Full catastrophe living

Table of Contents


  • Feeling threatened leads to feelings of anger. When things “seem” to be getting out of control, our deepest insecurities erupt, leading us to behave self-destructively or in ways hurtful to others.
  • Breathing meditation: focus on observation, observing the thoughts, content and “charge”, then let go and refocus.
  •  Our preoccupation with how we look comes from a deep seated insecurity about our bodies. Let go by not judging it.
  • Dis-cover the possibilities
  • Realise (make real) you are already there – there is nowhere else to go.
  • Social influences and mindfulness:
    • Valuing relationships
    • Honouring relationships
    • Feeling a senese of goodness and basic trust

The attitudinal foundation of mindfulness practice

1 Non-judging A focus on judging experience locks in a particular reaction, categorises “good” and “bad” experiences. Just watch.
2 Patience A form of wisdom. Being completely open to each moment.
3 A beginner’s mind Our thinking and beliefs about what we “know” get in the ways of seeing things as they really are. Each moment is unique and contains unique possibilities.
4 Trust …in oneself, not discounting feelings but listening to them.
5 Non-striving Non-doing. Just pay attention to what is happening.
6 Acceptance Seeing things as they are in the present instead of wasting energy on anger and denial. “It is just the way it is”.
7 Letting go Some thoughts/experiences are elevated or suppressed eg letting go to go to sleep.

Mindfulness in problem-solving

If a problem seems insoluble, we tend to create more problems rather than penetrating through the problem. This leads to frustration, inadequacy, insecurity. Other problems become harder to solve > we create our own boundaries > we produce reasons for not challenging the boundaries, not taking risks, rather than exploring the possibilities and our relationship to the problem – wholeness and connectedness.

“My problem” avoids us seeing “the problem”, putting ourselves at the centre.


How you see things and how you handle them determine how much stress you will experience

  • Dealing with change
  • Control
  • Learned helplessness
  • Using our internal resources
    • beliefs that you can handle adversity
    • view of yourself as a person
  • Changing the way we see ourselves within relationships
  • Perceiving the full experience (eg the 9 dots)

Dealing with stress with mindfulness

Self-efficacy Your confidence in your ability to grow influences your ability to grow

  • It increases when you have experiences of succeeding at something you feel is important.
  • It increases if you are inspired by examples of what others are able to do.
Hardiness Psychological or Stress hardiness

Shows high levels of

  • Control – belief in being able to to exert an influence on the surroundings
  • Commitment – engaging and giving the best effort
  • Challenge – change is a natural part of life
A sense of coherence
  • Comprehensability – making sense of internal/external experience
  • Manageability – have the resources to meet the demands of stress
  • Meaningfulness – the demands are challenges which have meaning and to which one is able to commit
Loving yourself
Expressing emotions
versus Helplessness
Suppressing anger

Type A and type B personalities

Type B personality Type A personality
  • Easy going
  • Not driven by time
  • Free from irritability, hostility and aggressiveness
  • Contemplative
  • Driven by time, urgency, competitiveness
  • Hurried and abrupt

Higher BP/MI/cancer and other health problems

Unstressed affiliation/motivation Power/motivation syndrome
  • Strong need for affiliation
  • Drawn to being with people
  • Want to be liked in their own right
  • Free to express their need for affiliation
  • Strong need for power in relationships
  • Aggressive, argumentative, competitive
  • Increase status and prestige
  • Frustrated/stressed by events that challenge their power

Links between physical health and mindfulness

  • Optimistic perspective
  • Ability to “let go” of a bad event
  • There are always choices to be made in life, can exercise control
  • Laugh at themselves
  • Sense of coherence
  • A conviction that life is comprehensible, manageable and meaningful
  • Spirit of engagement in life
  • Taking on challenges
  • Confidence to make change that is important
  • Valuing relationships
  • Sense of good-ness
  • Thoughts and beliefs that foster hopelessness and helplessness
  • A sense of loss of control
  • Hostility/cynicism towards others
  • Lack of enthusiasm and commitment about life’s challenges
  • Inability to express feelings
  • Social isolation


  • Gives a purpose for living
  • Touch – a present moment experience
  • Feeling of belonging
  • Interdependent, not dependent
  • Being aware of feelings and their relationship to the “here and now”


  • Behaviour becomes disordered
  • Dis-attention – not listening to our own inbuilt feedback messages

Attention > connection > self regulation > sense of order > ease (vs. dis-ease)

eg eating/overeating


The one thing you can be sure of!

Why do some people find change more difficult?

Even “happy” changes are stressful – getting married, moving house. These changes lead to dis-stress depending on what they mean to you and how you adapt to them.

Adaptability innovations index (Kaplan)

  • 80% are adaptors – tweak it
  • 20% are innovators – change it

Stress reactivity

  • Hyperarousal – overwork – workaholic
  • Chronic stressors
  • Denial
  • Busy-ness
  • Substance misuse – caffeine, alcohol, food, nicotine

Stress responsiveness

Freeing up time

  • Time is a product of thought. Minutes and hours are conventions
  • Live in the present
  • Make space to “be”
  • Simplify your life

Some hints for reducing work stress

  • When you wake up, take a few moments to recognise that you are choosing to work today.
  • Be “in the moment” with getting dressed, showering etc.
  • Connect when you say goodbye.
  • Be mindful during the travel.
  • Take a moment from time to time to monitor your bodily sensations.
  • Walk mindfully, don’t rush.
  • Truly relax during breaks. Spend the time with people you feel comfortable with.
  • Exercise instead of lunch.
  • Use everyday cues to remind yourself to relax eg phone ringing.
  • Get out of work clothes when you get home.
  • Review what you have accomplished at he end of the day.

Reference: Full catastrophe living – Jon Kabat-Zinn


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