Meditation lowers impact of unpleasant feelingsBodhipaksa (December 12, 2007)
Mounting credit card bills, snowy commutes, crowded
stores — the holiday season can often bring tidings of stress and frustration. But a team of researchers from the University
of Minnesota and the University of Toronto has found that mindfulness meditation helps people brush off unpleasant feelings
and stay focused on the task at hand.
Professor Philip Zelazo in the University of Minnesota’s
Institute of Child Development, along with Dr. Catherine Ortner from the University of Toronto and meditation instructor Sachne
Kilner, found that people with more mindfulness meditation experience had shorter and less intense reactions to emotional
images than those with less experience in the practice. Mindfulness meditation practitioners proved particularly unflappable
when viewing unpleasant emotional images, reporting higher levels of well-being and less interference with cognitive tasks
than both relaxed meditation practitioners and those who didn’t meditate at all.
Mindfulness meditation, which typically involves exercises such
as sitting meditation and walking meditation, is designed to encourage intentional awareness of one’s thoughts and actions.
Mindfulness, one of the central tenets of Buddhism, is believed to encourage self-control and enlightenment.
The study involved 28 subjects who were randomly assigned to
mindfulness meditation training, relaxation training or to a control group. Both the relaxation and mindfulness meditation
groups showed decreased stress in response to emotionally-loaded photographs, but only the mindfulness meditation participants
showed a decrease in emotional interference.
Zelazo and his colleagues use a real-world example to explain
the value of their work. “An accident witnessed while driving may capture one’s attention, and continuing to observe
the scene may put one (and others) at risk,” he said. “A mindful response — maintaining attention to the
task at hand and disengaging from a negative stimulus — may permit more effective cognitive function.”
The study will be published in the December 2007 issue of Motivation
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States And Feelings
What do we do when pain and negative feelings come? How can we help ourselves, and set us
free from the negative states and accompanying feelings?
The first thing that we must acknowledge is that pain and
unpleasant feelings are inevitable in our lives. We can't preserve ourselves from their influence because every healthy individual
is subjected to their rule, once in a while.
Why? We are simply part of the Universe's circles and if we perceive ourselves
as something extracted from the Universe, then we'll easily measure our own pain as bigger and more unpleasant that the another
one's. However, the Universe is a Unique Entity of which we are all a part of.
To understand pain and suffering, we
need to adjust our focus from an individual standpoint to "higher perspective". From that point of view, no matter who experiences
greater pain, the Universe grows! And that is the ultimate purpose of the pain in our lives. We grow through our pain, so
does the Universe; through us, thus through itself.
When we recognize the negative states and accompanying feelings
being around, the natural reaction is, "I'm being miserable, I don't like myself being like that and I'll do something to
That's fine. We've recognized the unwanted state and made resolution to change it. However, very often
we make a simple, but crucial mistake that leads to a failure of our attempt. What's that? We begin to resist the negative
feelings, trying to avoid them or replace them by desired ones. Nevertheless, it doesn't work like that.
There is and
old saying: "Whatever you try to resist, it persists." Yes, there are methods and techniques, which provide replacement of
negative states and feelings with the opposite ones, but by practicing them we take our chances to convert the CAUSE of the
unwanted states into trauma.
We can't possibly replace the events that might cause unwanted states and feelings. It's
like desiring that Autumn be replaced by Springtime because the former makes us feel blue, and the last one brings some vigor.
the wind comes, the tree in the field doesn't resist, but follow the wind's pace and moves its trunk accordingly. What would
happen if it tried to resist? It would be easily uprooted.
Remember, the Universe has its circles, just like any other
entity and we don't have access to the Universe's main switchboard. So, is there anything we can do about it?
there is! Speaking in computer language, maybe you can't ultimately control your BIOS, but you can surely command your operational
1) Don't resist your negative feelings. Let them be! If you resist and fight them, they'll stay around and
come back stronger, again and again. f you let them be as they are, just observing them, and see yourself and "them" as a
part of a big circle that MOVES and CHANGES, you'll know that they'll pass through.
