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Author Topic: TOOLS: Practicing meditation--how do you do it?  (Read 23041 times)
blackandwhite
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« Reply #30 on: February 01, 2010, 10:21:17 PM »

I haven't had much luck with meditation lately because as soon as I start concentrating on my breathing, I start to panic and feel like I'm not breathing even when I know I am.  I have to then distract myself to somethings else. I can go down to the beach though and just be there being part of it all not really thinking of anything in particular just looking at the ocean and mountains.

I don't know whether this is mindfulness but I have been noticing something happening when I play with my granddaughter.  I really get into it with her and look at the toys, and feel them and look at all the possibilities. She is just so interested in everything that she does and she does it with such concentration and enjoyment. It is like she is teaching me to look at the most simplest of things in a new way.  I know we are just playing and play-acting but it's like I am in the moment and enjoying what is in front of me not thinking about my mom or my sister or what to have for dinner.  I'm just there really taking in everything all about my little granddaughter's world and concentrating on whatever it is that we are doing, of maybe this is disassociating?  When I go home from being with her I feel exhausted but refreshed and renewed.

justhere

justhere, there's more than one way to skin a cat. (Just an experession!) You can be mindful on the beach, just being there. The key thing is that you're allowing experience to wash over you and that you're present for it. It doesn't have to be in the form of formal meditation or yoga, at all.

Your experience with your granddaughter sounds wonderful.    To me, what you're describing seems a lot like "flow"--have you ever encountered a description of it? Here's a summary (again, good old wikipedia):

Excerpt
Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields.

According to Csíkszentmihályi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.

This feeling is one I hope we all recognize, even if it's hard to reach sometimes. Your blessed granddaughter gets to be there a lot, like many children. It's when you're so into something, so focused, so full of enjoyment about what you're doing, you lose track of time and, as you say, end energized or very pleasantly tired. The task is its own reward. It's a bit like dissociating in that you do lose track of time and you lose a sense of self-consciousness. But it's not a self-protective disappearing (as with dissociating).

I have this experience playing with my daughter too, sometimes. Also hiking, having a great conversation, writing, doing yoga, reading. Even cooking sometimes--though not a lot.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Does that sound familiar?

B&W
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« Reply #31 on: February 01, 2010, 10:25:47 PM »

I have a question for all you seasoned meditators: during the body scan, should I try to scan the whole body in one session? It seems to take me a long time, and I hardly ever get above the knees.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Smiling (click to insert in post)

I hope others respond as well, but if I think about it, I guess I do it two ways:

Full scan--part of my practice, usually at the beginning and end of practice, working up from the toes, as you say. I'm checking for tightness/stress/heaviness. It helps to do at the beginning and end because you get a sense of progress.

Stress scan--checking trouble spots for feelings I know signal trouble; if I feel the trouble (for example, for me, tension in my jaw or a choking sensation), I breathe and try to figure out where that's coming from.

What is taking so long when you do it--you have lots of "trouble spots"?

B&W
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« Reply #32 on: February 02, 2010, 05:49:59 AM »

Blackandwhite, it just takes a lot of effort for me to concentrate and feel the part I'm focusing on. I don't mean feel as in have sensation, just to direct my attention there and to connect with it. And the Full Catastrophe book recommended "breathing" in and out of the part you are scanning, which takes me quite a few breaths to be able to do.

Maybe it's because I'm so new to it? And really used to tuning out or overruling my body?

I think a few paychecks down the road, I'll order the tapes and see if that helps.

It is unbelievably relaxing, even if I only get as far as the hip on one leg  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #33 on: February 02, 2010, 05:55:15 AM »

Am I crazy or does all this relaxing and breathing make anyone else sleepy?  Maybe that is a good thing, though...

I'm really enjoying this thread.  I find it a bit confusing at times, but I've been reading...and trying some things.  Turning off the square boxes, like TV, computer help.  I hate that because they are good distractions, too, LOL.

