Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Mindfulness VS Meditation

“What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?”

One of the questions I was asked a few times, and this answer below is based on my practice and understanding.

There are two types of meditation, broadly speaking. One is with focused attention. So for example, when you focus on your breathing, a word, a prayer, the candle light, you let go of anything that comes into your attention, and keep redirecting your attention to the thing that you are focusing on. (One example of this type of meditation here).

Another type of meditation, is with widen attention (awareness). It’s like you are in a stadium when no game is being played. You watch the whole space. You watch your whole experience, like an observer, or like a third party, non-judging, and not reacting. You allow things to come and go.

This second type of meditation, is a mindfulness practice! The definition(s) of mindfulness generally includes being present, being aware, non-judgemental, and acceptance (not overly reactive). When you practice Leaves on the Stream, you are mindful of what’s going on in your mind. You can of course generalise this to your daily life, and be mindful of where you are, what you do, what you think/feel etc.

You can practice mindfulness anytime anywhere. Eating, drinking, working, typing, driving, exercising, walking mindfully (i.e. staying present, being aware of what you do, and being accepting). You can’t do all that while you meditate though.

Some people might meditate while they walk, run or swim. This can be with either first (focused, narrow attention) OR second type of meditation (broaden attention). With first, you might be saying “one, two, one, two, one, two…” in your mind, or noticing your breathing in and out. With second, you will be observing your whole experience, how your muscle move, what you see, hear, sense, how you feel etc.

I’d say both are meditation, but only the second one is being mindful. I hope I’ve made it clear?! Feel free to share your views!

河流上的飘叶

正念练习:河流上的飘叶(取自“接受与承诺疗法”Acceptance and Commitment therapy)

这是个闭眼练习。首先阅读说明,当你理解了这个练习的过程后,闭上眼睛开始。 (或者你可以使用这篇文章末尾的录音)

想象一下美丽、缓慢流动的溪流。水流过岩石,然后穿过山谷,周围有些大树。偶尔,风吹来,一片一片的叶子落入溪流中,随着河水漂流。想象一下,你正坐在那条小溪旁边,在天气很好的一天,看着河水的流动与树叶的飘落。

现在开始意识到你的想法(思维)。每当一个想法出现在你的头脑中时,想象把它写(或放)在其中一片叶子上。如果你用文字思考,把它们作为文字,轻轻地放在叶子上。如果头脑出现的是图像或画面,就将它们作为图像放在叶子上。目标是留在溪流旁边,让溪流上的树叶继续流动。不要试图让河流流得更快或更慢;不要试图以任何方式改变叶子上出现的东西。如果树叶消失,或者你的思绪飘到了其他地方,那就停下来、注意这发生了,然后再次回到溪流边,把刚刚的想法放到叶子上,让叶子随着河水流走。

(图像的生动或清晰程度无关紧要,只要有这个概念在就可以了– 觉察自己的想法,一旦发现它们就轻轻地放下)

继续进行至少5分钟。如果你现在已经了解说明,请闭上眼睛开始试试。

(练习后继续阅读)

当河流在流动,你也能注意到想法并轻轻地把想法放下时,这就是认知解离 (Cognitive defusion) 的时候。记得头脑本来就是设计来思考的,所以它总是会不断弹出各种想法,你虽然不能控制这点,但你能选择是否对这些想法作出反应,或者选择轻轻地放下它们。如果你认为“我做得不对”、“这个练习对我不起作用”或“我怎么会没有想法”,留意到它们也是你其中的一些想法,后退一步,把它们也放到落叶上。一些其它特别“粘”的想法(比较难以觉察和解离的想法),包括含强烈情绪的想法、比较性的想法等。

这里有两个中文版本的录音:

“河流上的飘叶”录音I

“河流上的飘叶”录音II

(类似的内容,只是前面的指示稍微不同;5-6秒后指示才开始)

多些练习,有问题的话,不妨在这留言。

Watching the Mind-Train

Meditation Exercise: The Mind-Train

Following my favourite Leaves on the Stream (see here), I am introducing another mindfulness exercise. It is an eye-closed exercise (though possible to do it with eyes opened when you are familiar), so please read the instruction first.

Imagine you are standing at a railway bridge gazing down at three sets of train tracks. A slow mining train is on each set of tracks moving away from you. Each train is composed of a string of little coach/car. Seemingly endless, all three chug slowly along underneath the bridge.

Now, as you look down, imagine that the train to the left carries only ore composed of sensations, perceptions, and emotions (e.g. sounds you hear, hot sensation you feel, sweaty palms, sadness you notice, itchiness you feel etc). The middle train carries only your thoughts (your evaluations, predictions, and self-conceptualisation etc). The train on your right carries your urges to act (e.g. your pull to look away, your urge to scratch your face or stop the exercise, your efforts to change the subject). Looking down on these three tracks can be seen as a metaphor for looking at your mind.

Now, find a comfortable chair to sit in for a while in a spot where you won’t be disturbed and you can be quiet. Begin the exercise by thinking of something you’ve been struggling with lately, then close your eyes and picture the three tracks. Your job will be to stay on the bridge and gaze down at these three trains moving away from you. Take at least 3 minutes just to watch what comes up for you.

