All posts by JPA

I have been practicing and teaching meditation for over 30 years. My focus is on helping people learn methods and techniques to enhance their health, performance, relationships and spirituality.

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 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