Posts Tagged ‘MINDFULNESS’

Good will for the entire Cosmos

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“With good will for the entire cosmos, cultivate a limitless heart:

above, below, and all around, unobstructed, without hostility or hate.”

Sutra Nipata

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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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Sustaining a steady mind

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“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?”

Rick Hanson

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My two cents: My meditation practice has been deep and powerful at times, then at other times I get lost in endless thought, worry and doubt.

I reach that special place at times meditating, my issue is slipping back into the abyss an hour later.

My concentration steadies my mind and allows serene moments, fleeting contact without the bias of my ego.

Sustaining this space is my current goal.

How about you?

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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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Hooking up with my worthy Marty, my perfect me.

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I believe each of our true selves, our core, our soul is perfect, our bodies and behavior have flaws.

At 69, dealing with an old trauma, a time of re-experiencing a huge unworthy event, I yearn for that worthy Marty.

Meditation was the vehicle that introduced me to my true self.

Yes it took me a long time, an arduous journey of harnessing my concentration powers.

In time, a meditation sit, an hour of intense concentration, brought me to a place of serene quiet, a place I was whole, worthy and happy.

Now, I am headed back to that place once again, sidetracked by old trauma and learned habits no more.

Opportunity thrives in this empty space, a place where thoughts die and worthiness is normal.

Please join me.

Concentration is a learned skill, takes daily practice to grow your wellbeing.

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Pain, suffering and Craving

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In a word there is suffering, named by Buddha as the First Noble Truth of human existence. This is not the whole of life.

There are also love and joy, laughing with friends, and the comfort of a warm sweater on a cold day.

Yet each of us must face the truth of suffering some of the time, and many of us face it all the time.

Poignantly, much of our suffering is added to life. We add it when we worry needlessly, criticize ourselves to no good purpose, or replay the same conversation over and over again.

We add it when we freeeze up around an authority figure or feel ashamed of some minor fault.

Life has unavoidable physical and emotional pains, and then we add suffering to them: thus the saying “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. 

For example we get embarrassed about having an illness or drink to much to numb old wounds.

This add-on suffering is not accidental. It has a source: “craving,” the sense of something missing, something wrong, something we must get.

From Neurodharma by Rick Hanson

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“The mind uses the brain to make the mind.”

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“Mental activity and neural activity thus affect each other.

Causes flow both ways, from the mind into the brain….and from the brain into the mind.

The mind and brain are two distinct aspects, integrated system.

As the interpersonal neurobiologist Dan Siegel summarizes it,

The mind uses the brain to make the mind.”

From Rick Hanson

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My two cents: The brain can be seen, touched, the mind can not.

The more we learn how the mind operates, the more our path towards happiness is illuminated.

I have found myself lost, off my spiritual journey.

Now, my path switches to building my concentration intensely, hooking up with that spiritual Marty, the one with much less Ego and much more gratitude and giving.

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The mind has causal power of it’s own.

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Neurodharma by Rick Hanson

“Imagine a conversation today with a friend about a funny event with her dog. As you talk, flows of information that have a logic of their own cascade through your nervous system, enlisting underlying neural activities for their representation.

Suppose you speak again tomorrow about the same event: any information that is the same as today’s will be represented by a different pattern of neural activity. Even a concept as simple as 2 + 2 = 4 will be known tomorrow via a different neurons than it is known today.

This means that many of our experiences proceed in ways that are causally independent of the underlying physical substrates that represent them.

The mind has causal power of it’s own.

More to come

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Neurodharma by Rick Hanson

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“Neurodharma is rare book, perhaps the most stunning marriage of ancient wisdom and modern science ever written. Only Rick Hanson could weave impeccable scholarship of core Buddhism texts together with the latest neuroscience to reveal an exciting, practical, and accessible path to human happiness that anyone can follow. The Dalai Lama once told me that he loves neuroscience, but that western psychology is still in kindergarten. With this brilliant synthesis psychology just took a giant leap forward.

Joan Z. Borysenko, PhD.author of “Minding the Body, Mending the Brain”

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“This is an ambitious book, and only a few people in the world could attempt it. Rick Hanson is one of them. A brilliant and practical synthesis of wisdom and science, a must-read for anyone who is interested in deep personal growth or making this a better world, which hopefully is everyone.”

Shawn Achor, Happiness Researcher and New York Times best selling author of “Big Potential”

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“Rick Hanson’s brilliance is the capacity to offer practical, powerful, scientifically grounded practices that lead to true happiness and a loving heart. This is an illuminating and transformational book.”

Tara Bach, PhD., author of Radical Acceptance and Radical Compassion

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There are 7 plus pages of praise in the beginning of this book just like these three. Hanson’s first book “Buddha’s Brain helped me heal, changed my life.

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