Why Practice Mindfulness?

Why Practice Mindfulness?

peaceMindfulness-Based Stress Reduction pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn shares several good reasons for us to make mindfulness part of our lives and our communities.

The ultimate promise of mindfulness is much larger, much more profound, than simply cultivating our attentiveness. It helps us understand that our conventional view of ourselves and even what we mean by “self” is incomplete in some very important ways.

Mindfulness helps us recognize how and why we mistake the actuality of things for some story we create. It then makes it possible for us to chart a path toward greater sanity, wellbeing, and purpose.

“If our thinking is not balanced with awareness, we can end up deluded – Mistaking reality for some story  that we created.”

Today, as we bring science together with meditation, we’re beginning to find new ways, in language we can all understand, to show the benefits of training oneself to become intimate with the workings of one’s own mind in a way that generates greater insight and clarity. The science is showing interesting and important health benefits of mind/body training and practices, and is now beginning to elucidate the various pathways though which mindfulness may be exerting its effects on the brain (emotion-regulation, working memory, cognitive control, attention, activation in specific somatic maps of the body, cortical thickening in specific regions) and the body (symptom reduction, greater physical well-being, immune function enhancement, epigenetic up and down regulation of activity in large numbers and classes of genes). It is also showing that meditation can bring a sense of meaning and purpose to life, based on understanding the non-separation of self and other. Given the condition we find ourselves in these days on this planet, understanding our interconnectedness is not a spiritual luxury; it’s a societal imperative.

Even very, very smart people—and there are plenty of them around—are starting to recognize that thinking is only one of many forms of intelligence. If we don’t recognize the multiple dimensions of intelligence, we are hampering our ability to find creative solutions and outcomes for problems that don’t admit to simple-minded fixes. It’s like having a linear view in medicine that sees health care solely as fixing people up—an auto mechanic’s model of the body that doesn’t understand healing and transformation, doesn’t understand what happens when you harmonize mind and body. The element that’s missing in that mechanical understanding is awareness.

Genuine awareness can modulate our thinking, so that we become less driven by unexamined motivations to put ourselves first, to control things to assuage our fear, to always proffer our brilliant answer. We can create an enormous amount of harm, for example, by not listening to other people who might have different views and insights. Fortunately, we have more of an opportunity these days to balance the cultivation of thinking with the cultivation of awareness. Anyone can restore some degree of balance between thinking and awareness right in this present moment, which is the only moment that any of us ever has anyway. The potential outcomes from purposefully learning to inhabit awareness and bring thought into greater balance are extremely positive and healthy for ourselves and the world at large.

Working on our mindfulness, by ourselves and along with others, hinges on appreciating the power of awareness to balance thought. There’s nothing wrong with thinking. So much that is beautiful comes out of thinking and out of our emotions. But if our thinking is not balanced with awareness, we can end up deluded, perpetually lost in thought, and out of our minds just when we need them the most.

Jon Kaba t-Zinn is the founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is  the author of Coming to Our Senses: Healing the World and Ourselves through Mindfulness.   Article from Shambala Sun

How to Stop Hurting and Take Your Power Back

When we think other people are hurting us, we have no power. We feel hopeless.

What if we thought of what was said or done as just being a mirror for us? – revealing to us what we are deeply thinking about ourselves?

Now we have our power back.

The Work of Byron Katie does just this – she calls it the “Turn-Around”

Einstein once said, “There is only one question worth asking: ‘Is the universe kind’.”

When you step into the grace of this wisdom, you can see nothing but kindness. But I’m getting a head of myself….

We have always been told not to be judgmental of others. Yet our minds are constantly assessing, and therefor, judging. We learned to keep these judgments private. These judgments turn into beliefs – stories – that run our emotional life.

Concepts are not a problem until you believe them. At that point, you are responsible for them. In the same way, by being aware of our responsibility for thoughts, we suddenly have responsibility for our power, our happiness, and our freedom.

For 1,000’s of years, we have innocently thought our suffering is caused by things outside of ourselves. So, it seems obvious to also look outside of ourselves for the solutions. Our mind runs these stories constantly, “he should/I need/ I want/...”

