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jeffrey108miller@gmail.com last won the day on January 10

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About jeffrey108miller@gmail.com

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    Jeff Miller
  • Location Los Angeles, CA, USA

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  1. Jeff, what do you think of the absence of concentration from mindfulness discussion? While I liked your piece about improving attentional focus and stability, I.e. concentration, what do you think of the distinction I was trying to make between concentration—even developed to deep absorption—and samadhi? I really enjoy and appreciate your perspective on things and am very curious about what you might add here.

  2. I’m building an online learning environment that will market mindfulness (and related) courses to these demographics via custom ads / targeted landing pages: activists, trauma survivors, seniors, artists and writers. Depending on which ‘gate’ they access the site through, students will be served mindfulness course content that’s tailored to their interest.
  3. I begin some classes / therapy sessions with a simple short breathing awareness exercise that does just that. The bones of it are: - sit up straight - inhale a full deep breath - exhale fully and deeply - return breathing to normal. - keeping the mind still, bring the attention to the tip of the nostrils and just note the sensations caused by air entering and leaving, without opening up a chat session in the head about it. - do this for five minutes (or longer). - close the exercise by inhaling a full deep breath, exhaling slowly and fully and then return breathing to normal.
  4. Hi Stephan, I too would like to see your YouTube channel. Our paths have some similarities. I also have a background in tech (web dev, UX auditing, creative direction and brand strategy), have an academic / professional background in clinical and counseling psychology and am building an online learning / retreat center. It is an interesting mix and a challenging project. You might also consider a kickstarter.com campaign to raise funds with no venture capital pressures.
  5. “When I think about hope's opposite - hopelessness - I consider hope to be a valuable state to cultivate.“ I’m interested in hearing more, if you (or others here) would like to share, about when you would advise ‘hoping’ to a student / client (or if you think it should be continuously generated on an ongoing basis), and also what you see as the perceived benefits of hope. - - - I’m going to riff a bit more about hope / hopelessness because in this age of uncertainty, when everything is falling apart again, these two states of being are both pandemic. Many of our students / clients are driven and jerked around by them and have never considered a life free from them. Hopelessness is interesting. It is a state of being, that we don’t like, tend to push away and that can happen when all our hope stories fail us and the hope cookie jar is empty. While recognizing that hoping can have some temporary and relatively minor medicinal value in early stages of trauma resolution, the act of mindfully acknowledging the experience of ‘hopelessness’ without pouring our own unique brand of hope sauce all over the experience, for as long as it takes, can be very clarifying. The potential side effect of hope stories is that they tend to be driven by conditioned patterns of thought and habitual emotional reactivity ... the same unconscious patterns that conjure up stories of hopelessness. If we tilt the mind just so, we can even begin to see hope and hopelessness as causing and feeding off of each other. We can think of them as tennis rackets that bat us back and forth between them. Just observing / noting both without being captured and dragged around by them, without pushing away or grabbing at, can help us see both clearly for what they are ... that is, just more craving wearing different masks.
  6. “Or, where do you hope the world will be then?” I tend not to indulge in fictions of hope because this chattering / craving distorts perception and erodes presence. Hope is storification that tends to feed avoidance / denial / ignorance of what actually is and what is actually going to happen (by way of cause and effect). It tends to generate dissatisfactoriness and delusion. It is a form of magical thinking that modern people have been conditioned to endlessly drug themselves with like small children do. Based on many decades of explicitly clear and detailed science, by the mid-to-end of this century we’re looking at 60-90% of the world’s species extinct, a 3-5 C global temp increase with an exponential increase in catastrophic weather events, billions of people displaced, widespread famine due to heat-exhausted soil and declining seed viability, economic collapse, resource and territory wars, more pandemics, a collapsed civilization and a very active human existential crisis. We can hope all we want but hope isn’t mitigative or adaptive action ... it is escapism. IMO, mindfulness (and the larger body of knowledge / practices that it was extracted from) originally served to keep the human species ... which is innately embedded in and utterly dependent on a thin fragile layer of life in a tiny unstable speck of rock, fire, air and water that is whizzing around a colossal volatile flaming sphere in a infinite tiding ocean of space ... acutely focused on what we actually are, where we actually are, and how where we actually are actually operates. In the oral tradition and social / moral code that mindfulness originated in, which was regarded as medicine, hope was contraindicated because it clouds perception of reality. It was explicitly advised that hope should just be noted as it rises in the mind and then released because it is just another reactive conceptual / emotional excretion and a very seductive feel-good lollipop. The purpose of mindfulness isn’t to feel good. It is a refinement of perception so that it is an accurate reflection of what actually is.
  7. Hi Chanta, Nice to hear that you are integrating Chinese Medicine and mindfulness. In my work I direct students’ attention to the Five Phases and root each of the five classes I offer (and related practices) in the current season / phase.