Mind train. (Forgive my very basic skills, it's not as simple in my imagination!)

Mind train. (Forgive my very basic skills, it’s not as simple in my imagination!)

本森放松法 (The Benson Relaxation Method)

要素

  • 重复单词、声音、短语、祷告词或肌肉活动(muscular activity)。
  • 被动地、忽视各种想法(这些想法无可避免地出现在脑海中),并耐心地把注意力放回到你重复的点。

方法的总结:

  1. 选择一个单词(比如“一”、“和”)、短句或祈祷词。
  2. 安静地坐在舒服的位置。
  3. 闭上眼睛。
  4. 放松肌肉,逐步地从脚到小腿、大腿、腹部、肩膀、头部和脖子。
  5. 慢慢地、自然地放松的当儿,在你呼气的时候,在心里重复你的单词、声音、短语或祷告词。
  6. 采取被动的态度。不要担心你做的好不好。当其他想法出现时,简单地对自己说“哦…”,然后轻轻地回到你的重复点。
  7. 持续十到二十分钟。
  8. 结束时不要马上站起来。继续安静地坐上一分钟左右,允许其他想法自然地回来。然后睁开眼睛,站起来之前再坐一分钟。
  9. 每天练习一到两次。适当的时间是早餐前和晚餐前。

你也可以在运动时引起放松反应。比如你在慢跑或走路时,注意你的脚在地面上的节奏-“左,右,左,右”– 当其他想法进入你的脑海,说“哦…”,然后返回“左,右,左,右” 当然,眼睛要睁着!类似地,游泳者可以专注于他们的划动、骑自行车者专注于车轮的呼呼声,舞者专注于音乐的节拍,其他也可以专注于他们的呼吸节奏。
(改编自Don Robertson的AHPC培训手册)

11分钟放松录音

 

The Mind Bell

I first heard about this mind bell app when I was attending a talk by Dr Phang Cheng Kar, and installed it on my phone the next day, I’ve since been using it for about 6 weeks.

This is basically an app, which makes the sound of a bell every 15 mins (you get to adjust the intervals based on your preference, I left it by default), and generally people might do a few of mindful breathing when they hear it along the day. When you silent your phone the bell will be muted too. And you can set a schedule – when it starts and ends every day (so if it’s until 9pm, you are allowed to stop being mindful after 9pm. Haha).

We do not want to live in our brains, ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. We want to live in the present, the here and now. And that’s mindfulness, and you might notice how the bell stops some people who worry too much from doing so, by reminding them to breath mindfully and focus on the present, on what they are doing, instead of living in the brain.

I did not use the bell sound as a reminder to perform the breathing, I might just take a deep breath once, or continue to focus on what I’m doing, knowing that I’m focusing on the here and now. One thing that works quite well for me, is actually reminding me of valued living. Sometimes I might be scrolling facebook, and the mindbell showed up (when the screen is on there’s a golden ‘bowl’ showing up with the sound), I might realize that I’ve been spending enough time on FB and this really isn’t the kind of thing I want to spend much time of my life doing. And so I stopped wherever I was.

Though, most of the times, I find the bell distracting. Like when I am reading, replying to emails, running, I was concentrating enough, and it stopped me and got my attention, wanting me to be mindful(?), but it could somehow be the thing that makes me not mindful on the here and now. I believe this is because I’m quite mindful and focus as a person normally, I do not live in my brain much, or spend much time worrying unnecessarily.

However, I believe this app can be very useful for those who worry endlessly. Do try it out to see if it helps and/or suits you.

The Benson Relaxation Method

The essential factors:

  1. Repetition of a word, sound, phrase, prayer or muscular activity.
  2. Passively disregarding everyday thoughts (which inevitably come to mind) and patiently returning to your repetition.

The method summarised:

  1. Pick a focus word, short phrase, or prayer that is firmly rooted in your belief system
  2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position
  3. Close your eyes
  4. Relax your muscles, progressively from your feet to your calves, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, head and neck
  5. Relax slowly and naturally, and as you do, say your focus word, sound, phrase or prayer silently to yourself as you exhale
  6. Assume a passive attitude. Don’t worry about how well you’re doing. When other thoughts come to mind, simply say to yourself “oh well,” and gently return to your repetition.
  7. Continue for ten to twenty minutes.
  8. Do not stand immediately. Continue sitting quietly for a minute or so, allowing other thoughts to return. Then open your eyes and sit for another minute before rising
  9. Practice the technique once or twice daily. Good times to do so are before breakfast and before dinner.

You can also elicit the Relaxation Response while exercising. If you are jogging or walking, pay attention to the cadence of your feet on the ground - “left, right, left, right” – and when other thoughts come into your mind, say “Oh, well,” and return to “left, right, left, right.” Of course, keep your eyes open! Similarly, swimmers can pay attention to the tempo of their strokes, cyclists to the whir of the wheels, dancers to the beat of the music, others to the rhythm of their breathing.

(Adapted from the AHPC Training Manual by Don Robertson)