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Saturday, September 29, 2012

How Can I Recconcile Mindfulness with Brainswitching

Dear AB

I am reading a book called The Mindful Way through Depression. I am also taking a mindfulness based stress reduction class. I am just having some difficulty reconciling the ways I am trying to learn how to forge ahead in my life.

The mindfulness book seems to suggest, if I am reading it correctly, that we should not fight negative thoughts or feelings, but instead let them come and go. The focus is on the awareness of these thoughts and feelings. The authors suggest that fighting these thoughts and feelings is the cause of depression. As in, we all have bad thoughts and feelings, but it is the fighting of them that is the problem.

I'm just a little confused about reconciling this with the depression is a choice way. Do you have any thoughts about this? I am struggling in my life and I am trying to get help through lots of books, therapy, advice from family, religion. I guess I'm looking for one way to follow.

My mother tells me to pray and follow my own guidance and God.  I also feel I'm inundating myself...maybe I am reading too many books. I know you are interested in transcendental meditation so maybe you have some thoughts about this.

I'm training for a marathon. I work a lot. I try to schedule things for my free time. It’s just a struggle...I just want a safe place in society and I'm so stressed about being single and a bit lonely.

Thanks for everything. I’ve written to you a bunch and appreciate every word of advice.

Dear T,

Mindfulness is much like transcendental meditation in which you become the witness to your thoughts rather than becoming your thoughts. This is also the basis of ACT, Awareness and Commitment Therapy where you simply accept the bad thoughts and feelings. In this way the acceptance becomes the dominant thought instead of the bad thought and the brain turns in the direction of acceptance rather than the upset caused by the bad thought.

There is no way, really, to fight bad thoughts anyway. In order to fight them you have to keep thinking them and thinking bad thoughts is the very problem. When bad thoughts come, you can simply acknowledge that they have made their appearance and replace thinking them with thinking more productive thoughts. It is a more productive thought to witness that you are having a bad thought instead of reacting to a bad thought by succumbing to it as if the bad thought is some kind of reality instead of merely some negative thought pattern that popped up and you recognize right away that you can jolly well think something else. It is your choice what you think.

Remember that the brain works by learned association. This means that the brain always follows the direction of its most current dominant thought. The way to make any thought dominant is to insist upon thinking it over and over. When you insist upon thinking a good thought, or a nonsense thought, you make that thought dominant and the brain will turn away from the bad thoughts and feelings in the direction of the newer, now dominant thought which is not painful to think.

Your mother is also right. If you pray to God and insist on making your prayer dominant, the brain will turn in the direction of your prayer and away from the painful negative thought. Depression cannot long survive a person falling on their knees and asking God for help.

All the therapies say the same thing as the Bible, turn from the negative and turn toward the positive. Phillipeans 4:8 says: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Here’s the first chapter in the book As a Man Thinketh by James Allen that says the same thing.

“The aphorism, "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," not only embraces the whole of a man's being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.
As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called "spontaneous" and "unpremeditated" as to those which are deliberately executed.

Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own husbandry.
Thought in the mind hath made us. What we are
By thought we wrought and built. If a man's mind
Hath evil thoughts, pain comes on him as comes
The wheel the ox behind . . . If one endure in purity
of thought joy follows him as his own shadow - sure.

Man is a growth by law, and not a creation by artifice, and cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts.

Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself. He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their maker and master.

Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this - that man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.

As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills.

Man is always the master, even in his weakest and most abandoned state; but in his weakness and degradation he is the foolish master who misgoverns his "household." When he begins to reflect upon his condition, and to search diligently for the Law upon which his being is established, he then becomes the wise master, directing his energies with intelligence, and fashioning his thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious master, and man can only thus become by discovering within himself the laws of thought; which discovery is totally a matter of application, self-analysis, and experience.

Only by much searching and mining are gold an diamonds obtained, and man can find every truth connected with his being if he will dig deep into the mine of his soul. And that he is the maker of his character, the molder of his life, and the builder of his destiny, he may unerringly prove: if he will watch, control, and alter his thoughts, tracing their effects upon himself, upon others, and upon his life and circumstances; if he will link cause and effect by patient practice and investigation, utilizing his every experience, even to the most trivial, as a means of obtaining that knowledge of himself.

In this direction, as in no other, is the law absolute that "He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened"; for only by patience, practice, and ceaseless importunity can a man enter the Door of the Temple of Knowledge.”
A. B. Curtiss

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I love James Allen because he gives guidance for building character -- and competence. I want to have better character, but I also want to be able to do, to be useful and competent at the things I was made to do.