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Showing posts from February, 2011

Who is in charge of your mind?

Is it you? Do you like to think the thoughts you think? Where do they come from? Would you rather be thinking something else? Can you think different thoughts instead? How much of your thinking is determined by what people tell you? Many questions, much to ponder. How can we think beautiful thoughts?

Concentration meditation (samadhi) explained

Here's my attempt to clarify concentration meditation in my own mind. This is in contrast to an earlier post on mindfulness meditation. I won't try to explain all the different techniques you might use to get concentrated as this would take too long, so I'll focus on using the breath and deep relaxation.

The first thing to understand about concentration meditation is that it has very little to do with everyday concentration as we know it, i.e. focusing on a task intently, thinking hard about something. It has more to do with tranquility and letting go of contraction and allowing a new kind of experience to arise - altered mind states known as jhanas. The intention is to generate a unity of body and mind.

Anyway, first things first. We begin concentration meditation by placing attention on a single object, such as the breath, using mindful awareness. We use mindfulness as a technique to stabilise our attention (this is probably why people get confused between mindfulness an…

Mindfulness meditation explained

Here's my attempt to explain it, mainly so I can clearly differentiate for myself between mindfulness and concentration meditation (explained here). The first thing to note is that there is no specific mindfulness meditation; it is a technique used in both concentration meditation and vipassana meditation (commonly refered to as mindfulness meditation (confusingly)).

Mindfulness, then, is using awareness to observe the activity of the mind (and the impressions of the world on the mind) directly. Most of the time we rely on our brains to interpret reality for us so that we don't need to make any conscious effort ourselves. This is quite handy because our brains screen out a lot of junk that we don't need to know about, but it also leads to problems because we can live in a totally distorted view of what is really happening. This is not good. It's like we form an opinion about the weather by watching weather forecasts rather than by looking out of the window to see for ou…

Chronic fatigue pacing - we're only human

Sometimes it's good to give yourself a little perspective and accept your limitations. I fail at pacing all the time and sometimes it's a bad thing and sometimes it's a good thing. It's all too easy to criticise yourself when you don't adhere to the pacing plan but I've learned that this is not helpful (and quite unrealistic).

We are all human and we all make mistakes all the time. We try and we fail, and that's what we do. While we're failing, we learn from our mistakes and that's probably more interesting than getting things right all the time. So, life is full of difficult things and being ill for years on end is a fairly large difficulty to get your head round, but there it is. We try pacing, we make mistakes, we move on, we try again. If you expect to succeed at everything all the time then you're setting yourself up for future difficulty. Accept your humanness from the very beginning.