behavior

Why Meditate?

Why Meditate?

"Why meditate? As you suffer less, are more fulfilled, as you understand who you are, and as you have a handle on changing how you carry yourself, all of that sums up ultimately in how you contribute to making this world a better place." 

~ Shinzen Young

Solution Aversion

Solution Aversion

"A new study finds that deeply held beliefs can undermine rationality: When confronted with solutions that challenge deeply held values, people may be inclined to disbelieve the problem."

~ Brandon Keim

Simple to Practice, Difficult to Remember

Simple to Practice, Difficult to Remember

People tell me they find it satisfying to pay closer attention to the sensory details of ordinary experience, but that they get frustrated with themselves when they forget to practice.

What makes it so difficult to establish a habit even when we’re convinced of its benefits?

Chain Reaction of Misery

Excerpt from Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön:

It’s painful when you see how in spite of everything you continue in your neurosis; sometimes it has to wear itself out like an old shoe. However, refraining is very helpful as long as you don’t impose too authoritarian a voice on yourself. Refraining is not a New Year’s resolution, not a setup where you plan your next failure by saying, “I see what I do and I will never do it again,” and then you feel pretty bad when you do it again within the half hour.

Refraining comes about spontaneously when you see how your neurotic action works. You may say to yourself, “It would still feel good; it still looks like it would be fun,” but you refrain because you already know the chain reaction of misery that it sets off."


See also: Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go) by Peter Fischli and David Weiss.

One Size Does Not Fit All

From "Finding Right Meditation Technique Key to User Satisfaction," by Jonathan Morales, San Francisco State University, July 6, 2012:

Adam Burke PhD, MPH, LAc, Professor & Institute for Holistic Health Studies (IHHS) DirectorNew to meditation and already thinking about quitting? You may have simply chosen the wrong method. A new study published online July 7 in EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing highlights the importance of ensuring that new meditators select methods with which they are most comfortable, rather than those that are most popular.

If they do, they are likely to stick with it, says Adam Burke, the author of the study. If not, there is a higher chance they may abandon meditation altogether, losing out on its myriad personal and medical benefits. Burke is a professor of Health Education at SF State and the director of SF State's Institute for Holistic Health Studies.

"Because of the increase in both general and clinical use of meditation, you want to make sure you're finding the right method for each person," he said. Although meditation has become significantly more popular in the U.S., Burke said, there have been very few studies comparing multiple methods head to head to examine individual preference or specific clinical benefits.

To better understand user preference, Burke compared four popular meditation methods  Mantra, Mindfulness, Zen and Qigong Visualization  to see if novice meditation practitioners favored one over the others. The study's 247 participants were taught each method and asked to practice at home and, at the end of the study, evaluate which they preferred. The two simpler methods, Mantra and Mindfulness, were preferred by 31 percent of study participants. Zen and Qigong had smaller but still sizable contingents of adherents, with 22 percent and 14.8 percent of participants preferring them, respectively.

The results show the value of providing new practitioners a simpler, more accessible method of meditation. But they also emphasize that no one technique is best for everyone, and even less common methods are preferred by certain people. Older participants, who grew up when Zen was becoming one of the first meditation techniques to gain attention in the U.S., in particular were more likely to prefer that method.

"It was interesting that Mantra and Mindfulness were found to be equally compelling by participants despite the fact that they are fundamentally different techniques," Burke said. Mindfulness is the most recent meditation technique to gain widespread popularity, he added, and is often the only one with which a novice practitioner or health professional is familiar. Not surprisingly, Mindfulness was the method most preferred by the youngest participants.

"If someone is exposed to a particular technique through the media or a healthcare provider, they might assume because it's popular it's the best for everyone," Burke said. "But that's like saying because a pink dress or a blue sport coat is popular this year, it's going to look good on everybody. In truth, different people like different things. One size does not fit all."

If an individual is not comfortable with a specific method for any reason, he said, they may be less likely to continue meditating and would lose out on such benefits as reduced stress, lower blood pressure or even treatment for addiction.

Burke hopes to see more comparative meditation studies, especially to determine if particular methods are better at addressing specific health issues, such as addiction. If that's the case, he said, healthcare professionals would be able to guide patients toward techniques that will be most effective for them. Additional studies are also needed to determine if there is a way to predict which method will be best suited for any particular individual, he said.

Willpower

Here are fifteen research-based secrets to building willpower compiled by Eric Barker (Barking Up the Wrong Tree). They are all so good that I couldn't decide which ones to highlight. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Enjoy!

  • "Precommitment devices" are very powerful. So give a friend $500 and tell them to donate it to the Nazi party if you don't follow through with your goals.
  • Form "if-then" plans. Decide ahead of time how you will respond when willpower is taxed and you'll be much more likely to default to that.

See also:

 

Only Three Kinds of Things To Do

Lewis, C. S., Dorsett, L. W., & Mead, M. L. (1985). C.S. Lewis letters to children. New York: Macmillan."Remember that there are only three kinds of things anyone need ever do.

(1) Things we ought to do (2) Things we’ve got to do (3) Things we like doing.

I say this because some people seem to spend so much of their time doing things for none of the three reasons, things like reading books they don’t like because other people read them.

Things you ought to do are things like doing one’s school work or being nice to people.

Things one has got to do are things like dressing and undressing, or household shopping. Things one likes doing — but of course I don’t know what you like.

Perhaps you’ll write and tell me one day."

~ C.S. Lewis, from a letter to a young fan on April 3, 1949

[Thanks, Brain Pickings!]