2) Don't give them a reason to
stay. If they are around, there is a reason for that. There is a valuable lesson to be learnt out of their existence. Just
observe them. Don't even seek an answer. It will come suddenly, when they discharge and go away. If you fight them back, you'll
miss the golden opportunity that every adversity brings along. Stay detached, and observe as if it's happening to somebody
else. Yes, it is possible. Don't believe me; try it. The Mantra is: Don't resist, observe.
Switching To Positive Counterpoint
Next, pay good attention to what happens when the pain and accompanying feelings are gone. This is very important! It's the
crucial point of getting in tune with Universe's circles that ARE favorable.
When they are gone, for some valuable
moment, there is a void. Speaking in time-space language, for a limited period there is an empty spot in our being that is
to be filled with desired content. Pay good attention. If you miss it, it would be probably filled with another unwanted content.
vacuum is very unstable state. There are happenings going on around all the time, so our energy would be easily, unconsciously
attracted and sucked up by something out of our control.
4) Be alert. Use the void and fill it with something you have
burning desire about. Let your imagination run free. Be creative in visualization your goal. See yourself being there, feel
what would you feel when you get there, hear the voices and sounds that would be around, smell your success etc.
Then switch your imaginary viewpoint, and experience the above as you were somebody else seeing you achieving that goal. Than
again return in your own physical/emotional/mental body and notice the difference of two states. It will create an energy
6) Another need of careful attention - don't be disappointed of not being there NOW. In order to achieve
something, you need to:
7) Next and last. Forget about it! Yes, don't try to feed
your "creation" by adding more and more attention to the final goal. Instead, recognize the variety of opportunities that
would come and fit in your path.
- Be (in) the Void (that's the only "place" where
the process of Creation could start. Remember: "In the beginning, there was nothing... "),
- Act (create) using it (the Void) as a starting
- Achieve in the Space/Time. It means a time is needed
for manifestation. However, once there is a single thought of something, it's a matter of time when the material appearance
will take place. Being much more inert than the mental one, the physical energy needs more time to flow.
Don't discard or neglect any of them. Investigate them, use them, test them and keep
a record of them. Each one that's coming around has a purpose.
When asked, "How did it feel to fail 200 times trying
to invent a vaccine for polio?", Jonas Salk, the inventor responded: "I never failed 200 times at anything in my life. I discovered
200 ways how not to make a vaccine for polio."
By the way, following the context... Thomas Edison had allegedly tried
10,000 materials as filaments for his invention, the electric light bulb. Failure? Only if you see the things extracted from
the Whole and within a limited timeframe. I suggest that this is not the wisest way to see things.
So, instead of the
goal, focus on the Journey. When you succeed, you'll notice a strange phenomena - the Journey has provided more satisfaction
and excitement than the achievement itself.
Then, there is another golden opportunity that you will not want to miss
- that's the exact moment to set yourself another goal, a higher, more precious one. By practicing this strategy over and
over again, you'll eventually see yourself setting goals specific for higher self and purpose than your physical/emotional/mental
self. Embrace the insight to the purpose of your existence there. You'll know the Journey has been worth walking it.
"Success is like happiness, cannot be pursued. It must ensue.
And it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself."
The pain is inevitable, but the suffering is optional.
--- Copyright © 2003 Mitko Keramitchiev ---
source site: click here
HOW TO COPE
With An Unpleasant
Sometimes we feel good, and sometimes we feel bad.
Both kinds of feelings are normal. Of course, we all enjoy good feelings. But when we don't like the way we are feeling, sometimes
we don't know what to do about it. Here is a plan that will help you help yourself when your feelings are bothering you.
1. ACCEPT your feelings. Say to yourself:
"I am sad." "I am frightened." "I am angry." "I am embarrassed." It's all right to have feelings.
2. RELAX and take "time out" before you act.
Take slow deep breaths and relax all the muscles of your body. Pretend you are in a safe place.
