I don’t think I’ll write this well but wanted to put this down for someone here.

Random thought. Mindfulness reminds me a lot of Innate Health. Of just being.

Reminder of mindfulness attitudes

• Beginners mind – curiosity
• Not judging
• Patience
• Non striving – don’t stress too much – have a goal but don’t put too much pressure/time frame
• Kindness and compassion to self and others.
• Trust in the process and yourself.
• Acceptance and allowing – letting whatever you experience be, and accept it. It just is.
• Letting go. Being in the moment. Letting things be as they are.

There are our primary experiences. Our secondary experiences. And tertiary experiences. Going on and on.

The primary experience is what actually happened. In the mindfulness class they gave the example of being stuck in a traffic jam. The secondary experience which they called everything is how you react to that. The tertiary experience would be the reaction to the reaction – I know they didn’t say it but I think it’s true. And we can go on and on. I just don’t know the name for number 4 which is why I’m not saying fourthery…

There are 3 ways we experience things

  1. Physically/somatically – in our bodies
  2. Mentally – in our heads (thoughts)
  3. Emotionally – our feelings.

These are all secondary to what happened.

Primary – I’m stuck in a traffic jam 》 secondary – I may panic (physically) I’m going to be late, and/or wonder what everyone will think of me (mentally), and/or be angry I’m stuck (emotionally). 》Tertiary – I may feel guilty for being angry. I may think I shouldn’t care. I may judge myself for whatever my reactions are…..

I didn’t sleep all night and I’m exhausted the next day which gives me much less headspace for people.

That’s what happened. Those are the facts. Usually I may get frustrated and upset and blame myself or shut down.

The point of mindfulness is just to be aware. To identify the actual experience. To identify the response. To identify after that.

If I’m aware of what the actual experience is, I can stop the spiral. For me that’s the thought spiral as I don’t feel much or really experience anything much in my body.

I’m late for work.

The fact is I’m late for work. It happens to all of us. I could panic. I could know that I’ll be fired because I was late. I could judge myself for being s bad teacher. I could break down in tears.

I could then also react to my reaction. If someone made me late and I yelled at them I could hate myself for that.

Or I could pause. Either in the middle or afterwards. And see, okay I was late for the work. If I notice it there. Or see that I was late for work and yelled. I was late for work and cried. I was late for work and panicked. Whatever the experience was, was.

The best example I can think of is the thought spiral I entered when I knew my period was going to start in a couple days, and that lead to the surety that I’d be dead through suicide. When I was aware of the entire spiral I actually found it funny. Because c’mon. I have my period every month (or not). We all do (or not). I found it humourous to see how that my period was going to start had translated to I’m going to kill myself. Following and identifying the thought cycle that had lead there was eye opening. Not exactly on primary and secondary experiences, but on topic.


29 thoughts on “MBSR (2) – Primary and Secondary Experiences

  1. This explained beautifully that thing about sitting with your emotional reactions and just watching them happen. The way you word it is so far from the judgy way we can automatically fall into, it seems a much nicer way to live.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It was. It made better sense than anything else I’ve heard to date, or maybe I’m ready to hear it now. Hard to tell which i is, but the penny is slowly dropping.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I really appreciate it. I’m away as of tomorrow so don’t know what to expect in terms of my access to WordPress—or the internet itself! But it always shows on my notifications so I’ll see it when you get round to it and when I’m in reception.


  2. Interesting, thanks for sharing. I will try to remember this.

    Re: (not) feeling things in your body, I used to think I didn’t feel anything emotional in my body, but my therapist made me realise that I do. If you are more mindful of your feelings, you may find more somatic sensations than you expect.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Mm I am trying to be more aware of my thoughts and reactions but it’s hard to catch it as it’s happening, I find. You’ve inspired me to try a bit harder.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is good stuff! It seems like the primary experience is made up of facts. Of course it’s a fact that we think something about it, too. And a fact that we feel a certain way. When overwhelmed, I’ve told myself to focus on facts, not all the things that could or might happen. But if you stopped with the primary experience – just the facts, you wouldn’t have found the reaction funny. That sense of humor is priceless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think it’s saying to take away all secondary experiences but to have some awareness of them and some choice. I thought my last example was a really good one to explain what I meant.
      The secondary experiences are valid, too. The question is where we stop the buck….
      Humour and laughter is always good….


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