  8. Hello Tracyavon, welcome to the forum. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts about mindfulness.
  9. Thanks. A big challenge for mindfulness teachers is convincing students that mindfulness isn’t a conceptual exercise and that the breath is a fundamentally direct path to refining perception if practiced consistently.
  10. Hi Gillian, “As I read the first exercise, I realized I don't have a watch or clock in my home! So I'd have to skip this one... unless there was an alternative? As I write this now, I am sitting in from of my window and noticing the leaves of trees dancing in the wind. I wonder if an alternate option could be to focus on a single leaf of a tree and stay with that as it flutters - or even as it stays still. Alternatively, a candle flame could work. What do you think?” A dancing leaf or a flickering candle flame would work, but I suggest a clock / second hand to my students / clients for a couple of reasons: 1. This is a challenging practice for newbies. The wild mind slipperily resists being trained and will grasp onto any distraction (dancing, flickering), especially if it is pretty, soothing, or entertaining. For beginners (and advanced practitioners) the movement of the second hand is simple, smooth, consistent, and utilitarian, with a repetitive order and is easy to visually track. The clock / second hand can be thought of as a controlled experiment field which, by contrast, highlights / exposes the disorderliness and flightiness of mind. 2. One of the central contexts of the work I introduce students to is a conscious perceptual reintegration with the patterns and processes of the meta-environments we evolved within, are endlessly at the effect of, and that we are utterly dependent on for the sustenance and survival of the species. The cyclical pattern of the second hand subtly mirrors the scale invariant cycles of time operating in the universe, galaxy, solar system, and terrestrial systems that enable and regulate the cyclical physiological / neurological processes of all biological lifeforms (including human), that, in turn, influence perception, cognition and emotion. The rotation of the second hand around the clock serves as a non-conceptual experiential re.minding of the cyclical / seasonal nature of personal existence and all of existence. (I suggest to students that they buy a cheap clock or watch at EBay or Amazon and regarded it as a ritual tool) - - “Are your course takers already versed on three part breathing? I am guessing so but if not, that is something that could be explained.” Yes. Three part breathing is the first exercise I give to new students and I include it as the first part of most of the practices I introduce throughout the year long training. - - - - - - - RELEARNING TO BREATHE In our tension-filled culture many people, if not most, have forgotten how to breathe properly, meaning in the way that the human organism evolved to breathe. The three-part breathing that you’ll learn here should underpin the rest of the exercises in this program and re-pattern your breathing in ways that will benefit you throughout daily life. It results in the processing of up to approximately 10 times more oxygen than shallow repressed breathing allows, which benefits physical and mental health. With practice this way of breathing will become ordinary. NOTE: If you feel dizzy or lightheaded at any time during this exercise, you’re overdoing it. Gently bring your breathing back to normal and sit quietly for a few minutes before resuming. • Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position on the floor, or on a straight-backed chair. Keep the spine and neck straight, but not strained or rigid. • Exhale slowly and fully through the nostrils. • Inhale slowly and deeply through the nostrils, in a three-part flow. First, let the lower abdomen fill and expand, starting from the bottom of the stomach. Next, let the lower lungs expand naturally. Finally, fill the upper lungs from the bottom all the way to the top, feeling the rib cage expand. This is like filling a container, from the bottom of the abdomen to the top of the lungs, in one smooth motion. Feel the collar bones slightly rise when the lungs are full. Be aware of each of the three stages when you’re beginning: one movement, three stages. It may help when first learning this way of breathing to place your hand first on the abdomen, then on the lower lungs, then on the upper chest near the collar bones to both direct and follow the flow. • Without holding the breath, notice the natural brief pause when the inhalation is complete, before exhaling slowly and fully in the reverse order, preserving an awareness of the three stages. Again, follow the flow with a hand on the body as you become familiar with the process. First let the top of the lungs empty, then the lower lungs, and finally the stomach. Pull the stomach slightly inward at the end of the exhalation to empty the container fully. Notice the natural brief pause before the next inhalation begins. Repeat this process for five cycles, in one slow, gentle, continuous flow: in and out, in and out, breathing in to capacity and exhaling fully, each time letting go of more tension and receiving breath easily. When done, bring the breath back to normal and sit quietly for a moment, feeling the effects in body and mind of this deep, full, gentle receiving and letting go. You may even involuntarily smile! With practice, you can increase this to ten gentle cycles. This is an excellent practice to start and end the day. - - - - - - - Feedback welcome from everyone, both pros and cons.
  11. One of my practices when engaging in social media is to not respond on the spot when I read friends’ posts or comments in groups. I generally go back and respond the next day so that I’ve had time to really think about what was said rather than just reacting to it.
