Mindfulness workshop

We knew we were gambling for good weather when we decide to have a workshop on November 2, 2013 in a building out in middle of a big field, and with only small heaters powered by a generator as the heat source.  We knew Mother Nature has her own big plans for the whole universe and we must conform to her timetable.  She has a way of regulating the energy flow that keeps the cosmos functioning by maintaining nice delicate balance. She is not distracted by anyone’s plans.

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The day before the conference the weather was perfect, 10 above and sunny, but in the following morning it started with 5 above but gradually got colder and in the midday it started snowing, by the end of the day people were worried about the road conditions and driving home as the heavy snow lay on the ground. The fields and the trees magically got transformed and looked beautiful. Only those who were mindful fully appreciated this beauty as they went about doing whatever needed to be done.

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Mindfulness is a way of being and is cultivated by getting to know the workings of our own mind so we can regulate the flow of energy and information of our minds with awareness.  The flow of energy in our own mind gets manifested through our behavior, quality of ours thoughts and speech. This affects the quality of our relationship with our loved ones and beyond, including our relationship with all living creatures and the mother earth.  Our ability to control our minds energy will determine our level of suffering and happiness.  It was with these underpinning of our ability to be in awareness affecting health of our body, our mind and our relationship that motivated us to hold the workshop.

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In the workshop we looked at the ancient traditional practices to control this energy and information flow and how science is able to glimpse at what may be going on in our mind and brain when we practice these methods regularly everyday. Knowing the science of mindfulness may help the practice by it being another pointer to guide us along the path of mindfulness.. Ultimately one has to experience it.

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The Mother Nature and all the other forces in the universe will demand our attention but we can choose consciously where to direct it with mindfulness.

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Resources:

Universal Love by Lama Yeshe

Photographs by Patrick Lukasewich

 

Sense of Self (Me) and We.

If one decide to become part of “we” it doesn’t mean they should lose sense of “me” ; if “me” does gets lost there is a serious problem knowing and developing the sense of self.

In relationships we share patterns of energy with one another which pass through our neural circuits, these patterns of energy carry meaning and information. If this energy and information is not transmitted properly there are serious consequences for knowing the self and being part of the we.

For example, if  the past experience of relationship connections were unreliable, it will prevent us from knowing ourselves and will cause difficulty relating to others as “we.” So as not to risk being hurt again by similar experiences to the past ones, we will shut parts of ourselves off . This may result in us living life of isolation and creating sense of independence which will allow us to survive but it will limit our sense of vitality that we are able to feel as part of we. We may also find that our sense of self to be in an overwhelming upheaval if our experience of past connections with those we depended for comfort  were inconsistent, un-welcomed and intrusive. In this situation we may find ourselves with disabling doubt , anxiety and fear when ever we allow ourselves to become dependent on our loved one for support, caring  and well-being. We may continue to look for a perfect partner but never finding one. We may become highly reactive to ambiguous communication that may fill our daily lives with dread and uncertainty. These experiences prevent us from growing and knowing ourself as a person; they keeps us from being “me.” They also constrain our present experiences and limits us from constructing more helpful future. We have to grow beyond these past memory patterns and move towards integrated state of thriving as both a strong “me” and a vitalizing “we.”

Daniel J. Siegel in his book Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology mentions studies of empathy and reports…

…” individuals who are shown a photograph of a gruesome accident can be overwhelmed in their response and shut down their capacity to help if they ask the question: What if that were me? How would I feel? Instead , if they ask the question, ” How does that person feel?” they are more likely to have the internal resources to extend themselves and help other. The gist of these finding is that if we fuse together you and me, “I” will become lost and overwhelmed. We will become confused, fused – with. Joining is not the same as fusion.”

Various mindful awareness practices are direct way to increase the capacity to become a part of a we without becoming lost as me. ( in the future posts I will say more about these practices.)

Resources

Daniel J. Siegel :  Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology

Mind, Brain and Relationships as a Single Reality.

In a new field call the Interpersonal Neurobiology, the mind, brain and relationships is viewed as a single reality rather than three separate entities. First let me quickly review the single reality story and then I will look at the value or benefits of this new view.

