Posts Tagged ‘Focus’

Practice Building Concentration this way

Boxed breath model: inhale, pause, exhale, pause, 4 sides

Each phase of the breath is equal using this model

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Start with three breaths.

Keep constant contact with each inhale, pause, exhale and pause for three slow breaths.

Set aside 15 minutes a day to increase your focus powers.

It develops like a muscle reacts to weight training.

Devote time everyday to practice and you will improve.

Make a game out of it, have a reward at the end of each week.

Keep a journal and chart your improvement.

When you can stay in constant contact for 3 breaths, expand the goal to 5 breaths.

By the time we reach 10 breaths our concentration powers will heighten the meditative sits

Being able to steady the mind, allows us to meditate at a deeper level.

Build concentration first, then the power of meditation can be enjoyed.

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Start at right lower corner and move with the arrows. Keep constant contact for 3 breaths

We can vary the pauses, lengthen or shorten their duration. It is like a sheet of music, a rhythmic smooth flow of inhales, exhales with pauses connecting the breath as a continuum.

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Sustained Attention, focus, concentration

The boys at pumpkin patch

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When you commit to meditating, can you concentrate for ten breaths with sustained attention?

Sustained attention example: The Breath is our focus object.

I keep constant contact with the breath, with each inhale, pause, exhale and pause.

My breathing track model offers a visual representation of the four parts of a breath cycle.

Using this model, it is like tracing my breath with my finger through each inhale, pause, exhale and pause. As I breathe my finger moves around the model.

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Start bottom right with the inhale moving upward and to the left. Then pause, exhale and final pause.

If your a beginner, trace your breath with your eyes open first, feel the transitions, the flow of your breath.

Find a focus object you can keep constant contact with for ten breaths.

I also listen intently for the slightest sound, then feel the tiniest body sensations.

Distractions make meditating difficult.

Thoughts, thinking, the monkey mind disrupts our concentration. A thought can expand, last for minutes or more and destroy focus.

Sustained attention (constant contact) trains the mind to concentrate at a deeper level.

Our goal is to be focused, mind empty of thought, extremely relaxed and aware.

Meditation trains the mind to concentrate, to let the cognitive hemisphere rest and the creative side to flourish.

Remember no right or wrong, good or bad, no words, sentences, worry, doubt or fear on the expansive side.

No past or future exists in the right hemisphere.

Unlimited opportunity is available for each one of us over here.

Sustained focus strengthens our concentration power.

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Learning in the Brain

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From Rick Hanson:

1. Experience what you’d like to develop.

2. Turn that experience into lasting change in your brain.

I call the first stage activation and the second stage installation.

This is positive neuroplasticity: turning passing states into lasting traits. The second stage is absolutely necessary.

Experiencing does not equal learning.

Without a change in neural structure or function, there is no enduring mental change for the better.

Unfortunately, we typically move on so quickly from one experience to another that the current thought of feeling has little chance to leave a lasting trace.

In working with others, we might think that something good will somehow rub off on the people we are trying to help.

It may for some, though not very efficiently,and for many there is little to no lasting gain.

As a result, most beneficial experiences pass through the brain like water through a sieve, leaving no value behind.

You have a good conversation with a friend or feel calmer in meditation– and then an hour later it’s like it never happened.

If awakening is like a mountain, in some moments you may find yourself far up the slopes– but can you stay there, on firm footing?

Or do you keep slipping back down again?

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Electrical signaling represents the language of the mind

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The “mind,”as I mean it in this book, consists of the experiences and information that are represented by a nervous system.

This might seem puzzling at first, but we are surrounded by examples of information being represented by something physical, such as the meanings of the squiggly shapes your eyes are scanning right now.

As the Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel put it:

Brain cells have particular ways of processing information and communicating with one another…..

……..Electrical signaling represents the language of the mind,

The means whereby nerve cells……communicate with one another…..

….. All animals have some form of mental life that reflects the architecture of their nervous system.

From Rick Hanson

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My two cents: For a mind or a person to have wellbeing, our nervous system must be our friend, in my opinion.

Look how our relationship with the fight or flight mechanism impacts our mind.

Seems disorders like depression, anxiety and PTSD hijack the nervous system, sensitize it and then overreact to stimulus.

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Complex PTSD a subtype of PTSD

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“Complex PTSD is a subtype of PTSD with complex symptomatology in response to chronic trauma (Herman, 1992).

Usually, the patient has an extensive history of childhood abuse where the patient can’t remember a time when they weren’t being abused.

Another example of chronic trauma includes victims of long-term intimate partner violence.

In comparison with textbook patients with PTSD, who have a distinct life before and after their traumatic experience, patients with complex PTSD are only familiar with the traumatic experience.

Patients with complex PTSD have issues with emotional regulation, and can range from rageful to regretful in a single session, much like patients with borderline personality disorder.

Patients with complex PTSD often get caught up in cycles of re-enactment where they act out in their personal relationships, and even in their therapeutic relationships, in ways that mimic the trauma that they’ve felt.

In Dr. Jain’s experience, although patients with complex PTSD exhibit emotional lability, just like borderline personality disorder, she would think a diagnosis would lean more towards borderline personality disorder if the classic symptoms (such as identity issues, self-injury, chronic suicidality and attachment issues) were present (APA 2013).”

