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Absolute Healing Blog

About focussed mindfulness

Posted in Professional development on 09/12/2013

About focussed mindfulness

So what are we aiming to achieve with Focussed Mindfulness?

Well we aim to heal pain and bring about peace of mind and integrity. We aim to give this to our clients, but we need to start with ourselves. And more on this later.

Firstly, pain needs defining. I am meaning any dis-ease that we feel in our body. This may be physical pain such as what you feel if you put your hand on a hotplate or break your ankle or if you have inflammation of a joint.

In these cases there is a clear cause and effect going on. But things are often not as simple as they look and there are many more causes of pain than these. Let me give some examples.

If you are grieving I am calling the sadness, regret, anger or fear that you are feeling ‘pain’

If you are being bullied at work I am calling the hurt, resentment, sense of injustice and feeling of disempowerment ‘pain’.

If you are worried about money I am calling the insecurity, anxiety and sense of loss of control ‘pain’.

If you fear death I call this existential angst pain too.

Focussed mindfulness heals pain in this broadest sense.

We could go deep in to the philosophy of pain and I only have limited time today. But basically the thinking mind – within that lump of grey matter inside your skull, believes that we are separate, we are alone in a world that is dangerous, hostile and competitive: it lives in fear.  The thinking mind believes that it has to single-handedly keep us safe and to do this it has to anticipate future threats and learn from past experience. This seems like hard work, it requires vigilance and skill and our thinking mind believes that our lives literally depend on it. 

But the thinking mind only has one version of the truth: Its own untrusting and fearful version. We can all access another truth, a truth that knows that we are not alone, we are not at risk and we do not have to prove ourselves.  When we are coming from here, from this truth, it feels right, it feels free and it feels indisputable.   When we are in touch with it we are not defensive, we are not anxious and we do not feel alone.  It feels safe to trust, to love, to be grateful and we experience a sense of peace, joy and connectedness to others, to the universe and to god. I will call this truth our inner wisdom though of course you can call it whatever you like, perhaps your god-self, bliss, God, grace, Samadhi or non-personal awareness.

There is a third ‘truth’ that we can become conscious of. This ’truth’ is from our sub-conscious or unconscious mind. I like to use the analogy of a computer here because the subconscious is both this powerful and this stupid. The subconscious runs automatically on thousands of simple programmes, most of which were installed either before birth or in our first seven years. We do not consciously control when they are switched on and off and often we do not know that they are running. A lot of these programmes are quite handy. For instance, the programme that ties our shoe laces or the one that gets us to stop at the kerb of a busy road.  When we are young the computer is non-selective: we do not have Norton antivirus! So along with all the helpful programmes we load up many less than helpful ones are also taken on. For instance when we were six and our Mum told us we were the messiest child in the world this also gets installed and from then on we have an unquestioned belief: ‘I am messy’. This programme, like all the others continues to run in the background, often for the rest of our lives and we are very protective of them.  Have you noticed? We tend to create external confirmation of our inner belief?  So if we took on the ‘I am messy’ programme we find ourselves creating a mess despite all the best efforts our thinking minds make to change us.

And this is a very important thing. Sometimes our thinking mind becomes aware of a programme installed in our subconscious and decides that it is not useful and wants to change it. It works hard, it tidies the room. It may even begin a bit of positive thinking: I am tidy…. I am tidy…. I am tidy…. I am tidy…. And it works! For a while we take control and over-ride the programme. The problem is that the programme is still there, it remain unchanged and the minute we stop making a conscious effort the belief becomes dominant again.

A lot of programmes are switched off most of the time and it takes a stimulus to switch them on: we put on our shoes and the lace tying programme kicks in. Similarly, we may go through life quite happily until we encounter a particular set of circumstances and an installed negative programme is activated. Let us take a common programme that many of us run and that is the ‘I am unlovable ‘ . This might have been installed when we were small, perhaps on our first day at nursery when our Mum seemingly abandoned us despite our pleading and although we cried out no one gave us a hug or reassurance. The belief might then have been reinforced on many occasions afterwards such as when our Dad bought our brother a treat and did not buy us one, or our Gran told us that we are less pretty than our cousin. Worse, we can come in with this programme already written! It might be our Mother’s programme and we quickly gain confirmation (because we are looking for it) that it is true.

We can learn to compensate for the programme as we get older as we find that we can do thing to make ourselves lovable, such as learn to play the piano so well that we are heaped with praise, or be extra nice to our younger sister and receive constant words of approval form our Mother. But as the original programme remains it still plays out whenever it is prompted. When we are jilted by our first boyfriend/girlfriend or we are rejected from the college of our choice it instantly replays and we react out of all proportion to the event, but in proportion to the hugely painful core belief. Furthermore, we tend to create conditions to confirm our belief, so we might, for instance, pick partners who are likely to leave us, confirming once again that we are unlovable. So we get an update ‘I cannot ‘do’ relationships’ to the programme: ‘I am unlovable’. 

Most of the time we are not aware of our early programmes, but we can know when they are running because they cause deep emotional pain. The thinking mind fears this pain so it does all it can to avoid us feeling it in the future. For instance, when we get into the next relationship it fears that this one too will eventually end in tears so it develops strategies that it believes will protect us and we become clingy, suspicious and mean. In an attempt to guard against an unknown future the thinking mind constantly replays the painful past, trying to make sense of it so we don’t go there again. Can you begin to see how the pain escalates? It can lead to illness such as paranoia or OCD.

Mindfulness techniques put us in touch with our inner wisdom, or we could call this our wise mind, a mind that is non-personal, non-judgemental and free from programming. This causes us to step back and observe our behaviour, our fears and thoughts, to see the unhelpful patterns and choose not to repeat them. The more we practice mindfulness the easier it is for us to access this wise mind and  Focussed mindfulness is a particularly powerful and direct way of doing this.

The practice of focussed mindfulness involves using the pain reaction in the body to access the unconscious or subconscious programme that caused it. It brings the programme to the attention of the wise mind which can rewrite or remove it. As we repeatedly bring programmes to awareness and delete them we spend less and less time acting out automatic, fear-driven behaviours and more and more as wise and loving beings who are free to live in the moment. From the first time that we allow ourselves to be fully in touch with our wise mind we know, although we may later ignore it, that we always have a choice: we can buy in to the fear and pain of the thinking mind, or we can remain open and free to respond in a loving and joyous way to whatever life throws at us.

We can undo the patterns of the past and the inherited negative beliefs and we can choose to have a different response to our pain when it arises. We can do this for ourselves and I believe that the freer we are the better we can guide others to access their own inner wisdom and find their own truth. So once we truly understand and trust the processes from an experiential perspective we can teach them to our clients.

This year is about committing to doing the inner work, to accepting the support you need and being open to the challenges that are ahead. The aim is to erase many of the unconscious programmes that are freezing you up and obscuring your own wise mind so you can come from a loving, non-judgemental, non-attached place. From here you can open to the pain of your clients and trust that you can support them wherever they need to go to heal themselves.