Thanks for keeping this bumped!

  to all.
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« Reply #34 on: February 02, 2010, 11:06:39 AM »



Thanks random and blackandwhite as I do enjoy spending time with my granddaughter as she keeps me real and focused on what is important. I'm glad the beach works too for mindfulness as it's one of my favorite places and I don't have to even try to enjoy being there.

I have found that place of 'the zone' or 'flow' too in exercise, listening to music and in prayer but never really thought too much of it so thank you blackandwhite for the explanation as it does sound like a desirable place to try to find and experience in different aspects of our lives.

justhere

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« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2010, 11:58:17 AM »

blackandwhite and justhere, what great examples of flow!  My art does that for me.  Time stops, I’m completely engrossed, and suddenly, my DH is home wondering what`s for dinner!   Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)

Random, if you’re doing a formal practice, it’s been my experience that scanning the whole body in one session delivers the greatest benefit. I take a few minutes to settle and create a relaxed and open frame of mind prior to the 20 minute practice, but I initially needed longer.

When you say that you don’t get above the knees, do you mean that you’re falling asleep at that point?

I had trouble focussing when I started, too, and breathing” into” and “out of” the parts of my body seemed foreign. Would it help, or do you already, visualize your breath moving in through your nostrils and down through your body to the body part and then back out through the nose?

Be patient with yourself and give your mind and body time to adjust.  You could try just one or two diaphragmatic breaths, in and out, for each part of the body so that you can get through the whole body, at least once, and see the effects.  (Experience part of body and any sensations, breathe in, and then on the out-breath, soften and let go, releasing tension and sinking deeper into relaxation.) That might provide motivation to continue. Your experience is YOUR experience. You’ll learn what works for you.  x

In my MBSR course, the sequence was left and right feet and legs separately, left side first, then right, then up to thigh and groin and outside of hips, pelvis, buttocks, genital area, hips, lower then upper back, belly, heart then lungs, appreciating the role of each in the body, both right and left hands and arms and shoulders together, then the neck and facial areas, moving to the top of the head.  We’d finish with a cleansing breathe in through an imaginary hole in top of head, down though the body and out through the feet, and then reverse. Then we’d slowly come back to awareness.

Like blackandwhite, I do a ‘rescue’ scan, periodically throughout the day to identify where I’m feeling stress, try to figure out the source, and breathe into those areas to relax them. Some days will go better than others! If you have a bad day, don’t judge yourself, just observe, and keep practising.

I found tapes really helpful in learning the practice; they provide a sense of direction and timing and I still use them occasionally as a refresher. I wonder if you could initially borrow, maybe from a local library, or university/college?

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)  random!
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« Reply #36 on: February 02, 2010, 03:19:41 PM »

Excerpt
When you say that you don’t get above the knees, do you mean that you’re falling asleep at that point?



No, it just seems to take me about 8-10 breaths to tune into the body part. My mind wanders off quite a bit, at which point I have to retune again, and it's just such a new and weird thing for me to do, to pay attention to a specific part of my body. I find it takes a lot of effort.

Maybe I'll get better as I practice. And getting the tapes/CDs from a library is a great idea!
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« Reply #37 on: February 02, 2010, 10:47:07 PM »

Am I crazy or does all this relaxing and breathing make anyone else sleepy?  Maybe that is a good thing, though...

I'm really enjoying this thread.  I find it a bit confusing at times, but I've been reading...and trying some things.  Turning off the square boxes, like TV, computer help.  I hate that because they are good distractions, too, LOL.

Thanks for keeping this bumped!

  to all.

The relaxing and breathing and getting sleepy...mmmm...sounds nice! Unless you find that you're sleeping to escape? I usually do my practice shortly before bed, so the relaxation aspect is actually very beneficial.

random, somethings gotta give gave great tips. I think you're right that practice and tapes will help to get you into the groove more quickly. If you're used to mentally jumping away from your body with down time, then this is the opposite. You have to rope that little pony (your mind) and help it settle into the sweet meadow of your body. Okay, I'm mixing my metaphors terribly, but perhaps it gives you a visual.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

And if it takes a while, so be it. It took me a couple of years to get the breathing in and out of various body parts! 

