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Gene Williams

Gene's 100 Day Mindfulness Challenge

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Hello Everyone,

I am opening up a thread for my 100 Day Mindfulness Challenge.

Reposting my Day 1 Exercise: ūüôā

Integrated Practice:

Complete a ‚ÄėOne Complete Cycle of Breath‚Äô practice before a meeting or spending time with someone today.

Reflection Questions:

Q.) How does it feel to put your full attention on one breath?

It feels relaxing. I really appreciated relaxing into each breath as I listened to Sean's soothing voice and the background of the following rain. My mind wandered a bit but I was able to return to the breath by identifying thoughts and coming back to the breath.

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Day 2 Exercise:

Integrated Practice:

Before eating your next meal today, complete another ‚ÄėThree Mindful Breaths‚Äô practice.

Reflection Questions:

Q.) What impact do you notice when you stop and take three mindful breaths?

 I can feel the energy in my body, and I stop thinking. During breakfast, I noticed that I ate slower and enjoyed my meal.

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Hello everyone,

Here is my Day 3 Exercise.

1. What I want from this 28-day challenge is …  

I want to take a deep dive into practicing Tara Brach's (2013) Recognize, Accept, Investigate and Nurture (R.A.I.N) approach to responding to what I consider are difficult and intense emotions (See Tarah Brach., True Refuge., 2013). I want to adopt a positive and healthy approach which focuses on experiencing and processing thoughts and emotions: without reacting to them in a negative and self-defeating way.

 

My other challenge is that I often forget about being mindful and get stuck in a bit of a trance in the midst of being busy. This often occurs when I am at work. I want to be more deliberate about my mindfulness practice at work so that I can come back to being mindful in the moment during a busy. My goal is to be more responsive to people and situations instead of being reactive.

2. Some obstacles to me practicing every day could be…

My biggest obstacle is getting stuck in what Tara Brach would say is a mental trance where I am involved in a series of mental reactions without being aware of my emotional and mental state of mind. This does not mean that I am not coping well or being unproductive. However, I can be in situations for three to four hours at a time and forget about being mindful. It is only when I experience strong emotions that remember to wake up, pause and reflect. I want to get to a place where I can be spontaneous about being mindful and aware moment to moment and not get stuck in the trance of serial mental reactions.

Kind Regards,

Gene

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3 hours ago, Gene Williams said:

It is only when I experience strong emotions that remember to wake up, pause and reflect. I want to get to a place where I can be spontaneous about being mindful and aware moment to moment and not get stuck in the trance of serial mental reactions.

First, let me say I'm so glad to see you've started a thread for your journey through the 100-day mindfulness program. It will be great to follow along with this!

I also highlighted this particular reflection you've shared as I can relate to this. I had a realization about this quite a while ago while meditating. I realized that I can so easily become caught in pleasant thought streams during meditation - and, while not uncomfortable by any means, this is not mindful awareness. This awareness was a big shift for me.

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11 minutes ago, Gillian Sanger said:

First, let me say I'm so glad to see you've started a thread for your journey through the 100-day mindfulness program. It will be great to follow along with this!

I also highlighted this particular reflection you've shared as I can relate to this. I had a realization about this quite a while ago while meditating. I realized that I can so easily become caught in pleasant thought streams during meditation - and, while not uncomfortable by any means, this is not mindful awareness. This awareness was a big shift for me.

I appreciate your commens @Gillian Sanger

You raise an important distinction that I think I have not been aware of when I am practicing mindfulness: becoming aware of pleasant thought streams. I can easily become aware of unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and emotions but I do not pay much attention to the pleasant ones. Yes, this is not mindful awareness!!!

I will give this more attention in my practice.

Many thanks,

Gene

Edited by Gene Williams
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Hello everyone,

Here is my Day 4 Exercise. 

Reflection Question:

Was there anything that surprised you on your walk?

