DONATE TODAY PTSD Coping Strategies

Mindfulness and Kindness - Inner Sources of Freedom and Happiness

This will orient you to Jim Hopper's extensive webpage, via some opening comments and brief descriptions of each section.

Opening Comments and Suggestions

Is this page for you? You'll have to see, but some of the people I'm hoping to reach and benefit:

People who are curious about mindfulness, but have read little or nothing about it and never tried meditating.

People seeking new ways to overcome childhood hurts, depression, addiction, and other all-too-human problems.

Beginning meditators.

Meditators interested in the insights of a fellow meditator who happens to be a therapist, clinical psychology and psychiatric neuroscience researcher, as well as a husband and parent.

Therapists interested in bringing mindfulness and meditation into their clinical practices.

A message to those who will begin reading and find themselves thinking, "I can't see myself doing mindfulness meditation practices, so I might as well stop reading now and not bother coming back to this later":

Simply reading this page (whether you try meditating or not) will introduce you to new, and potentially very transformative and healing, ways of thinking about, experiencing and responding to your own emotional and other mental and brain processes. Just learning these concepts and perspectives (without ever meditating), has proved extremely helpful to many people, including those struggling with a great deal of emotional suffering. I can't guarantee that will happen for you, but I would like to encourage you to take the time, at some point, to find out for yourself.

A suggestion: If you discover that you are really interested in what you're reading, print the entire page. At 34 printed pages, it's too long for most people to read on the computer.

Descriptions of Each Section

What is Mindfulness? defines mindfulness by expanding on an often-quoted definition of Jon Kabat-Zinn. My elaboration speaks to struggles that we all have, with overcoming 'bad habits' that cause problems and suffering in our relationships, our work, and the most private parts of our lives. My definition also addresses common misconceptions about mindfulness by clarifying what it is not.

How Could Mindfulness Help Me? describes several ways that mindfulness can help people overcome habitual and automatic ways of responding to experiences that are either strongly unwanted (from emotionally uncomfortable to traumatic) or strongly wanted (including addictive). These include loosening the grip of habitual responses that cause suffering, quieting and calming the mind, and fostering greater awareness, enjoyment and cultivation of healthy positive experiences.

How Can I Cultivate Greater Mindfulness? begins with a few comments about meditation and Buddhism, followed by instructions for a standard mindfulness of breathing meditation. It then discusses some key issues, including the distinction between concepts and skills, daily versus intensive mindfulness practice, and formal practice versus weaving mindfulness into daily life. It ends by addressing some common questions and concerns about the cultivation of mindfulness in daily life and relationships.

Caution: Mindfulness Includes Pain, and Requires Readiness is a very important section, particularly for those who can become overwhelmed by unwanted emotions. It discusses the need for a solid foundation of self-regulation skills before practicing mindfulness meditation, and how this is essential for people who struggle with certain problems.

Kindness - An Essential Companion of Mindfulness explains why cultivating mindfulness is necessary but not sufficient, and how cultivating kindness promotes acceptance, peace, freedom, and happiness. It also includes some simple but very effective practices for cultivating key aspects of kindness.

Resources for Learning To Be More Mindful provides very specific advice for how and where you can learn to become more mindful. It has immediately useful information about books, tapes, online mindfulness meditation courses, and meditation centers. It also includes suggestions and resources for those who need more help cultivating self-regulation skills, or for whom more movement-oriented practices such as yoga or Tai Chi will be most effective.

Recommended Books, CDs/Tapes/MP3s, and Articles includes recommendations for everyone as well as therapists in particular.

Links to Other Resources on Mindfulness and Meditation has a small number of highly recommended sites.


Coping Strategies

As you begin to understand PTSD and seek to alleviate symptoms and journey toward healing, you will encounter a whole spectrum of coping strategies. Many possibilities await. Some require medical expertise such as counseling and pharmaceutical options. Some you can pursue on your own such as exercise, nutrition and journaling. Some may require direction from experts in the field to guide you through yoga, meditation, qigong or tai chi. Spirituality may even be your starting point as you discover and explore your beliefs about yourself and your life.

Listed is an overview of coping strategies you can explore. Each one is unique and may be suitable for you to pursue now or at some point in the future.