Monday, February 12, 2018

Mindfulness and Attachment Insecurity

     "Attachment theory postulates that adult attachment style, a trait-like pattern of affect regulation strategies, develops as a reflection of the sum total of experiences of being cared for in close relationships. 
     When individuals have repeated experiences of caregivers being sensitive & responsive to their needs, they score low in both anxiety and avoidance, reflecting a secure attachment style characterized by a balanced approach to support seeking and emotion regulation. Attachment needs are not denied or suppressed, and nor are they overwhelming. 
     Those who experience caregivers who are inconsistently available & responsive score highly in attachment anxiety. Such individuals tend to engage in hyperactivation of the attachment system, characterized by increased efforts to seek proximity and protection, a hypersensitivity to signs of rejection, and excessive rumination on one’s own shortcomings and immediate relationship threats. 
     Those who experience caregivers that are consistently rejecting or non-responsive score high in attachment avoidance, and tend to engage in deactivation of the attachment system, characterized by avoidance of proximity seeking, denial of attachment needs, and the suppression of signs of vulnerability."
       Jodie C. Stevenson, Lisa-Marie Emerson, Abigail Milling. "The Relationship Between Adult Attachment Orientation and Mindfulness: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." Mindfulness 2017; 8: 1438–1455.

     Participants of 8-week MBSR courses, those who attend longer meditation retreats (& those who participate in skillful psychotherapy) are provided with & are taught to provide for themselves & others: a “safe holding place”, non-judgment, self-acceptance & perhaps above all, unconditional love - i.e. "re-parenting." No wonder mindfulness meditation (& psychotherapy) can profoundly ameliorate attachment insecurity. 
     "Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.” Anon

     “On a retreat, a healer and psychologist who had devoted fifteen years to spiritual practice was struggling yet again with the question of relationships. Feelings of longing and craving and blame kept coming up again and again. We talked and I suggested he spend some days directing a loving-kindness meditation toward himself. At first he resisted; like so many of us, he felt uncomfortable focusing on himself. It was awkward to offer the intention of love and kindness to himself over and over for days. But as the retreat went on, his heart softened. Forgiveness for himself and others arose. The world began to look more beautiful. And then came a realization: 

     It is I who must love myself. No one else can make me feel whole. Only I can provide that love. Now I know that wholeness is always accessible to me and all beings everywhere. This knowing allows me to live with a new peacefulness and kindness to myself and others. In the simplest way, it has changed my life. 
     Again, the lesson of spiritual practice is not about gaining knowledge, but about how we love. ...

     We become the love we have sought. And in this love we are also returned to ourselves.”
        Jack Kornfield. “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry. How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path.” Bantam books, 2000.

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