g. Mindfulness: Self in the Relationship Patterns

Neurofeedback Group - celebrating after thinking

Photo of Andrea and a few of her friends celebrating neurfeedback connections!


Relationships are crucial for our survival.

We are a very social species; therefore, our functioning and health are impacted by the state of our relationships. 

If you recognize the truth of the above statements, you are an unusual person. 

Most people have a hard time connecting relationships with functioning.  It is all up to each individual, in the wild west of many belief systems. 

Slowly medical knowledge has connected stressful events, like deaths and divorces, with increasing risk for symptoms.

By 1967, a through study was done to evaluate the risk levels for people experiencing stressful life events. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale

When one is able to bring relationship into conscious awareness, it is easer to find healthy ways to manage stressful event.

 Without mindfulness the potential hazard of leaving your relationships to automatic forces increases.  

 Mindfulness also increases the probability that your behavior will remain flexible, not rigid and predictable.

How do any of us keep track of patterned ways of thinking and interacting?

Do you write it all down? 

 How do you get into such a “self” aware state of mind where you are able to virtually watch your thinking and behavior without judging?

First of all, your mental and sensory perceptions are predominantly influenced by fear reactions.   Most of your fear reactions are out of your conscious awareness.  

 In fact, many of the automatic reactions which guide our behavior with others are never fully brought into our present state of awareness.

For example, do you think about the look on your child’s or spouse’s face before you begin to help or distance from him or her?

What you do in response to the perception of what you think the other person wants or what you perceive your own “self” needs, happens before there is time for thought.

There are a series of automatic responses directed towards important others that are unleashed, due to a domino like effect inside our brain.

The brain is seemingly already set up to do what it must.  Although it is not easily influenced by changes in the outside world, there are ways that the brain can alter its own functioning. 

Neurofeedback is high on my list for altering the state of the brain with information.  www.zengar.com

There are many other older, profound methods. One example is a 2007 study out of Mind and Life board member Richard Davidson’s lab at theUniversity of
Wisconsin demonstrates that meditation training improves the ability to attend to new, rapidly introduced stimuli in an attention task.  This has been written up in the New York Times.Below are links to both the original article and the New York Times article.http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0050138


The question also is what helps you to pay attention to your behavior in relationship to others?   

For example, if someone says, “I do not need your help,” it is still hard to stop helping?

It may be an automatic reaction to help, especially those we lover but it could be a trap.  Helping can lead to one person being the under functioning one and the other being the over functioning one.  Helping is something to be aware of.  It is not an always a good habit to indulge in for many reasons.   

I am not against automatic reactions. Habits are important in our everyday lives. How could we manage if we had to think about breathing or how to drive the car?

The faster we are able to turn a new behavior into a habit the more free time we have to take on a new challenge or to enjoy free time. But what behaviors are useful and which habits put us more at risk?

First evaluate just how much of your life is run on habit?

What happens when your relationships with those those who are near and dear fall into the pattern of habit?

Do you say hello to your parents, children or your spouses out of habit?

Now if you choose to be mindful of these relationship habits it could cause different outcome results; great confusion or greater insight and flexibility.

To be aware, to be mindful, is a disciplined decision that you can choose to make.

Choosing to notice relationships in this way can in and of itself bring great change to your life.

Usually people bring relationships into awareness when they are challenged, good or bad. For example, the first day of school, the first love that disappoints or when the first child is born. Many of these moments are carved into emotional memory.

However, for all these memories there are countless millions that are never recalled. Why, perhaps there was not enough emotion attached to the memory for recall. The conscious awareness of any moment puts a peculiar kind of emotional energy on memory.

The emotion of the observer watching is a “quiet” or calm feeling emotion. The feeling of knowing that you are watching yourself and others and perhaps seeing and feeling what is going on with little or no right or wrong, good or bad, judgment.

To train yourself, you must be able to see yourself in relationship patterns without shame or blame.

This is not easy; it requires a disciplined effort.

Some write down what they see and try to do it alone.

This is the difficult path.

Dr. Bowen was the first un-coached coach; there may be others out there.

Most people hire a coach or a consultant to listen and look at the patterns in order to more fully consider the options for change that might be available.

As long as the goals you have are in line with the expectations of the family there will be no emotional issues in achieving your goals.

However, if you want to do things that the family is fearful or negative about, the emotional reactivity within your relationship system may be too great for you to go forward. If so, you will have entered into the “lovelock” emotional twilight zone and in such a state you can no longer be mindful.

Both biofeedback and electroencephalogram (EEG) neurofeedback are western technologically outgrowths of the meditation traditions.

They enable people to calm the mind/body. There are many such techniques that can help people to become more aware and less anxious.

These techniques can be combined with other training methods to help a person to achieve greater levels of mindfulness.

I hope this brief discussion has been useful. If you have more questions, please e mail me.  arms711@ol.comAndrea