“The Work” invites us to find these deeper thoughts, put them on paper, and investigate how they’ve affected us. Thoughts arise. We can’t force these thoughts to stop. Once investigated, however, these thoughts may finally leave us.

It’s not that the mind is the enemy. On the contrary. The mind simply IS. By gentle, curious investigation, the same thoughts that we believed caused our misery can offer us peace.

It is only the unknown or denied parts of self that are in chaos. Feelings are a wonderful reminder to look at your thinking.

Byron Katie created the “Four Questions and the Turn Arounds” after years of extreme feelings and behaviors that were often unbearable… One day, when she was simply “despairing”, as usual, she listened to her minds constant chatter. Then she heard, “Is it TRUE?”, which stopped her dead in her tracks.  From there, she developed a simple process with which to meet any disturbing thought. She called it – “The Work”.

Turn-arounds may be shocking! For example, “He should put me first” turns around to “I should put HIM first”…  And why would I expect him to practice a concept I wouldn’t want to do? It also turns around to “I should put MYSELF first”… That’s my job!

Find out more:

http://thework.com/en/do-work
http://thework.com/en/tools-do-work

How to Communicate Effetcively

Communication Skills using the

Awareness Wheel

I remember reading somewhere that the average person has about 3000 thoughts per minute, along with the corresponding emotions, expectations, and conclusions. I don’t know how they came up with 3000, but lets assume it’s true – That’s a lot of stuff going on! If you want to be clear and congruent in your communications, it’s essential that you slow this process down. You have to learn how to check in with yourself.

One of the tools I use with my clients in therapy is called The Awareness Wheel. Once mastered, it helps the user understand their experiences (awareness), and, if desired, communicate clearly to someone else.

Each experience can be broken down into the following five categories:

AwWheel

  • Sensing or the Facts- what you have seen or heard. They are behavior descriptions, as if seen from a video camera, without evaluation or ascribing meaning.
  • Thoughts – what you tell yourself the facts mean. They are the interpretations, beliefs, conclusions, or stories you tell yourself about what is going on.
  • Feelings or Emotions – Keep it simple: Happy, sad, mad, or afraid.
  • Wants or intentions– What you think will fix the problem.
  • Doing or ActionsWhat you actually do.

Becoming a better communicator

  • Perception Check: This is my guess, am I accurate?  Sometimes it is a good idea to test, clarify and alter your interpretations by moving back and forth between the sensory data and your interpretations. (FACTS and THOUGHTS)

A common problem in relationships that often occurs is the result of confusing FACTS with interpretations about what is happening. Our interpretations generate emotions, and we can be caught up in our anger or hurt because our interpretation is different from our partners. The model helps you to clarify interpretations and emotions by going back to the original sensory data (what you saw, heard or felt) and checking each other’s interpretations. You may or may not get to agreement on the meaning of what you witnessed, but it’s helpful to know what each of you is thinking and perceiving.

  • Use Responsible “I” Statements  

Speaking as though we know the “other’s” intentions, feelings, or thoughts is offensive. By using “I” statements, we show that we are speaking responsibly about something we should be an authority about – ourselves!

  • Reflective Listening or “Mirroring”

Reflective listening consists of slowing the conversation down, while assuring your focus is on being a good listener and not your defense! After a sentence or two, you, the Listener, repeat back in your own words what you think your partner is saying. You then ask if you heard them accurately and completely. You keep trying this until your partner says, “Yes, I feel understood.” Then you switch, and you say a few sentences to your partner, and they repeat what they heard back to you.

Exercises using the Awareness Wheel

  1. Get to know yourself. Journal regularly about your experiences using the Awareness Wheel. Learn the difference between FACTS (what you have seen or heard); THOUGHTS (interpretations/ stories I tell myself about the Facts)); EMOTIONS (body-feelings – Happy Sad Mad Afraid); WANTS (goals or intentions – what you think will fix the problem) and the ACTION taken. Keep in simple.
  2. Practice expressing your Awareness Wheel, through writing first, to another person. Remember to use responsible “I” statements. Ask yourself:*** “ How can I say this in a way that the OTHER person is most likely to hear me?”

