The First and Second Dart
Some physical discomfort is unavoidable; it’s a crucial sign to take care of life and limb, like the pain that makes you pull your hand back from a hot stove. Some mental discomfort is inevitable too. We feel distress when those close to us are threatened and sorrow when they are harmed. We also evolved to care greatly about our place in the band or group and in the hearts of others, so it is normal to feel hurt when you’re rejected or scorned. Inescapable physical or mental discomfort is the “first dart” , or primary suffering of existence. As long as you live and love, some of these darts will come your way. While the first darts are unpleasant, we then add our reactions to them. These reactions are “second darts” , or secondary suffering– the ones we throw at ourselves. Most of our suffering comes from second darts….we get upset, beat ourselves up, become angry, anxious, depressed, it’s all my fault, I will never get better, etc. The key point is that the impact of the second dart is invariably far worse and more long-lasting, more injurious to our health and well-being, than primary suffering. This concept can also be usefully applied to understanding chronic pain where the impact or perception of the pain/suffering, is made much worse by the things we say to ourselves, like… I will never be free of this pain, I will always be disabled, this is my future now, nothing I do seems to make it any better, etc. Mindfulness-based Pain Management uses meditation. A typical meditation takes just a few minutes and involves focusing on the breath as it flows into and out of the body. This allows you to see your mind and body in action, to observe painful sensations as they arise and to let go of struggling with them. Mindfulness teaches you that pain naturally waxes and wanes. You learn to gently observe it, rather than be caught up in it, and when you do, something remarkable happens: it begins to melt away of its own accord.
Mindfulness and Health
There is a lot about life that is wonderful, but it has its hard parts too. Look at the faces around you. They probably hold a fair amount of strain, disappointment and worry.. And you know your own frustrations and sorrows as well .The pangs of living range from subtle loneliness and dismay, to moderate stress, hurt and anger, and then to intense trauma and anguish. This whole range is what we mean by the term suffering. A lot of suffering is mild but chronic, such as a background sense of anxiety, irritability or lack of fulfillment. It’s natural to want less of this, and in its place, more contentment, love and peace. One of the three pillars of Buddhist practice, Mindfulness involves the skillful use of attention to both your inner and outer worlds. Mindfulness means awareness. Since your brain learns mainly from what you attend to, mindfulness is the doorway to taking in good experiences and making them a part of yourself. Thousands of peer- reviewed research papers demonstrate that mindfulness reduces pain, enhances mental and physical well-being,health and helps people deal with the stresses and strains of daily life.
Pleasure and Fun
What makes your heart sing just for you? Individual pleasurable activities are often neglected in our busy lives, contributing to a sense of unhappiness, lack of joy and excitement. Reclaiming pleasure and fun, hobbies, interests, passions, or trying out new, exciting activities, are important in developing a healthy life balance.
Activity and Exercise
Work, family, relationship and health issues can dominate our lives, leaving little opportunity and time for exercise. We can end up feeling flat, low in energy and motivation. We are designed to move, increase our heart rate and depth of breathing at regular intervals and to feel better as a result. Healthy activity and exercise habits can make the difference.
Nutrition / Diet
Our busy lifestyles often encourage us to skip meals, particularly breakfast, or to get by on convenient fast-food or energy drinks. These often have negative consequences for our weight, energy and health. Healthy eating and drinking habits can make the difference.
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