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  1. #1
    Member Solar Plexus's Avatar
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    Default Becoming Conscious: The Science of Mindfulness

    This video is an interesting discussion about mindfulness and its effects on the brain. Intuitives, neurotics and anyone who is overwhelmed with stress might find it particularly beneficial.

    Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

    When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

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    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    I have extensive experience with and without mindfulness, and although mindfulness claims certain benefits such as increased working memory and decreased stress, I am overall more in favor of avoiding mindfulness because I find it a more pleasant and effective way to live.

    I meditated between 2008-2013 for probably an average of 20 minutes a day, sometimes more sometimes less, but fairly consistently, often every day for months at a time. The changes meditation produces are noticeable--specifically, you become aware all the time and you don't space out as much. For instance, when I take a shower my mind is mostly off. I enjoy the experience but I'm doing virtually nothing to control or direct my experience. I'm just on autopilot.

    When you've been meditating every day for a few weeks, that is not the case. In the shower (again, for example), you will find yourself paying attention to your thinking and will be constantly aware of the option of turning off your thoughts and going into mindful mode. While I think that is a cool experiment everyone should try once in their life, I don't prefer it as a state of being. Then again, it does make you focus more on the aspects of whatever you're experiencing. You stop to notice sensations and feelings. I don't personally find it increases enjoyment though. I don't particularly care for sensory experience as long as I'm comfortable.

    Another example is that when you meditate, you start wanting to eat your food in isolation of other experiences. I don't mind eating with the TV on usually, but when I have been meditating, I do. I want to focus on one thing or the other. Mindfulness always demands focus on one thing, but I prefer to let my thoughts jump around where they want. Mindfulness gets tiresome. I like being able to zone out and not be hyper-aware. It's like a constant chore - you are always flushing your thoughts away trying to keep your awareness open. But they never stop popping up. I figure, fuck it, just let them pop up and relax. It's fine. That's how most people live and they seem to be doing great. Thinking really isn't that bad.

  3. #3
    Member Solar Plexus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zago View Post
    I have extensive experience with and without mindfulness, and although mindfulness claims certain benefits such as increased working memory and decreased stress, I am overall more in favor of avoiding mindfulness because I find it a more pleasant and effective way to live.

    I meditated between 2008-2013 for probably an average of 20 minutes a day, sometimes more sometimes less, but fairly consistently, often every day for months at a time. The changes meditation produces are noticeable--specifically, you become aware all the time and you don't space out as much. For instance, when I take a shower my mind is mostly off. I enjoy the experience but I'm doing virtually nothing to control or direct my experience. I'm just on autopilot.

    When you've been meditating every day for a few weeks, that is not the case. In the shower (again, for example), you will find yourself paying attention to your thinking and will be constantly aware of the option of turning off your thoughts and going into mindful mode. While I think that is a cool experiment everyone should try once in their life, I don't prefer it as a state of being. Then again, it does make you focus more on the aspects of whatever you're experiencing. You stop to notice sensations and feelings. I don't personally find it increases enjoyment though. I don't particularly care for sensory experience as long as I'm comfortable.

    Another example is that when you meditate, you start wanting to eat your food in isolation of other experiences. I don't mind eating with the TV on usually, but when I have been meditating, I do. I want to focus on one thing or the other. Mindfulness always demands focus on one thing, but I prefer to let my thoughts jump around where they want. Mindfulness gets tiresome. I like being able to zone out and not be hyper-aware. It's like a constant chore - you are always flushing your thoughts away trying to keep your awareness open. But they never stop popping up. I figure, fuck it, just let them pop up and relax. It's fine. That's how most people live and they seem to be doing great. Thinking really isn't that bad.

    Interesting. Thank you for the thorough response. I haven't been experimenting with mindfulness for as long as you did, but I have used it effectively when my mind is overwhelmed with some negative emotion to clear my thoughts and address the cause of my frustration from a more detached and less volatile vantage point.

    If I may ask, what inspired you to pursue mindfulness so consistently for such a long time? Was it curiosity or a means of stress relief? Did it ever help to relieve stress? You mentioned that you don't personally find that it increases enjoyment. It probably depends somewhat on the individual and their purpose for practicing it. I would suspect that a person who is struggling with anxiety or depression would benefit more from this meditation than a less neurotic person would.

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    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solar Plexus View Post
    Interesting. Thank you for the thorough response. I haven't been experimenting with mindfulness for as long as you did, but I have used it effectively when my mind is overwhelmed with some negative emotion to clear my thoughts and address the cause of my frustration from a more detached and less volatile vantage point.