Excerpt
In my MBSR course, the sequence was left and right feet and legs separately, left side first, then right, then up to thigh and groin and outside of hips, pelvis, buttocks, genital area, hips, lower then upper back, belly, heart then lungs, appreciating the role of each in the body, both right and left hands and arms and shoulders together, then the neck and facial areas, moving to the top of the head.  We’d finish with a cleansing breathe in through an imaginary hole in top of head, down though the body and out through the feet, and then reverse. Then we’d slowly come back to awareness.



Another variation to try... A yoga exercise follows a very similar pattern to what somethings gotta give describes here. Rather that shooting initially for mental awareness, you actually clench and then relax the muscles in each part--physical awareness. So you curl up your foot, then relax. Clench the muscles in your lower leg, then release and let it sink into the floor. Clench your kneecap... and so on ... all the way to your face. That's my favorite. Scrunch up your whole face into a point as if you were trying to touch your forehead and lips to your nose. Hold. Then release.

After all that tension and release, lightly run your mental awareness up your body from your feet to the tip of your head, like a gentle hand tracing you in the air above you or a warm light flowing up you like a blanket.

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« Reply #38 on: February 03, 2010, 04:02:53 AM »

Excerpt
Rather that shooting initially for mental awareness, you actually clench and then relax the muscles in each part--physical awareness.

That's a great one! I'm going to try that - I think it'll help buckets.
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« Reply #39 on: February 03, 2010, 07:46:53 AM »

B&W...you might be on to something.

I've found myself taking an inordinate amount of naps in the last month or so.  After I posted my comment about getting sleepy, I've been thinking about it.

I love to sit in a particular chair in the living room and put my feet up on this awesome fluffy ottoman.  Usually one or both of my S5 or D3 will come and lay with me for "lovin' time" they call it Smiling (click to insert in post)

I think I've just taken the TIME to do this more, and it does relax me to sit with my little ones...takes me back to nursing moments which would often make me relaxed and sleepy, too.

I'm going to pay more attention though...to make sure I'm actually relaxed, or falling asleep to avoid reality...

The good thing is, that I actually AM sleeping.  Used to be when I had throwdowns with my uBPDm, I would have LOTS of trouble sleeping, evene at night.  That's a major change.
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« Reply #40 on: February 04, 2010, 08:39:26 AM »

I've found myself taking an inordinate amount of naps in the last month or so.  After I posted my comment about getting sleepy, I've been thinking about it.

I love to sit in a particular chair in the living room and put my feet up on this awesome fluffy ottoman.  Usually one or both of my S5 or D3 will come and lay with me for "lovin' time" they call it Smiling (click to insert in post)

I think I've just taken the TIME to do this more, and it does relax me to sit with my little ones...takes me back to nursing moments which would often make me relaxed and sleepy, too.

I'm going to pay more attention though...to make sure I'm actually relaxed, or falling asleep to avoid reality...

The good thing is, that I actually AM sleeping.  Used to be when I had throwdowns with my uBPDm, I would have LOTS of trouble sleeping, evene at night.  That's a major change.

It's definitely good to be aware, and some people absolutely use sleep as an escape. Sounds like you may be catching up on some needed rest, though. And how lovely to have that "lovin time" with your little ones. 

