The problem with distractions is that they’re compelling. They make us think that they’re important. They draw us into their stories. It’s as if they’re saying, “This is what you need to be thinking about right now.”
And so, over and over, we end up immersed in stories driven by anxiety, anger, desire, and self-doubt.
These distractions come from relatively primitive parts of our programming, which evolved as protective mechanisms. As mammals who suffered from predation, we needed to be anxious and alert for potential physical threats to our wellbeing. When such threats became actual—a stranger approaching our camp, for example—we might respond with displays of anger in order to invoke respect or fear … Read more »
The ancient Romans had a special punishment for those guilty of parricide, which involved sewing the guilty party into a leather sack and tossing him into a river or the ocean. This, according to Cicero, symbolized how the heinousness of the offender’s crime sundered him from the realm of natural law.
This punishment evolved over time, with the addition to the sack of animals such as a viper and a dog. Eventually four animals were used, and this became the classical form of this punishment, which was known as the pœna cullei.
It’s hard to imagine how horrible this would have been. Suffocating would be awful enough, but throughout the ordeal you’d have two … Read more »
In June, the Director of the National Centre for Strategic Leadership, Nigel Girling, will be running a free webinar raising awareness about and talking through some approaches to mindful leadership. The following post was provided by the organizers of the webinar.
We live in a world of unprecedented pressure to be productive, complete tasks and stay in constant contact. For leaders, this can lead to a working environment that is fragmented by thousands of distractions and disparate demands. Attention spans are, unsurprisingly, becoming shorter as leaders struggle to find their way through this minefield.
It might all sound a bit hippy and New Age, but mindfulness might be just what leaders need at this point.… Read more »
I was teaching a class the other night and after a guided meditation one woman said she’d found it hard because lots of thoughts came up, and she’d get absorbed in them. Then she had to keep letting go of the thoughts and returning to the breathing. Of course I reassured her that that’s absolutely normal. In fact, noticing that we’ve been caught up in the mind’s stories and returning to our present-moment experience (whether of the breathing or something else) is what meditation is about.
Once you accept that fact, you’re less likely to think of yourself as being a “bad meditator” or to think that your meditation practice isn’t going well just … Read more »
Meditations to Change Your Brain, by Rick Hanson PhD & Richard Mendius (3CDs) Debra Stern, HNGN: Sarah Lazar’s voice was calming even over the phone as she demonstrated, for this interview, a typical start to a mindfulness practice. “Notice you are breathing in and breathing out. Can you just be aware and really feel what it feels like as air passes through your nostrils?” she asks, gently.
“It may sound incredibly boring,” she says with a chuckle. “But things start to quiet down inside.”
According to Lazar, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University, observing your breath …
Rupert Hawksley, The Telegraph: Mindfulness is all the rage right now, but what, if you don’t mind, does mindfulness actually mean?
The subtitle to a new book on the subject, How to find calm and contentment in the chaos of the city, gives us a hefty clue. Calm and contentment? Sounds good. So what better place to meet the author, Tessa Watt, than central London at rush hour, a time and location that is guaranteed to be chaotic?
My plan to rigorously test Watt’s methods in this hostile environment backfires, however. By the time she whisks me off Oxford Street, away from the …
Carmine Gallo, Forbes: A French monk said to be “The world’s happiest man” because of his abnormal capacity for joy once told me that he doesn’t get stage fright because he has eradicated “mental toxins.” Matthieu Ricard is also a strong advocate and teacher of meditation as a powerful tool to calm the mind. Ricard believes that we underestimate the transformative power of our mind. The world’s happiest man doesn’t get stage fright because he has learned to calm the voices in his head. How does he do it? Could meditation play a key role? If it works for Ricard, it might benefit …
You know when you’re counting your breaths in the Mindfulness of Breathing, and you manage to keep the numbers going continually and follow the sensations of the breathing, but you also have a continuous stream of thoughts going on? You probably get very annoyed by this. But you shouldn’t.
The continuity of awareness that accompanies the counting is valuable, and it’s part of what we call “access concentration,” which is where you’re on the verge of a “flow state” in meditation where everything becomes much easier and distractions fade away. So this “multitasking” stage (noticing the breathing, counting, thinking) is actually a helpful thing. We just need to take it a step further.
What you’re … Read more »
Sometimes a person just can’t find any stillness anywhere. Maybe you have epilepsy or chronic pain, or are wildly worried about a child or other loved one, or have been rejected in love or had the bottom fall out financially. In other words, as a wise therapist, Betsy Sansby, put it, like there’s a nest of bees in your chest.
Sometimes the inner practices fail you – or at least aren’t matched to the pickle you’re in. You’ve let be, let go, and let in. You sat to meditate and it was like sitting on the stove. You tried to be here now and find the lessons – and wanted to whack the person who … Read more »