Mindfulness training and lining up your ducks.

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way:

on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.

– Jon Kabat-Zinn


(Courtesy of google images.)

Mindfulness involves paying  attention to our experiences as they unfold in the present moment.

Mindfulness involves becoming a curious and compassionate observer of our experiences (including inner experiences such as our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, images, memories and so forth.)

When we practice mindfulness we learn to bring full awareness to our present-moment experience with an attitude of acceptance, patience, curiosity and non-judgement.

When we practice mindfulness we begin to disrupt habitual and unhealthy patterns of behavior, such as when we lash out when feeling angry or frustrated… when we isolate ourselves when feeling sad or afraid… when we eat or drink alcohol when feeling anxious, bored, depressed, lonely and so on.

Automatic pilot or Mindlessness: In a car, we sometimes drive for miles “on automatic pilot” without really being aware of what we are doing. When we do things mindlessly like this we miss out on life.

By becoming more aware of our inner experience (thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations) we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice. When we get sucked into our thoughts and feelings, we often react in ways that are unhelpful or harmful. With regular mindfulness practice we learn to increase awareness and acceptance of our inner experience so that we can deliberately choose how to respond rather than reacting automatically based on how we feel at the moment.

Excerpt copied from CPRP Mindfulness Training (Greco, 2010)

To the untrained mind, or perhaps the young mind, or the “immature mind” or the traumatized mind, reading the words “we can deliberately choose how to respond rather than reacting automatically based on how we feel at the moment” can sound like a joke. A magic trick. A fantastical notion.

“What do you mean I can choose what I feel when I have all these problems?” They may hurriedly say. “There is this person over here making me feel like this. Then you don’t know my work situation… wait till you hear about that. Oh, and did I mention my neighbors? Then there’s the bills, and this new project I have going on. And I just can’t shake these cigarettes… Oh, and my husband did this the other day…” And on, and on, and on, and on. Because there are plenty of problems.

If you’ve been around someone like this, someone who asks for advice, calls out for help, but continues on in unsolved patterns and excuses, you are most likely encountering someone who requires mindfulness training. Someone who needs to take on personal responsibility and power of their current life problems and situations.

Mindfulness, like the description above reads, is the practice of paying attention on purpose. When we pay attention to our choices, we can begin to see why we choose them and how we choose them. The various influences that press your behavioral patterns begin to unfold when you look at your life from the scope of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is also the solid foundation of good mental health.  The way in which we think and handle the inevitable let-downs and dramas of life are key to our mental and emotional well-being. “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MCBT)  is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the prevention of relapse in recurrent depression. It combines mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and stretching with elements from cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to help break the negative thought patterns that are characteristic of recurrent depression. Mindfulness is a potentially life-changing way to alter our feelings in positive ways, and an ever-expanding body of evidence shows that it really works.” – Excerpt from Mindfulness

In a metaphorical way of speaking, mindfulness is sort of like lining up the mental ducklings – those wandering thoughts, personal attachments, mental labeling and judgements of others and the mind’s preconceived notions on life, existence and reality.

Ducks(Courtesy of google images.)

Have you ever seen ducklings trying to line up? They’re not like adult geese, communicating together to create a perfect flying V of teamwork and cohesion. Ducklings are like immature feather-heads, awkwardly learning how to paddle the water with their new webbed feet. This is how mindfulness practice can seem for a new person introduced to the methods of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy or to someone recovering from a trauma, loss, mental health diagnosis or addiction.

A person in recovery may be thinking aligning all their thoughts, feelings and perceptions in the present moment seems like “a lot of work” or an “overwhelming” concept, but the process truly begins with “surrender.” It begins with a readiness to practice. When a client, patient or person is ready to “surrender all” to the practice and process of mindfulness training then they begin to let go of the judgements even they themselves place on the treatment. They accept the process as a path to peace and a healthy mental and emotional state. The key to mindfulness practice is not over-looking life’s challenges and negative events, but leaning into them and learning from the experiences. In mindfulness practice we accept, listen and learn self-control through behavioral consciousness. This is why so many 12-step programs place emphasis on a “higher power.” When a person in recovery truly “surrenders all” to the process, and continues to “surrender all” throughout the process, then full recovery is attainable. It is through the misconceptions that there is “an end” to the process that relapse and regression occur. Mindfulness is a daily practice. A constant journey.

You can ask a health care professional or professional social worker or counselor about mindfulness practice or MCBT. Many people have learned about mindfulness habits through use of 12-step programs, through religious practices and teachings and through physical and spiritual disciplines like martial arts, yoga and other exercise programs.

Steps one in the 12-Step program is:

“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

So the first step is “to admit.” To surrender to the fact that the addiction has mastery over YOU and your EGO.


1. the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.
2. Psychoanalysis . the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment.
3. egotism; conceit; self-importance: Her ego becomes more unbearable each day.
4. self-esteem or self-image; feelings: Your criticism wounded his ego.
5. ( often initial capital letter  ) Philosophy .

the enduring and conscious element that knows experience. 
Scholasticism. the complete person comprising both body and soul.

Check out more of the 12-Step program if you or someone you know or love is recovering from addiction.


“Happy is the man who can keep a quiet heart, in the chaos and tumult of this modern world.” – Patience Strong


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I am really interested in the application of mindfulness exercises in the world of psychotherapy. Great post!

Comment by Brianna (senseofsensibility)

Thanks for stopping by, Brianna. Good luck in your studies.

Comment by simplyenjoy

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