For example:

“When _(Facts)_   I thought    (Thought/Belief)    and I felt  (Emotion)  . What I’d like is  (Request/Want)What do you think?” (invites sharing)

Or:

“I felt _(Emotion)  when you _(Facts)_ because  (Thought/Belief)  , and I want _(Request/Want)_. What do you think?”

For example:

Let’s call my clients Joe and Jess.

Jess comes home after a frustrating, but productive day at work. She gets out of her car, and notices, again, the dead spots on the lawn (sensory data). She scowls (feelings- anger) and thinks (thoughts), “How many times do I have to ask Joe to fix the sprinklers!!!” (Wants and actions).

She enters the house and hears a football anouncer blaring from the TV (sensory data). She roles her eyes (feelings: sad/disappointed)  and thinks, “He’s not even with the kids. It’s like I have THREE children instead of two.”

Jess goes into the kitchen to find her mother feeding the kids their dinner, and is so thankful that she at least has her mother!  Jess thinks she wants a divorce.
Because Jess has worked with me for a while, she decides to not act on all these conclusions, but goes to her room to journal about first. 
After summarizing the last 5 minutes (as written above), she asks herself : 

“ok, so WHATS the issue?”.

I don’t feel supported;  and I’d like a more equal partnership. 

She practices her approach in the journal first, remembering the advice :”How can I say this in a way that Joe is more likely to HEAR me?”

Can I talk to you about some things? (Invites participation). 

Ok. This is just my perception, ok? When I got home today, I noticed the dead grass again, then I walked in to find you watching TV while mom was feeding our kids. (SENSORY DATA). And I Thought to myself ‘Joe isn’t taking our talks seriously!’ … because – I mean – how many times have I asked you to help me take care of the house better? How many times have I told you that the kids need more time with you (prior Wants and Actions)??  Naturally, I am incredibly frustrated (Feelings)! I’m seriously getting to the point of giving up (Want), and I may want a divorce.(future Action).

Paradigms are Made for Shifting

Creative by Nature

“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels~Albert Einstein, N.Y. Times, 1946

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.17.27 PM
Over the course of the last hundred years, modern Western scientists have given us a deeper view of the Universe, of Life & Nature as a creative and unified self-organizing process.

Golden Ratio MonaGalaxies and hurricanes spinning, continents moving, societies changing, children growing, rivers flowing, artists creating, friendships forming, flowers unfolding. This is how Nature evolves, grows and changes. Every “thing” that exists in our Universe is actually a dynamic complex system interdependently connected to other systems, that’s constantly moving and changing, less a static “thing” than an evolving and transforming creative process.

Similar views of Nature’s Paradigm have arisen in other cultures and ages. Almost two thousand years ago, the Roman philosopher Cicero, spoke of the Universe as a unified field of interdependent relationships, writing “”Omnia vivunt, omnia inter se conexa” that “Everything…

View original post 2,394 more words

We Are Always Evolving

newYou copy copy
April Peerless

 

I love these words…

because people have a tendency to see others’ as static beings.

It’s not personal. It’s how the brain processes the environment. It observes, then compares the new information with what it already (thinks it) knows.

But people are NOT static. We evolve constantly. We are not consistent. We don’t have the same opinion about a thing tomorrow that we had yesterday. 

I think this is liberating news – for the self and our thoughts about others. Here is what Gandhi says about writing in a journal:

“At times of writing I never think what I have said before. My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with truth as it may present itself to me at a given moment. The result has been that I have grown from truth to truth.” 

–Mahatma Gandhi

Allow yourself to be inconsistent! Allow yourself to explore, and re-explore, your views about life. And remember to offer the same compassion to others.

More Posts

Byron Katie and “The Work”

Byron Katie Loving What Is Book CoverThe following is an excerpt from Byron Katie’s book,  Loving What Is.

“Byron Katie’s Work is a great blessing for our planet. The root cause of suffering is identification with our thoughts, the ‘stories’ that are continuously running through our minds. Byron Katie’s Work acts like a razor-sharp sword that cuts through that illusion and enables you to know for yourself the timeless essence of your being. Joy, peace, and love emanate from it as your natural state. In Loving What Is, you have the key. Now use it.” — Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now


 

Meeting Your Thoughts with Understanding

A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.

