Many people think meditation is emptying our minds of all thoughts. That’s not the case at all. Meditation is just focusing our minds on one thing while attempting to ignore extraneous thoughts. It takes practice, but anyone can do it because we already know how: daydreaming is a kind of meditation.
Have you ever driven along with your mind wandering and missed an exit? You were shutting out extraneous thoughts in favor of others. Maybe you should have been paying attention to your driving instead of whatever you were daydreaming about, but there it is: you were meditating. Formal meditation is simply learning to do it more specifically. Continue reading →
That may seem like a silly question. It’s when you take a drink, or shoot up, or buy something you can’t afford, or patronize a sex worker, or begin doing for your addict (or kid) things that they need to be doing for themselves.
Well, sorta. How about if a drinker starts hanging around the local bar with his or her old drinking buddies, talking the same trash, acting out in all the old ways except taking a drink? What if, instead of cruising, a sex addict hangs out in the mall checking out all the girls walking by–or, instead of that, watches porn for an hour? Continue reading →
We unconsciously seek and evaluate information that supports our own ideas. This is called confirmation bias. For example, we tend to look for news from sources that lean in our direction politically. Thus, what we see and hear confirms our own belief system. We are (usually) either not exposed to opposing views that might give us a more balanced understanding of the issues, or we choose to discount them. It has been shown through dozens of studies that reason bows to belief in virtually all cases. This is most noticeably true in the cases of politics and religion, but confirmation biases exist in every area where a position and/or opinion needs support. This leads to a worldview that supports the idea of them and us. “They” are so messed up! “We,” on the other hand, are the souls of ethical behavior and correct thinking. Continue reading →
I recently changed my morning reading habits a bit. For the past few years I’ve been depending mostly on meditation books that were broken down into relatively small pieces, and reading other inspirational (or whatever) books in larger chunks.
This year I picked out two books in addition to the one I’ve been using for a couple of years–books not laid out in a daily reading format–and determined to treat them the same way, taking them in small, easily digestible chunks and then meditating on those readings, instead of trying to cram my head full as has been my habit for most of my life.
I read a few pages at most, stopping at what seems a reasonable point. Sometimes I read only a few paragraphs; on one occasion, only a couple of sentences. I find that I’m getting far more out of the basic text of one of my fellowships, for example, than I ever got when reading a chapter at a time. Cutting it into small chunks makes it far easier to digest and see how it applies to me. It seems that I do better with less to think about, rather than more; with small ideas, rather than big chunks. (In fact the eating/chewing/digesting analogy seems to fit perfectly, now that I think of it.)
This leads me to a problem that I’ve had with “big book” and similar meetings since back in the Dark Ages. Continue reading →
New research is starting to explore how gratitude works to improve our mental health…. many studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.
We say things like, “That was the turning point in my life.” What do we mean? Do we mean that life created a sequence of events that changed our direction? Do we mean that we made a decision that led to a big change, or do we mean that “Fate” or a “Higher Power” intervened to create a new path?Continue reading →