Saturday, 31 October 2020

Be sure to focus on what you want

During my mid-twenties, I was stressed and anxious after leaving the family business. Desperately seeking calmness and clarity on my next steps, I attended my first weekend meditation retreat at Idyllwild Mountains in Southern California. Not knowing what to expect, I drove to the retreat center alone on a Friday afternoon to meet up with a group of meditators. When I arrived at the main cabin, the instructor had meditation zafu cushions laid out in a circle. He shared a dharma talk from the Buddhist teachings and guided us in a meditation practice. There I was, sitting on this uncomfortable cushion in silence, with strangers, and watching my restless mind. Within ten minutes of sitting, my thoughts were racing like wild monkeys. I could not stop the relentless chatter. Consider, for example, whether you are a fast runner. Compared with a four-year-old, you probably are. Festinger called this comparison of the self with those who are worse off a downward comparison. But how does your running speed compare with that of an Olympic runner? Not so well. People engage in upward comparison when they compare themselves with those who are better off. Who do we usually compare ourselves to? Festinger suggested that we look to similar, rather than dissimilar, others because they seem to provide the most informative indication of our traits, skills, and abilities. So if you think you're fast, you're probably making that judgment relative to other people similar in age who also play the same sports you do, rather than to four-year-olds or to Olympic runners. What's more, people are more likely to compare themselves with individuals in their local environment than with large groups, national averages, or other entities that lie outside their familiar day-to-day experience (Zell & Alicke, 2010). Some other things you will learn in this text include but are not limited to: How to find your center, so you don't experience life like a kite at the mercy of the winds;

How to become attuned to the subtle language of your body, because like it or not, your body communicates with you more often than you realize; How to improve your levels of concentration and silence the inner ramblings of your mind; How to observe and react objectively, guiding your perception towards that which is fair and trustworthy. Do I have your attention now? How badly do you want to turn the article? Before you do so, I ask again: Are you happy? If you are, then read this just for kicks. Read it for the same reason if you are undecided. The meditation lasted for two long hours. I was agitated with all my random thoughts, negative feelings, and the excruciating pain in my legs from sitting cross-legged on the stiff cushion. Finally, the instructor rang the Tibetan bowl for dinner, which was vegetarian soup and bread. I was relieved--until I discovered the dinner and the rest of the retreat would be held in silence. No talking for three days was a big deal for someone like me who loved conversation. We were assigned roommates and slept in small, rustic cabins with sleeping bags. I barely slept that night. I laid ruminating about my life failures and how to respectfully escape from this retreat. By the next morning, my stress levels had escalated. I packed my belongings and left the retreat early. Festinger further suggested that people are particularly likely to make these comparisons when they lack objective indicators of how they're doing and are uncertain of where they stand. Social comparison theory

The theory that people come to know themselves partly by comparing themselves with similar others. Downward comparison A comparison of oneself with those who are worse off. Upward comparison A comparison of oneself with those who are better off. Morse and Gergen (1970) created such an uncertain situation to see how social comparisons influence people's views of themselves. College-student participants came to the lab in response to an advertisement for a data-entry position. On arriving, each student and another person were asked to wait in a room and complete some initial personnel questionnaires. You may just discover happiness in one (or all) of these articles. I hope you stay enthralled until you get to the end of the very last article. Humble Origins The word Yoga originated from the Sanskrit word Yuj, which means to unite, to yoke, or to join. In Yogic scripture, practicing yoga initiates a harmony or equilibrium between individual awareness and universal consciousness, leading to a perfect balance between the body, mind, man, and nature. This harmony of existence defines the integration of human persona at the highest level, which is why genuine yoga practitioners are said to have reached a frame of mind known as Nirvana, Mukti, or Moksha, all of which are states of emancipation or release. Yoga is a psychosomatic spiritual instruction focused on health, harmony, and overcoming all states of human suffering and pain to regain mastery of our destiny. Maharishi Patanjali describes yoga as the art of suppressing the modifications of the human mind to attain complete self-realization. The Philosophy of Yoga In Indian culture, the word for philosophy is Darsana, from the Sanskrit word Drish, meaning to experience or see. I drove home and stopped at a fast-food restaurant to self-soothe with a hamburger, fries, and diet cola. I was not ready for meditation, especially sitting in silence for three days.

