One common complaint I hear is the sense that the person is trapped in their thoughts, especially worried thoughts. This is a technique to train your mind to shift attention away from thoughts into your body, without trying to stop thoughts. It teaches you to get out of your head. The more skill you have shifting your attention away from thoughts to sensations the easier it will be to ignore worried or other unhelpful thoughts without having to stop them or change them. Continue reading Escaping From Thoughts – Fast
I have had a few people with questions about how to use their imagination to evoke beneficial physical or emotional changes. There were a couple of points that they were struggling with. One was whether what they were imagining needed to look similar to what was going on in their body. Another was a tendency to get concerned if their image changed as they continued to practice.
To address these I will use a metaphor of a computer. Continue reading Imagination and Healing: A Few Points
One of the social aspects of addiction is the sense of community that addicts have with each other. While a major emphasis of that community is the drug/alcohol use, it still provides a sense of belonging. That can make it difficult for addicts to stop using because they do not yet have a healthy community with whom to feel that sense of belonging. Continue reading Authority Figures, Community and the Addict
In this post I discuss how addiction is both a disease and a choice. I also describe a meditation exercise for dealing with cravings, which are a symptom of the disease. The description includes the transcript from a session with a patient. Continue reading Addiction: Disease, Choice, or Both
One of the common themes I hear from addicts is how they experience their mind as hijacked. They are on their way to obtain drugs and the whole time they are telling themselves “Turn around!!! This is crazy!!! I can’t do this!!!” But their body is under the control of something other than themselves. I have also heard this from people who are addicted to behaviors other than just drug use, such as eating disorders or gambling. How can someone be a prisoner in their own body, watching in horror as they engage in behaviors that are abhorrent to them? To understand this let’s shift gears and look at the jewel wasp. Continue reading Addiction, the Brain, and the Jewel Wasp
In this post I explain why “Whoa,” “Hmm,” “Ahh” and “Duh” are four of the most sacred words in the English language. Continue reading Separating Observations from Conclusions – “Whoa” “Hmm” “Ahh” and “Duh?”
Meditation techniques train various mental qualities. We can use the qualities for many purposes. Spiritual traditions emphasize that the most important purpose for meditation is spiritual practice, and the development of qualities such as love or peace. The following meditation begins as a relaxing breathing exercise and then flows from that to an experience of a peaceful presence.
If you want to download the audio you should be able to at Soundcloud by clicking on the Soundcloud link in the top menu.
For further discussion of the technique — Continue reading Breath- Spirit – Peace
I have had a couple of patients recently who described their intense emotional pain after hearing people make derogatory comments at them while they were shopping for food or in other public places. I think its obscene how it seems OK in our society to bash fat people for being fat. You’re not supposed to bash people because of their gender, race, sexual orientation or whatever (which is good), but if someone is fat then its OK (which is just wrong).
I want to explain why making people feel guilty about being fat just makes things worse, This has nothing to do with being politically correct, and everything to do with neuroendocrinology. Along the way I hope to give you some insights into the way the body deals with weight and fat that may help you understand how we can attain and maintain a healthy weight. Here we go. Continue reading Stress and Obesity, part I
Its been an extremely busy week. Dealing with pain was one of the themes and so I’ll address that and leave the others for next week. Continue reading Healing Imagery
This is a somewhat extended meditation technique that goes into a bit of detail about a method for training the mind to be able to disengage from repetitive or irritating thoughts. The particular focus in the meditation is to help disengage from thoughts about comfort food.
The technique is may not be helpful for dealing with thoughts about using drugs or alcohol. It will not be helpful for dealing with physical cravings. Those require different techniques. Continue reading Disengaging from Repetitive Thoughts, Especially About Comfort Food
This is another technique for reducing pain that involves changing the way the brain experiences the pain rather than distracting the brain from the pain. It seems to work best for neuropathic pain or chronic pain rather than acute pain. In this technique we focus on how the perceived location and extent of the pain can vary with the intention of having our brain reduce the size of the area that is feeling the pain, and perhaps moving it out of the body altogether. Over time our brain can become more skilled at reducing the extent of the pain and reducing the intensity.
Many people who are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression relate to the world as if it is hostile, or likely to become hostile at any moment. This increases their stress, anxiety or depression which can make the world feel even more hostile. Accurate or not, this is definitely not helpful. Continue reading Meditation on a Friendly Universe
It’s been a busy week. One of the frequent questions that came up was about quieting the mind and how exhausting, or even impossible that can be.
This is exhausting because we are trying to quiet our experiences not our mind. We try to suppress or stop our thoughts, sensations, feelings, memories or imaginings. But those are not our mind. Those are the contents of our mind. We don’t quiet our mind by shutting down its experiences. We quiet our mind by being calm even when we are having experiences. We develop a calm presence even in the midst of chaos. Continue reading The Mind and the TV Sets
There are many ways of using meditation to deal with pain. Many of them involve some form of distraction, placing your attention elsewhere. However, often our attention can be stuck focusing on the pain. In that case it can help to go with that and use the fact that every sensory experience, even pain, will vary from moment to moment.
This meditation technique help you reduce the perception of pain by paying selective attention to rapid and subtle decreases in the level of pain. At first the reductions are small and short, but with practice they will become larger and longer. As we practice this we train our brain to become better at reducing pain.
We tend to hold our bodies more tense than we need to and releasing that excess tension can help us relax and feel more comfortable. It can also help relieve pain, especially musculoskeletal pain.
To use this technique think of something soft and imagine one part of the body taking on that quality of softness more and more with each exhalation. After a few breaths pause and note how your body feels. Then either repeat that with the same part of the body, or allow a different part of the body to come to mind and let that part get softer for a few breaths. Continue to do this with various parts of your body shifting from one to another in a somewhat playful manner.