Joseph Pond on how to use our senses to focus our thinking process
The whole point of doing mindfulness is to develop metacognition, which is the ability to think about thinking.
Mindfulness develops this ability, because it stresses awareness of the thinking process, without judgment or emotional involvement. This quality of non-judgmental observation is called "equanimity" and I wrote about that last week.
Well, when you begin to pay attention, you'll discover what the building blocks of subjective experience are.
It's no surprise that they are based on our five senses; particularly, seeing, hearing and feeling.
For example, when a person afraid of flying comes to me, I can assume they're running a movie in their heads of the plane crashing.
Since there's a phobia for everything, I'm not sure what film a pickle-phobic will be watching, but we can be sure that it won't be pretty.
We also hear voices which we typically call internal dialogue. Do we say nice things in a warm, comforting tonality? No. We too often speak harshly, saying things such as, "I'm so stupid."
Emotions can be experienced as feelings. For example, depression is usually heavy, a weight on the shoulders. Love feels like butterflies in the stomach.
When you practice mindfulness, you'll also be internally hearing, seeing and feeling.
So, rather than allowing our internal senses to distract ourselves, doesn't it make sense to use them to strengthen our practice? The following does just that.
First, shut your eyes and pay attention only to what you see on the inside of your closed eyelids, then focus only on what you can hear in the room and finally, to the feeling of your feet against the floor.
Set a timer and devote three minutes to each sense.
Lastly, for three minutes divide your focus into thirds, paying attention to these senses, evenly, at the same time.
This greatly simplifies your practice and offers a wealth of information about how your brain works.
I'll write more about that in the future.
In the meantime, I have an MP3 guiding you through this meditation in real time, so you don't have to use a timer. Contact me and I'll send it to you.
- Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and sits on the National Board of NLP and Hypnotherapy. Reach him at email@example.com