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Being a better me: meditation diary weeks 7 &8

Updated on March 15, 2013
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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

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.

To conclude

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 :)

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    • Dan Barfield profile image
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      Dan Barfield 4 years ago from Gloucestershire, England, UK

      Thanks for the comment Dream On - I'll be doing me next update on this series over the weekend. It's a difficult journey some days, but the benefits are boundless :)

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 4 years ago

      You have made hubs on your progress and you access your mistakes.What a great way to continue the good work and along the way don't forget to enjoy and have lots of fun.If you have a relaxed mind things come easier and life will change for you instead of you changing for life.At least that has been my experience.Great thoughts and thanx for sharing.