 I had a few surprises and some observations about my walk that I want to share with everyone. At some moments in my walk, I found myself grasping at trying to be aware and was pushing awareness away. Trying to grasp at finding awareness is not a state of being. I was also constantly shifting my awareness between focused thinking and a state of a larger awareness. In one instance, this sudden shift caused a sensation of feeling disoriented. I wonder if I was trying too hard and a sign that I was trying to return to a sense of balance: finding balance that was dependant on something I had to do instead of allowing it to rise up naturally.

 In other moments, I found myself experiencing periods where I became stuck in the trance of free-flowing thoughts, getting stuck in the stories in my head and resisting being in the moment. This is a sign that I was running away from being in the moment. When my awareness returned to the moment, I became aware of the blue and pink sky, shades of colours in the trees, houses, a little stream, the sight and sounds of birds, the smells of furnace fuel from houses and the coolness of the wind on my face.

 In summary, what I learned is that I was all over the place with my walk. I was grasping at trying to create an experience and pushing it away. I was also stuck in the stories in my head and returning to the moment. The shifting from the trance of thoughts back to the moment caused disorientation and confusion. This was associated with the body feeling heavy and light. I was reminded that I can't be in the moment when I am trying to create an experience. I was also reminded that when I returned to the moment, I deeply experienced the sights and sounds of nature and my surroundings. I want to share a quote by Ven. Anzan Hoshin Roshi (Before Thinking, 1989) that reminded me about this idea of trying to grasp at experiences. He says,

 "You can't grab at clarity. You can't make yourself be clear. Clarity simply opens when you get out of your own way. It is something that begins to pervade your experience more and more. It bubbles up. It wells up. Even though you are lost in some particular state, you find yourself becoming aware of that, being able to straighten up, stand free within that state and watch the state change, watch it start to open".

Begin Here: Five Styles of Zen (Link: Before Thinking, 1989)

What impact might taking an open awareness approach have on your work?

 An open awareness approach at work would improve the quality and effectiveness of my work. An open awareness would allow me to be more effective in my communication with co-workers and enhance my ability to support the staff who report to me. This would occur because I would be more mindful of my actions, reactions, and responses to people and situations that require my attention. I would be able to interrupt unhelpful reactions and choose intelligent responses by being aware of my internal experience. Ultimately, this would help me to approach my work with an inner sense of calmness and balance would help me to be more effective.

Any questions or comments are welcome.

Kind Regards,

Gene

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4 hours ago, Gene Williams said:

Hello all,

For some reason, I did not receive a Day 5 Exercise. I just got my Day 6 Exercise and will post my response to the questions later today.

Cheers,

Gene

I had Day 5 in my email archives (pasting below). I hope this helps! 


Day 5:
Wishing Ourselves and Others Well

Integrated Practice:

When you see the next person you will interact with today, take a moment to say in your mind, "I wish for you to be happy" as you greet them.  Repeat this as many times as you remember to do so today.

Reflection Question:

Q.) How did the practice of wishing others well impact your interactions?  

Q.) Did it shift your mood in any way?  Did it impact the quality of your attention?
 

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Day 5: Wishing Ourselves and Others Well

Reflection Question:

Q.) How did the practice of wishing others well impact your interactions?  

I found myself wanting to take an interest in how they were doing. I was practicing this while on a walk around my neighbourhood and practiced wishing every members of every household I walked by to be healthy and well.

Q.) Did it shift your mood in any way?  Did it impact the quality of your attention?

Initially, it was easier for me to wish others well. But wishing me well did not come naturally. I found myself feeling more interested in others and it made me feel more connected to everyone and everything around me. It also softened my sense of an isolated self and made me reflect that I was not alone. I did not feel so anxious about some of the things that had been concerning me. I was also more attentive and remembered to practice empathy when listening. I also became more aware of all my surroundings. My overall feeling and mood were that everyone and everything matters. At the end of the exercise, I was able to wish myself well with the same ease that I wished others well.

Day 6: Body Scan

Reflection Question:

 Q.) What information do you receive when checking in with your body?

I found myself feeling the vibrations in all parts of my body throughout the scan. However, I could not feel the tingling in my head as intensely as in other parts of the body. What I could feel immediately is coolness or heat when I could not feel the tingling. As I moved into the gut, I could feel heaviness. When I focused on the heart, I could feel mild pressure and mild squeezing. Although, it took concentrated effort to feel this sensation. Initially, I could not feel anything around my heart. Ultimately, as I could feel my body soften as I brought awareness, and this increased my awareness of the parts of the body I was focusing on.