3. THINK about ways to help yourself. Thinking
helps you do something smart instead of harming yourself or making things worse.
4. DO something to help yourself. Maybe it
would help to talk to someone, or to do something you enjoy. If it doesn't work, go back to step 3.
* The above material is borrowed from the book "Dealing With Feelings," by Dr. Eric Dlugokinski.
Published by Feelings Factory, Inc., Raleigh, NC. Reprinted by permission of author.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Suffering, or pain, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm
or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical, or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and frequency of occurrence
usually compound that of intensity. In addition to such factors, people's attitudes toward suffering may take into account
how much it is, in their opinion, avoidable or unavoidable, useful or useless, deserved or undeserved.
Suffering occurs commonly in the lives of sentient beings, in diverse manners, and often dramatically. As a result,
many fields of human activity are concerned, from their own points of view, with some aspects of suffering. These aspects
may include the nature of suffering, its processes, its origin and causes, its meaning and significance, its related personal,
social, and cultural behaviors, its remedies, management, and uses.
The word suffering is sometimes used in the narrow sense
of physical pain, but more often it refers to mental or emotional pain, or more often yet to pain in the broad sense, i.e. to any unpleasant
feeling, emotion or sensation.
The word pain usually refers to physical pain, but it
is also a common synonym of suffering.
The words pain and suffering are often used both
together in different ways. For instance, they may be used as interchangeable synonyms. Or they may be used in 'contradistinction'
to one another, as in "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional", or "pain is physical, suffering is mental". Or they may
be used to define each other, as in "pain is physical suffering", or "suffering is severe physical or mental pain".
Qualifiers, such as mental, emotional, psychological,
and spiritual, are often used for referring to certain types of pain or suffering. In particular, mental pain (or
suffering) may be used in relationship with physical pain (or suffering) for distinguishing between two wide categories
of pain or suffering. A first caveat concerning such a distinction is that it uses physical pain in a sense that normally
includes not only the 'typical sensory experience of physical pain' but also other unpleasant bodily experiences such as itching
or nausea. A second caveat is that the terms physical or mental should not be taken too literally: physical
pain or suffering, as a matter of fact, happens through conscious minds and involves emotional aspects, while mental pain
or suffering happens through physical brains and, being an emotion, involves important physiological aspects.
Words that are roughly synonymic with suffering, in addition
to pain, include distress, sorrow, unhappiness, misery, affliction, woe, ill, discomfort, displeasure, disagreeableness,
Pain and pleasure, in the broad sense of these words, are respectively
the negative and positive affects, or hedonic tones, or valences that psychologists often identify as basic in our emotional lives. The evolutionary role of physical and mental suffering, through natural selection, is primordial: it warns of threats, motivates coping (fight or flight, escapism), and reinforces negatively certain behaviors (see punishment, aversives). Despite its initial disrupting nature, suffering contributes
to the organization of meaning in an individual's world and psyche. In turn, meaning determines how individuals or societies
experience and deal with suffering.
Many brain structures and physiological processes take part
in the occurrence of suffering. Various hypotheses try to account for the experience of unpleasantness. One of these, the
pain overlap theory takes note, thanks to neuroimaging studies, that the cingulate cortex fires up when the brain feels unpleasantness from experimentally
induced social distress or physical pain as well. The theory proposes therefore that physical pain and social pain
(i.e. two radically differing kinds of suffering) share a common phenomenological and neurological basis.
According to David Pearce’s online manifesto The Hedonistic Imperative, suffering is the avoidable result of Darwinian genetic design.
BLTC Research and the Abolitionist Society, following Pearce's abolitionism, promote replacing the pain/pleasure axis with a robot-like response
to noxious stimuli or with gradients of bliss, through genetic engineering and other technical scientific advances.
Hedonistic psychology, affective science, and affective neuroscience are some of the emerging scientific fields that could in the coming
years focus their attention on the phenomenon of suffering.