Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Should I Feel My Feelings?

No feeling is wrong. Feelings that are not fully felt because they are considered to be wrong or intimidating for some other reason will continue to linger under the surface until they are fully felt and released. For many people, certain feelings are too intimidating to feel. At first, this might be hard to believe but consider that the mind is very subtle when it detects something that might be uncomfortable to deal with directly. A good indicator that a feeling is lingering is the urge to engage in compulsive behavior (drinking alcohol, smoking, gambling, nail biting, skin picking etc.)

If you ever sense a strong urge to engage in this type of behavior:

(1) Try to see if there is some feeling that this urge was designed to distract you from.

(2) Before engaging in that behavior see if you can tell what that feeling is and what it means to you.

(3) If you can do that, see if you can willingly allow yourself to feel it.

If you do not willingly allow yourself to feel it then it will linger and you will continue to repeat the dysfunctional pattern.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Why Does The Mind Do What It Does?

It is my understanding that the mind is programed to avoid situations that are uncomfortable. This programming started when you were born and has been continuously edited ever since. As you get older less and less editing is done unless you actively seek to edit this programing through meditation or psychotherapy (for example). This programing exists as a survival tool. The less discomfort you experience, the more likely you will be to survive and reproduce. Our physical bodies are here because our progenitors possessed this programming. In that sense it is a good thing and should not be judged to harshly.

Some (probably most) of this programming was brought about through childhood trauma. This programming may be useful on a macro level (i.e., it increases the likelihood that you will continue to live long enough to reproduce), but on a micro level manifests itself in dysfunctional ways. For example, if a child is shamed he will seek to avoid situations where will be shamed in the future. This protects him from shaming but prevents him from fully living his life.

What Does Meditation Do?

What is the purpose of meditation? In my experience, the primary purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind. This is simple at first glance but becomes very nuanced the more you explore it. If you try to meditate or perform any activity with some degree of discomfort to it, the mind will try to convince you why you should not do this. Probably most of the time we follow this instruction without realizing it. Meditation allows you to recognize that this instruction is happening in the first place. This recognition is a very important first step along the path that meditation will lead you. When you recognize this instruction for what it is - programing designed to help you avoid discomfort you can choose to follow it, not follow it or dismiss it with your meaningful word (see How To Meditate). Quieting the mind brings forth many benefits that I will discuss in a future post.

How To Meditate While Running and Run Farther Easier

If you are unfamiliar with meditation see my earlier post entitled "How To Meditate."

Here is my instructions for meditation while running:

(1) Choose a distance to run.

(2) Start running and do not stop (unless you become injured) until you complete the distance.

(3) When your mind starts:

(a) making excuses for why you should stop or cut short your run, or
(b) judging you, or
(c) comparing yourself to others, or
(d) thinking about how much distance is left, or
(e) starts making plans about how much you will run in the future...

Say your meaningful word internally until that mental chatter stops. Usually one time is enough.

How To Meditate

There are many ways to meditate.  This is how I do it.

(1) Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for a specific period of time.  If you are new to meditation try to do it for 10 minutes.  If that is too hard try 5 minutes.

(2) Sit on a chair or the floor.  Try as best you can to maintain good posture without straining yourself.

(3) Set a timer for the amount of time you want to meditate.  Here is a link to a website with free online meditation timers.  http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/meditation-timers/

(4)  Choose a word that is meaningful to you.  It can be religious or significant in some other way.

(5)  Start the timer and close your eyes.

(6) If thoughts come in your head (especially thoughts about how boring this is) say your meaningful word internally until the thoughts go away. Probably once is enough.

(7) Do this for the entire duration of the time you selected. If thoughts try to convince you to stop, say your meaningful word internally until the thoughts stop.

(8) Try to keep a regular practice for a few days and do not judge yourself. If you observe yourself judging yourself say your meaningful word until the thoughts of judgement go away.