Colonel, thanks for posting that wonderful excerpt! What a great way to apply mindfulness. Here's a bit more information about The Happiness Trap:

The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living, by Russ Harris



About the Book

Physician Harris challenges some basic assumptions about the all-American tradition of the pursuit of happiness, drawing heavily on the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) work of University of Nevada professor Steven Hayes, which argues that happiness is not a normal state of being; pain is inevitable and what matters is how it is dealt with. The ACT prescription is to be mindful of negative thoughts and emotions, reconnect with core values, act in accordance with values and with the psychological flexibility to adapt to any situation. ACT techniques include diffusion—decreasing the impact of self-defeating thoughts (without making them go away), turning off the struggle switch, practicing expansion to make room for self-observation and connecting with the present moment. While these concepts might sound like typical self-help fare, Harris makes key distinctions: ACT is not a form of meditation or a path to enlightenment—to reap the benefits, action is imperative.

About the Author

Dr Russ Harris, M.B.B.S., M.A.C. Psych. Med.

The author's background is in medicine. He qualified as a doctor in 1989, at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK.He migrated to Australia in 1991, and set up practice as a GP (family doctor) in Melbourne. After discovering the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn (the originator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) Russ began teaching mindfulness skills to his patients to help with chronic pain, hypertension, depression, stress, and anxiety.
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« Reply #41 on: February 14, 2010, 08:09:11 AM »

From the eastern philosophies like Yoga and Buddhism, the main tool of practicing mindfulness is THE BREATH. The breath is with us ALL the time and these sages found out thousands of years ago, by regulating the breath we can regulate the mind. For living mindfully to be effective and lasting, we have to return to do the exercises as often as possible during our days.

What is mindfulness? Why do we need to practice mindfulness? Is that just being aware of your present moments? Or is it a way of life? . Many people take yoga classes every day and they feel good for a few hours afterward but that was about all. They did practice mindfulness for about 1 hour w a teacher, but soon after ward, they are the same person as before. Why is that?

We have to go back to the basics. For me practicing mindfulness is ONLY A TOOL to get me to transform a more spiritual person. Yogi developed YOGA postures and chinese monks developed KUNG FU, because the physical exercices will help them to sit long enough to meditate. Not only that, yogi and buddhists needs to follow the niyama and yama (rules of living with the self and with others) (just like the 10 commandments).

Here are some of my thoughts or phisophies that I practice every day by using mindfulness to make me transform to that more spiritual person:

1. Someone cuts in fron of me in traffic. I begin to direct my thoughts to say that "oh, they must be very hurry to get somewhere so let them get to their destination." or "my life is worth more than the anger I have right now toward that person who has the gall to cut in front of me."

2. Waiting for the train to pass. I simply put my car in park, counting my breath, or asking some provoking questions like "5 minutes on the phone is like the wink of an eye, but 5 minutes waiting for the train seem to be an eternity . WHY  DO I FEEL LIKE THAT?".

3. WHen I want to buy something or desire another beautiful big home, then I would say to myself "More does not bring happiness to my life for I have more yards to cut, more things to worry about. More is less and less is more."

4. I practice randon acts of kindness. One day, I was getting 5 $20 gift cards at Panera and this elder lady behind me said something nice to me. I turned around and gave her one of the gift cards and said "Merry christmas". SHe was stunned.

I should better stop here, because this topic can take me a whole day to discuss.

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« Reply #42 on: February 15, 2010, 12:25:23 PM »

John Edwards has a set of CD's called Evole and one of his cd's meditation is really helpful for me, but one thing he say's is don't be surprised if you fall asleep.  Meditation takes practice of awarness and that takes time.  I thought oh I wont fall asleep, sure enough, zzzzzzzzzz. It was funny actually.
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« Reply #43 on: September 02, 2010, 11:27:16 AM »

Thank you!

I'm still working on this. 

I had my hubby start taking the kids out for lunch and Dad time on free Saturday late mornings.  I tried really hard the first couple times just sitting and doing nothing, just to see how I felt.  I watched movies instead.  However, that was therapeutic to sit and watch something through without someone wanting to eat, fighting, or having their heiney wiped. 