    If I may ask, what inspired you to pursue mindfulness so consistently for such a long time? Was it curiosity or a means of stress relief? Did it ever help to relieve stress? You mentioned that you don't personally find that it increases enjoyment. It probably depends somewhat on the individual and their purpose for practicing it. I would suspect that a person who is struggling with anxiety or depression would benefit more from this meditation than a less neurotic person would.
    I believed in enlightenment, to be honest. That's why I meditated, I thought it would get me enlightened eventually.

    My perspective on meditation has changed a lot. When I actually believed that it was going to get me enlightened, I didn't mind doing it much at all. Staring at a blank wall and letting thoughts go is pretty peaceful, actually. I could be having a terrible day, and during meditation everything was pretty good. I almost miss that.

    Thing is, when I do it now I get bored very quickly. See, I can get the same result from watching TV or reading a book, among other things. Whatever distances me from my thoughts works.

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    Senior Member the state i am in's Avatar
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    mindfulness to me is about the saccade of your thoughts and its rhythmic ripple. it helps you feel deep in your bones the ballet of the mind. it helps you explore the mind's perspective of the body, and the body's perspective of the mind.

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    Member Solar Plexus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zago View Post
    I believed in enlightenment, to be honest. That's why I meditated, I thought it would get me enlightened eventually.

    My perspective on meditation has changed a lot. When I actually believed that it was going to get me enlightened, I didn't mind doing it much at all. Staring at a blank wall and letting thoughts go is pretty peaceful, actually. I could be having a terrible day, and during meditation everything was pretty good. I almost miss that.

    Thing is, when I do it now I get bored very quickly. See, I can get the same result from watching TV or reading a book, among other things. Whatever distances me from my thoughts works.
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by enlightened. I understand the term is used to describe a state of transcendence, but I am not familiar with it personally, or what specific state of mind it denotes. I'd say if it helped you to feel peaceful when you were having a terrible day then that alone would be a good enough reason to use it. I'm not sure, however, that you were doing it correctly if you get the same result out of watching television or reading a book. It's more than just distracting yourself from unpleasant thoughts; mindfulness is about being in the present moment to the exclusion of fantasizing about the past, future or fictional scenarios.

    Quote Originally Posted by the state i am in View Post
    mindfulness to me is about the saccade of your thoughts and its rhythmic ripple. it helps you feel deep in your bones the ballet of the mind. it helps you explore the mind's perspective of the body, and the body's perspective of the mind.
    Very poetic.

    I find that it increases my productivity at work, as well. Before I began practicing mindfulness, I was quite dissatisfied with my job. Now, I rarely think about how unfulfilling it is and my ability to focus on whatever task I'm working on has improved exponentially. Though I'm leaving the job soon for employment more congruent with my personality, these meditation exercises are invaluable. I've also noticed that it decreases my sensitivity toward unpleasant external stimuli; whereas, before such things would cause unnecessary frustration and leave me in a foul mood.

  7. #7
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solar Plexus View Post
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by enlightened. I understand the term is used to describe a state of transcendence, but I am not familiar with it personally, or what specific state of mind it denotes. I'd say if it helped you to feel peaceful when you were having a terrible day then that alone would be a good enough reason to use it.
    Enlightenment is nirvana, the permanent extinguishing of suffering which Buddha and other Buddhist claim to have attained (basically). That's the only way meditation would be worthwhile to me (but I no longer believe in it, and even if I did I wouldn't care enough to spend between 5 and 60 years meditating just for the possibility of it). As something with value on a day to day basis, I am not particularly interested in meditation. I don't enjoy meditation, it is boring.

    I'm not sure, however, that you were doing it correctly if you get the same result out of watching television or reading a book. It's more than just distracting yourself from unpleasant thoughts; mindfulness is about being in the present moment to the exclusion of fantasizing about the past, future or fictional scenarios.
    I was doing it correctly--more correctly than most. I sat in the lotus position and stared at a blank wall, letting my thoughts pass as they arose, resting my awareness on nothing in particular. That is true mindfulness meditation, zazen. Others sit in comfortable chairs, close their eyes, and some even listen to dorky calming music or a guiding voice that tells them what to focus on and crap. I think Buddha would scoff at all of that, but maybe it is relaxing nonetheless.

    Meditation does have the ability to get me in the present moment, but no more so than books and TV, and I enjoy those more. When I do any of these 3 things, my thoughts of anger and stress about my life fade away and I become absorbed in them (the 3 activities I mentioned, that is). I'm not sure what value there is to doing this in blankness as opposed to doing it within the context of a TV show or a story. Perhaps the fact that it is effortful. I don't have to try very hard to focus on a story or TV, but I do have to continually tend to my thoughts when I meditate.

    I fail to see the value of discipline for its own sake, however. Often times I read more challenging materials, for instance, that require disciplined focus and thought. Sometimes I learn things on my guitar and that requires it as well. Just a couple examples.

