Mindfulness Made Simple

December 30, 2013

Mindfulness Can Be
A Brightly Colored Experience

By Terence T. Gorski, Author
December 30, 2013 

See the related blogs:
Stress Self-Monitoring and Relapse ,
The CENAPS Model and Mindfulness in Relapse Prevention,  and
Mindfulness Made Simple.

Meditation has been a part of the GORSKI-CENAPS Model since it was developed in the late 1970’s. In the 1970’s meditation was first being introduced and was controversial in the field of addiction and psychotherapy. Some viewed it as a fringe science. The first recognition that meditation could be helpful was in the form of relaxation training, which used a wide variety of relaxation methods whose origin was in meditation.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that, if used consistently, becomes a habit of mind.  It stops, for a moment the ever-present chattering within our minds. As we detach and let go of thinking, we stop disrupting the balance of stress chemicals in the brain. We allow the ripples in the pool of emotions to settle as we release and relax. The letting go calms us. Our mind can become like a clear pool instead of a stormy sea of emotion.

In this blog I explain a simple process of Mindfulness Meditation that many people find helpful. It is the system I personally use. As with all things, it works better for me on some days than on others. I hope you will find it helpful.

Mindfulness #1: Looking Within & Seeing What I Saw

I heard about Mindfulness Meditation and decided to give it a try. I sat in a quiet place and just looked within my mind to see what I saw. I found that there was this constant stream of words running through my mind that blinded me to everything else I was experiencing. This stream of words is called: SELF-TALK. Knowing that my self-talk is there and running wild and chattering endlessness in my mind was a first step.

Mindfulness #2: Setting a Meditation Schedule

I decided that I would do five minutes of mindfulness meditation, four times a day, when I awoke in the morning, at midday, in the early even, and at night. I used these four of five-minute breaks to look silently within – not to know, but for a moment to let go of knowing and the need to know. I was developing the art of doing nothing. No big deal, right? I was amazed at how often I forgot my plan, or talked myself out of doing it because more important things came up!

Mindfulness #3: Allowing the Thoughts to Stop

To get my thoughts to stop, even for a moment, I used the idea of noticing the thoughts, detaching from them and letting them be. I then imagining the flow of words in my mind was like a long freight train. I just watched as the train and allowed the cars to slowly coast to a stop. I experiment with letting go by using different images like drifting in a gentle stream, rocking slowly on a swing.  I focused on slowly breathing in and out. I let go, and each time I took it back, I said “that’s interesting” and then I let go and started again to drift.

Mindfulness #4: Passive Awareness

I use “Passive Awareness” like this:

(1) I say to myself “I am not my thoughts, I am the one who thinks my thoughts;
(2) I detach from my thinking and imagine my thoughts passing by on a black board or movie screen;
(3) I peacefully observe my thoughts and let them go.
(4) I put no effort into this. I challenge my thoughts. I don’t judge, dismiss or change them. I just notice my thoughts, whisper to myself the words release and relax, and then I let the thoughts drift by. I call this letting go.
(5) I focus on my slow rhythmic breathing.
(6) I suspend judgment. I just notice and let them go.
(6) I say the words “release and relax” and allow my mind to slowly settle itself.

Mindfulness #5: Dealing With Distracting Thoughts and Feelings

When I noticed the thoughts coming back into my mind, I say to myself: “Ah! The thoughts are back! Isn’t that interesting. I’ll just watch them for a while and let them go as I did before.  If I noticed a feeling like fear rising up, I say to myself: “Isn’t that interesting, I am becoming afraid. I’ll observe that feeling for a while and let it go!” In becoming passive and detached I keep changing my focus back to my slow rhythmic breathing.

Mindfulness Made Simple -A Formula for Dealing With Distractions

The formula is: “I am now experiencing _____. Isn’t that interesting. I’ll observe it in a detached way, quietly name it, and let it go.” Next I say to myself: “I am breathing and notice my slow rhythmic breath as I slowly inhale, hold for a moment, slowly exhale, hold for a moment, and repeat the process while passively noticing what my brain/mind is doing in the background of my consciousness. I say: “Let go! Release and Relax.”

This is an overly simplistic system for mindfulness. It strips away a lot of the jargon and mystique that made meditation difficult for me to practice. This simplified system has worked for me and many other people I shared it with. I hope it can help you.

The Magic Circle Relaxation Method




The CENAPS® Model and Mindfulness In Relapse Prevention

December 8, 2013

imagesMindfulness meditation is currently a major interest in the field of addiction treatment and relapse prevention. It is also becoming a popular modality integrated into pan management by in the work of Dr. Grinstead in Addiction-free Pain Management (APM) and in the form of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). This is because mindfulness-type meditation is a useful technique for interrupting stressful patterns of automatic self-talk or rumination that elevates stress to the point of activating craving in addictive disorders, symptoms of a mental disorder, such as depression, and activating acute episodes of pain in chronic pain patients.

The Gorski-CENAPS® Model has used forms of mindfulness meditation since the early 1980’s. In the Gorski-CENAPS Model the form of meditation used was based upon techniques used with biofeedback based upon the early research in meditation especially the work in stress and illness (Pelletier 1977) and The Peniston Protocol (Peniston 1989) used in the treatment of alcoholism The Menninger Clinic. Mindfulness Meditation has a strong basis in the Marlatt’s Model of Relapse Prevention.

The goal of using mindfulness mediation and related meditation methods in Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) is to help patients to achieve a state of consciousness often described as detached awareness. This is the same state of mind produced by mindfulness mediation. Detached Awareness is a state of consciousness that allows people to stay aware of their flow of thoughts and feelings without become attached to them.  Detached awareness of thoughts and feelings, in this context, means to allow them to come into awareness without activating the the sympathetic nervous system. In other words to be able to be aware of what we are thinking and feeling without having a stress reaction or activating a fight or flight response.

1533785_10151948786018172_1927814949_nIn the CENAPS® Model, this involved developing the psychological system identified as the Higher Self  (The Observing Self, The Silent Witness) as reported in the book Keeping The Balance by Terence T. Gorski. It involves become physically relaxed while being able to observe and then release or detach from the flow of thinking and the rise and fall of feelings and emotions. This technique was later described as Immediate Relapse Prevention Training and rapidly became a primary goal in Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) and is listed as the first skill in the Workbook entitled Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention. The methodology was first presented in a Professional Paper authored by Terence T. Gorski and Joseph E. Troiani entitled: Application of Biofeedback To Alcoholism Treatment, Ingalls Memorial Hospital, 1976. (Currently not in print).


Pelletier, K. R. (1977). Mind as healer, mind as slayer . NY: Delta.

Peniston, E. G., & Kukolski, P. J. (1989). Alpha-theta brain wave training and beta-endorphin levels in alcoholics. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research , 13 , 271-279.

Ma, S. Helen and Teasdale, John D., Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: Replication and Exploration of Differential Relapse Prevention Effects, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2004, Vol. 72, No. 1, 31–40

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