Tag Archives: meditation

What Is Mindfulness Anyway?

Sharon Salzberg wrote a piece for the On Being blog entitled, “What Does Mindfulness Really Mean Anyway?” UnknownFrom her websiteSharon Salzberg is described as “a meditation teacher and author. She is the cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, and has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. The practices of mindfulness and lovingkindness are the foundations of her work.”

In my work, I frequently ask my clients to do a Mindfulness Meditation with me. It helps to ground us, to center us and allows us to more wholly get into our work together. When we are not working together, I recommend that my clients do the exercise on their own.

mindfulness meditationThe specific Mindfulness Mediation exercise that I do is called, Lovingkindness, which I learned from Elaine Retholz. It goes like this: “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I live with ease.” I recommend that my clients practice saying those phrases several times a day, while paying attention to their breath. I suggest that they do it on a regular basis and particularly when they’re feeling anxious or ungrounded.

In the blog post, Salzburg says that “…the difference between suffering and happiness all depends on what we do with our attention. Mindfulness is what can permit us to no longer feel like victims of our negative emotions. Instead, it allows us to understand our intentions and gain awareness of our emotions as they arise. As they arise, we pivot, we continue to pay attention, and our world continues to open up.”

“Science agrees, which is undoubtedly part of the popularization. mindfulnessA 2011 study conducted at Mass General Hospital, with the headline ‘Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in eight weeks,’ examined the brain structure of 16 participants for two weeks before and after they took an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Progress text at the UMass Center for Mindfulness (MBSR). Results showed measurable changes in participants’ brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. Meditation actually produced actual changes in the brain’s grey matter.'”

I’m curious what you think. Feel free to contact me here. What has your experience been with meditation? What does mindfulness mean to you?

To Be Happy, We Must Be Grateful

This time of year we are bombarded by that word, “grateful.” We’re expected to be grateful. peanuts thxgvgWhat happens when you don’t feel grateful but you are told that you should be?  What if you feel guilt or pain about not feeling grateful? What if the pain that you feel prevents you from noticing those things for which you are inherently grateful?

David Steindl-Rast, a monk and interfaith scholar gave a TED Talk about the “gentle power of gratefulness.” He says that if we can “stop, look and go,” we will be ok. It takes a lot of practice to do this but if we can stop the negative thoughts, look around at the gifts that we do have and go forward, we can be happy. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy. One way to build these muscles is through meditation. Another way is through neurofeedback. The type of neurofeedback system that I use, NeurOptimal, trains the brain to be more present- it stops the ruminating negative thoughts, which enables us to look at what we do have so that we may move forward.

 

Steindl-Rast says that we all want to be happy and in that, we are all connected. In order to live gratefully, not just this time of year, we need to be aware that every moment is a given moment and is therefore, a gift. I'm gratefulHe says, “If we didn’t have this present moment, we could have any opportunity to do anything or experience anything. The gift within the gift is the opportunity. What you are really grateful for is the opportunity, not the thing that has been given to you. We can avail ourselves of this opportunity, or we can miss it, and if we avail ourselves of the opportunity, it is the key to happiness. Behold the master key to our own happiness is in our own hands. Moment by moment, we can be grateful for this gift.”

The power of gratefulness can literally change the world. lotus in handSteindl-Rast says that, …”if you are grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.” In order to be happy, we must be grateful.

To learn more about NeurOptimal neurofeedback, click on this link. If you would like to talk about how neurofeedback can help you or to learn more about how to move through the pain that you are currently experiencing, feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

How To Quell Negative Thoughts

On February 12, 2013, Dr. James Doty hosted Eckhart Tolle at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Dr. Doty is a neurosurgeon. On his academic profile he writes, “More recently, my interests revolve around understanding the neural, social and mental bases of compassion and altruism using a multi-disciplinary approach.” Tolle is described on his website as, “… a spiritual teacher and author who was born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge. At the age of 29, a profound inner transformation radically changed the course of his life. The next few years were devoted to understanding, integrating and deepening that transformation, which marked the beginning of an intense inward journey.”

 

 

I was drawn to this talk because of my interest in the brain, specifically, the central nervous system and the integration of Western medicine (which is changing) and the spiritual self.  Although the talk is entitled, Conversations on Compassion, its focus is on compassion towards oneself.

meditation-2Tolle suggests that if we step back and observe our thoughts, we may be able to recognize that they can be quite negative. One way to change this pattern is by meditating. I would like to add that since having a neurofeedback training session can have the same outcomes that meditation can have (decrease obsessive thoughts, feelings of anxiety and depression and generally create a feeling of contentedness) it is helpful to include meditation and neurofeedback into a regular practice. The difference is that it is beneficial to meditate on a daily basis but not necessary to train more than once a week and eventually most do not need to train at all.  Also, a meditation practice is most effective when performed daily, while neurofeedback training has an ending but the results remain.

Tolle’s transformation occurred when he observed a particular thought: “I cannot live with myself anymore.” He then asked himself, “Who am I and what is the self that I cannot live with?” He became aware of the separation between himself and his thoughts.

Just asking himself the question, “Who am I and what is the self that I cannot live turning negative into positivewith?” allowed him to separate from his thoughts and his negative inner voice. Then, the next morning, he said that he woke and he sensed that his depression completely lifted. He didn’t understand it but says that since then there was a shift in his life and a feeling of peace. Some days it was greater than others but the underlying peace remains to this day.

negative voicesThe self-talk is conditioned by our past and culture. To move beyond this, one must acknowledge that there is a negative voice in our heads. Tolle says that our sense of self is derived from the thoughts we have of ourselves.

Dr. Doty added that, in looking at the neuroscience of this we can see that if we believe our negative thoughts, we will never able to get break out of the cycle of negative thinking. It can be addictive to stay in those patterns. We’re used to the stream of negative thoughts and we need to break away from them by being mindful.

Negative thinking (self-talk) is worrying about images-3what is going to happen or thinking about what might have been. There is only ever the present moment. The past and the future come from thinking. The present moment is all that we have.

 

If you would like to learn more about neurofeedback and how I can help you with your negative self-talk, contact me.