Most people think that they are what their thoughts tell them they are. One day I noticed that I wasn’t breathing—I was being breathed. Then I also noticed, to my amazement, that I wasn’t thinking—that I was actually being thought and that thinking isn’t personal.

Do you wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “I think I won’t think today”? It’s too late: You’re already thinking! Thoughts just appear. They come out of nothing and go back to nothing, like clouds moving across the empty sky. They come to pass, not to stay. There is no harm in them until we attach to them as if they were true.

No one has ever been able to control his thinking, although people may tell the story of how they have. I don’t let go of my thoughts—I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me.

Thoughts are like the breeze or the leaves on the trees or the raindrops falling. They appear like that, and through inquiry we can make friends with them. Would you argue with a rain­drop? Raindrops aren’t personal, and neither are thoughts. Once a painful concept is met with understanding, the next time it appears you may find it interesting. What used to be the nightmare is now just interesting. The next time it appears, you may find it funny. The next time, you may not even notice it. This is the power of loving what is.

Becoming Aware of Your Stories

I often use the word story to talk about thoughts, or sequences of thoughts, that we convince ourselves are real. A story may be about the past, the present, or the future; it may be about what things should be, what they could be, or why they are. Stories appear in our minds hundreds of times a day—when someone gets up without a word and walks out of the room, when someone doesn’t smile or doesn’t return a phone call, or when a stranger does smile; before you open an important letter, or after you feel an unfamiliar sensation in your chest; when your boss invites you to come to his office, or when your partner talks to you in a certain tone of voice. Stories are the untested, uninvestigated theories that tell us what all these things mean. We don’t even realize that they’re just theories.

Once, as I walked into the ladies’ room at a restaurant near my home, a woman came out of the single stall. We smiled at each other, and, as I closed the door, she began to sing and wash her hands. “What a lovely voice!” I thought. Then, as I heard her leave, I noticed that the toilet seat was dripping wet. “How could anyone be so rude?” I thought. “And how did she manage to pee all over the seat? Was she standing on it?” Then it came to me that she was a man—a transvestite, singing falsetto in the women’s restroom. It crossed my mind to go after her (him) and let him know what a mess he’d made. As I cleaned the toilet seat, I thought about everything I’d say to him. Then I flushed the toilet. The water shot up out of the bowl and flooded the seat. And I just stood there laughing.

In this case, the natural course of events was kind enough to expose my story before it went any further. Usually it doesn’t; before I found inquiry, I had no way to stop this kind of think­ing. Small stories bred bigger ones; bigger stories bred major theories about life, how terrible it was, and how the world was a dangerous place. I ended up feeling too frightened and depressed to leave my bedroom.

When you’re operating on uninvestigated theories of what’s going on and you aren’t even aware of it, you’re in what I call “the dream.” Often the dream becomes troubling; sometimes it even turns into a nightmare.

At times like these, you may want to test the truth of your theories by doing The Work on them. The Work always leaves you with less of your uncomfortable story. Who would you be without it? How much of your world is made up of unexamined stories? You’ll never know until you inquire.

Looking for the Thought Behind the Suffering

I have never experienced a stressful feeling that wasn’t caused by attaching to an untrue thought. Behind every uncomfort­able feeling, there’s a thought that isn’t true for us. “The wind shouldn’t be blowing.” “My husband should agree with me.”

We have a thought that argues with reality, then we have a stressful feeling, and then we act on that feeling, creating more stress for ourselves. Rather than understand the original cause —a thought—we try to change our stressful feelings by looking outside ourselves. We try to change someone else, or we reach for sex, food, alcohol, drugs, or money in order to find tempo­rary comfort and the illusion of control.

It is easy to be swept away by some overwhelming feeling, so it’s helpful to remember that any stressful feeling is like a com­passionate alarm clock that says, “You’re caught in the dream.” Depression, pain, and fear are gifts that say, “Sweetheart, take a look at what you’re thinking right now. You’re living in a story that isn’t true for you.” Caught in the dream, we try to alter and manipulate the stressful feeling by reaching outside ourselves. We’re usually aware of the feeling before the thought. That’s why I say the feeling is an alarm clock that lets you know there’s a thought that you may want to do The Work.

