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Mindfulness, Flow and Spirituality

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Mindfulness, Flow and Spirituality

  1. 1. Mindfulness, Flow and Spirituality
  2. 2. Mind-Body Skills • Mindfulness • Attention training to cultivate qualities of concentration, clarity, and equanimity. The common thread connecting all other skills. • Relaxation • Techniques to elicit the relaxation response in mind andbody • Yoga • Movement and breathing strategies to synchronize mindand body and release tension. • Positive Psychology • Practices to cultivate and strengthen positive mind/ emotional states. • Resiliency Training • Techniques for balancing the nervous system, processing trauma, and strengthening the ‘resilientzone’.
  3. 3. What is it? “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
  4. 4. • Concentration: The ability to focus and stabilize one’s attention. • Sensory Clarity: The ability to keep track of the components of sensory experience as they arise in various combinations, moment-by-moment. • Equanimity: The ability to ‘be with’ experience with an attitude of gentle matter-of-factness. Regular Practice Cultivates 3 Core Skills
  5. 5. Mindfulness Training Techniques •Many techniques! Depends on teacher and tradition • Restrictive or open attention • Noting option •Beginner practices: • Restrictive focus, such as breath meditation • Develops/strengthens core skills of concentration, clarity and equanimity •Intermediate / advanced practices: • Open awareness to increasing amount of sensory experience, such as “choiceless awareness” •Formal and informal practices
  6. 6. Where Does It Come From? • In the 19th century, mindfulness was used to translate the Pali word Sati. Pali is the canonical language of Theravada, a form of Buddhism found in Southeast Asia. • “Establishing Mindfulness” (Satipatthana) is a primary practice of Theravada Buddhism. • It is said to lead to insight into the true nature of self and reality (impermanence, the suffering of conditioned existence, and non-self)
  7. 7. Mindfulness Arrives in the West • In the 60’s and 70’s, Westerners began going to Southeast Asia to learn mindfulness practices. They brought those practices back to the West and began to teach them within the framework of Buddhism. • In the 80’s and 90’s, it was discovered that those practices could be extracted from Buddhism and the cultural matrix of Asia and used within a secular context.
  8. 8. Secular Mindfulness • Mindfulness awareness practices started to be used within a secular context to develop useful attentional skills. • These practices became ever more prevalent in clinical settings for pain management, addiction recovery, stress reduction, and as an adjunct to psychotherapy.
  9. 9. Mindfulness in Healthcare • In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn created Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to treat chronically ill patients. • Subsequently, a number of other psychotherapeutic modalities centering around mindfulness were developed: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT); Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT); Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).
  10. 10. Mindfulness in Society Increasingly, it is being understood that mindful awareness is a cultivatable skill with broad applications through all aspects of society, including education, prison system, politics, business, and even the training of soldiers.
  11. 11. The Benefits of Mindfulness
  12. 12. Mindfulness … Changes the Brain in Positive Ways
  13. 13. Shows how the brain changes in positive ways with meditation!
  14. 14. Pro-Social Behavior •Impulse Regulation •Emotional Awareness •Compassion & Empathy •Forgiveness
  15. 15. Mindfulness … Helps Balance the Nervous System
  16. 16. Mindfulness … Improves Self- Regulation
  17. 17. savouring, mindfulness & flow flow focus on the activity savouring focus on the positive mindfulness focus on the present deliberate, non- judgemental attention to what is happeningin the present moment full immersion in what one is doing with loss of self- consciousness focus on positive experiences in past, present or future
  18. 18. FLO W • The experience of flow is universal and it has been reported to occur across different classes, genders, ages, cultures and it can be experienced in many types of activities. •If you’ve ever heard someone describe a time when their performance excelled and they used the term being “in the zone”, what they’re describing is an experience of flow. It occurs when your skill level and the challenge at hand are equal.
  19. 19. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Me High? Cheeks send me high?) •From his own adverse experiences as a prisoner during World War II and from witnessing the pain and suffering from many people around him during this time, he developed a curiosity about happiness and being content with life.
  20. 20. Happiness is an internal state of being, not an external one. •Through much research he began to understand that people were most creative, productive, and often, happiest when they are in this state of flow. He interviewed athletes, musicians, artists, etc. because he wanted to know when they experienced the most optimal performance levels. •He was also interested in finding out how they felt during these experiences. He developed the term flow state because many of the people he interviewed described their optimal states of performance as instances when their work simply flowed out of them without much effort.
  21. 21. flow is: •“Astate in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” •– Csikszentmihalyi, 1990