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On 4/17/2020 at 7:43 AM, Gillian Sanger said:

First, let me say I'm so glad to see you've started a thread for your journey through the 100-day mindfulness program. It will be great to follow along with this!

I also highlighted this particular reflection you've shared as I can relate to this. I had a realization about this quite a while ago while meditating. I realized that I can so easily become caught in pleasant thought streams during meditation - and, while not uncomfortable by any means, this is not mindful awareness. This awareness was a big shift for me.

Hi @Gillian Sanger,

I have been giving your feedback a lot of thought. I realize that I sometimes confuse pleasant thoughts with being mindful. Can you explain or describe what the difference is for you? I get confused sometimes because being mindful can sometimes feel pleasant for me. 

I am curious to hear your thoughts about this.

Many thanks,

Gene

 

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Hi Gene,

Great question! I'd love to elaborate more:

I'll start with the realization. It happened one day while I was meditating. The timer was set for 30 minutes or so, and on this particular day, I felt more than content to sit in silence. However, some time into the meditation, I realized my mind had been far from quiet; it had been lost in a very pleasant daydream that I was narrating. I can't remember what exactly I was envisioning, but it probably had something to do with a workshop I saw myself leading or a book I was envisioning I'd write. Something like that...

I realized in that moment that although my meditation was quite enjoyable, this joy was conditional upon me having these 'happy' thoughts. It was a lovely experience, but it wasn't true presence because I was 'somewhere out there' rather than 'right here'.

Mindfulness can absolutely feel pleasant, but I guess we can consider that sometimes the nice feeling arises from a quiet presence and sometimes from a daydream. It doesn't make the daydream wrong, but I think it's worth the distinction. If we can make the distinction, we can move closer towards the happiness that stems from the quiet presence, which is unconditional upon the nature of our thoughts. Does that make sense?

I wrote a piece about this some time ago. Here it is if you're interested in reading more: https://medium.com/words-from-the-silence/mindfulness-is-not-what-we-make-it-9d38f44cd255

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WOW.  @Gillian Sanger  @Gene Williams  I have just finished the 100 days challenge.  I continue to receive more. lol  Blessings all the time here.   

You both have touched a very good point.  I have done guided meditations for many years.  40+?     At first I loved it because putting myself somewhere else always led to the release of tension I needed.  Clearing the stressful thoughts of the day or week.  Then I would use sounds like rain, animals etc. that would lead to a different type of result.  

The mindful meditation I have learned is at times of nothing.  To think of nothing is to empty the space for the soul consciousness to reside.  Sometimes a message may come.  Or a flash of something.  But if you set your mind at the question: "I wonder what my next thought will be?"  Will hold this emptiness for you to receive that space.  Letting all other thoughts float away as if on a cloud.  My experience that when meditating if I concentrate on the thought, tell it 'OK" I see you/hear you/acknowledge you, now float away and it goes.  This leaves a space.  

When I do this, tingling occurs and I notice of feeling balance and cleared or cleaned.  Refreshed, if you will.  Blessings and keep meditating. 

Paige

  

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16 hours ago, Paige PIlege said:

The mindful meditation I have learned is at times of nothing.  To think of nothing is to empty the space for the soul consciousness to reside.  Sometimes a message may come.  Or a flash of something.  But if you set your mind at the question: "I wonder what my next thought will be?"  Will hold this emptiness for you to receive that space.  Letting all other thoughts float away as if on a cloud.  My experience that when meditating if I concentrate on the thought, tell it 'OK" I see you/hear you/acknowledge you, now float away and it goes.  This leaves a space.  

When I do this, tingling occurs and I notice of feeling balance and cleared or cleaned.  Refreshed, if you will.  Blessings and keep meditating. 

Paige

  

Thank you for  your comments @Paige PIlege

Leaving a space between thoughts is a good practice. I will work this into my practice. Many thanks.

Gene

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