Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why Focus on the Negative?

We already tend to allow our awareness to drift away from this moment and into our thinking mind's which are often preoccupied by anxieties and worries - usually about something to do with the future. Simultaneously, we tend to not perceive the unlimited vastness of all that is, missing the beauty of everything around us.

I caught myself recently spending much time thinking about something that was bothering me: perseverating on something annoying, something I was angry about. And then I realized, of all there is to pay attention to, why focus on the negative?

Yes, if our mind doesn't have a problem to play with, it may very well create one just to verify its existence. When you notice this emotional distraction identity it for what it is, smile, and try to come back to this moment and what is real, fascinating, and beautiful. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Ego and Sensory Deprivation

I noticed while Geocaching in the woods, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, that my mind is often distracted by natural shapes that resemble man-made objects. So, for example, I quickly misperceive inter-twined trees in the distance as part of a foundation of a building from long ago. Or rocks in the distance at first glance appear to be another individual trekking in the woods. This reminds me of the mind’s desire to find and grip upon structure when none exists. The ego wants to move away from natural spaciousness towards defined constructs. This is similar to the meditation process in which while we are trying to pay attention to our breath, we are distracted by and cling to our thoughts. This lesson can teach us to allow the mind to accept more freely undefined openness, without anxiety, and to become aware of and experience so much beyond our preconceived notions.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Memory Power

A patient of mine recently referred me to an article from The New York Times Magazine (February 20, 2011) entitled "Total Recall." The article, written by Joshua Foer, describes his personal journey into competitively participating in memory contests and how he trained his brain to remember huge amounts of information through practice and perseverance. I was impressed, as was he, by the fact that he was a "regular" person with no prior unusual abilities. As a neuropsychologist, I thought if he could improve his memory so radically, then there is great hope for people recovering from brain injuries!

Meditation Helps with Productivity

While I was looking for a portable meditation timer for my android phone, I came across this application. Although it is an excellent timer and has all the features that one would want in a meditation timer and also easy-to-use, I was particularly attracted to the developer’s reference to comedian Jerry Seinfeld and share it with you here:
The widget is my implementation of Jerry Seinfeld's productivity secret (

"He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don't feel like it.

He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here's how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain."

"Don't break the chain," he said again for emphasis."

The chain in this case is the number of consecutive days that you have hit your meditation target. The widget displays both the current chain, and the longest ever chain. Having this on my home screen motivates me to meditate every day. Your mileage may vary.