Rated R

One of the DBT ACCEPTS, or distraction, skills is sensation. I have not been all that crazy about that one because the standard examples are things like holding an ice cube, taking a freezing shower or snapping yourself with a rubber band.

I don’t do cold and I generally don’t do pain. Those suggestions are not interesting to me at all!

But I have a confession to make: I may have been using sensation for the past 8 years and never realized it!

Quick review – in DBT  we use sensation to overcome strong emotions and urges. These emotions and urges may be so strong we feel the only way to deal with them is self harm or something equally as damaging. Sensation may be enough of a shock to the system to dislodge the thought of self harm.  I may not have mentioned it before but DBT was initially developed to help people who have volatile emotions and often engage in self harm. Part of the reason it works so well is it was developed to have enough power to help people with serious mental conditions.

So how do I, someone who does not have a serious mental condition (truly; believe me), use sensation? Is it good even if you are not thinking about suicide or cutting?

I mentioned I am back in yoga with ‘my’ yogini. I adore her. What I did not mention is that it is a sadomasochistic relationship. She kicks our asses and we say “thank you” and come back for more. I had a good buddy, a fellow student, who called our yogini his dominatrix.

You never thought this page was going to be X rated; did you?  No X, just R. The point is not that we are kinky people.

The point is we are being pushed to our edges in every class, liking it and using it to our advantage.

What made me think about it is this: I am sore and rung out. We did an hour of a very challenging power flow tonight. We moved! Asana to asana. Position to position. I am the oldest person in the class and really don’t ever expect to keep up with the youngsters, but I try to work to my edge. Better the bar be too high than too low.

“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what is a heaven for?” – Robert Browning. I like quotes; remember?

Anyway, I put forth effort. I challenge myself physically, emotionally and cognitively. I think about the sequence of the positions in the series. How the hey did she get from that position into THAT one????? (That one is T in ACCEPTS for thoughts, btw). And I practically never think of my problems. My yogini is giving me problems enough!

Sensation? Yep. I am breathing hard and sweating. My muscles are screaming and I am trying not to lose my balance. Right now I know my left arm is going to be very tender tomorrow.  We did some things I have  not done in a long time. I felt my arm ‘fail’ so I was not thinking about my eyes. Ouch.

Am I suggesting you go out and beat yourself up? Absolutely not. That is reserved for a few select crazies like me. But with the APPROVAL of your DOCTOR, you might find some exercise routine that is a little challenging, a little uncomfortable. Something that has you breathing a little too hard or stressing your muscles a little too much. Having a little good pain may keep you from dwelling on the bad/sad pain.

And if you cannot stress yourself physically, remember you have other options to shock you out of self harm and/or excessive stress. A cold shower is probably a possibility. Hot sauce may do the trick. Sensation is to shock your system out of thoughts of damaging actions and distract you.

Me? I have a perfectly good sadomasochistic relationships I can depend upon! Namaste.

Next: IN THE MOMENT

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