DBT as a Spiritual Practice

February 18, 2024

"Grief I've learned is just love. It's all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go." -Unknown

The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief—but the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love." -Hilary Stanton Zunin

I have started writing a new book called, "Dialectical Behavioral Theology: DBT as a Spiritual Practice."  I was talking with a friend the other day about how DBT influences my spiritual life more than any religion does and she urged to start writing about it.  The form I like so far is writing about recent events in my life where I felt spiritually connected due to following my Wise Mind-the balance of logic and emotion mind in DBT is considered the wisest mind.  I'm going to have to be careful because since I am writing about current issues, I will have to change the names and situation details enough that people don't know who I am talking about.  This is my first entry and even though it does use real people's names I think in this instance that it is okay.  Let me know what you think about this book's subject and first vignette.


As I finish reading a short story about an adoptee dealing with grief, I lightly cry.  The tears are soothing-they help wash out the pent-up emotions that I must have held in yesterday ever since the support group where I alluded to my past year’s trauma but didn’t say what it was out loud.  I had felt sad and pent up ever since.  I close my eyes and do some deep breathing. In and out-big, deep breaths.  I am grounding myself and I think, “DBT helps me more than my religion does.”  My religion gets all “think-y” for me-I analyze it too much because of my past Christian trauma, but this is pure and helps me release my sadness and feel more spiritual.  I feel connected to Nina in a way I haven’t in a while.  I thank God for this moment, and I consider the fact that mindfulness brings me closer to the divine than thinking about my God does.  Now, I know that there are mystical forms of Christianity and that there is a “being in present moment” prayer called centering prayer, but it feels far away for me.  Just concentrating on my breath seems more real and in tune with the breathing that sustains me-the breath that I wish Nina was still inhaling and exhaling in and out.  Maybe Nina is in the air around me-I pause and consider that she is in my breath and in the breath of Roxy, our dog, and perhaps in the breath of Lucy, her cat, even though Lucy is now living with another woman.  I feel temporarily bad and sad about giving Lucy away, but I know she must be happier not living in my basement’s rafters anymore.  This is what real life is like-being in the moment with my breath, with my two pets, and the spirit of those I love, for another person is with me too-Leo.  Leo was a friend that was supposed to be my next roommate-I was so excited to get to know him again. It was the first real excitement that I felt after Nina’s death.  We had been friends years ago and I was excited to get back to being friends with him and his friend group again.  We had so many things in common-he loved the idea of living with a dog again and the fact that we both like odd horror movies and would watch them together made both of us so happy and excited.  I didn’t want just anyone living with me-I wanted a friend, someone that would help me not feel so lonely, but he died too and in a dramatic way.  Even though we hadn’t connected for long I miss him greatly.  I have a roommate now and she’s ok, but just merely ok.  She pays her rent on time and that’s good but she’s never home and while my friends assure me that that is the best kind of roommate I disagree.  It’s not the best roommate when I was looking not just for a roommate but also for a friend.  I do some more deep breathing and I realize that I must radically accept the way of our relationship if I want to experience peace.  My mind is resistant to the idea, so I stop writing and move back into deep breathing, in and out, into the present moment.  Again, I thank God for my animals being near me and for Nina and Leo who I believe are in the air with me.  Even if not true, it comforts me.  It is in these deep breathing moments that I come closer to radical acceptance and to feel the truth that God or Goddess or Divine Spirit, whatever you want to call Her is with me in my breath too.  She sustains me and provides me with the hope that I so desperately need.

"Friendships last until the sun is too old to brush away the stars."

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