Tag Archives: Meditation

In Your Head?

Thinking types are often accused of being in their heads. But advising them to get out of their heads is about as useful as advising Doing types to get out of their bodies. So a technique that include observation can be a good place for Thinking types to begin mindfulness practice.

Vipassana is a form of meditation that focuses on self-observation. The video below is a meditation on the thinking process.

Sherlock Holmes and Mindfulness Training

Sherlock Holmes appears to have become the poster child for mindfulness of late. Maria Konnikova has written a book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.

Conan Doyle’s Holmes had taught himself to observe on a regular, almost superhuman basis. For him, taking note of the myriad inputs from his surroundings was a matter of course. He was never not observing, never not in touch with his environment. He had mindfulness down to an art. Most of us aren’t as careful.

–“Don’t Just See, Observe: What Sherlock Holmes Can Teach Us About Mindful Decisions,” Maria Konnikova, Scientific American

As a model of mindfulness, Holmes might be especially appealing to Thinking types.

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Mindful Movement

Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh (Photo credit: Geoff Livingston)

As a Doing type, I would rather have several challenging or difficult things to accomplish than attempt to try to do nothing–and by doing nothing, I mean meditating. I have meditated off and on over the decades, but it’s always an uphill battle.

I wrote about different meditation practices for the Doing, Thinking, and Feeling center types a while back. I’ve since come across Thich Nhat Hanh‘s 10 Mindful Movements exercises, and they have been very effective for me. It’s so much easier for me to be mindful when I’m performing these slow movements than when I’m trying to sit still.

For one thing, the movements give me something to focus my attention on. For another, when I’m moving–even this slowly–I don’t get as squirmy as I do when I’m sitting. The movements are very relaxing and refreshing, so they’re also good stress-relievers. You can do all of them, just a few, or even one to calm down or switch gears in the middle of the day.

This video goes through the entire sequence of 10 movements. It’s excerpted from a longer video available from Sounds True. There’s also a book, for those who like hard copy.

Take Ten

Visualizing mindfulness (366/194 July 12, 2012)

Visualizing mindfulness (Photo credit: ConnectIrmeli)

You know, the mind whizzes away like a washing machine going round and round, lots of difficult, confusing emotions, and we don’t really know how to deal with that, and the sad fact is that we are so distracted that we’re no longer present in the world in which we live. We miss out on the things that are most important to us, and the crazy thing is that everybody just assumes, well, that’s the way life is, so we’ve just kind of got to get on with it. That’s really not how it has to be.

–Andy Puddicombe

Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and co-founder of Headspace. He writes for the Huffington Post and the Guardian on the benefits of mindful thinking for healthy living. He’s also pretty good at juggling (see video). He gave a TED Talk called “All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes” about spending just 10 minutes a day on mindfulness meditation. Among its other benefits, this 10-minute break is an opportunity to observe our compulsions and to disidentify with them–if only for those few minutes. I think 10-minute habits can work wonders since the effects accrue over time.

I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary, and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.

We can’t change every little thing that happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it.

Here’s his full Ted Talk:

Meditation: Move, Sit, Chant

Breathe

Breathe (Photo credit: PhotoLab XL)

Unless we have the capacity to be still and listen, we can’t tune in to our own inner guidance, in which case we’re more or less doomed to remain stuck in the vicious cycle of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Acting out the same compulsions. Repeating the same stories about ourselves over and over again.

Meditating is a great way to learn to be still and to develop self-observation skills.

Meditation expands the space between each thing you notice and each action you take.

Ram Dass

There are many different ways to meditate. The best way to begin is by finding a method that isn’t overly difficult. Expecting to be able to sit or kneel in meditation and immediately clear your mind is unrealistic—and it isn’t even the point of meditation. You can’t stop the stream of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that come and go. But you can learn to observe how they arise and fall away. You can stop getting hooked by them. Or, as Jon Kabat-Zinn puts it, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

Meditation Sticker

Meditation Sticker (Photo credit: Sanne Schijn)

One approach to finding a way to meditate that works for you is to look to the Center of Intelligence that is your Home center: Doing, Thinking, or Feeling.

Doing center types may find one of these active practices more appealing:

  • Aikido
  • T’ai chi
  • Walking
  • Kung Fu
  • Hatha Yoga

Thinking center types may prefer some type of insight meditation:

  • Vipassana
  • Mindfulness
  • Visualization
  • Contemplation
  • One-pointedness of mind

Feeling center types may appreciate a practice that includes an emotional aspect:

  • Sufi dancing
  • Singing
  • Chanting
  • Prayer

This is just meant to suggest a starting point. In addition to helping develop self-observation skills, meditation has many health benefits, so no matter how you go about it, meditating is a good habit to cultivate.

Something for Everyone

Here are two meditation practices anyone can do:

  • Choose a mantra (a word or phrase that has meaning for you) and repeat it over and over while you are working driving, talking, etc. Say it out loud if you like—and are alone—or repeat it silently.
  • Focus on following your breath in and out, in and out. If you lose track, just refocus on your breathing.

You can do either of these practices no matter where you are. They can help you stay grounded, centered, and present instead of carried away by whatever is going on in the moment.

Meditation…A Thoughtless Act

And here is a tongue-in-cheek piece from the October 1999 issue of Enneagram Monthly on tips to improve each type’s meditation. The author is anonymous.

  1. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Take a better breath than that.
  2. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Help your neighbor take a breath.
  3. Close your eyes. Straighten your hair. Adjust your collar. Smooth the creases in your dress.
  4. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a sigh.
  5. Close your eyes. Go inside. Stay inside.
  6. Close your eyes. It’s OK; close your eyes. Close both eyes.
  7. Close your eyes. Go inside. Imagine you are at the beach. Now in the mountains. Now in the desert. Now at a party.
  8. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a goddamn breath!
  9. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Take your neighbor’s breath.

It’s best to approach meditation lightly, rather than with dogged determination.