Blog

Balancing the negativity bias with mindfulness

Thank goodness we can train our brains to notice the good stuff too. Our factory setting as human beings is to be really awesome at noticing the bad, even storing it in our deepest memory banks so we will not forget!!! (and remember when we are trying to go to sleep). A wonderful adaptation for survival but not that much fun! We of course are the ones that have survived….so we tend to be really good at noticing bad stuff. The good news is…..neuroplasticity! the brain is changeable based on what we focus it on. So we can even things up if we practice noticing those good moments, not letting them slip past unnoticed!
Give it a go this weekend…..see how many good things you can notice, doesn’t have to big stuff…..smiles, hugs, cat purring, sip of tea, bulbs coming up, hot shower…….
I am running a mindfulness retreat on Sunday so this will be one of our practices.

23722475_913619282134089_4692838184905725802_n.jpg

Mindfulness and gratitude

What we pay attention to regularly shapes our brain; which changes our minds and perception of the world. Our human minds are built to have negativity bias, in other words they tend to pay attention and remember the negative stuff more than positive.
Great for survival but not so great for feeling happy 
Thank goodness for neuroplasticity: our brains are more like a muscle, they are changeable and can be shaped by what we pay attention to and practice regularly.
It can be habitual for us to spend much of our time only aware of and focused on what we don’t have, what isn’t good enough about me, someone else or a situation. What is lacking. The more we do this, the more the brain looks out for more of this, it becomes sensitized to the negative and what is lacking.
Mindfulness helps us to ask “what else is here right now?” to be aware of the good moments, the absence of difficulty or pain, even if that is only momentary. Asking ourselves what are we grateful for right now regularly can literally start to re wire and shape the brain create a grateful mind. Don’t take my word for it, why not give it a go……….

No photo description available.

The uncomfortable isn’t always bad for us…..

We are wired to move away from the unpleasant and uncomfortable, great for survival purposes but also quite limiting as most of us are fortunate enough to be interested in more than just surviving. Being able to allow and even move towards some discomfort is in important too. Discomfort and unpleasant doesn’t always equate to bad and dangerous.
Can you think of times in your life when the unpleasant and uncomfortable has actually been really important in your growth and development? Important moves or decisions that would never have been made if there hadn’t been the metaphorical torch on your arse?
This  exploration is an important component of Mindfulness Based stress reduction MBSR.1_RS2vTH4a5Ef3XMwbdZg3rg

Mindfulness of procrastination.

Are you a procrastinator? I sure am….. from way back and the suffering is real hey!
Mindfulness and self compassion practices can really help. As this article explains procrastination isn’t a lack of willpower or laziness…..it is yet another form of avoidance of the unpleasant, unpleasant emotions and feeling states…. or what is called “experiential avoidance”. We are often unconsciously trying to avoid the unpleasant and keep the pleasant. Totally understandable behaviour…..unfortunately sometimes we have to be with the unpleasant to get to where we want to get to or to be in alignment with what matters to us, our values.
So even though our basic physiology and nervous system says (screams) avoid unpleasant! grab and hold onto pleasant (and take no notice of the neutral) this is not always what serves us best and as an evolving species (more then just blindly reacting) we can use mindfulness and self compassion to make this more conscious and make some actual choices of what we want to do.
So, always avoiding the unpleasant doesn’t always make us feel good or happy. My experience of procrastination (that I have got to know well over the years with mindfulness) is it feels pretty awful. I get irritable and even more stressed trying to hold onto to less unpleasant activities in the attempt to avoid the unpleasant feelings associated with the task I am avoiding/ procrastinating over…usually on the familiar themes of perfectionism “I won’t do it well enough” or fear/ anxiety “I will get it wrong, or something will go wrong”.
The thoughts of how it is going to be doing the task, leading onto the predicted feeling states; is usually much much worse then it turns out to be when I actually get round to avoided task ….leading to thoughts of “that wasn’t that bad, why didn’t I do that before” with the all to familiar pull into self berating! (bring in self compassion)
Ok….. the article is brilliant and I will stop procrastinating now and get on with what I was supposed to be doing! 

Being with difficult emotions

Being with difficult emotions
I have been privileged to have spent the day with fellow beings as we all experience a range of emotions, but how can mindfulness practice help us be with these parts of our human experience?
The RAIN acronym comes to mind as something I use, especially when it comes to those emotions I resist and don’t like.

R: is for recognising what emotion/s is currently visiting me. Giving it a name or label is really helpful as it activated the cortex part of the brain which enables us to be less reactive. So name it to tame it! Many of us struggle to have language to name our emotions so google emotion/ feeling charts and names and use these to help the process. Remember to be a “friendly scientist”of your experience exploring what is here with kindness, friendliness and curiosity.

A: is for allow or accept. This doesn’t mean you like it, want it or are inviting it to move it’s furniture in, it just means you are dropping the struggle with reality and what is already here emotionally. You may like to say to yourself well this is how it is right now. Also acknowledging that if it is a difficult emotion that it is difficult and unpleasant for you I use “ouch” this is really hurting. Giving ourselves some compassion for the pain we are feeling like we would a dear friend is also important….may I be kind to myself.

I: means investigate the emotion in the body (not analysis in the mind as this is tricky territory and can send us in circles!) the body is always present so this is where we need to get to know our emotions. Something like this…..friendly scientist investigates where do I feel this emotions in the body? is is hard or soft, heavy or light, moving or still, hot or cold? yeah weird I know but be curious and keep investigating. Use the breath to make space and soften around where you feel it the most, maybe even ask what it needs, what it needs to hear maybe place a soothing hand on it like you would do with a sore bit.

N: not me or mine….ok so how many emotions have you already had today? well I’ve had heaps, the good news about that is none of them even the yuck ones stay for ever! As I saw recently on fb this too shall pass, like a kidney stone but it will pass! So emotions are visitors, they are transient, thy don’t belong to me or make me who I am. I can watch them arrive and leave again. Noticing when you are not feeling in pain is also an important thing to notice.

 

x0f21ajzxih11.png