Investigating an untrue thought will always lead you back to who you really are. It hurts to believe you’re other than who you are, to live any story other than happiness.

If you put your hand into a fire, does anyone have to tell you to move it? Do you have to decide? No: When your hand starts to burn, it moves. You don’t have to direct it; the hand moves itself. In the same way, once you understand, through inquiry, that an untrue thought causes suffering, you move away from it. Before the thought, you weren’t suffering; with the thought, you’re suffering; when you recognize that the thought isn’t true, again there is no suffering. That is how The Work func­tions. “How do I react when I think that thought?” Hand in the fire. “Who would I be without it?” Out of the flames. We look at the thought, we feel our hand in the fire, and we naturally move back to the original position; we don’t have to be told. And the next time the thought arises, the mind automatically moves from the fire. The Work invites us into the awareness of internal cause and effect. Once we recognize this, all our suffer­ing begins to unravel on its own.

InquiryThe 4 Questions

I use the word inquiry as synonymous with The Work. To inquire or to investigate is to put a thought or a story up against the four questions and turnaround. Inquiry is a way to end confusion and to experience internal peace, even in a world of apparent chaos. Above all else, inquiry is about realizing that all the answers we ever need are always available inside us.

Inquiry is more than a technique: It brings to life, from deep within us, an innate aspect of our being. When practiced for a while, inquiry takes on its own life within you. It appears whenever thoughts appear, as their balance and mate.

This internal partnership leaves you free to live as a kind, fluid, fear­less, amused listener, a student of yourself, and a friend who can be trusted not to resent, criticize, or hold a grudge. Eventually, realization is experienced automatically, as a way of life. Peace and joy naturally, inevitably, and irreversibly make their way into every corner of your mind, into every relation­ship and experience. The process is so subtle that you may not even have any conscious awareness of it. You may only know that you used to hurt and now you don’t.

Edited for emphasis. Article source:

http://www.inner-growth.info/power_of_now_tolle/byron_katie_loving_what_is.htm

More Popular Posts

Knowing selfSELF KNOWLEGE

We all need to learn to love and respect ourselves.

What does that mean? For starters it means to respect what you’re going through and have the courtesy to meet yourself with understanding.

When I learn to understand myself, I understand you, and out of that understanding comes love. If love is the missing factor, there is a lack of affection or warmth in relationships.

“Sit. Feast on your life.”

You may have heard the saying, learning to love others begins with learning to love yourself“.

When you find an intriguing echo between seemingly disconnected aspects of your life experiences, you find a unity that begins to reveal who you really are.  If you look – with a kind, compassionate heart – you can’t help but love your story – yourself. And when you learn to love yourself, you learn to cultivate a more spacious, nonjudgmental mind. 

loveafterlove

Ideas for Finding “Self”

  1. Meditation is a sort of stopping. It’s being present in the now, and doesn’t necessarily “take time”.

Practicing mindfulness is actually living your life as if it really mattered from moment to moment. The real practice is life itself. Paying attention to your senses (such as hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting), puts you in touch with a whole different dimension than thinking.

But as soon as we put those sensations into words, however, we move from being present to thinking. That’s okay. You can flow back and forth. The feeling is hard to describe, but you will sense the difference. Write about your experience.

2. Relationship Energy – Notice that you are either moving towards or moving away – in your relationships.

This can be a moment by moment thing. Practice paying attention to each movement – away? Or towards? i.e., when I think about (something negative about you) , I am moving my energy away from you.

 3. Peaceful, Reflective State of Mind

Being in a reflective state of mind helps you keep in check what kinds of feelings you’re having. With emotions:  identify, process, and release. i.e., I’m feeling nervous (identify), because this situation reminds me of when I was picked on in junior high.. but I am NOT in junior high (process), and I can handle this (release).

4, Write Your Story

Write your story as if it’s a novel, 3rd person. Write it so your “reader” can understand the character (you!). Make it understandable.. universal. i.e., “When Jane was 4, her mother sent her to live with her “dad” – a person she had no memory of at all. It was like her mother was throwing her away…”

Take the time to acknowlege who you are!

 

More Posts