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My Opinions on Meditation and Mindfulness

Monday December 3, 2018

The final reader question for today:

“Mindfulness meditation and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Familiar? Tried either or both? Found any value in them? Recommend anything instead?”

Yes, I spent a lot of time learning and practicing mindfulness meditation and self-hypnosis when I was in my 20s and 30s. I don’t know as much about ACT except what I’ve read in the last 5 minutes in diagrams found on a DuckDuckGo image search. :-)

First: If you haven’t tried it, don’t let me stand in your way. One big INTJ weak point is “experiencing”—just getting hands on and seeing how it goes. That’s important.

But second—and in my humble opinion: You have to watch out for the “Be Like Them” elements in this work. Linda Berens said that personality type helps us answer two big problems: “Be Like Them,” when we feel we need to be more like others in order to succeed, and “Be Like Me,” when we feel we need others to be more like us so they can be successful.

To some degree depending on the teacher, the method, etc., mindfulness and grounding-meditation work is teaching you to be more like another, more sensory, personality type. Frequently it’s essentially instructing you to take the role of the ISFP, the ESFP, someone like that.

Well, this clearly has its limits. I found some relief in it, but I also found that the work was like a one-trick pony for me. If I had a problem which could be better solved by being present and mindful, I had a problem which, by definition, wasn’t a good match for my natural problem-solving skills. So: OK, I’ll try my best.

However I personally found (after I spent all that time learning to be mindful!) that by intentionally identifying the more INTJ-soluble areas of the problem set first, I could gain leverage more quickly, my happy brain chemicals shot up, and POOF I didn’t need therapy or medications anymore. [Note: This POOF sound effect is more of a reference to the surprising potency of the action, and I don’t mean to suggest that it worked overnight or anything like that. I’d say 3-5 years of study and practice got me to those really important outcomes.]

Since that time, I’m less mindful in that particular therapeutic, sensory sense overall, but I’m more generally mindful of the needs of my psychology and I’m a happier person. I like to combine contexts, like using a calm walk (sensory) to sort through the various metaphors that are apparent to my intuition (intuitive work). In this way I can intuitively feel that I’m covering the various mindfulness bases.

I’m also kind of, a little bit disappointed that mindfulness exercises (again I’m not sure about ACT) aren’t able to easily meet people on their own ground. You have to jump over into mindfulness-land, and then go through the exercises, and then decide if it works. My personal Jungian-oriented coaching models are effective because of exactly this—we can meet you where you’re at. I generally build a model for where my clients are at, then I start to work with them from that exact location.

Well anyway—give it a shot. And if you tried ACT, let me know what you think. From the charts I’m seeing and a little bit of follow-up research, here are the functions I’d associate with the various elements:

- Be Here Now (Present): Extraverted Sensing
- Values (What’s Important): Introverted Feeling
- Committed Action (Do What Matters): Extraverted Sensing-valuing
- Self as Context (Notice): Extraverted Sensing
- Defusion (Watch Your Thinking): Introverted Intuition
- Acceptance (Open Up): Extraversion in general

So yeah, if you’re an INTJ, maybe this is oriented toward your ESFP side, which isn’t bad or good, but good to know about!

What I really like to see are therapeutic models that are grounded in the 8 functions, or the theory behind the functions. I guess this is why I’m (not a therapist, but) a Jungian-oriented coach. For example, teaching Sensory grounding and mindfulness on the one hand, while allowing for a deep iNtuitive recession into the rich inner world of metaphor on the other. Or, encouraging the researching and organizing Thinking functions, coupled with attention toward the warmer world of Feeling, both expressive and impressive, both group- and individual-values-based.

Can you imagine, in the current popular therapeutic context, a therapist who encourages an INTJ to think more like an INTJ, but as a more effective, more educated INTJ? I can’t and never found one who did—such was the emphasis on feelings and sensations.

Well, if you’re feeling impatient with the resources at hand, don’t give up hope, there’s always another option, another person or practice to try. Finding a therapeutic model that is helpful is often just a matter of finding the right relational psychology, something that’s between you and the individual therapist. From there, the model they use is typically warped and molded until it fits your friendship, rather than the other way around. :-)

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