Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is your attention your mind?

Remember the debate about the value of mindfulness meditation when stripped of Buddhist teachings on ethics and interdependence. Read here for a refresher.

Add in ReWire,  an app that's designed to train you brain to focus your attention with video-game like methods. You can listen to music (your own or theirs) and tap on the screen when it stops to measure how well you're paying attention. You can graph your progress.

With ReWire you don't just sit passively, you actively participate with your experience allowing quick training of your attentional muscle while gaining greater control over your mind and syncing up with each moment.
ReWire builds on the work of Shinzen Young, who, according to his own website, "is known for his innovative 'interactive, algorithmic approach' to mindfulness, a system specifically designed for use in pain management, recovery support, and as an adjunct to psychotherapy." He presents a mathematical view of the techniques -- if you do this, that will happen. His pain equation (Suffering = pain X resistance) has been helpful to me in separating out how much of pain is physical sensation and how much is the thoughts I have about the pain.

He writes: "A person’s base level of physical strength can be dramatically elevated through a well-organized regimen of physical exercise. Analogously, a person’s base level of mindful awareness can be dramatically elevated through a well-organized regimen of mindful awareness practices." Mindfulness-awareness practices, which he calls MAP, are "a tool of immense power and generality that can be applied to improving just about every aspect of human happiness.

"I use the phrase “Mindfulness – The Path” for the process of applying mindful awareness to achieve specific aspects of human happiness."

You can read about his approach in detail here 

Buddhism talks about training the mind, which is more than attention. The Eight-fold Path lists concentration as one factor in the cessation of suffering; others include livelihood, speech, action, view, intention, and wisdom.  Without those aspects, you might as well play Angry Birds.

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