Mindfulness Blog

Practicing Mindfulness Blog

Mindfulness and Science Fiction – Geek Link?

Mindfulness and Science Fiction – The Geek Link.

I like Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and computers. I guess it’s a result of being born in the mid 1970s and being bombarded with Star Wars toys, video games, and cheesy movies from the 80s…

I made my parents get me an Empire Strikes Back lunch box in the second grade after getting made fun of at school for having a BeeGees one.  I think that being a geek has definitely opened doors for me into the practice of mindfulness that I might not have otherwise had if I had not been introduced to certain things in childhood.The Star Wars Trilogy, and especially the idea of the Force, had a profound impact on me as a child.

I remember being dragged to religious services kicking and screaming, then sitting there bored to tears as I was forced to listen to someone speak about the divine as if they were talking about football stats.  Sure, they were sort of excited, but the stuff coming out of their mouths held no weight for me.  They simply had no authority on the subject and clearly were just conducting services out of wrote memorization.

I wasn’t swayed, and longed for something deeper, like the Force.

Years later, I came upon a book called The Dharma of Star Wars. This book, while a bit hokey, lit a fire inside me once again.  I could relate to something totally foreign to me in a language that was practically in my DNA (I saw Star Wars when I was 3 years old.)

The Buddhist teachings are spelled out in a way that really hit home in that book, and really sent me on a quest to absorb all of the information I could on the subject.  I felt that I could finally understand what Yoda was teaching Luke.  Especially when he said,

“All his life has he looked away…to the future, to the horizon…Never his mind on where he was, mmmm?….what he was doing…”

That’s mindfulness right there!

Being a geek has in fact led me to many other things, including landing me in a job where I met other seekers, who introduced me to even deeper teachings.  All of that would not have been possible if I weren’t a geek.  I have no shame, no remorse, and no fear of being labeled…a geek… capice?

What Color is Mindfulness?

If you look at the news stands and TIME magazine, it’s white.  If you read some popular blogs, it’s white, but it shouldn’t be, and shame on TIME.  If you ask me, candy comes in many different shapes and sizes, but all contain sugar that can rot you from the inside out.

TIMEmindfulnesscoverA recent article on Huffington Post reads:

It’s undeniable that there is a mindful revolution going on, and that more people than ever before are embracing the well-documented physical and mental health benefits of meditation. But unfortunately, a homogenous representation of mindfulness practices isn’t uncommon in the media – especially in the case of yoga, which is often depicted by a thin white woman with a “Gwyneth Paltrow body.” But the image of the serene, young white woman closing her eyes and breathing deeply doesn’t come close to telling the whole story of how mindfulness is beginning to transform lives.

Despite the often-exclusionary media representation of mindfulness, the “mindful revolution” is spreading everywhere.

Really?  That’s what we have to focus on?  Not to trivialize, but do we have to make this into a diversity crisis?  We have to bring the exclusionary media practices into this?  We should decry TIME magazine because they chose to use a white woman on their cover?  That’s the very definition of racism, using race as a precursor to access.  You can’t package that argument as “diversity”, it’s racism against whomever “should” not be on the cover of the magazine because of their skin color.  I love the hipocricy.

Maybe we should meditate more.

Sure, there have been horrific and despicable acts of racism dating back before recorded history.  We need to collectively stop that as a society.  No one should be denied anything based on the color of their skin, including access to a magazine cover.

Now, that said, TIME could have played it better by showing a group of people of different ethnicities in deep meditation.  They could have looked ahead and not caused a stir by just hiring some diverse models.  But hey, maybe they saw this and wanted a little bit of controversy, to you know, sell more magazines??

Still though, we could USE this for good.  Either way you feel about this, USE IT.  Close your eyes and picture the argument in your mind.  See how you FEEL about it, then trace the feeling back to the source.  You could learn a whole lot about your own biases and filters by doing this exercise.

Spin this into a positive for you and your mindfulness practice can improve ten-fold.  Doing this exercise will do far more about fighting racism than complaining about it in an article and causing a stir.

If everyone saw their own biases for what they really are, I don’t think we’d have much racism left in the world.  Diversity and inclusion would happen naturally, not as a result of pressure and shaming tactics, which, unfortunately, are almost as prevalent as bigotry itself lately.

