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 vs Rumination – Overview

This is a short video on two different types of thinking: Contemplation and Rumination. I describe each and give some suggestions on how to shift from rumination to contemplation. I will be using this for the classes I am teaching this week.

I am also uploading the audio if you want to download it.

Here is the transcript: Continue reading Contemplation vs Rumination – Overview

Basic Meditation Methods

Another video for the classes this fall.

This video gives a brief visual example of  three meditation methods: Centering, Attending and Concentrating.  These are covered in Chapters 2-4 of the book we are using, Real Meditation in Minutes a Day.

The visual example did not work for the fourth method, Opening, described in Chapter 5. I will work on a separate video for that.

Why Meditate

 

While most people think of meditation as a way of relaxing, the real power of meditation is that it can develop our wisdom and with increased wisdom we are able to act more effectively in a compassionate manner.

The video in this post describes that in a bit more detail. It is the introduction to a number of videos I hope to make to augment the meditation classes I am teaching this fall and winter.

This is my first shot at an instructional video and there are couple of glitches. The main one is that I put a lot of figures rather high on the screen. If you move the cursor off the video then more of the frame is visible.

Discipline is not Punishment

This has come up a few times in working with people and has generally led to some “Ah Ha!!” moments, especially when the topic is self-discipline.

Our society tends to equate discipline and punishment. However, the words have completely different roots, and those roots have completely different meanings. The root word of “discipline” is the same as the root word of “disciple” and the meaning of that root is “instruction, learning”. So discipline involves teaching, and self-discipline involves teaching ourselves.

The word “punishment” comes from the word “penalty” and the root word of “penalty” means “pain.” So punishment is about pain and discipline is about teaching.

We now know that, despite aphorisms to the contrary, pain is NOT a useful teacher except for developing simple reflexes. For example, learning not to touch something that is hot. However, when we need to learn a complex task, pain is either useless or interferes with learning.  If you want someone to learn a complex task, then you have to teach them the processes that will make them successful, not simply inflict pain on them.

That brings us to self-discipline. When we confuse discipline with punishment, then we will tend to avoid self-discipline as we are usually in enough pain already. Who would want to add more? Or we grit our teeth and punish ourselves for “bad behaviors”, which does nothing to teach us how to avoid those behaviors. Eventually we get worn out and then beat ourselves up for not having “self-discipline.”

However, when we understand discipline as teaching instead of punishment, then self-discipline is simply the art of learning to teach ourselves. We stop punishing ourselves mindlessly and look for ways to train ourselves to change. Whether we are trying to develop healthier habits, adhere to a course of study, or be a better spouse, parent or friend, self-discipline simply involves looking for ways to learn those more effectively. We become our own teachers.

When we understand how discipline is fundamentally different than punishment, then we can work to emphasize learning over pain or discomfort when we discipline others. This is especially important if we are in a parenting, mentoring or supervisory role.

Note that discipline is far more difficult to perform than punishment. Any idiot can inflict pain on someone, or make their life more miserable. To teach someone effectively, to discipline someone, one must know the subject that is being taught and understand where the person is having difficulty. One must then give the person tasks that will teach them what they need to learn in a progressive manner. Those tasks may involve discomfort or even pain, as I experienced many times during my training. But the discomfort or pain are not the purpose of the tasks, and the tasks will usually be more effective at teaching if they minimize the pain involved.

Contemplation Health Performance Relationships Spirituality