Module 5 – Lesson 1.3: Positive states
Module 5 – Lesson 1.3:
Developing inner resources – adapted from the work of Rick Hanson, PhD Psychologist
Our brain quickly forgets good experiences but seems great at remembering bad ones! In science this is called the ‘negativity bias’. We seem to continually look for negative information, over-react to it, and these reactions change our brain structure.
So we need to learn how to turn ‘good experiences into lasting inner traits’. That is to link positive experience to negative material, in order to soothe and replace it. (refer Module 1 HEAL). For example taking one or two dozen seconds to take in: a moment of relaxation, the warmth in a smile.
The main way to develop these inner strengths/traits is to have the experiences of them – neuroscientists say ‘positive neural traits are built from positive mental states’.
Resilience, positive emotions, compassion all lower stress, grow well-being and heal anxiety, depression. Like any other mental capability, inner strengths are supported by structures in the brain. So, we need to develop these neural networks to support these inner strengths.
Try these practices below:
Drop the stone
Most of us are ‘carrying’ around at least one thing that is a needless burden e.g. holding on to resentments, worrying over and over about the same thing. Or perhaps a chronic tension in your body, a rigid belief.
Listen to an introduction and then follow the practice here:
Learn about clinging
Pick something specific – like a position you hold about how something should be. Really, really cling to it. Notice what clinging feels like in your body, breath, emotions and mind.
Then relax the clinging – imagine whatever you’ve clung to as something small in a great space, such as a stone in a vast field seen above from an aeroplane.
Disengage from over-thinking, ruminating – help your body relax and soften, open your hands, let your mind open, and let the clinging go. Recognise the ease, the peace and pleasure in releasing clinging, motivating your brain to cling less in the future.
Set down your burden – try the practice above with other things. Start with easy things and then work up. Remember you can be energetically committed to something without clinging to the result.
Wake up from the spell – investigate your experience of things you cling to e.g. pleasant sensations, certain sights, ideas. Ask yourself – is there any real happiness in this?
Stop looking for things to want – notice how your mind continually looks for a reward, a problem to solve, or a threat to avoid i.e. something else to cling to. Bring your attention back to the present moment, to this activity, this breath. Come back into Now, the only time you can be truly happy.