  22. 22. 8 Characteristics of Flow •Complete concentration on the task •Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback •Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down of time) •The experience is intrinsically rewarding •Effortlessness and ease •There is a balance between challenge and skills •Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination •There is a feeling of control over thetask
  23. 23. Who Experiences Flow? • Studies suggest that those with ‘’autotelic personalities’’ tendto experience more flow. • A person with an ‘’autotelic personality’’ tends to do things for their own sake rather than chasing some distant external goal. This type of personality is distinguished by certain meta-skills such as high interest in life, persistence, as well as low self- centeredness. • Moreover, in a recent study investigating associations between flow and the 5-personality types, they found a negative correlation with neuroticism and a positive correlationbetween conscientiousness with the state of flow. • It can be speculated that neurotic individuals are more proneto anxiety and self-criticism, which are conditions that can disrupt this state. In contrast, conscientious individuals are more likely to spend time on mastering challenging tasks, which are characteristics important for flow experience.
  24. 24. What Happens in the Brain During Flow? • The state of flow has been rarely investigated from a neuropsychological perspective but is a growing interest. According to Dietrich, it has been associated with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex. • The prefrontal cortex is an area responsible for higher cognitive functions such as self-reflective consciousness, memory, temporal integration, and working memory. It’s an area that’s responsible for our conscious and explicit mind state. • However, in a state of flow, this area is believed to temporarily down-regulate; a process called transient hypofrontality. This temporary inactivation of the prefrontal area may trigger the feeling of distortion of time, loss of self-consciousness, and loss of inner-critic. • Moreover, the inhibition of the prefrontal lobe may enable the implicit mind to take over, resulting in more brain areas to communicate freely and engage in a creative process.
  25. 25. Spirituality and Positive Psychology •The key insight of positive psychology is that happiness and wellbeing are clearly associated with goal, purpose and meaning-making (Emmons, 1999). One reason religious and spiritual traditions have been persistent in human history is that they provide meaning (Park & McNamara, 2006). •The theme of meaning closely related to hope, optimism and future orientation. •depression and suicidal behaviour, and to a lesser degree, alcoholic abuse, are correlated to hopelessness (Schotte & Clum, 1982). This hopelessness is understood as the absence of purpose in life, and more precisely, the lack of self- efficacy and problem-solving abilities
  26. 26. Religion, Spirituality and Positive Psychology • Social interest (originally from Adler) is the disposition to spontaneously build a sense of connectedness with humankind. This, in turn, is said to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing. There is sufficient empirical evidence to show that people who are altruistic, sociable and display empathy are consistently happier than others. On the other hand, people suffering from depression are generally self- absorbed, distrustful and focus defensively on their own needs (Seligman, 2002). • Research evidence on the correlation between forgiveness and mental health and wellbeing is also abundant (McCullogh & Witvliet, 2005). The experience of forgiving others is associated with mental wellbeing (Reed & Enright, 2006) and physical health (Thoresen, Harris, & Luskin, 2000). On the other hand, the experience of being forgiven by God was related to fewer depressive and anxious symptoms (Exline, Yali, & Lobel, 1999). Interventions to
  27. 27. Spirituality - definitions •“The experience or expression of the sacred” (adapted from Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 1967). •“Certain kinds of activity through which a person seeks meaning, especially a “search for the sacred. It may also refer to personal growth, blissful experience,or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.” (Wikipedia). •“The search for transcendent meaning” – can be expressed in religious practice or exclusively in relationship to nature, music, the arts, a set of philosophical beliefs, or relationships with friends and family” (Astrow et al. 2001). •“The search for meaning in life events and a yearning for connectedness to the universe” (Coles 1990). •“A person’s experience of, or a belief in, a power apart from his or her own existence” (Mohr 2006).
  28. 28. Mindfulness and Spirituality • Research works on mindfulness also bring together spirituality and wellbeing. Mindfulness, which is the age- old process of cultivating awareness in Buddhist traditions, is seen in positive psychology as a means to facilitate novelty, flow and optimal experiences. Its relation to spirituality is duly acknowledged (Snyder & Lopez, 2007). • Mindfulness is increasingly used in clinical contexts. Although “empirical literature supporting its efficacy is small,” there is a growing support for the claim that “mindfulness-based intervention can be rigorously operationalized, conceptualized, and empirically evaluated” in the context of health and wellbeing (Baer, 2003, p.140; see also Kabat-Zinn, 2003).

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