Mindfulness, Conscious Breathing Exercises, and Cyber Intimacy

Testimonials from the 2015 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium

Symposium Student Scholars

The following are blogs from our Student Scholarship recipients, detailing their experiences on Days 1 and 2 of the 2015 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, held in March.

Since attending Symposium so far, I've fallen in love with the experiential nature of many workshops I've attended. As a student, I am all too familiar with the shortcomings of lecture-learning. While they can be intellectually stimulating, there's something so refreshing and freeing about being able to experience concepts and theories in person. In fact, the Networker Symposium feels like a personal retreat---rejuvenating and grounding.

On Thursday, I went to the Conscious Breathing workshop, instructed by Jeremy Youst. This was an amazing experience. It has whet my appetite for more breath work in the future. I was amazed at how powerful these breathing exercises were for me. They were so transformative, and in such a short period of time! I am excited to take them home and teach them to clients, family, and friends. I was especially impressed by the Coherent Breathing exercise that can be used to induce sleep, ward off pain, and aid in stress reduction.

Today, I went to Jon Kabat-Zinn's workshop on Mindfulness. Although I have heard and done a little bit of Mindfulness work in the past, I have never attended a workshop like this. It was a wonderful experience. The simplicity of the Mindfulness work combined with its humanness was amazing. This session impacted the rest of my day and likely the rest of my weekend. I am making a "mindful" attempt to be mindful throughout the rest of the Symposium. I particularly enjoyed the lunch challenge that we were assigned: to be mindful for a whole hour and actually taste our food throughout our entire meal. So often, I am eating while doing something else. It was such a wonderful experience to actually eat mindfully and taste every bite. I'm looking forward to more mindfulness work soon!

Michelle Leahy

 

I studied Mindfulness in a neuroscience lab for about a year after undergrad, where we were also encouraged to cultivate an individual meditation practice. During this period I devoured the writings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, among others. I practiced mindfulness faithfully and attended yoga classes regularly, but this all fell by the wayside when I started graduate school four years ago.


Although I have read his books and seen many videos of him in action, today was the first in-person opportunity I've had to hear Dr. Kabat-Zinn speak (thank you, Psychotherapy Networker, for making this possible by awarding me a student scholarship!). To say I was inspired by his keynote and workshops today is an understatement; I took fourteen pages of longhand notes, the content of which I'll be mulling over for weeks and months to come. This enlightening workshop was exactly the push I needed to reinstate mindful practice into my life, starting right here, right now. Here are a few of my favorite pearls of wisdom from the day:




1. In all Asian languages, "mind" and "heart" are the same word. Thus, "mindfulness" is also "heartfulness."




2. "Let's have a little less talk about compassion, and a lot more compassion. A lot less talk about mindfulness, and a lot more mindfulness."




3. "The curriculum for mindfulness is you. It always unfolds in this moment because there is no other moment. The past is gone, and the future is not here yet."




4. "Do you live in a world of nouns or verbs?...Is your intention to be fully present without filling up the moment with anything extra?"




5. Approach all of this "with a light touch" because "this is too serious to take too seriously."



Renée Grinnell

Virginia Commonwealth University





As I reflect on Friday's symposium, I am overcome with excitement due to all of the people I met and the amount of information I am going back home with. My Friday morning began with Jon Kabat-Zinn's talk about mindfulness. My notebook is filled with Jon's quotes, including one he recalled from a conversation with Oprah, when she asked him, "Jon, what do you believe about life after death?" His answer? "I'm trying to see what life is like before death." This really stuck with me, as well as the idea that we are our own "Buddha" because we only have control over ourselves. We should always take the initiative in our lives because "the present is the only moment we have."  Mindfulness is relationality. Mindfulness is "a little more compassion and less talk about compassion," as Jon mentioned.

Another workshop that stood out to me was Sherry Turkle's workshop on Cyber Intimacy. Although this was a recording from the 2011 Symposium, I still felt like I was a part of the audience and actually wished I'd been there four years ago because her talk was so intriguing. Technology "has become a phantom limb," Sherry said. "It is a part of us." She went on to mention that technology provides us with an illusion of control in different areas of our lives, such as in intimacy and friendships. This illusion, which she calls The Goldilocks Effect, is characterized by us not wanting friendships too close, yet too far, and is caused by our dependency technology. Sherry explained that through technology, it is easy to hide and to choose not to see or hear certain things. We would rather talk than text, she said, yet many of us don't know how to end a conversation via phone. One of the things she mentioned that I quoted because it seemed utterly fascinating was her analogy that we "are too busy communicating to think, to connect with people who matter to us...We are alone together."

Topic: Mindfulness

Tags: conversation | deep breathing | ED | family | intimacy | Jon Kabat Zinn | learning | meditation | meditation practice | mindful | Networker Symposium | neuroscience | neuroscience lab | psychotherapy | science | stress reduction | Symposium | technology | TED | therapy | yoga | Psychotherapy Networker | sleep | stress | clients | breathing exercises | cyber intimacy | internet | Jeremy Youst | Sherry Turkle

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