Meditation For Borderline Personality Disorder

meditation for borderline personality disorder

I’ve suffered from borderline personality disorder for many years, although I was only formally diagnosed a year ago. As you might know, it is a very hard condition to diagnose and often disguises itself as something else—my BPD had been disguising itself as anxiety. However, on closer inspection my therapist and I decided that the pronounced lack of self identity that I was suffering from was a symptom of BPD, and hence I received my formal diagnosis.

When I was diagnosed, my therapist specifically said to me, “It’s amazing that you have been able to control your condition so effectively with just meditation”—he was aware that I’m a meditation teacher and, indeed, I have meditated since I was nineteen. My meditation had made it possible for me to live a relatively normal life even with my BPD. And it can do the same for you.

I believe—and science agrees—that there are many benefits of meditation for Borderline Personal Disorder sufferers, although it is wise to note that it should not be the only treatment you use and certainly methods like dialectical behavioural therapy are incredibly important. That said, DBT requires training with a therapist whereas meditation is a relatively easy and safe practice to start doing for yourself.

Let’s look at the benefits and then I’ll share my own experience and the best meditation for BPD.

Science On Meditation And Borderline Personality Disorder [BPD]

The so-called “Gold Standard” of BPD treatment is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and arguably the single most important part of DBT is mindfulness, which involves focusing the mind on the present moment without judgment, and cultivating acceptance and non-reactivity.

DBT is a form of psychotherapy developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., at the University of Washington and is very closely related to the core concepts of Buddhism. In fact, shockingly so, to the degree that you might ask yourself, “Is Buddhism the cure for BPD…?” And science suggests that the answer is yes. With that in mind, you might like to read our guide to Buddhist Meditation.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that, “third-wave cognitive behavioral therapies (Buddhist-derived psychotherapies), through the practice of meditation, can change self-identification and play an important role in [BPD]… We looked into how a person with BPD could improve their sense of self and we found that meditation can be a helpful pathway.”.

It is important to note that it is not just meditation that matters here. In fact, NAMI states that the three trainings of Buddhism, meditation, ethics, and wisdom, all matter.

Meditation trains us to observe the present moment without reacting to it, and this in turn trains us to not be too drawn by the pleasant or too repulsed by the unpleasant. It also improves our emotional awareness and makes us more aware of our actions so that we are less impulsive. As for the ethics. Buddhist ethics teach us to identify with the qualities of love and compassion, which in turn bring with them many health benefits. The Wisdom part of the three trainings is all about self identity. Buddhist based psychotherapies train us to realise that all things are interconnected and, as such, that we ourselves are as much a part of the universe as anyone else, and equally as valuable. This understanding helps to improve our sense of self-value.

Studies also show that meditation helps with the BPD brain. The brain in BPD sufferers exhibits decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex. Meditation, however, strengthens this region of the brain, which in turns help with BPD.

Finally, one study showed that Loving Kindness Meditation helps people with BPD (like you and I) to deal with those awful moments of social rejection.

Meditation For BPD

This meditation will help with the main problems with borderline personality disorder. Those are a) emotional regulation, b) self identity, c) self value, d) exercise of the prefrontal cortex. This is the meditation that I myself created to help with my own BPD. I do also highly recommend doing DBT as well.

IMPORTANT: This is a long meditation (because BPD is a complex thing). However, you can do one part at a time. If you’re new to meditation, start with the mindful breathing for one week, the next week do the Vipassana, a week after that the self identity, and a week after that the self valuing. If you have been meditating for a minimum of one year, you can do this in one go.

Part 1: Mindful breathing

We want to begin our meditation with some mindful breathing because this will help us to relax and to clear our minds. In turn, this will help us to think clearly. Actually, as someone with BPD, when I spend about ten minutes mindfully breathing I feel a hundred times better.

Essentially, to do this you simply want to sit with good posture and observe your breath moving through your body. If you spend a little time just observing your breath like this, you will begin to strengthen your prefrontal cortex, which is imperative to treating BPD.

If you are new to this practice, I recommend reading my guide on how to do meditation. You can also listen to the accompanying audio on this page.

Part 2: Vipassana

Next, we want to learn to be non-reactive to our thoughts and feelings. This means that when we do experience a negative thought or a painful emotions, we won’t be so disturbed by it. It’s kind of like putting the brake down on your mood. One of the best ways to do this is with Vipassana, a meditation technique that involves labelling thoughts and feelings. To help you, I’ve written a guide to Vipassana meditation.

Part 3: Self Identity

Now we come to the part of BPD that I struggle with the most: lack of self identity. This has been a massive problem in my life. For years I felt invisible, like a ghost. That is, until I mastered my meditation practice. So let me show you how to do this step.

What we want to do is to bring to mind our personal values, the things that we care about the most, the qualities that matter to us. This could be something tangible like your job or it could be something more intangible such as the qualities of kindness and compassion. It could also be your spiritual life.

If you do not know what these values are, I recommend taking some time to do some soul searching, asking yourself what has mattered the most to you in your life. If you do know your values, bring them to mind one by one and consider how you enact that value in your life. For instance, for me compassion is massively important, and I enact that by helping people in my meditation sessions and by always doing my best to support others.

So, go through your values and ask yourself, how do you enact that value? Then visualize yourself acting in a way that supports that value.

Part 4: (Self Valuing)

Finally, we come to the part of the meditation that will cultivate self-value and self respect.

For this step of the meditation, go through your life and think of moments in your life when you have had a positive impact, whether that be a positive impact on another person, an animal, society, the environment, or anything else.

You might struggle to do this step at first and that is fine. The more you practice bringing to mind the positive impacts you have had, the more examples you will find.

SUMMARY

BPD is an awful condition that people like you and I are unfortunate to suffer from. And trust me, I know how painful it is when everywhere you turn you keep getting told things like “There is no treatment” and “It’s such a complex condition to live with”.

Yes, BPD is hard. But I have found that meditation can help me, as someone with BPD, to live a normal life.

 

Share This:

Get My Newsletter

Plus, receive our exclusive meditation coaching videos for free.

By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

private meditation lessons (1)