Monday, October 15, 2012


This bounced to many people.  I have removed the links (by Google to Google stuff!) and I am trying again.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: W Kirby <>
Date: Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 6:24 AM
Subject: Attention!

We both went through the 40 hours of training to complete the Brain Fitness Program, a product of Posit Science.  Dr. Michael Merzenich, PhD and others emphasize during the computer exercises for the brain that practice matters, especially what is done with full attention. It is that conscious, deliberate attention that can make a big difference.

When I first read "The Inner Game of Tennis", "The Relaxation Response", "Superlearning" and related books, I became convinced that what I then thought of as deliberate relaxation practice was important for students of all ages to do.  I delivered a paper at the American Educational Research Association in 1985 which included deliberate relaxation as a candidate for future inclusion in school curricula.  About ten years later, I listened to Deepak Chopra's "The Higher Self" and got enthused about doing meditation regularly.  

Jack Kornfield is one of the leading American teachers of meditative and mindful practice.  Near the end of "Bringing Home the Dharma", he says there are over 100 types of meditative practices and I doubt if that includes the various sorts of meditation, concentration and contemplation discussed or practiced in the literature of all the world's religions.  The Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox and Protestant churches have many, all by themselves.

Recently, a commenter in the Mindfulness in Education Google Group objected to trying to teach meditation without also teaching some Buddhism.  I guess it is fair to say that fixed-point attention while sitting still is indeed a fundamental part of Buddhist practice.  But, anything that is a religion, rumored to be a religion or seems like a religion, cannot be adopted by the secular American school system, however much some people find that sad.  

I am interested in what aspects of meditation can be learned by children or anyone and be beneficial without reference to religion, since meditation and being aware of what one is giving attention to, has been showing itself so important in ever-widening parts of our society.  Medicine, business, athletics, religion, art and creative work and even the military are finding the value of a few minutes of meditation a day.

The situation currently looks like this to me:

  1. Practice fixing the attention on any target while sitting in a comfortable but not too relaxed position for about 10 minutesa day.  One's breath or a spot in the visual field are common targets.
  2. Expect to find attention has wandered off the target.  
  3. When you become aware attention has wandered, return it to the target without judgment.
Do this most days for 6 months.  By that time, you become more aware of what it is that you are attending to at any and all times of the day.  You develop an increased ability to decide if you are attending to what you most want to pay attention to at any given time.

Over time, you develop increased sensitivity to noticing your own emotional states.  Observing them without judgment leads to increased respect for the intelligent mind, most of which is unconscious, that drives your body and life.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

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