Being a better me: meditation diary weeks 7 &8
Hi there guys, it's been a couple of weeks now so I thought I'd update you on the situation enlightenment-wise. Week seven ended up, for a variety of reasons, a falling off the wagon and back into bad habits kinda week. It seems that I'm very much in a two-steps-forward one-step-back type of progression. Week seven sucked. I could bore you with the biographical details... but it really isn't that interesting. What matters, is that week eight did not suck!
I am back on track, and what is more, I am much more in control of my situation. It seems that every time I have a relapse into old ways of behaving it is an opportunity to identify the social cues and triggers that lead me to those behaviors. I have no doubt that I will slip out of my positive routines in the future... but I also know that when I return to the path I have set for myself, it will be easier to stay on it the next time.
Phillipe Goldin talks about mindfulness meditation
Seriously good book on mindfulness!
Specific Qualities of Mind
I listened to a lecture this week by a Neuro-scientist/Clinical Psychologist/Meditation expert guy called Phillipe Goldin. It was one of the lectures from the 'Think like a Psychologist' itunesU collection. I seriously recommend this course as good listening material! Specifically though, this lecture appealed to me because in the process of his lecture, Phillipe identified different states of contemplative thought and guided his audience in how to identify those states in themselves. I have adjusted my meditative practice now in order to better exercise my explicit control over the different mental states.
I start my session by focussing on my breathing. This is a state of ‘attention’ when the awareness is concentrated on one focal point or sensation.
Next I practice what Phillipe calls ‘Open Monitering’ which, rather than focussing on sensation, instead focuses inwards. In this state the person meditating becomes aware of their thoughts and emotional states more explicitly without trying to influence them.
Finally, I practice another type of focussing technique called ‘Visualisation’. There are many different ways of doing this and also different reasons and styles. Some people visualise in order to influence themselves using the power of suggestion and positive thought. In this case, the person meditating might visualise themselves as they wish to be, or in a place that they want to be five years from now. In this case it is being used as a way to positively reinforce ambitions and enable the one practicing the method to be more open to opportunities which a pessimistic mind frame would pass over without seeing.
My use of visualisation is more developmental than this. I am creating a way of calming unnecessary thought loops whilst simultaneously maintaining a focus point for attention. I visualise one of two things – either a black hole, or a very bright star. Whichever one I choose to visualise spins in the middle of a vast space. Unwanted thoughts and distractions are pulled by the gravity of the object into its heart and then finally I am left alone in my mind with my bright spinning (or dark spinning) focus point. I find this very effective.
Chess as a focus for the mind
Another great way to develop clarity of thought and control over your different mental states is to play chess. This ancient game of strategy demands a variety of different mental skills to be used and is fantastic to use as a warm up for meditation as it demands focussed attention for extended periods of time. A properly considered game of chess is considered by some to be a form of meditation in itself. Just as the body needs exercise so does the mind. Chess is one of the more enjoyable ways to do this. Poker is another - this game requires emotion regulation skills in order to play truly successfully. It takes a strong mind not to be buzzed by pocket Aces or depressed by seven two off-suit. If this is an area you need practice in, then playing poker while trying to maintain explicit control of your emotional states is very good practice.
Well... things seem to be going well at the moment. I have some new strategies to employ and I'm keeping hold of the ones that have worked well so far. I have stepped back from using binaural beats for now as the use of them started to weird me out a bit. I have since read that they work better if the user has a better grip of meditation and consciously controlling mental states before using them. I'll practice a wee bit more before returning to them methinks. In the mean time, I shall keep on with my mindfulness training and my research around the subject.
Thanks for reading :)
Next in the series
- Being a better me: Meditation diary - December 2012
In this next hub in my meditation diary series, I discuss the support of others in seeking enlightenment, Yoga as a per-meditation exercise, and the effect on progress that inconsistency in practice has, and the benefits of listening to the teachings
Links to other relevant hubbers
Previous hubs in this series
- Being a better me: meditation diary weeks 4,5 and 6... I think
Break-through moment in my meditation learning curve.
- Being a better me: meditation diary week 2 & 3
Weeks 2 and 3 of my meditation diary - updates on how my experimental search for enlightenment is going...
- Being a better me: meditation diary week 1
The first in a new mini series chronicling my attempts to find enlightenment via meditation.