Posts Tagged ‘MINDFULNESS’

Focused and Fearless: Shaila Catherine; the Breath

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“When the breath is used to develop mindfulness, emphasis is placed on clear perception of changing sensations through the full duration of an inhale and exhale.
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With tremendous precision, the meditator experiences a multitude of fleeting sensations: tingles, vibrations, pressure, heat, for instance.
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Pressure may increase or decrease. Pulsing may vary in rhythm. The intensity of heat or cold may fluctuate.
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This meticulous sensitivity to physical variations brings the mind to a state of exquisite clarity that allows you to see the impermanent and empty nature of phenomena and witness the relationship between the mind and body.
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You can observe how sights and smells can trigger vivid memories, how intentions affect physical movements, and how emotions manifest in the body.
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As the momentum of mindfulness increases, concentration correspondingly strengthens.
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The concentration that develops through a continuity of mindfulness with changing objects is called “momentary concentration.”
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The mind momentarily collects, but then it disperses as the flow of sensory experiences ebbs and alters.
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Thinking can arise, but the thoughts do not diminish the concentrated state.
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Mindfulness inhibits proliferations of thought because it meets the experience of thinking immediately.
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The content of thought relates only to the phenomena at hand.
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In Touch: from the head to the heart

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Much of what we call the spiritual journey involves a shift of attention from the head to the heart.
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Although they are only a short distance from each other, they are worlds apart in terms of experiencing life.
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It was no mistake that Candice initially gestured with her hands around her head as she described her sense of busyness.
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Nor was it mere coincidence when she rested her hand over the center of her chest as she tapped into her inner oracle—the upwelling spring of intuitive knowing.
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When she let in the insight that her life did not need to be extraordinary or special in order to have purpose—that it becomes deeply meaningful when she fully accepts it as it is—I sensed a further relaxing and grounding in her as her inner center of gravity dropped down to another level.
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In Touch: reactive feelings

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As we think, so we feel.
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Our reactive feelings are usually the body’s response to thought.
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They are by-products of a lack of clear seeing.
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Consider how strongly you may react emotionally and somatically during a nightmare and what a relief it is to wake up and realize that it was only a dream.
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Our distorted thinking creates a similar kind of nightmare during the waking state.
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We are often unaware of how our thinking mediates our experience.
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We have an experience and react without realizing that there has been an intermediary step of mental interpretation.
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In Touch: thoughts

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As we learn to see our thoughts as thoughts instead of reality, attention naturally drops down from the forehead into the heart area.
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This is usually a slow, gradual process of reorientation, although there can be many initial forays of attention into the heart along the way.
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It can take us a while to find our way and create a new path.
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Whenever attention shifts from the head to the heart, the heart becomes increasingly familiar and less foreign.
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In time, we sense it as our new home.
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The heart area is, above all, the center of deep feeling and sensitivity. When the heart area is illumined, we have a vibrant sense of the wholeness of life.
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What thought divides, the heart unites.
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Our argument with reality ends when our attention is deeply seated in the heart.
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the Undefeated Mind: pain

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Though the pain of a stubbed toe or a headache may seem like a single, unified experience, it actually represents the sum of two different experiences created by two separate areas of the brain—one called the posterior insula, which registers the sensation of pain (its quality, intensity, and so on) and the other the anterior cingulate cortex, which registers pain’s unpleasant character.
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We know this is how the brain experiences pain because of imaging studies and because patients who’ve had damage to the anterior cingulate cortex feel the sensation of pain but not its unpleasantness.
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That is, they feel pain but aren’t bothered by it (interestingly, in some people, morphine has the same effect).
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When the anterior cingulate cortex isn’t functioning, pain is still experienced but seems to lose its emotional impact and thus its motivating force.
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This finding, that the sensation of pain and the unpleasantness of pain come from distinct neurological processes that occur in different locations within the brain, explains how a single pain stimulus can cause such subjectively different pain experiences.
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Even if the physical sensation of pain remains constant, our “affective reaction” to it—how much it makes us suffer—will vary tremendously depending on several factors.
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Research shows, for example, that how we interpret the meaning of pain has a dramatic impact on our ability to tolerate it.
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In one study, subjects reported pain they believed represented tissue damage to be more intense than pain they believed didn’t, possibly explaining why women rate cancer pain as more unpleasant than labor pain even when their intensities are the same.
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Not only that, but when we focus on the benefit of pain (when one exists), we’re actually able to reduce its unpleasantness.
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In this moment

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Frosty Glance
Photograph by Sandor Csudai
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“In this moment,
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there is plenty of time.
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In this moment,
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you are precisely as you should be.
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In this moment,
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there is infinite possibility.”
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~Victoria Moran
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In his book The Mindful Therapist, Daniel Siegel writes:

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Interoception is the skill of perceiving the interior of our body.
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As we… focus a spotlight of attention on this internal world of our bodily states,
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we draw upon the sensations of our muscles,
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the signals from our heart and intestines,
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the overall feeling inside of ourselves.
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Interoception is a crucial aspect of the monitoring function of the mind that opens the gateway to attunement with others.
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