expectations

Feel Your Feelings for a Few Seconds

Feel Your Feelings for a Few Seconds

Thinking your way through unpleasant emotions takes time while a single repetition of any mindfulness exercise only takes a few seconds. The skills of attention strengthened by mindfulness practice enhance both the resolving of unpleasant emotions and the acceptance of them.  

Looking Without Seeing

"Lost in Art" by Liu Bolin

Excerpt from The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman:

I mean, seriously? Invisible? You should know better. You do know better. Tangible objects can't be invisible, ever. But they don't need to be. That's the crux of the concept. One of the most meaningful things I've learned from this is that people barely see what's openly in front of them, much less things that are camouflaged.

We all have a fixed perspective on how the world looks, and that perspective generates itself. We mentally change what we see to fit our unconscious perception of order.

I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "People see what they want to see," but that's not really accurate. A more accurate phrase would be "People see what they assume must be seeable."

If there's no sense of movement and no unexpected sounds, we typically let our mind produce a backdrop that matches our memory. People will look at the world without seeing anything beyond their unconscious expectation.

See also:

Small Wins and Deliberate Mediocrity

"Tiny goals, even absurdly tiny ones, can be an effective way to sneak under the radar of your mind, which always stands ready to procrastinate on, or otherwise resist, bigger ambitions: you might laugh at the idea of doing 15 seconds of exercise, but for exactly that reason, you’re also much less likely to resist it. (The next day, make it 20 seconds, and so on.)"

~ Oliver Burkeman

Not About Positive Emotions

Not About Positive Emotions

"The process of finding the truth may not be a process by which we feel increasingly better and better. It may be a process by which we look at things honestly, sincerely, truthfully, and that may or may not be an easy thing to do."

~ Adyashanti

Nothing Turned Out as We Thought

Goodale Park, March 15, 2012

Bury Your Face in Your Hands
by Mark Strand, from Almost Invisible

Because we have crossed the river and the wind offers only a numb uncoiling of cold and we have meekly adapted, no longer expecting more than we have been given, nor wondering how it happened that we came to this place, we don't mind that nothing turned out as we thought it might. There is no way to clear the haze in which we live, no way to know that we have undergone another day. The silent snow of thought melts before it has a chance to stick. Where we are is anyone's guess. The gates to nowhere multiply and the present is so far away, so deeply far away. 

If I Were Brave Enough

Phillippe Petit (Man on Wire, 2008)Alliance
by Maya Stein

“You have to make an alliance with your anguish,” he said,
“not wage war against it.” And I thought of all the fists
I had shaken at misfortune: games lost
because the shot clock ran out,
a good meal scorched in a forgotten oven,
money dropped on a dress worn only once,
the bully in 6th grade, the math test in 9th,
the wrong outfit at Halloween.
But of course, this isn’t what he meant.

If I were brave enough, I’d tell you how my heart
has raged for love, stretched thin as a high wire.
If I were brave enough, I’d tell you
how my body has been fighting to stay upright
on every precipitous downhill the city
throws at it. If I were brave enough,
I’d climb into your lap and weep with longing.
All I can say is that any attempt at beauty and hope
is land-mined with failure.
And so the perilous track-making begins.
Wending our way through,
there are possible clutches at sunlight, at windows, at yes.
We are each of us inches from death.
We are each of us inches from life.
We are each of us inches from one another.

[Thanks Angie!]

Nothing Stays the Same

Excerpts from "The Medicalization Of Mundane Experience: The 'Syndrome' Syndrome," by Ellen Langer, The Huffington Post, December 8, 2009:

There are actually 97 named syndromes. As a culture, I think we have the syndrome syndrome—the naming of sensations. This kind of naming has a hidden downside in that it may actually cause ill health.

There are syndromes that have been categorized and those that haven't, [but] what all of [them]... have in common is that people who are given these diagnoses probably feel some relief in knowing that their discomfort is "real." (Of course, it's real. Why should we think psychological discomfort is any less real than physical discomfort?) The problem is that once symptoms are given a name they run the risk of becoming more permanent than they might otherwise have to be.

Labels lead to expectations and expectations tend to be fulfilled. Surely there are instances when there are no symptoms, but these times are easily overlooked, making the diagnosis seem that much more accurate...when we expect symptoms now that we know we have a legitimate medical condition, we may be less likely to take steps to self-heal. After all, one may think, if it can be self-healed it wouldn't be a medical condition in the first place.

These syndromes are evidence of the medicalization of mundane experience. Sensations fluctuate. Sometimes they are there and sometimes not; sometimes their felt effects are great and sometimes not. By naming them we tend to hold them still and overlook all of this variability. If we mindfully attended to the changes we would at least stand a chance of healing them ourselves...

Nothing stays the same so no matter what the syndrome or disease, we can gain control in this way by mindfully attending to the variability and then questioning why the change occurred. If everything becomes a syndrome, we give up this control over our health. The cure, then, for the Syndrome Syndrome is to become mindful.

[Thanks Kit!]

A Disappointment with a Mask

“Expectations are very dangerous things. The more of them we have, the more fixated we are on them, the more miserable we will probably be. Every expectation is a disappointment with a mask on it. Even when it happens that we get exactly what we expected, it’s never exactly what we expected because the anticipation is never the reality. And even if it feels like it, then the next minute it’s gone anyway. So this is not going to work out. It’s clear.

We need to have some drive, some desire, some feeling that it’s necessary to go forward and some energy to propel us forward, but to expect some particular result is to construct a gigantic roadblock right in the middle of where you’re trying to go.”

~ Norman Fischer, from a talk on Art Making