Did you know ? The most recent scientific research is beginning to show that our memories are mostly biased!
Indeed, the memory of events starts from our sensory experiences. The hippocampus processes this information and distributes it in different areas of the brain, more or less connected, to store them.
But this same hippocampus also manages the imagination.
So, remembering and imagining is pretty much the same for our brain!
Whenever one tries to remember an event, the brain will automatically fill in the missing information with probable elements, which depend on our prejudices, our samskaras.
Thus, the more one remembers a memory, the less chance there is for the memory to be faithful … hence the interest of living in the present, without too much attaching oneself, rehearsing or ruminating the past… the present moment is our only “truth” 😉
A practice to assess your “internal weather”, at any time.
Taking a baseline before and after a “yogic intervention” makes us aware of its effects on us.
To practice regularly, on the same exercise, to build your daily practice 🙂
Happiness … would it be a state of permanent well-being, where everything would go well in the best of all worlds?
But we can not prevent certain events of life, change people, avoid all breakdowns, illness of our relatives, war, death etc. Happiness is not like the top of a mountain that one could reach (would you stay there anyway?!)
For the simple reason that ALL in this world is impermanent, transient, transitory. It is in Buddhism the concept of the impermanence of all things.
And if everything is passing, Happiness can only be so as well. Therefore, wanting to be happy all the time can only be a source of frustration and disappointment.
To be happy, one would have to accept not to be happy all the time! It is the concept of contentment, SANTOSHA for the yogis, the mere satisfaction of what is there.
Moreover, when we are happy, our brain is less alert to dangers, more confident towards others. So we could reasonably be constantly happy only in a safe world AND where everyone is happy …
Happiness should thus rather be seen as a succession of little happiness, resulting from simple things of the moment ; Cultivating positive states is a kind of workout for happiness,
However, practice makes perfect !
Just a moment, right now, to make a mental list of what makes you happy right now?
Emotional currency is the things we do, the roles we endorse for others to accept us, appreciate us, love us. This is Prakriti for yogis, our personality.
It can be for example, to take great care of ones physical appearance, to make repeated jokes, to take care of others before oneself, to be smart, but also to be sick all the time, sad or depressed …
But basically, what we want is to be seen at our deepest level, for what we really are, this is Purusha, our soul.
Does that speak to you? It is quite easy to identify the emotional currency of the people around us. But could you take a few moments to think about your main emotional currency? To validate your first intuition, you can observe yourself in action in the days to come!
Awareness is the first step towards evolution … because would not the ideal be to be simply loved when we are authentic?
You decide to start to meditate but do not know precisely what to do?
No more excuse, here are a few steps to start in the minute!
- First, choose a place where you can settle without being disturbed during the time you decided to allocate to yourself. Early in the morning is an ideal time because the mind and the environment are generally still quiet, but meditation can just as effectively be practiced at any other time of the day!
- Sit down: kneeling, cross-legged, on a cushion or a meditation bench, on a chair without resting your back, feet flat on the floor. Take some time to find your posture: the hands can rest on the thighs, the knees or one on the other in front of the lower abdomen. The important thing is that you can sit in a position where you can keep your back straight, without too much effort or tension – “dignified and flexible”.
- Become aware of your breath and follow it. Without rejecting what is happening around you, be present to each of your breath, without willfully modifying or controlling it. Whenever you realize that a thought, an emotion, an image, a perception has distracted your attention (and this will happen, fore sure), you are at the heart of the process of meditation: study of the mind’s functioning. Simply acknowledge “Oh a thought!” without judging or extrapolating, and return to your breath, your bodily sensations. Repeat this process as many times as necessary.
- When the time you have previously set has elapsed (you may encounter thoughts inviting you to regain “active life” before that, your mind is smart, do not let yourself be trapped!), the practice is over. Maybe you feel calmer (this is not the goal, you will see with the practice that it sometimes varies a lot from one time to another), in this case, can you take with you this new state of being?
We differ greatly in our capacity to experience different emotional states, but why is that ?
A first reason for this is that our genetic heritage influences the way we experience events and determines our ability to regulate our own emotions.
Indeed, for the survival of the species, two categories of human being are necessary: those who can anticipate the danger, be reactive; And those who, once preserved from danger, will be enterprising, constructive, creative.
We are therefore genetically more or less vulnerable (a quality, if we know how to tame it!) to emotions, the flow of negative thoughts or stress in general.
To this must be added environmental factors (early trauma experienced during early childhood or more generally life events) and our education (how emotional intelligence has been transmitted to us ?).
But as strong as one is, managing one’s emotions requires energy and resources. And when a succession of difficult life events is too fast to be able to recharge, exhaustion is waiting … it is the too much famous modern BURN OUT.
Thus, whatever our “genetic happiness” is, we are not immune to the events of life. Hence the importance of re-energizing oneself emotionally as soon as we have the opportunity to be ready to face the accumulations of situations that life sometimes imposes on us.
