Rezl is a smart phone app to build resilience through mindfulness. Rezl delivers an eight week “mindfulness based cognitive therapy” (MBCT) foundation course and an ongoing maintenance programme.
Our Resilience enables us to deal with challenges and stresses that may arise in all aspects of our lives. It’s the ability to “bounce back” from difficult experiences.
Resilience involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
It’s as if each of us has a kind of “tank of resilience” inside ourselves – and as we encounter challenges this resilience is used up – so that when we are “on empty” we can no longer cope with challenges or setbacks…
So it makes sense to take care of our resilience… and to build it up
Rezl uses “mindfulness based cognitive therapy” to build resilience in a lasting sort of way…so that you will:
- become more able to respond to pressure and to stress.
- be ready to embrace change and respond to challenges.
- increase your self-esteem; and become more open… more empathetic
- improve your job satisfaction and life satisfaction
- have better focus and concentration to reduce errors cause by distractions or interruptions
- increase your productivity
- have a lower possibility of depression and anxiety
- reduce “absenteeism and presentism”
Mindfulness employs meditation and practice to enable each of to become more aware of our thoughts our reactions and feelings… in an objective, non-judgemental way… so that we are better able to manage our feelings and emotions. And this empowers us so that we build self-confidence and self-esteem; and we reduce negative reactions. Mindfulness enables us to become more resilient; more able to respond the challenges and pressures that life brings.
And besides increasing our reliance, mindfulness has been shown to make people more open to new ideas, more positive and more objective. It makes people more willing to listen to other points of view and to become more empathetic. It is shown to increase attention and short-term memory.
Mindfulness is attention. This attention can be directed both inside and outside of ourselves. Attention to feelings, body sensations, thoughts or emotions are examples of attention to one’s inside world. Attention to a conversation with a friend, trees in a forest, sounds around us, or a book – are all examples of attention to the outside world.
Mindfulness is attention in the here and now
Mindfulness is attention in the here and now – attention to the things that are happening at this very moment. This may sound easy, but how many times is our attention completely taken elsewhere by our thoughts? Although it is hard to deny that thinking is often very handy, as we can make plans and solve difficult problems – at the same time, it is often the cause of many of our problems.
Our mind easily gets lost in endless thinking (ie worrying and rumination). Our thoughts create emotions and feelings like fear and sadness. We lie awake at night because we worry about what might happen tomorrow. We can’t stop thinking of that mistake we made last week. In our mind, we are constantly busy with the things that need to be completed.
These are only a few examples of how our mind can make life difficult. Mindfulness teaches us how to deal with these problematic thoughts by using the focus of our attention in the here and now. Mindfulness helps us create a different relationship with our thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Mindful attention means – attention without judgement
Often, sensations like tension or fear are automatically labelled as “bad”, “inappropriate” or “unwanted”. When we judge a certain feeling (“I experience fear…”, “This is bad…”, “I don’t want to feel this way…”) we automatically create a conflict; a conflict between the current feeling (“bad”) and how the feeling should be (“good”).
Attempts to resolve this conflict, by suppressing the negative feeling, requires a lot of energy 1 and paradoxically causes us to feel even worse. 2
Through mindful attention – and acceptance – we allow every feeling, emotion, sensation or thought to be there as they are there anyway. Instead of fighting against feelings or thoughts, mindfulness fosters a willingness to acknowledge, allow and accept these internal states.
By letting go of this struggle and fight, we save energy 3 and therefore experience that the things we fight against, often fade away automatically – often sooner than when we actively fight against them.
Acceptance plays a key role in mindfulness
As soon as an emotion receives room to exist, one can experience the emotion as temporary; that is, the emotion comes and goes. In this way, one becomes an observer of one’s own inner states. 4 One is no longer identified and completely lost in the content of thoughts or feelings, but becomes the observer of them. This observer still experiences the emotion or feeling, but now has the choice of being fully taken by them or not. By observing thoughts without judgement, one can experience their transient nature.
Without judgement, we learn that
not everything we think – is true
In summary, mindfulness can help us identify less with feelings, emotions or thoughts. In other words, we are not our emotions or thoughts; we can simply be aware of our emotions or thoughts.
It is possible that this definition of mindfulness gives the impression that mindfulness means living in the present moment only – without thoughts about the future, and that we eliminate all automatic patterns of thinking – mindfulness is about balance.
For instance, there is nothing wrong with goal setting. Goals can provide direction, motivation and meaning toward a future state. However, problems occur when the balance between goals (ie future desired state) and the present moment (ie things we do in the present to achieve a desired future goal) is lost.
In this case, it is possible that we are so focused on reaching our goals, that we forget to live in the present. Our life becomes a sequence of goals, our mind is constantly living in the future and we rarely enjoy the present. This can easily lead to frustration, especially when we notice that we fail to reach our goals in the anticipated time span. 5 In some cases, we even fail to reach our goal because of our obsessive focus on the goal. 2 Mindfulness helps us become aware that living in the present moment is the key to reaching goals.