I'm also trying to stop and think about how I feel before I speak...especially when irritated or angry.  TRYING...
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« Reply #44 on: January 23, 2011, 06:19:38 PM »

A simple way to hone your observation of your thoughts and feelings and to reframe them is described in this workshop: The ABC Method: Ease Your Pain by Reframing Your Thoughts.
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« Reply #45 on: April 01, 2011, 12:44:08 PM »

I came across this site during a workshop recently and thought I'd pass it along to you all.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

For those who are really trying to practice mindfulness, I know that sometimes you just let your mind wander, etc...and it can actually pretty challenging for some of us to get into that thought train of doing nothing and being in the present moment...Here is a link for you all to get you on the track:

www.donothingfor2minutes.com/

What's also very cute is that if you move your mouse, it actually turns the screen red and says "Fail!" (in a joking sense) and gets the clock to start over.  I actually had a good laugh that it was so hard for me to do nothing

Marlo   
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« Reply #46 on: April 01, 2011, 01:57:11 PM »

What's also very cute is that if you move your mouse, it actually turns the screen red and says "Fail!" (in a joking sense) and gets the clock to start over.  I actually had a good laugh that it was so hard for me to do nothing

Yeahhh... I got the big FAIL too at first.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Way cool, Marlo.  Especially for those of us that need the sound and the short term that this offers.

~DG
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« Reply #47 on: April 01, 2011, 03:30:46 PM »

Thanks!

I put it on my favorites.
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« Reply #48 on: May 27, 2011, 10:58:33 AM »

So funny to see this thread again today...I was just practicing this this morning and when I stayed in the moment, I was relaxing, and suddenly felt an overwhelming sadness.  I had been reflecting on how it's been over a year since I talked to my mom, and how her being gone has started to seem normal to me.  I was thinking I should do some sort of ritual to say goodbye, but when I stopped thinking about it and started just paying attention to how I felt, I realized that I actually feel quite sad.  So I tried to take care of myself, taking a shower, which always makes me feel better, and laying down in bed, and I suddenly felt an enormous compassion for myself.  It was a very powerful experience, and I think I will try mindfulness meditation again.  I've always enjoyed meditation, but what I liked was the opportunity to "go away" in my mind, imagining all kinds of things and exploring different states of consciousness.  Mindfulness meditation - where you just pay attention to your immediate sensations - is quite different.  I felt afraid at first.  I'm not sure why, but just paying attention to how I felt was frightening. 

I really liked this technique too:

The ABC Method: Ease Your Pain by Reframing Your Thoughts.

I'm going to try this. 
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« Reply #49 on: May 27, 2011, 01:20:43 PM »

^Is that a link on this site or off site, Cordelia.

This is one of those tools I still struggle with.  I have trouble doing the "nothing for two minutes."  Working on it, though.
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« Reply #50 on: July 07, 2011, 07:49:22 PM »

Including a you tube link for an interview by Dr Russ Harris - author of the Happiness Trap. He discusses the concept of mindfulness and acceptance of our thoughts and feelings. It goes for ages though www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=S5UWEgC0A4c
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« Reply #51 on: July 19, 2011, 11:54:09 AM »

The information above on the book, tapes and web sites is very helpful, so thank you.

I found traveling to be a chance to practice mindfulness. Things back at home are out of my control and I only have a week out of town to enjoy and recall the things happening in a different environment from my everyday routine.

An old school chum from 50 yrs ago just recommended the CD, The Prophet narrated by Richard Harris, to me.
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« Reply #52 on: July 10, 2012, 09:48:35 PM »

omg perfect for me atm, thanks guys!

I have podcasts that I use frequently (Meditation Oasis). They have over 45 episodes each tailored to something different. I have tried mindfulness but find it really hard to focus without a voice telling me what to do.
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« Reply #53 on: July 23, 2012, 11:54:31 AM »

Anyone else here fearful of meditation?

I've spent my whole life not being allowed to have feelings, not being able to understand them or process them when I do have them, that now the thought of letting myself actually have feelings and listen to them scares the crap out of me.

How do I overcome this feeling-fear and allow myself the peace of meditation?
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