From: https://www.psychiatrypodcast.com/psychiatry-psychotherapy-podcast/2019/6/12/the-unspeakable-mind-stories-of-trauma-and-healing-from-the-frontline-of-ptsd-science

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PTSD is a bluff, the real danger is over. Sometimes for decades

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In my life two big traumas dominate all others, childhood and a horrific assault in college.

Neither one caused PTSD until decades later, childhood trauma erupted after a family crisis triggered my panic, the latter exploded during this pandemic and quarantine.

I thought healing was complete as my childhood trauma integrated. Then isolated with this quarantine, an old horrific event surfaced with enormous energy (fear, humiliation, shame and unworthiness).

In the beginning trauma becomes real for us, I was transported back to the event with all the highly charged fight or flight drugs being dumped into my blood stream.

The neurotransmitters are real, the emotions are the same, saved then stored at the time it happened.

For me, a short emotionally charged movie plays, whenever and wherever it decides.

Remember, we can not reach our trauma consciously, it has full autonomy to come and go anytime.

If I interact with these images and judgments, my trauma grows and gets worse.

Staying present, observing this movie is the best I can do.

We all try to manipulate and change the outcome of the event, but the danger is over and the event is now implicit memory.

No real danger exists now, PTSD is a bluff, an over compensation of our defense mechanism to protect from future trauma.

If I try to influence these judgments or the movie it grows. Avoiding, denying and dissociating are jet fuel for PTSD.

Pulling back, focused on my breath, watching the judgments and movie leave my consciousness, is my goal.

I do not control how many times I need accomplish this task for healing to be complete.

Our journey has more well being when we stay in the present moment, whether we be a normal person or a sufferer of complex PTSD.

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Focus has helped me heal the most

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Think of things in your life that demand focus.

How would you describe your ability to focus?

For me, hitting a baseball at a professional level with 25,000 screaming fans tops my list.

This skill lay dormant for decades until PTSD erupted.

When therapy after therapy had little impact, a hybrid therapy, Acceptance and Commitment using meditation entered my life.

Now that external focus I had built, the ability to hit a round object with a round bat in milliseconds, needed to be turned inward.

All my friends laughed, a Type a driver, an anxious, hyped up jock was going to sit quiet and meditate.

Yes, it was awkward for a while, then my focus got stronger, thoughts faded and life changed.

Our ability to focus when our trauma thoughts and emotions visit us is key to surviving.

I could not let go, release my fears and abuse without the ability to focus and stay present.

It is the core of integrating trauma, healing for me.

It is the safe haven I can visit anytime, anywhere.

It seems mundane and powerless.

I have found the opposite.

When I can focus, nature comes alive, I see beauty and perfection and opportunity.

We know all to well how to feel abuse, anxiety, fear and panic.

How do you handle your intrusive thoughts and emotions?

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Inquiring and Knowing: Shaila Catherine

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“If you keep examining—not until you find something,

but until you realize seeing without grasping,

inquiring without fixating,

exploring without expecting,

knowing without controlling,

living without suffering—you will discover a purity of happiness that is unbounded.”

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Self-Authorship part 1: “Living with your Heart Wide Open”

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The stories you repeat make up your personal history and identity.

They include the place and time you were born, the way it was in your family, the things that happened to you, the things you did, the things others did, your first love, and your first betrayal.

It goes on and on—as long as you repeat it.

When you really look at your self-stories, you may discover that they’re repetitive and even arbitrary, depending on your mood.

It’s likely that the details don’t even match up with those in the stories of your parents or closest siblings.

A good question is “Who would you be without your story?”

Seeing yourself without your story is an excellent way to let go of taking things personally (which can be very helpful with shame and inadequacy).

Self-authorship begins very early in life in our responses to our caregivers.

If we are raised in a safe and secure environment in which we feel accepted and validated, we tend to have more self-compassion and less self-criticism (Neff and McGehee 2008).

But if our caregivers are more critical or aggressive or we feel unsafe with them for any reason, we tend to become more self-critical and insecure as we grow older (Gilbert and Proctor 2006).

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The Self: Living with your Heart wide open 

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The self is conditioned primarily in early interpersonal relationships, and we then tend to see only those things that confirm who we think we are, and we screen out everything to the contrary.

This is what it means to self-seal: closing off possibilities for yourself and sealing your identity, and your fate, within whatever self-construct was created when you were quite young.

This self becomes a prison of beliefs that color and distort your experience of who you are.

Margaret Wheatley’s quote offers insight into how we can free ourselves from this prison of funhouse mirrors with distorted reflections that we mistake for reality.

If you can experience yourself from the immediacy of here-and-now awareness rather than through the narrowed perceptions of a self created long before this moment, you can find another way of being in the world.

How do you develop this here-and-now awareness?

Mindfulness is the key, and as you work your way through this book, we’ll offer many practices that will help you develop this perspective.

Because it’s important to understand where you’re starting from, in this chapter we’ll explore how an identity of deficiency is constructed and persists from a Western psychological perspective as well as from the point of view of Buddhist psychology.

As you learn to bring mindful awareness and inquiry into these self-limiting constructions, you’re likely to discover possibilities for greater freedom and peace.

It’s like the Zen cartoon that shows an anguished prisoner clinging to the bars of his cell while a small door in a dark corner of his cell is clearly open.

Until you let go of the bars of your prison of self and begin to explore the dark and unlit places within yourself, you can’t find the door to freedom.

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