Three years later, I returned to the meditation practice during graduate school after once again feeling stressed and burned out. This time, I gradually built my physical and mental capacities by practicing hatha yoga to endure sitting for longer periods. Within a few months of yoga and meditation, I started feeling calm, focused, energetic, and more motivated to stay with uncomfortable experiences. For the next twenty years, I studied extensively, committed to the practice, and was finally ready to attend silent retreats with master meditation teachers. I was grateful to learn the tools to master my monkey mind and integrate my emotional reactions. There was much richness in the silence and stillness in the mind. Especially, when I had the patience and awareness that I needed to slow down, relax my body, and observe my inner world with compassion rather than judgment or blame. I now teach mindfulness meditation to people around the world using many of the tools outlined below. In one condition, the other candidate (who was actually a confederate of the research team) was dressed in a suit and carried a briefcase, giving off an air of competence and dependability. In the other condition, the confederate was dressed in wrinkled clothing, his hair was unkempt, and he carried an unorganized stack of papers. Among the questionnaires participants completed was a measure of self-esteem. According to social comparison theory, downward comparison with the person who seems like a worse candidate for the job than yourself would make you puff up with pride, whereas upward comparison with the more impressive candidate would be more likely to leave you feeling inferior. This is exactly what the researchers found: Participants rated themselves more positively when they sat in the room with Mr. Sloppy compared to when they sat in the room with Mr. Upward comparisons can even cause people to get discouraged and give up on goals altogether. When college students enrolled in an online course were asked to peer-review excellent essays written by their classmates, they were more likely to quit the course than those asked to look over lower-quality essays (Rogers & Feller, 2016). Being presented with a star peer is meant to motivate us, but it can backfire when it leads us to perceive that person's accomplishments as being out of reach. Errors in Social Comparison Yoga is a spiritual practice entrenched in ancient Indian wisdom, thought, and life. Yogi darsanas instruct us to see life as it is, living life so the equilibrium of mind and body easily comprehends the truth.

The philosophy of yoga is closely related to the Sankhya ideology. The only difference is that yoga believes in the existence of God or gods and depends on only three out of six proofs of knowledge (pramanas), namely Anumana or inference, Pratyaksa or perception, and Aptavacana/ Sabda or testimony. Forms of Yoga There are many forms of yoga, each with its unique character and focus, and they are: Karma Yoga: This is also called Karma marga and is known as the yoga of action. Karma yoga aims to establish a life devoid of negativity, ego, and selfishness. Jnana Yoga: This form of yoga is dedicated to acquiring wisdom through study. Raja Yoga: Formerly called Astanga yoga or classical yoga, the form of yoga aligns closely with the yoga sutras from Patanjali. Our deepest calling often shows up mysteriously. Our most challenging experiences invite us to face our fears and break through our perceived limitations. When we move through our fears, we elevate our awareness and mental capacities, which allows us to courageously step into the next level of our potential. Mindfulness Meditation Mindfulness meditation is an ancient practice used for quieting the monkey mind. Originating from Hindu and Buddhist traditions and practiced for over five thousand years, meditation is now widely offered as a stress-reduction and mind-training method in corporations and communities around the world. It helps us train our attention and awareness to achieve more mental clarity, emotional balance, and deeper states of relaxation, well-being, and self-realization. To be mindful is to be fully present in the here and now, not ruminating on the past or anticipating or worrying about the future. When we are in a state of mindfulness, we are aware of our thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment and as neutral observers. We are able to embrace whatever arises without pushing it away or clinging to the experience. Just as reflected appraisals sometimes are a poor match to what people really think of themselves, the self-knowledge people gain through social comparison is not always accurate. In fact, people consistently make errors in their use of social comparisons to judge their own attributes.

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