘do.’
STEP THREE Leave Thinking Mode and enter Sensing Mode. This doesn’t mean that you’re ‘trying’ to stop thinking. Remember, ‘trying’ is ‘doing!’ You’re just refocusing your attention and concentration from your thinking to your senses. You are paying attention to what your senses are telling you. What are you seeing right now? What do you hear? Are there any scents where you are?Tastes? How does your body interact with this environment?
That’s it! Just use these three simple steps whenever you need a break from thinking or feeling or when your emotions overwhelm you. If it seems difficult to do at first, that’s okay. It’s a skill like any other. It becomes easier with practice. If it were easy the first time, you’d already be doing it!
Worksheet 01.14 Living in True Self Name: Date: The humanist psychotherapist Carl Rogers spoke of the ideas of Self-Image and Ideal Self. This Self-Image, sometimes referred to as the Perceived Self, is the way we perceive ourselves to be. The Ideal Self is the image we have of how we would like to be. True Self is this Ideal Self. It is who we would choose to be if we were living up to our own highest expectations of ourselves. Identifying what your own True Self looks like is the first step in creating a road map to get there. To create this outline of your own True Self, answer the questions below. Your answers are creating an autobiography of how you’d like to be. This autobiography is the substance of your True Self.
What do you care about? What gives your life passion and meaning?
Who are you trying to become? What is the nature of your True Self?
Your Perceived Self is how you see yourself now; your True Self is the person you wish to become. True Self is your own highest aspirations for yourself. On a scale of 0 to 10, how close do you feel you are to living fully in your True Self? Indicate by circling a number on the line below:
PERCEIVED SELF --0—1—2—3—4—5—6—7—8—9—10—TRUE SELF
If the number you circled on the line on the previous page is anything less than ten, what sort of thoughts and behaviors would you have to change in order to move yourself closer to living in your own True Self?
How could these different ways of believing and behaving create a more compassionate and positive reality in your life?
Suppose you could change your thoughts and feelings so that you could live 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in your True Self. What would be different about you?
Worksheet 02.01 Basic Mindful Meditation Name: Date: Before engaging in the Basic Mindful Meditation exercise, rate yourself on all the dimensions listed below by circling the appropriate number in the appropriate space. After completing this worksheet, listen to the Basic Mindful Meditation audio recording that came with this course. You may also download this mp3 by visiting mindfulecotherapy.com/meditation-recordings/
BODY TENSION TOTALLY TENSE---0---1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---10 TOTALLY RELAXED
When you have completed the Basic Mindful Meditation by listening to the recording and following its suggestions, rate yourself on all the dimensions listed below by circling the appropriate number in the appropriate space. Did any of your numbers change?