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Mindfulness of Current Emotions: The Dandelion Story

Today is World Meditation Day! Meditation can be the act of engaging in mindfulness. I am going to discuss mindfulness of current emotions, a concept that can be practiced with meditation. Within Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Emotion Regulation, there is a skill called mindfulness of current emotions. When I teach this skill, I often share this parable: 


A man bought a new house and decided that he was going to have a very beautiful lawn.  He worked on it every week, doing everything the gardening books told him to do. His biggest problem was that the lawn always seemed to have dandelions growing where he didn’t want them. The first time he found dandelions, he pulled them out. But, alas, they grew back. He went to his local gardening store and bought weed killer. This worked for some time, but after summer rains, alas, he found dandelions again. He worked and pulled and killed dandelions all summer. The next summer he thought he would have no dandelions at all, since none grew over winter. 


But, then, all of a sudden, he had dandelions all over again. This time he decided the problem was with the type of grass. So, he spent a fortune and had new sod put down. This worked for some time and he was very happy. Just as he started to relax, a dandelion came up. A friend told him it was due to the dandelions in the lawns of his neighbors. So he went on a campaign to get all his neighbors to kill all their dandelions.  By the third year, he was exasperated. He still had dandelions. So, after consulting every local expert and garden book, he decided to write the U.S. Department of Agriculture for advice. After waiting several months, he finally got a letter back. He was so excited. Help at last! He tore open the letter and read the following: 


“Dear Sir: We have considered your problem and have consulted all of our experts. After careful consideration, we think we can give you very good advice. Sir, our advice is that you learn to love those dandelions.”


Linehan, Marsha. DBT Skills Training Manual. 2nd ed., The Guilford Press, 2015.


Oftentimes we have a strained relationship with our current emotions and one interpretation of this parable is that we may actually feel more relief if we acknowledge the feelings rather than work to “fix” and “change” the emotions constantly. Mindfulness is a practice of acknowledging and being present nonjudgmentally. Combining this acceptance and mindfulness can increase our emotion regulation ability. This parable relates not only to mindfulness of current emotions but also to DBT Radical Acceptance

With the consideration of the dandelions and of yourself, I encourage you to engage in mindfulness of current emotions this World Meditation Day. If interested in the skill from a DBT lens, see this handout for the practice or this video






Interested in learning more about mindfulness through the lens of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)? Looking Glass Counseling offers a DBT skills training group a few times a year. Current groups are closed but check out our support groups page to get on the waiting list for the next round of groups.


 

Vera Bednar, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and certified in dialectical behavioral therapy (C-DBT). A Lesley University graduate, Vera earned a bachelor's in counseling and art therapy and a master's in clinical mental health counseling with a specialization in trauma.


Prior to joining Looking Glass Counseling, Vera worked in a wide variety of clinical settings including inpatient, residential, intensive outpatient and an assisted living center with an art therapy focus. She also worked in partial hospitalization programs specializing in trauma, LGBTQIA+ individuals and young adult transitions as well as substance use.




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