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How to Gain Freedom from Your Thoughts

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_gain_freedom_from_your_thoughts

greatergood.berkeley.edu

How to Gain Freedom from Your Thoughts
If you practice meditation, you probably spend a lot of time training your focus-on the breath, the body, or your wandering thoughts and feelings. But if you only train focus, you may be missing out on some profound benefits.

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Open awareness

One of the valuable skills in meditation is called open awareness, where you rest in the awareness of awareness. You can then approach situations with fresh eyes, and let go of your habitual reactions and expectations for the future.

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The power of open awareness

Some find that being aware of awareness is confusing or even bizarre.

However, upon further reflection, they consider it very peaceful.

Social neuroscientists found when practicing open awareness meditation, Gamma waves that usually occur briefly and in one spot of the brain are elevated all across the brain. It makes you feel a sense of vastness and spaciousness.

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Our brain is an anticipation machine

We typically see the world through a set of filters that can limit our experience and keep us stuck in painful patterns of emotion.

Filters help us anticipate what is going to happen next and influence the information our brains receive. When we begin to filter too much, we lose touch with the beginner's mind that is open and without preconceptions.

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Relax the filters you have

Major growth can occur when we give up some of the filters that arise in our lives - whether those filters are our expectations of the future, our biases about other people, or the limitations we place on ourselves.

One way to relax our filters is to cultivate access to our inner selves. The other is to have a sense of humor about who we are.

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Laughter and humor

When we have a sense of humor about who we are, it opens awareness and connection with others.

Jokes are funny because they move in an unexpected direction - not where our filters expected it to go. At that moment, we deal with something our filters never saw coming. It opens us up to new learning and more openness.

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Fighting For Our Focus

Fighting For Our Focus

Scheduling of work falls into two broad categories: Makers and Managers. Most of us are either managing people and projects or making something, like documents, apps or other creat...

Different Jobs See Time Differently

  • Managers can work in time blocks of 30 or 60 minutes, scheduling meetings or sending emails.
  • Makers need almost half a day to get down and create something, requiring an uninterrupted focus mode that is nearly impossible.

What complicates matters is that many managers who are managing the makers think of time as short blocks and try to break the focused time of the makers, requesting them to juggle work or multitask, which kills any productivity or quality with the unending context switching.

Schedules And Productivity

None of us can get creative in short 15-minute bursts of work sandwiched between a mandatory meeting and a sales team call. It is also a myth that people work for 8 to 10 hours a day.

Most people are productive in sporadic periods of time, like 15 minutes, followed by an interruption, then for 20 minutes, followed by a commitment/obligation/meeting and so on.

We need to align our schedules with our goals and create a strategy that helps us focus on deep work.

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Reducing Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

  • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stres...

Controlling Anxiety

Less stress leads to less anxiety.

Regular meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Promoting Emotional Health

Some types of meditation can improve depression and help you maintain these benefits.

  • Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults.
  • One study found that participants experienced a long-term decrease in depression.

Mindfulness meditation

It is based on Buddhist traditions and it's described as "the non-judgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment."

Sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed, focusing on yo...

How meditation works

It  works through a combination of several distinct mechanisms:
  • Attention regulation. Focused attention for an extended period of time.
  • Body awareness. Paying attention to surroundings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
  • Emotion regulation. Learning to observe your thoughts and accept them without reactive judgment while refraining from the habitual response.
  • Change in perspective on the self.