View Full Version : A mindfulness based approach to unsatisfactory experiences.


Kunga Dorji
07-18-11, 08:21 AM
This is an interesting little "lightbulb" moment that I have just had.
It is an outgrowth of the mindfulness training I have been doing.

I would like to lure the reader into figuring out where I am going with this rather than just imposing the answer.

The question is- what is the difference between moments when you are feeling energetic and happy and positive and the times when you do not?

The question really hinges on the fullness of what is present in any moment and how, as we learn to place our attention deliberately on either a part or the whole of our moment to moment experience, we can manage our mood to stay in a positive and productive place.

The possible answer I have figured out is rather enticing, as it to me suggests the possiblity of becoming much more resistant to unsatisfactory experience. I just figured this out today in its current very concise structure- now I have to road test it myself.

I will give one more clue- in an unsatisfactory moment of your experience is any of the information that was the trigger for your positive moments not present?

Abi
07-18-11, 08:26 AM
I'm better with concrete stuff.

And I'm bored, so let's have a little game.

Say I feel shi* because my ex-girlfriend used and abused me.

How would I apply you technique to feel less shi*?

Kunga Dorji
07-18-11, 08:39 AM
I will wait for a serious answer- then I will proceed.-
but how do you know you are bored? How do you know that you feel like sh@$?

Abi
07-18-11, 08:45 AM
*I know that I am bored now because I feel .. sort of restless and in need of amusement..

*I don't feel shi* now, I was thinking about a past relationship that made me very very sad. I knew I felt sh** because I had this heavy feeling in my stomach and chest, was sad and angry.

Kunga Dorji
07-18-11, 08:51 AM
*I know that I am bored now because I feel .. sort of restless and in need of amusement.
[quote]

That answer is too far from the physical feelings you are actually experiencing, and too layered with interpretation to be useful for this exercise.

[quote]I knew I felt sh** because I had this heavy feeling in my stomach and chest, was sad and angry.This sort of direct observation of the physical sensation is the sort of direct, unelaborated observation that can make this process work.

It is possibly easier to apply the question to a situation in which there are no particular thoughts arising.

An ideal situation to consider is tiredness.
Wait until close to bedtime tonight- observe the physical sensations that tell you you are tired.
( This is a real good one because I can make this work and regulate my alertness very well now with no medication and no caffeine. In any case it is bedtime, and it is really silly for a person who has had attention problems to accumulate a sleep debt even if he can cut through tiredness if required, so I will reply tomorrow.)

The other question is what are you feeling (simple unadorned physical sensation) when you feel good? You need to be fully aware of both states to make this skill work.

Abi
07-18-11, 09:21 AM
copout :p

Abi
07-18-11, 09:23 AM
I'll redefine boredom for you.

It's like a certain type of hunger.

It's the equivalent of hunger, thirst, or lust, but the object of focus in entertainment/amusement rather than food/water/sex.

It's a HUNGRY feeling.

Good enough?

Kunga Dorji
07-19-11, 06:34 AM
I'll stick with the question of tiredness- because I know what I feel there- a heavy sensation across the eyes, and along the line of the thoracic spine.

The trick is that with training you can develop much deeper sensory perception - and learn to observe that sensation until it disintegrates into the very subtle sensations that make it up.

With this level of deeper perception one starts to become much aware of the subtle pleasant sensation that the brain is always taking in.

One of the tricks one can learn to pull off with this mindfulness training is to choose which sensation one is going to attend closely to- so if tired, for instance- all of the sensory information that is present when one is alert and happy is still available if you look closely. Effectively this creates the option of redirecting one's attention towards the sensation that will support a more functional effective physiology- ie simply scrutinise tiredness, pain, boredom or other emotional distress until the state disintegrates. With practice this can be done on the fly- even while holding a conversation.

Sometimes it is important to experience these things- but sometimes they just get in the way. So is is very helpful to be able to handle them that effectively.

Abi
07-19-11, 08:56 AM
Tiredness is a lame one.

I gave you boredom and sadness, two much more complex and interesting feelings, and you ignore. Copout.

sarahsweets
07-19-11, 10:15 AM
Damn! Thems fightin ' words! ;)

Kunga Dorji
07-19-11, 07:07 PM
Tiredness is a lame one.

I gave you boredom and sadness, two much more complex and interesting feelings, and you ignore. Copout.

The trick with these techniques is to describe the physical sensations in very bare, unembroidered, non judgmental terms.
ie we use 4 axes
hot- cold
still-moving
heavy -light
dense/ solid- empty
So for me to describe the sensations- I had to describe the sensations relevant to something I was feeling. I can't sense what you are feeling- so I had to work with an example that was applicable to me.

Abi
07-20-11, 09:22 AM
the hunger for boredom is your EMPTY. i think it would have been easy for you to make the connection if you cared to

the sadness included HEAVY (I -specifically-) used the word. again, HEAVY is one of YOUR recommended words.

this is a DISCUSSION forum and you are evidently not interested in discussing your viewpoints.

I suggest you take you soliloquy to the "Creative Writing" Section.

Kunga Dorji
07-20-11, 08:04 PM
You know several people have asked me how this mindfulness technique actually works- and asked me to post on it. One of the best ways of doing that is to provide an actual illustration of how it works.
This has nothing to do with creative writing- we are talking about an evidence based technique here.
To make it work we need to note where that heavy feeling is experienced what are its boundaries what is felt outside that boundary, how long it is experienced for.