By focusing our attention on the present, we often become more efficient (and effective) in terms of goal achievement
The same principle of balance applies to automatic behaviour. In some cases, automatic patterns of behaviour are very helpful (ie driving a car, writing and making gestures). However, in some cases, automatic patterns can cause unwanted behaviour (ie responding aggressively when you receive criticism or automatically worrying when we appraise an event as negative). In these cases, mindfulness can help us to become more aware of these automatic patterns and build space to change them; this, in turn, helps create more balance between helpful and less helpful patterns.
Finally, mindfulness is a way of dealing with, and perceiving reality; it can provide insights, not by means of conflict or fighting, but by cultivating an open attitude and acceptance. Mindfulness offers a different way of relating to reality than we are often accustomed to. You can decide for yourself whether this view is valuable or not.
Store your printouts in a clearly visible location as this will help remind you of the training and to do the exercises.
Determine when, and where, to practice. Create a method that will drive your automatic behaviour. For example:
- When? – every evening, after doing the dishes
- Where? – in my bedroom
- What? – practice seated meditation
What is Needed
This training will be most effective when you practice at home. This requires about 15 to 30 minutes each day. There are different types of exercises, like formal meditation and more informal daily practices. These exercises can both be valuable and fun and will provide you with practical opportunities to link the insights of the weekly sessions to your personal life.
The effects of your efforts will not always be immediately evident. Compare it to gardening; you need to prepare the soil, plant the plants, water the plants and wait patiently for the garden to grow.
Take your time to do the homework and try to do it to the best of your ability.
- The Models
The models presented in this program aim to clarify certain processes. These models point to reality but are not the same as reality. In the same way that the word “hat” is not actually a hat; reality is reality, and thus the models presented are simply models. Reality is far too complex to be completely translated into words, concepts, figures or models. Reality can only be experienced in the here and now because reality is nowhere else. Models, words and concepts can provide insights and help to create an experience – but can never actually be the real experience in and of itself.
- Without Judgement
We are very used to judging everything and everyone around us. We compare present experiences with past experiences, or expectations, and judge automatically. We experience something and we automatically start thinking what the experience means or whether it is “good” or “bad”. This process of judgement prevents us from being fully present in the here and now; we see the present through the lens of our judgement.
Trying not to judge is like trying not to think of a white bear. The more we try not to think about the white bear, the more we think about it. It is enough to become aware of judgement. During practice, notice when your mind judges, and direct attention in a compassionate way back to the practice again.
- Endlessly Starting Over Again
Mindfulness is about starting over again, again and again. Once you get distracted during practice, gently redirect attention back again. You will do this, many times; in fact, it is part of the exercise. In this way, you train redirection of attention which is a crucial aspect of attention regulation. Mindfulness cultivates open awareness, the hallmark of a beginner’s mind. It is as if we look at reality for the first time; like a young child who experiences something for the very first time.
- Without Striving
It is perhaps the aspect of mindfulness that is most paradoxical and most difficult to explain; there is no goal to achieve in doing the exercises. This may sound very strange as people participate in mindfulness training because they wish to achieve the goal of worrying less, experiencing less stress, less pain, etc. The exercises aim to cultivate awareness of the present.
Awareness of the present can hardly be called a goal because goals are always related to the future. The problem is, that when we start doing the exercises because of a goal (I am now going to meditate because I want to become calm and relaxed), the goal not only focuses our attention on the future, we may also become aware during the exercise that we are not achieving the goal state fast enough, if at all.
The goal of mindfulness is not to achieve a goal (like becoming relaxed) but to be present with whatever arises in the present moment.
Paradoxically, this type of awareness has been linked to several positive health-related outcomes, but can only be cultivated in the present, with a future detached mindset.
Acceptance starts with perceiving reality as it is right now. In the first place, acceptance is about acknowledging what is present. In general, we often see what we don’t want to see and what we wish to see differently; we devote a lot of time to denying what is there. Consequently, we waste a lot of precious energy by resisting something that cannot be changed in the first place.
During practice, both pleasant and unpleasant sensations, emotions and thoughts may arise. Instead of denying them and pushing them away, mindfulness requires a willingness to let them be, as they are, in the present moment. Remember that the goal of mindfulness is not to get rid of these internal states, but to change one’s relationship with these states.
Mindfulness cultivates a friendlier, acceptance-based relationship with internal states.
In other words, when unpleasant states arise, try to welcome them and perceive them as part of the exercise, part of reality. Let them be as they are.
- Letting Go
Sometimes, positive experiences arise during the exercises. People often want to hold on to these experiences; we attempt to prolong their duration and make them last longer. Open awareness means detachment of all events. In fact, when we try to change the course of positive experiences, we are doing the same thing as when we try to push away the negative states.
In both cases, we try to alter reality instead of experiencing it with an open, detached attitude. It is enough to observe and give the positive experience room to follow its natural course. The more freedom you provide for experiences to occur, the more freedom you will experience.
Practice compassion. Don’t be angry at yourself when you inevitably get distracted during the exercises; thoughts and feelings will always arise as it is how the mind works. Every mind operates like this and your mind is no exception. Awareness, in this moment, provides the opportunity to direct attention back to the exercise in a gentle, compassionate way.
Be kind to yourself when you notice pain, anger or fear.
Be kind when you notice that you judge, get distracted and that your mind wants to avoid pain.
Practice friendly, open awareness.