    Studies show neurological benefits from meditation, but I believe those things would show them equally, if not more. Plus you walk away having added something to yourself. With meditation, you don't. It's just that people see it as spiritual, so they think there may be more to it. Can you tell me what the difference would be between the neuro-changes that take place between playing an instrument 30 minutes a day and meditating 30 minutes a day would be, and why the meditation is more important?

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    Member Solar Plexus's Avatar
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    ^ No, I can't tell you what the difference would be, but I'm not a neuroscientist who has studied the effects of meditation on the brain. The speakers in the video mentioned that brain scans show different results depending on what the meditator is focusing his/her attention on, among other factors. It's interesting to note how the Marines being studied benefited from mindfulness training regarding their attention, working memory, ability to cope with stress and overcome restlessness.

    I can only speak for myself, however, and the benefits that I've experienced first-hand; and I can say with certainty that focusing my attention on television or movies has not cultivated the same positive results that meditation has.

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    Just saw this story on the cover of next month's issue of TIME magazine.



    The Mindful Revolution
    Finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture may just be a matter of thinking differently
    By Kate Pickert Monday, Feb. 03, 2014


    The raisins sitting in my sweaty palm are getting stickier by the minute. They don't look particularly appealing, but when instructed by my teacher, I take one in my fingers and examine it. I notice that the raisin's skin glistens. Looking closer, I see a small indentation where it once hung from the vine. Eventually, I place the raisin in my mouth and roll the wrinkly little shape over and over with my tongue, feeling its texture. After a while, I push it up against my teeth and slice it open. Then, finally, I chew — very slowly.

    I'm eating a raisin. But for the first time in my life, I'm doing it differently. I'm doing it mindfully. This whole experience might seem silly, but we're in the midst of a popular obsession with mindfulness as the secret to health and happiness — and a growing body of evidence suggests it has clear benefits. The class I'm taking is part of a curriculum called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-educated scientist.

    The raisin exercise reminds us how hard it has become to think about just one thing at a time. If distraction is the pre-eminent condition of our age, then mindfulness, in the eyes of its enthusiasts, is the most logical response.

    Read more: The Mindful Revolution - TIME http://content.time.com/time/magazin...#ixzz2rU5ByJoj
    The rest of the article isn't available online yet. For those who are interested, here is a link to an MSNBC video covering the story:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/0...n_4653656.html

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zago View Post
    I have extensive experience with and without mindfulness, and although mindfulness claims certain benefits such as increased working memory and decreased stress, I am overall more in favor of avoiding mindfulness because I find it a more pleasant and effective way to live.

    I meditated between 2008-2013 for probably an average of 20 minutes a day, sometimes more sometimes less, but fairly consistently, often every day for months at a time. The changes meditation produces are noticeable--specifically, you become aware all the time and you don't space out as much. For instance, when I take a shower my mind is mostly off. I enjoy the experience but I'm doing virtually nothing to control or direct my experience. I'm just on autopilot.

    When you've been meditating every day for a few weeks, that is not the case. In the shower (again, for example), you will find yourself paying attention to your thinking and will be constantly aware of the option of turning off your thoughts and going into mindful mode. While I think that is a cool experiment everyone should try once in their life, I don't prefer it as a state of being. Then again, it does make you focus more on the aspects of whatever you're experiencing. You stop to notice sensations and feelings. I don't personally find it increases enjoyment though. I don't particularly care for sensory experience as long as I'm comfortable.

    Another example is that when you meditate, you start wanting to eat your food in isolation of other experiences. I don't mind eating with the TV on usually, but when I have been meditating, I do. I want to focus on one thing or the other. Mindfulness always demands focus on one thing, but I prefer to let my thoughts jump around where they want. Mindfulness gets tiresome. I like being able to zone out and not be hyper-aware. It's like a constant chore - you are always flushing your thoughts away trying to keep your awareness open. But they never stop popping up. I figure, fuck it, just let them pop up and relax. It's fine. That's how most people live and they seem to be doing great. Thinking really isn't that bad.
    I have practiced mindfulness a little in the past, as I actually needed it (recommendation from therapist). Over time I sort of adopted the habits it taught me enough that I stabalized a bit more than normal which was ultimately the goal.

    This is interesting because what you are describing is sort of the opposite of what is supposed to happen, at least from my understanding of it. I was taught that mindful breathing and being is supposed to help you be aware that you are having thoughts, but allow them to pass through you uneffected. In essence, it's a quiet mind without overpowering brain chatter. So it's like the former you is what mindfulness is supposed to. Being on autopilot. Ultimately that is what I was trying to achieve since what I needed was a quiet mind. But this is just one aspect of it. It seems like the latter parts is what you acheived and ultimately is mindfulness. I never considered it being something people wouldn't want, but it's all about everyone having different operating system requirements at the end of the day.

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