The technique does require close one to one support with a trusted mentor/trainer as well- so whatever I put up here is going go be pretty sketchy.

Equally the technique involves each individual observing his own experience directly- so my hypothesising about your experience is not useful in the context of what I am trying to demonstrate here.

johnny_walker
07-21-11, 12:51 AM
Tiredness is a lame one.

I gave you boredom and sadness, two much more complex and interesting feelings, and you ignore. Copout.

Boredom and sadness are just a diverse theme now. Its like incoperating a complex theme where in reality it should be one theme.... Isnt that how movies are nowadays made? More then one theme isnt it compared to the 1950s?

So then..... What do you feel when your bored? It sounds like you have a lack of understanding.


Type in wiki "boredom" and you get this
In a learning environment, a common cause of boredom is lack of understanding; for instance, if one is not following or connecting to the material in a class or lecture, it will usually seem boring. However, the opposite can also be true; something that is too easily understood, simple or transparent, can also be boring. Boredom is often inversely related to learning, and in school it may be a sign that a student is not challenged enough, or too challenged. An activity that is predictable to the students is likely to bore them.

So what happens when you're not challenged?
Unmotivated? Depressed? Knowing that you should be doing something right now. But are you doing it? Then question yourself what you should be doing to enrich yourself within your limits.

Sadness is what EVERY person faces in their lives. Its part of human emotion which arises from our thoughts just by thinking about them.

Then you ask. How does it become placed into mindfullness? Well, think about it when you are bored, think about what you should be really doing that enriches your stratification.

Like what your doing now, is feeding yourself that hunger. Is this what you use to keep you satisfied here? Isnt that the reason why your in this forum? To keep you on level?

So think about this clearly, when you have done your research and understanding. Come back, reply and Johnny will see what you have learned from Mindfulness.


P.s this quote of yours should help you seek your understanding

**operation u.n.t.: if you've heard of us, you'll be hearing from us. our exceptional ninjas have been greeting curious people around the world since 1982


Keep Walking

Johnny Walker

Luvmybully
07-25-11, 01:36 PM
Ok, how about moments when a problem or issue in your life that is particularly stressful overwhelms your entire being.

It's like a wave of unease, a jittery fluttery feeling in your stomach, a sense of your chest being squeezed by an unseen fist, an utter panic filled moment when you realize the potential of the situation to be awful and out of your control. You feel liek your about to explode form the inside out with the awfulness and overwhelming nature of the situation.

You mean moments like that?

Kunga Dorji
07-25-11, 05:21 PM
Ok, how about moments when a problem or issue in your life that is particularly stressful overwhelms your entire being.

It's like a wave of unease, a jittery fluttery feeling in your stomach, a sense of your chest being squeezed by an unseen fist, an utter panic filled moment when you realize the potential of the situation to be awful and out of your control. You feel liek your about to explode form the inside out with the awfulness and overwhelming nature of the situation.

You mean moments like that?

That is exactly what I mean- and that is exactly the sort of detailed perception that we can work with. When we start doing this exercise it is slow and only partially effective.However it speeds up- and you can turn these reactions off faster and faster.
The really nice thing is as your mastery increases and you spend less and less time in these states - they don't come up as strongly.

It is important ton realise though that the process does not render you emotionless- it just allows you to modulate your response to a degree where it no longer causes you problems. I have personally found that it opens me up to much closer, warmer interactions with others: as I am no longer at risk of getting overwhelmed by the intensity of my feelings I can participate more and interact more.

It is important to understand the circular and self reinforcing nature of the interaction between our physiology and psychology.

For instance:
If you are confronted by some situation that triggers those sort of feelings that you describe- the actual process that occurs is that these sensations (interoceptions- or interior perceptions) are fed into the Insula in the right brain and processed to make a subconscious evaluation of our emotional state- that information is then both brought to consciousness and fed back into the amygdala- with the net effect that we lock our attention onto the situation at hand. If we are unmindful- this can create a self sustaining positive feedback loop.

Traditional CBT tries to handle this by interposing positive thoughts in the place of the negative thoughts- but this is really hard to do when you are badly stressed- so though it often works- it also often fails.


Mindfulness approaches get us to observe the sensations with great interest- so much so that we no longer have any available attention or working memory to expend on the thoughts. I think that in most situations it works like this:
As we do not think the negative thoughts we no longer trigger further outputs of stress hormones and the feelings abate.

As we get practiced at this the process speeds up- so increasingly I can turn off that sort of reaction you describe inside a couple of seconds.

I actually woke from a bad dream 2 nights ago with exactly the sort of sensations you described- and would have in the past been awake for ages - as it was, I just did the mindfulness, switched off the stress reaction then mindfully turned my attention to the comfort and pleasant sensations involved in being in bed.

One of the things that has really interested me is that I now know for sure that certain body postures can turn on the sort of stress response that you described- with absolutely no threat perceivable. It seems to me that then my brain goes hunting for something to worry about.
Mindfulness approaches are just as effective for managing that situation too.

johnny_walker
07-25-11, 06:46 PM
It seems to me that then my brain goes hunting for something to worry about.

That my friend is the source of anxiety. Random thoughts when you dont want them to appear will always arise when you least expect it. Especially when your doing something productive, these thoughts will challenge you and to basically test yourself to see where you and your life is at.

Johnny will face this as learning a new language can be very overwhelming.

But Johnny will keep trying.

Houd lopend

Johnny Walker