Love me or hate me, but please try that exercise.  I can open doors for you and those around you.  Change yourself and by doing to, change the world.

End rant.

Binaural Beats, Isochronic Tones, and Brainwave Entrainment Oh My!

Brainwave Entrainment

Brainwave entrainment is a simple concept. It’s simply causing your brainwave frequency to align with some intended frequency in order to produce some intended result. It’s a way of modulating your brainwaves to resonate at a certain frequency. Being that there are certain dominant frequencies associated with different states of consciousness, this is being researched as a quick and effective way to induce states such as sleep, alertness, concentration, and even meditative and deep sleep states.

brainwaveEntrainmentPeople who meditate regularly enjoy many benefits such as increased sense of well being, happiness, contentment, and far less anxiety that many other people. Some believe that this is due to both hemispheres of the brain being in sync with eachother, which meditative practice can provide. Therefore, a goal of using technology to entrain the brain and align the frequencies of the brain hemispheres has become a very interesting avenue of science and experimentation.

Ways to Achieve Brainwave Entrainment Using Technology

Binaural Beats

Binaural beats are pretty simple. Basically, you take two frequencies that are similar and play each one through it’s own stereo headphone. The two competing frequencies will work together in your mind to produce a pulsing. That pulse will be a certain frequency that corresponds to a number in hertz that is linked to what your brain produces when you are in certain states of consciousness.

For example, according to Wikipedia, if you take one frequency in one speaker in a pair of headphones, say, 300Hz, and the other speaker for your other ear has a frequency of 310Hz, the resulting difference of 10Hz would be the rate that the pulse, or beat, plays at. 10Hz (Alpha Waves) would correspond to what the brain puts out when you are generally relaxed. So, in effect, listening to a 10Hz binaural beat for a certain amount of time should take the edge off.

Isochronic Tones

These tones are similar in that they pulse like binaural beats. The difference is that they don’t need to be listened to using headphones as the pulse, or beat, is not generated by two different frequencies. The sound is an on/off pulse. Although you don’t need headphones to seperate the frequencies listened to, they are recommended. I’ve had just as much response to isochronic tones as I’ve had to binaural beats. I’d try both though, especially if you don’t respond to one or the other.

I created a couple of Isochronic Tones here for you to try out. They are very basic and use white noise as filler.

An AWESOME Resource

This is a great resource for brainwave entrainment products that I recommend. They have binaural beats and isochronic tones for many different applications. The nice thing is that they are inexpensive, so you can experiment with different types and find ones that work for you. They also have a membership plan that makes experimenting even more affordable. It’s probably the best bang for the buck that I can find for brainwave entrainment.

A Replacement for Meditation?

Some people believe that using this stuff can be a replacement for meditation. While sitting passively and listening to something that can give you the same effect frequency-wise as meditation, there is still far more benefit to meditating than just entrainment. Meditation and mindfulness allow you to really understand yourself on a level far deeper than technology will bring you.

That said, I use binaural beats and isochronic tones to help me get over some hurdles, or as a pre-game to meditation. It’s far easier to go deep once my mind is operating on a certain frequency. It’s also way easier to get to that point than fighting my thoughts at times. Think of binaural beats and isochronic tones as heavy ammunition that you don’t always need, but is great to have in your arsenal when you really need it.

What Is Deep Sleep Meditation?

Deep Sleep Meditation

Deep sleep and meditation can go hand in hand. In fact, many people experience deep sleep after a round of quality meditation. Some even complain that they tend to fall asleep while meditating. I certainly have on more than one occasion. What, then, is deep sleep meditation and why would we want to do it.

Deep Sleep Meditation

Is There Such A Thing as Deep Sleep Meditation?

If you search the web, you’ll find links to all kinds of products that claim to help put you in deep-sleep meditation. I’d venture to say that any meditation can be “deep sleep meditation“. The very act of meditating can put you into the same conscious state as deep sleep, and in many cases, can get you into a deeper state than dreaming.

This is Yoga Nidra, or Yogic Sleep.  It brings you past the dream (REM) state and into the deep sleep state, but you’re still “awake”.  SwamiJ has a great write-up here.  It’s worth checking out.

