From the BlogMeet Ron

DEC.8 2016 MINDFUL MOMENTS IN MANOA

Dear friends,

I remember when going to a coffee shop presented you with just a few options. Now we are faced with dozens. I’ve ordered coffees at shops whose names were mysteries, but sounded cool. 

Consider TV subscription and streaming services, and what they offer — and then try to compare them to see which the best deal is. Not something I would look forward to doing when I get home from work. 

Is it just me? But having so many choices doesn’t make my life any easier or more fun. Turns out I am not alone — social scientists call this decision fatigue. 

In the past few years, researchers have considered decision fatigue as a way to understand not only our disinterest in making more decisions after a busy work day, but discover more about our mental and physical health.

Decision making is regulated by the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which gradually loses steam like our muscles get tired from a workout. If we are faced with too many choices over a course of time, it’s like doing too many reps at the gym – and we can get irritable, tired, and even physically ill. 

I think because we are all so dammed distracted by dinging email, text, and social media notifications on our phones and at home, we don’t even realize our brain is getting seriously strained. 

In a nice piece on decision fatigue in the New York Times in 2011, John Tierney observes: 

“The more intense the decision fatigue, the greater the loss of self-control. Those candies at the checkout stand can be very hard to resist if your energy has been depleted, aisle after aisle, product after product.”

Turns out Mindfulness has been studied as a way to soothe and re-supply the “executive functions” of the pre-fontal cortex. A recent article from The Wharton School of Business advises: “Making a Big (or Small Decision): How Meditation Can Help.”

I’ll leave you this week with some advice from two respected, contemporary mindfulness meditation teachers.

The first is Tara Brach’s practice of taking a “sacred pause” – from her book Radical Acceptance

“We may pause in a conversation, letting go of what we’re about to say, in order to genuinely listen and be with the other person. We may pause when we feel suddenly moved or delighted or saddened, allowing the feelings to play through our heart. 

In a pause we simply discontinue whatever we are doing—thinking, talking, walking, writing, planning, worrying, eating—and become wholeheartedly present, attentive and, often, physically still. 

Taking our hands off the controls and pausing is an opportunity to clearly see the wants and fears that are driving us. During the moments of a pause, we become conscious of how the feeling that something is missing or wrong keeps us leaning into the future, on our way somewhere else.”

And the second from the Burmese monk Sayadaw U Tejaniya:

“If you cannot make up your mind, just accept that. Simply stay in this “space”; recognize and accept what is happening. It is OK to feel indecisive, confused, or restless. Look at this mind state and try to learn from it. Whenever it happens, this is your practice…

Thinking that you need to make a decision will only make things worse. If you can just stay with such a mind state and keep observing it, the mind will eventually settle down and make its own decision. Never try to force an issue. Just acknowledge, accept, and keep observing until things unfold naturally.”

If you just keep up this simple yet profound practice, you will outgrow the need for any more advice. 

You will live fully refreshed and replenished, moment to mindful moment.

Have a wonderful rest of your week,

Tom, Katina, Kupaianaha … and Uilalani in NYC

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