As human living and incarnated beings, we all have samskaras, habitual patterns of thoughts, actions and words, innate or acquired, which may have been useful at some point for our survival but which may not be beneficial anymore to us today.
They may be physical (a way of acting on a daily basis), emotional (a way of reacting to life events), psychological (a tendency to anxiety, depression), immune (tendency to reject what is foreign, to let everything in). They affect all aspects of our being.
Some are positive, constructive (knowing how to listen fully, taking action from the center, knowing how to set limits) others much less.
With the practice of yoga, we learn to identify them, to rub them along, to tame them in order to gradually evolve and integrate them within our whole being: physically (what is our attitude on the mat? does it strengthen the pattern ?), emotionally (how does this emotion manifest within me ? can I see it arising, before it has submerged me?).
Do you have a minute, now, to reflect on one of your samskaras that you would like to make evolved?
I often compare meditation as a kind of mental hygiene: you clean your body physically every day, for me meditation has the same effect on the mind … of course, there are “cat cleaning day” (it’s a French expression, I hope it speaks to you !) when one is in a hurry, and the days of long and big baths when one can afford the luxury.
But beyond this daily “mental dusting”, researches have shown that contemplative sciences, including meditation, lead the mind to positive and socio-responsible behaviors.
The reason for this? Neuroplasticity or “Practice makes perfect”. Contrary to what we have long believed, neurons do not stop growing after 20 years old, it is possible for us to create new neuronal connections throughout our whole life.
Thus, studies have shown the thickening of certain specific zones of the brain according to the professions: among taxi drivers it is a zone of localization in space, with musicians a capacity of dexterity for example.
It has hence been proven that meditation increases, in the short, medium and long term, the capacities of direction of attention (in duration and discernment) and management of emotions. Moreover, researchers have also shown a progressive thickening of the insular cortex of meditators, this very brain area that governs … empathy and compassion!
Moreover, the biochemical reactions induced by these feelings stimulate and strengthen the immune system. The meditator thus becomes less vulnerable to intrusions (physical and mental) from the outside world. As a result, meditation is also very effective in fighting inflammation and chronic pain.
The most recent researches confirms that meditation has an effect at the genetic and enzymatic level, preventing cellular ageing.
So, shall we try ?!
Fear, joy, sadness, anger, frustration, wonder … Life is a succession of emotions. Some are unpleasant, others pleasant, we live them with more or less intensity (joy or anger manifests physically, depression, sadness or serenity leads us to the opposite sometimes away from any physical sensation) .
Omnipresent, they occupy an important part of our lives. They influence our decisions, our relationships, our successes and our failures.
Emotions are ORGANIC, they initiate and organize the responses of different systems (nervous, circulatory, cerebral, etc.) to enable us to respond more effectively to our survival and that of the species in the greatest number of situations.
For example, fear will freeze us for a moment, our senses will sharpen, so we can evaluate a potential danger and the appropriate reaction to adopt. Anger increases heart rate, build energy in the upper body to prepare to hit etc.
Thus, at the level of the individual, each emotion has the function of adapting to a type of situation, provoking a tendency to react in such or such a way, inhibiting some behaviors and facilitating others.
The emotion that manifests itself also informs us about the state of satisfaction of our basic needs, whether physical (drinking, eating, sleeping …) or psychosocial (the need to be loved, to be a good person/parent/child/student/teacher/friend/lover etc., recognition, respect, justice, security, belonging, etc.)
Emotions can therefore be used to take better care of yourself!
They are indeed functional, always carrying a message. What is sometimes dysfunctional, on the other hand, is the behavior we may adopt in response. This is why it is necessary to learn to regulate your emotions, not to remove them (you do not want to listen to the message?).
Socially, emotions inform us about the state of the environment, the relationship, the needs of our interlocutor, allowing us to adapt our social behavior.
Emotions are therefore adapted to the needs of the individual as well as those of the species. Let’s tame them !
When you have a choice to make, you tend to:
- Look for one that will meet your criteria. The first acceptable solution is the right one.
- OR look for the best option. You review all the possibilities to be sure not to miss an even more satisfying one.
If the maximizers, those of the second category, generally make decisions of better quality, the satisfiers, the first category, are generally happier and satisfied with their lives.
Indeed, the maximiers would tend, even after making their choice, to re-examine the other options and question their initial choice.
To be meditated !
Mindfulness meditation comes from the Buddhist ancestral tradition. Refined from its religious aspects, it integrates the latest advances in neurosciences to provide a quality of being to practitioners of the modern Western world.
It is about deliberately direct your attention, without judgment, moment by moment to experience the present.
Regular practice of meditation opens a gentle and caring investigation of the nature of one’s own mind, to see more and more clearly the causes of suffering, recognize the reaction patterns, commitment, desire, that leads to behave thoughtlessly or under the control of our egocentric needs.
Gradually you gain freedom, wisdom and peace.
Here are 10 minutes of breathing meditation (in French), a mindfulness classic to which is good to come back with the beginner’s mind !