Still though, the consensus is that we need our sleep, and insomnia is bad. Therefore, we can and should use meditation to help us get more sleep.

Why Meditation for Deep Sleep?

Often, when we can’t sleep, our minds are racing. Our thoughts just don’t stop. We are caught in horrendous cycles of past and future. We are regretting things, or worrying about something. We are bothered by events in our lives. Maybe we can’t get comfortable… The reasons are many.  Deep sleep meditation can help.

One Simple Deep Sleep Meditation Exercise

Meditation and mindfulness can help us calm our minds and thoughts. This will allow us to relax a bit. When we are relaxed mentally, falling asleep is much easier. If you don’t believe me, try it.

1. Do some progressive muscle relaxation.

2. If that doesn’t help, try autogenic training.

3. Use the 7-11 breathing technique.

4. Lie down. This will help you fall asleep. Keep your back straight though.

5. Start watching your breath go in and out.

6. Thoughts WILL happen, just be like, “whatever” and let them go.

7. LET THEM GO. They have no power here.

8. Keep watching your breath.

9. This will either bring you into deep meditation or you’ll fall asleep. Either would be awesome for you.

10. Practice this “deep sleep meditation” as often as you want. It gets easier with practice.

If you find that it’s not working, try modifying it a bit. Instead of watching your breath, repeat some phrase to yourself over and over. This will entrain your mind.

If you really want to learn to use mindfulness, click here and follow the path.

Can You Overcome an Addiction Using Mindfulness?

Do You Have an Addictive Personality?

Many of us suffer from some form of addiction.  That may be alcohol addiction, drug addiction, internet addiction, nicotine addiction, or even coffee addiction.  There are as many addictions as there are things to be addicted to.

addict helpLately, I’ve been hearing stories coming out of some drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers that have turned to using mindfulness as a way to break the cycle. This goes for residential alcohol treatment as well as other outpatient substance abuse facilities.  Now, I’m not a therapist, but as a practitioner of mindfulness who has battled some addictions myself, I can see how mindfulness can be a powerful tool in overcoming these problems.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

These are probably the most harmful of all.  Alcohol and drug addiction ruin not only the lives of those with the addiction, but those around them as well.  It’s really important that those with the problem seek help to re-balance their lives.  There are good options available for those suffering.

For the most hardcore addictions, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers are a solid option. Residential alcohol treatment and drug treatment centers offer a supportive environment where those affected can get dedicated around the clock treatment.  There are also a variety of outpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers available as well.  Then, there’s the coveted 12-step programs and AA.

There’s a good resource here that covers alcohol abuse treatment options.

Does Mindfulness Help With Substance Abuse?

Mindfulness puts you in the present moment.  It takes you out of whatever is bothering you and lets you live in the moment.  While our minds are usually in the past or future, worrying or fantasizing, or regretting or reminiscing, we are seldom naturally just observing what is happening in the moment.  That’s the point of mindfulness.

The problem with using mindfulness to combat hardcore alcohol and drug abuse is that substances are often used to take us away from the present moment.  When you’re using substances to take you away from your troubles, the present moment is where you’d notice how agitated you are.  Therefore, it can become really friggin hard to observe the present moment because you feel like crap and just want your fix.  This is the conundrum.  This is what makes mindfulness so powerful for treating substance abuse, or any addiction.

In observing the present moment, you’re forced to deal with things as they are.  This is powerful in that the more you deal with your agitated state, the easier it becomes to lessen it.  When it lessens, you are less inclined to seek escape through drugs, alcohol, or other addictions.  You spend time dealing with and mitigating the problem.  It breaks the cycle, or, better yet, creates a positive loop that brings you out of your addiction naturally.  It may actually get easier the more you practice.

This is difficult stuff, but it seems to be working for some people.  Another nice thing is that by practicing mindfulness and observing yourself, you become better able to tolerate yourself and your flaws.  In effect, you “forgive” yourself.  This works wonders for your self-esteem, which is a big factor in turning to substance abuse in the first place.

If you’re suffering from an addiction, trying mindfulness is certainly worth a look.