Guilt is another a difficult emotion to deal with. It is painful and we are often confused about how to deal with it.
The key to working effectively with guilt is contemplative thinking that leads to disciplined action.
Anger is a difficult emotion to deal with in ourselves. People I work with usually have similar questions about anger and I answer some of those here.
These answers incorporate some of the contemplative skills I discussed in an earlier post.
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.
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
Here is a short video that uses a visual illusion to explain the mental quality of spaciousness. Spaciousness is the mental quality that complements the other four mental qualities of steadiness, pliancy, warmth and clarity.
I made this meditation for a healthcare professional I work with. She finds herself exhausted toward the end of her work day and in need of a recharge.
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.
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.
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.
I work with many people who struggle with a sense of being uneasy, fearful, nervous, anxious, restless, on edge, tense, etc. Essentially these are all fear in some form or another. Relaxation exercises do not help because while they may give temporary relief, the fear comes right back.
This is caused by feedback among several brain areas. I will give a simple explanation of that here, as well as a simple and effective solution. An podcast version of this is available on Soundcloud. Continue reading Its Safe to Feel Fear
I had a request for a shorter version of the butter melting video and I added a relaxing audio to it. Also played around with a short intro to get more of a hang of using the software. The intention is to use the video to help you experience a sense of tension melting away and then rest in that relaxed state which is both recharging and healing. Enjoy!
If anyone is interested the software I am using for the video is Camtasia 2
I posted this at the request of a patient who thought it would help her relax.
For those who are not my patient the instructions are to imagine your body is like a lump of butter sitting in the sun soaking up the warmth of the sun’s rays and gradually softening.
It may be the most boring video on the Web.
I did not have time to edit it much but I will add a suitably boring, I mean relaxing, audio accompaniment soon.
Another short post:
I learned a very simple rule years ago about giving advice, whether to friends, relatives or children. It is amazingly simple, incredibly effective, and really hard to stick to. The rule is:
Get permission before giving advice or offering suggestions.
My experience, and the reports I get from the people I have shared this with, is that when we have permission to give advice then we are much more likely to be listened to. And if we are not given permission then by graciously keeping quiet we avoid wasting a lot of energy and annoying the listener.
This is a very hard rule to follow so the damage-control rule is:
If you gave advice without permission, apologize.
Regarding when to start doing this with children. Once when my daughter was 3 she was having difficulty putting her shoes on. I asked her if she wanted some help and she replied “I do it myself!!”
I got some very positive feedback this week on way of handling a common parent-child interaction. So thought I’d share it.
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