This is a simple game I’m working on to demonstrate how attention and awareness work in meditation, as explained in the book The Mind Illuminated. This game probably best represents Stage 4 in the book (trying to overcome gross distractions with continuous introspective awareness).… Read the rest “The Attention & Awareness Game”
Until you understand this key distinction, you won’t be getting the full benefit of mindfulness, or understanding its very real limitations.
Not Just Attention
Mindfulness is usually defined in terms of paying attention (e.g. “paying attention to the present moment”) but this leads to confusion and inconsistencies.
For one thing, it is impossible to pay attention to “the present moment”, which consists of an impossibly vast amount of data from our senses, only a tiny percentage of which we are able to pay attention to at any one time.… Read the rest “You Don’t Understand Mindfulness Until You Understand This One Thing”
Three insights from attentional neuroscience to improve your concentration in meditation.
Note: By far the most important lesson about attention is that you need to learn to balance it with awareness – I’m writing this for an audience who I assume will already be familiar with this attention-awareness interplay that’s spelled out in the book The Mind Illuminated.… Read the rest “A Meditator’s Guide to the Neuroscience of Attention”
Meditation practice is a matter of psychology, not magic. Confusion on this point can have insidious (and dumb) consequences.
“Om Ah Hung is the fundamental three-word mantra of Sanskrit consonants, forming the fundamental sound of the numerous lives in the Universe. It shakes away the blockages in the body’s channels, cleansing it of ailments.”
– Discussing the Dharma Door of Chanting The Buddha’s Name, Nan Huai Jin
“Fundamentally, when you meditate, you bring your guard down and the light energy gets in…”
Here are the six steps to actually getting better at meditation, according to psychology.
- Prelude – Understanding Mental Representations
- The Elements of Deliberate Practice
- 1: A Highly Developed Field
- 2: Target Specific Sub-Skills
- 3: Clear and Immediate Feedback
- 4: Focused Practice
- A Brief Interlude About the Dangers of Over-Efforting
- 5: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
- 6: Continued Engagement
- A TL;DR Summary of Deliberate Practice
Most meditation instructions that you’ll find go something like this:
- Place your attention on the object of meditation (usually the sensations of breathing at the nostrils) and keep it there.
Most people meditate for a long time with little improvement because of these four myths.
- Striving for unusual or one-off experiences
- Misunderstanding non-judgemental awareness
- Thinking that trying to exert any kind of effort in meditation is a mistake
- Extremely vague or unstructured meditation instructions
“I’ve been practicing meditation for a few years, but I still can’t keep my attention on my breath for more than a few seconds at a time.… Read the rest “I Wasted 8 Years of Meditation Because I Didn’t Understand These 4 Things”