Mindful Reframing

The art of mindful reframing is an important aspect of mindfulness practice. It allows us to embrace our suffering by looking deeply into the causes and conditions of our situation. We examine our suffering in the light of our loving connected presence or self-kindness, interbeing, and mindfulness. These are the elements of self-compassion as taught by Kristin Neff, The Mistress Of Self-Compassion.

Ellen Langer, a Harvard professor, writes:

1234“Sometimes we are stressed and want distraction. When thoughts about an impending divorce, an operation, or a move to a new city prove anxiety provoking, we often seek relief by trying to occupy our minds with other things. We may find temporary relief, but if the issue in question is important to us our minds find a way back. Rather than trying to think about something else, a more effective strategy may be to think about the problem differently. In research Irving Janis, John Wolfer, and I conducted we taught people about to undergo major surgery to reframe the hospital experience. We asked the group to view the experience from a more adaptive perspective, to attempt to notice the advantages of being in the hospital. Having time to take stock of goals or to get in touch with family and friends who had been taken for granted or even a forced weight loss can be seen as an advantage. The potential advantages varied from person to person. Patients in this group felt less stress, took fewer pain relievers and sedatives, and left the hospital sooner than did patients who were not given this preparation. The desire to be distracted was the desire to be otherwise attracted.”
—Ellen Langer from The Power of Mindful Learning

About two weeks ago, I attended a daylong retreat with Kristin Neff at Spirit Rock Meditation Center with my daugter. She introduced us to Ellen Langer and the process of self-compassion.

Challenging events in life trigger a feeling of suffering. We can recognize it as a moment of suffering and that suffering is a part of life. We can then reframe the moment of suffering by offering compassion to ourselves and looking at the big picture.

Here is an example from my life.

The sales of Healing with the Seven Principles of Mindfulness: How to Thrive and Succeed in a Complex Cancer System are very slow and I am very disappointed. The book launch on September 24 bombed out. Not many books were sold that day or since then.

I have been practicing self-compassion to reframe my disappointment and figure out what I am going to do about the book. No concrete answers have come as yet, but I adhere to my practice and await a solution.

What is happening in your life right now that you would like to reframe?


Books by Ellen Langer

The Power of Mindful Learning

by Ellen J. Langer

Radical in its implications, this original and important work may change forever the views we hold about the nature of learning. In The Power of Mindful Learning, Ellen Langer uses her innovative theory of mindulness, introduced in her influential earlier book, to dramatically enhance th… [Read More…]

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