In dialectal behaviour therapy, ‘Wise Mind’ refers to a state of mind that honours both what our emotions (Emotion Mind) and what our logic (Reasonable Mind) is telling us. Through wise mind, we reduce the risk of neglecting important components of ourselves and invalidating our feelings. Moreover, wise mind allows us to move towards our goals in a way that is consistent with our values. This reduces experiencing of painful emotional states and supports healthy emotion regulation.
Getting into wise mind is typically not an automatic process – at least at first. It takes time to cultivate an awareness of wise mind. The idea is that wise mind is not something we need to consciously deliberate – everyone has access to their wise mind and all its wisdom. Below, I discuss some different strategies to facilitate getting into a state of wise mind.
Getting Into Wise Mind
1. Breathing “Wise” in, “Mind” out. Breathing in and saying to yourself “Wise”. Breathing out and saying to yourself “Mind”. Focusing your entire attention to the words “wise” and “mind”. Continue this until you settle into wise mind.
2. Asking Wise Mind a question. Breathing in, silently asking Wise Mind a question. Breathing out, and listening for an answer. Listen – do not give yourself the answer. Do not tell yourself the answer; simply listen to it. Continue this process for some time. If no answer comes, that’s okay. Give yourself some time and come back to it later.
3. Asking “is this Wise Mind?”. Similar to #2, Breathing in and asking yourself “is this (thought, behaviour, plan) Wise Mind?” Breathe out and listen for the answer. As again, do not give yourself the answer but listen for it.
4. Expanding Awareness. Breathing in, focusing on to your center (e.g., your chest or forehead). Breathing out, staying aware of your center, but also expanding to the space you are in. Continue on in the moment.
5. Centering. Attend to your breath coming in and out and settle your attention in one of three areas. The center of your forehead (“the mind’s eye), the bottom of the breath, or in the middle of your chest. Whichever feels right for you. Keeping attention there, breathing in and out, and settling into Wise Mind.
6. Snow Flake on the Lake. The next two are guided imagery techniques designed to help settle your attention into Wise Mind.
Imagine that you are by a clear blue lake on a beautiful sunny day. Then imagine you are a small flake of stone, flat and light. Imagine that you have been tossed onto the lake, and now are gently, slowly, floating through the calm, clear blue waters to the lake’s smooth, sandy bottom.
– Noticing what you see, as you float down, perhaps in small circles, floating towards the bottom. As you reach the bottom of the lake, settle your attention there within yourself.
– Notice the serenity of the lake; becoming aware of the calmness and quiet deep within.
– As you reach the center of your self, settle your attention there.
7. The Spiral Staircase. Imagine that within you in a spiral staircase, winding down to your very center. Starting at the top walk very slowly down the staircase, going deeper and deeper within yourself.
– Notice the sensations. Rest by sitting on a step, or turn on the lights if you wish. Do not go deeper than you want. Notice the stillness and the quiet. As you reach the center of yourself, settle your attention there.
I hope this post was helpful in practicing settling into Wise Mind. If there specific strategies you like to use, let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo credits: Katerina May on Unsplash