Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A Mindfulness Exercise

"A Way of Life"  Collage by Lani and textures from FlyPaper
One of the final reflections/meditations in The Neuroscience of Change is a very interesting writing assignment. 

McGonigal has us choose an inner experience that we tend to want to avoid, something unpleasant that we tend to have aversion towards(but not our biggest challenge).  It can be a thought, memory, or a physical sensation that we often wish to avoid.  Write it down.  What would the opposite of this thought, memory, or physical sensation be?  We want to bring this into our awareness in order to accept and perhaps transform the difficult inner experience.  (I know that aversion and suppression don't work, so trying something new sounds good to me!) There may be a few possibilities for this "opposite" sensation or thought.  Write them down. 

Then McGonigal suggests we bring ourselves into mindfulness, paying attention to this moment and our breath coming and going from our body, and once we are in a mindful, observant state, just observe things arise and fall away.  Now we can bring into mind the "opposite" experience or thought, memory, or sensation that we wrote down.  What word or image would help us bring this "opposite" experience to our mind and body.  What does this feel like?  What thoughts or emotions arise? 

Now we can come back to a mindful awareness of the breath.  Notice sensations and perceptions as they arise.  Bring to mind the avoided or aversive experience, the unpleasant one.  Is there a specific time or something that would trigger this feeling?  What does this feel like?  What thoughts or emotions arise? 

Now bring back to mind the "opposite" feeling in what ever way is easiest.  Notice the freedom we have to move between these states. We can now bring our awareness back to body and breath and then bring awareness to our environment.  We can write down anything that stands out for us about this process!  Wow!

I tried this and it seems like a very good writing experience to try after reading yesterday's blog about mindfulness and multiculturalism.  Instead of pushing away those embarrassing prejudices and stereotypes and fears, look for their opposites and try calling both to mind.  Try moving fluidly between these feelings. 

Yes, change is possible!

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