To understand how  mind, brain and relationships are connected as a single reality we can envision a visual image of  triangle that signifies one reality with three facets. The one unified reality, represented by the triangle, is the system of energy and information flow (at times I will refer to it as ‘the flow’).

The triangle represents the process by which energy and information flow and how the flow changes across time. The relationships are the sharing of that flow. The brain here represents the neurones in the head, as well as the nerves in the whole body; and it represents embodied mechanism of that flow. And the mind is an emergent process the arises from the system of energy and information flow within our bodies and between people; another wards the mind result from the brain and the relationships as the energy flow. The mind is an emergent process that regulates that from which it arises.( i.e. the mind arises from the movement of energy in the brain and the relationships; and then the mind regulates the flow in the brain and in a relationship). What arises is the emergent self – organizing process that regulates the energy and information flow. So the mind, among other attributes, is in part the regulatory process that shapes energy and information flow within and between people

In the Interpersonal Neurobiology field, the brain, mind and the relationships are not separate from each other, they are three elements of energy and information flow that represents the same single reality. These three elements communicate, relate and exchange information with regulation of “the flow”  between them. The better the communication and linkage between them  then better will be the “integration”, which is important as we will see in a moment.

From  an interpersonal neurobiology perspective , integration is the definition of good health. Integration is, as mentioned  before, the linkage of differentiated elements. A healthy mind, a healthy brain, and healthy relationship emerge from good integration. The structural connections of differentiated areas to one another in the body enable flexible and adaptive regulation. A well-regulated brain coordinates and balances its functioning through having a good integration with all its differentiated parts.

What are the advantages of this model ? Well, for one, we can understand better how the energy and information flow trough the brian as revealed in various brain scan findings; for example we can see what happens to energy flow on a scan when someone sees a loved one or an enemy or what happens when we trying to solve a problem etc.  We can also reinterpret the field of mental disorders; instead of listing properties of a particular disorder and giving it a name such a depression or schizophrenia, we can understand depression or schizophrenia as process of energy flow disruption or inadequate integration between differentiated parts of the brain . We can also reframe how we approach understanding relational experiences within families, couples, classrooms, or companies. Integration becomes the framework for looking for dysfunction ; the energy and information flow becomes our focus for correcting the dysfunction.

Integration creates harmony. Impaired integration results in chaos and/or rigidity. Brain or relationship that are not integrated move into dysfunctional state. The brain is unable to balance the flow of energy and information in a flexible way. So it either adopt a very rigid way of handling the energy or it may become very chaotic. The same is true for the relationships, if the information and energy cannot be handled between a couple in flexible and balance manner the relationships become rigid or chaotic.

The natural implication of this interpersonal neurobiology view of integration at the heart of health is that we can empower each other to discover novel and effective approaches to promoting wellness in our relationship, our brains, and our minds.

The nature of the impediment to integration may be some combination of genetic , experiential , or chance factors. This strategy then recognizes each individuals innate potential to heal and become whole by releasing the blocked capacity of that person to integrate the brain and relationships. The role of the clinician , teacher , or parent , then , is to facilitate the discovery of this potential for integration inherent in each of us. This is the way we awaken the mind to create health in the person’s life.

Daniel J. Siegel writes in his book ” Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology” ...

“…the triangle in everyday life enables us to see how our minds emerges not only from neural mechanisms but also from relationship we have with other people and with our planet. This means that we don’t ” own ” our minds , but rather we have an expanded sense of identity that goes beyond the boundary of our skin , beyond a definition of ” self” that is limited to just our bodily encasement. When studies of happiness, health, longevity , and even wisdom are reviewed , the key feature shared by each of these attributes is relationships. We can see how the triangle makes relationships equally as important as the embodied mechanisms of the brain in shaping the mind.When the relationships are integrated, a person’s mind thrives and the individual is healthier, happier, wiser, and live longer.”

At the heart of well-being is a fully integrated view of energy and information flow: the way it is shared in relationships, passes through  the embodied  mechanism of the brain, and is regulated by the self-organizing emergent embodied and relational process of mind.

Resources

Daniel J. Siegel  ” Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology” 

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