  12. This is the concentration practice I give to students early in the series of classes I teach. I’m posting it here to receive feedback if anyone has thoughts about how it might be improved. - - - - The ability to concentrate is fast degrading in the human species. According to studies conducted by Microsoft, the average human attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds. In 2013 it was 8 seconds. In 2017 it was 7 seconds. To put this in perspective, the average attention span for a goldfish was consistently 8 seconds. This practice will help you to remember how to concentrate. Practiced consistently, it will increase your attention span. Exercise 2.2: Concentration “By developing the practice of concentration, we develop our capacity to integrate related thoughts, facts, and information into a structural framework that reveals a deeper, more synthesized meaning than that which is immediately apparent to the superficial or unconcentrated observer.” —JOEL LEVEY The three parts of this exercise can be performed as one continuous flow or, when you have limited time, you can choose to do just one part. Sit on a straight-backed chair, with the spine straight but not rigid, and the head facing forward. Inhale a three-part breath deeply and slowly, then exhale slowly, releasing tension. Note how breathing sweeps thought away. Then return the breathing to normal. Try to keep the body still during this exercise. Part 1 Place a clock or watch that has a second hand in front of you, or sit with a clear view of a clock hanging on the wall. Now bring the attention to the second hand as it moves around the circle and hold the gaze there. This may sound deceptively simple, but it’s actually very difficult for many, if not most, people in our busy modern world. It’s likely that your awareness will quickly wander away from the second hand. Note how often this happens—it may surprise you. When you notice that your attention has drifted away—a conversation in the head, making a list, or internally listening to a song—gently return the attention to the second hand, as often as you need to. It may be helpful to note the difference between hearing and listening when sound distracts from attention. Do this for 5 minutes. Tests have shown that people who are new to this practice usually have difficulty managing their mind in this way for even four non-distracted seconds. When you can keep the attention focused on the second hand for five minutes with only a few or no distractions, begin practicing for ten minutes. Some people are able to do this for an hour or more. Part 2 Close the eyes and bring the attention to the nostrils. Specifically, focus on the sensations around their edges, and within the nostril cavities, as air flows into them and back out. Keep the attention there. Don’t modify the breathing in any way; just observe its natural flow. When you become aware that thoughts, sounds, or bodily sensations have distracted you, gently bring the attention back to the breathing sensations at the nostrils. Do this for five minutes (use a timer if you have one, but don’t become dependent on it). Part 3 Check your posture to make sure that you are still sitting upright, with the spine straight but not rigid, and the body relaxed. Keeping the eyes closed, bring attention to thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. When observing thoughts, simply let them be … don’t get involved in them. Don’t rate them. Don’t try to apply a remedy to them. Don’t try to get rid of them. Note their appearance and the conventional name for them (e.g., planning, worrying, remembering, list-making, judging, fantasizing), and let them go. They’ll go on their own; there’s no need to make them go. As you become more familiar with this practice over time, you’ll observe that what you name is actually a process that has stages. That is, you’ll come to observe their appearance and the disappearance, their rising and falling away, as you identify them and just let them be and let them go. When observing feelings, just note them, conventionally name them (e.g., sadness, anger, impatience, fear), and let them go. Don’t merge with or conceptually embellish them. Don’t give a lot of thought to naming them … keep it quick and simple. If they’re insistent, briefly bring the attention back to the air entering and leaving bodily sensations. When observing bodily sensations, note them, conventionally name them (e.g., itch, pain, tingling), and let them be. Gently resist the urge to shift position or scratch. Remain still and focused. Do this for 5 minutes. It’s beneficial to consistently set aside quiet time to do these three parts as a flow. With continued practice, they’ll begin to merge, but don’t push it … just let it happen naturally. They can also be done individually when we find ourselves in stressful situations, such as at work or in an uncomfortable social situation. Choose one part of the exercise and do it quietly at your desk, or excuse yourself and do one in private. These exercises have the effect of strengthening our ability to let go of the habit of letting ourselves be distracted, which helps us to more directly acknowledge place and event, free from abstraction. The practice of concentration won’t change the circumstances of life; it will change our relationship with them. Life is always uncertain and full of distractions but we don’t have to be unconsciously dragged around by them. Cultivating concentration simply helps us to focus and be present. This practice of concentration is the foundation for a more advanced exercise we will look at in the next lesson: contemplation. - - - -
  13. Can someone point me at the “Eating Mindfully” and “Eating Meditation” practices that are a part of Lesson 1: What is Mindfulness? I found a “Mindful Eating” practice but not “Eating Mindfully” or Eating Meditation”. I also can’t find the appendix. ”Let us take the practice of mindful eating deeper with the exercises that are located in the appendix. You will find two exercises: Eating Mindfully and Eating Meditation. Try each in your own practice. Select the one you prefer to use in your teaching”
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