Changing Habits 3

This is a summary of what we covered in the last class on changing habits. I was impressed by how engaged people were and how many ideas they shared. (I apologize for the delay in posting.)

Everyone caught on to the concepts well. We could all see how the various types of stress, i.e. pressure from demands, distress from negative emotions, and strain from sympathetic activation could all make it difficult to change a habit. With this framework people came up with ideas for reducing these different components in order to make developing a healthy habit easier and more successful.

One of the more subtle and more important points that I want to emphasize here is how the feedback between distress from negative emotions and sympathetic activation can be a major source of difficulty.

Continue reading Changing Habits 3

HRV Trace and Resilience Training

A short note to communicate why I haven’t posted anything in a few weeks.

I have been developing materials for the International Performance, Resilience and Efficiency Program , iPREP. They use scientifically based training methods to train law enforcement officers and first-responders to make more effective decisions under extreme stress. They are an awesome team and I am excited to be working with them.

I have also been working on an iOS app which just got approved by Apple. The app is HRV Trace and it uses data from a chest-strap heart rate monitor to augment stress-management and resilience training. HRV Trace is  being used by the iPREP team as a part of their training program.

I am working to catch up on posting.

Changing Habits – II

We had a lot of discussion in class. Many people talked about how much difficulty they had making a habit of exercising or of avoiding certain eating habits. We came up with some points to help with these.

Some principles involved in changing a habit are:

  1. The habit reduces discontent and that is what reinforces the behavior. The greater the reduction in discontent and the faster the reduction the greater the reinforcement.
  2. Negative emotions increase discontent and so we need to find ways of dealing with them that do not involve the habit we want to change.
  3. Pressure tends to increase discontent, so if the habit causes an increase in pressure then the discontent will come back quickly. We need to make sure that we find new habits that decrease pressure in the long run.
  4. Sympathetic arousal also tends to increase discontent. So when we are feeling tense, stressed or in pain we may be more likely to engage in the habit. We need to work on healthier ways to deal with those.
  5. We need to practice experiencing discontent without having our body respond with tension or strain. We develop discontent tolerance.

Continue reading Changing Habits – II

Changing Habits – I

Many of us have habits we think we would be better without.  Usually we have tried to change those, but too often without long term success. In this and the next two classes we will be looking at habits, the ways that habits develop, and methods and techniques for changing habits effectively and sustainably.

In our first session we will explore habits and the processes which create and maintain them. Continue reading Changing Habits – I

Changing Unhelpful Conversations

This is for the mindfulness class this week. We are going to explore some principles and methods for making unhelpful conversations more effective.

Unhelpful Conversations

  • We all have conversations which are unhelpful and unpleasant. These conversations often repeat themselves, with consistently unhelpful and unpleasant results.
  • We try to make the conversations pleasant. So we avoid the real issues and the conversation is pleasant, but still unhelpful.
  • Or we avoid the conversations altogether, which is still unhelpful.

Continue reading Changing Unhelpful Conversations

Stop Doing Your Best

One theme this past week was hearing from people who are exhausting themselves by trying to do their best.

While the advice to “just do your best” is given by people who mean well, it can be a trap that drains our energy. Instead of doing our best we need to know how to pace ourselves.

Briefly:

  1. Do good enough at each task.
  2. If you can do a task good enough without doing your best, then do NOT do your best.
  3. If you really love an activity, then do your best at it.

If we follow rules 1 and 2 then we will have energy to follow rule 3.

Forgiveness – A Metaphor

I often work with people who have been seriously harmed by someone else. They often struggle with the idea of forgiveness. They have a sense that forgiving the other person is something they should do, but they have concerns that doing so will leave them vulnerable or discount the harm they have suffered. This is especially true when they have left a violent relationship. The issue gets very muddled.

The following metaphor has helped clarify the idea of forgiveness for many of the people I have worked with.

Continue reading Forgiveness – A Metaphor

Discerning not Judging

How do we decide what to do without judging?

In an earlier post I discussed contemplation contrasted with rumination. One of the unhelpful processes that creates rumination I called “judging” and suggested that many times we are able to act more effectively if we use describing instead of judging.

When I present this to people I find that some wonder how they can decide what to do if they are not judging, if they don’t label things as right and wrong.

Continue reading Discerning not Judging

Divine Light Prayer – Description and Short Audio Track

This was the favorite meditation of the students in the class I led for 10 years.  I made a audio track of it for people I know who are working  to help those who are suffering as it can provide a lot of spiritual support. The track is short so you can use it easily during the day. If you loop the track make sure to take some big breaths and stretch when you finish listening to get fully alert. Also do not use it while operating machinery.

Download

Continue reading Divine Light Prayer – Description and Short Audio Track

Contemplation Health Performance Relationships Spirituality