Meditation, neuroplasticity and ELO

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    • #14569
      Cyndi B.
      Participant

      Wondering if there’s anyone else here that has a past or current meditation practice.. and how that may show up for you in processing this ELO work?
      I began secular mediation 9 years ago inspired by The Brain That Changes Itself (Doidge), a great book (that’s a pretty easy read btw), about a new scientific field called neuroplasticity. Brain MRI scan technology had a break through at the turn of this century, and that ability (to see what neurologically lights up and where in real time and to track that), made way for this new science, which we’re all benefiting from here in this course.
      The first couple of weeks here I guessed that my meditation practice was helping me in working on the course; maybe. But now a couple of weeks later, I see how this course is actually fundamentally deepening my understanding of the practical application of meditation. Specifically the ability to turn towards an experience, the nuts and bolts of sitting still and observing with interest. Seeing for the first time in Week 3 a HUGE blind spot I had around relating to hunger (addictive desire), literally left me dizzy and disoriented and was a real personal turning point I think.
      These things can be challenging to write about, but I’m very interested in hearing your experience along this vein. It doesn’t need to be a clear and fully formed insight.
      (Also please respond if compelled and you’re reading this forum post long after May 2021. I’m very interested in this intersection of thought.)

    • #14577
      Corina
      Participant

      Hi, Cyndi, hi, Gillian and everybody,
      It was a turning point for me, too, wow, isn’t it something?

      I have been doing contemplative prayer, a sort of meditation, in the morning, and some other things for grounding, centering and sleep, and I am very knowledgeable about neuroscience and mindfulness. So, all these being said, it is one thing to know, and the other to apply these principles in everything. I was surprised to see how little awareness I have and how I DO NOT APPLY what I know in the area of eating, wow, talking about blind spots! My whole life I acted on lack of choice based on the given, unconscious :”You cannot control yourself” I heard many times since early childhood. So, week 3, I decided ( my free choice) got to apply Gillian’s teaching. and guess what? It worked! For the first time in my life! That moment of decision – let me wait a sec in here- slowed me down, allowed my awareness to go to the sensations in my body, to notice if I am hungry or not. I was not, and I didn’t eat. The decision put me in charge. I am not always successful, but I am learning to apply her teachings and what I already know to eating.
      What a fascinating experience. I think mindfulness of mind and body in the moment is essential, and meditation as a daily practice helps us be more present and willing to be present more often- a new life style.

    • #14580
      Ann C
      Participant

      I had meditated in the past but never really stuck with it.
      (The Sam Harris app)

      I knew next to nothing about retraining your brain the fact that you cannotwork both the addictive desire center and frontal lobe at the same time was fascinating to me

      I have a ” planned time” to eat daily for between 11 or noon. Now, when my brain says “ooh, I’m hungry” at 7, 9 or 10 am I recognize that it is my addictive desire talking. And that it is normal and not some form of weakness inside me. It SO helps to have a time and plan.

      I am going slowly and imperfectly and it is SO liberating. I am being conscious of adding more veggies and fruits but there may be days I have none. And that’s ok too.

    • #14582
      Cyndi B.
      Participant

      Eww, thanks for responding!🌹
      Yes, our timing is in sync… AND our experience is quite different. So when I turn towards the urge the overeat, that first time I really dared to be with it and reliably so far since, it IS there; it is not a phantom, but it’s also not a monster more powerful than me. It’s a physical feeling in my stomach mainly and some in my throat and mouth. It is a process of parsing through the noise of my fear, my reaction to the sensation, that lets me see the reality of the actual core experience.
      I love your response, Corina, and our responses together and thus far at this early point; they exemplify the diversity of experience and range of true answers.

    • #14586
      Cyndi B.
      Participant

      Ann, I love Sam Harris’ work, especially his books; silent mediation is my thing.. but join sitting with my husband a couple of times week using the Waking Up app. For THREE years I had an intention to meditate and actually did it about four times… I felt so conflicted and weak, not so unlike my experience with food issues. Stumbling upon a local teacher and weekly group in-person silent meditations is what I needed.
      And yes, I’m dabbling in plans too, and this is RELIABLY bringing opportunity to practice, rewire (please!).. and maybe just get used to it.
      What’s helping now is understanding the motive of the (truly uncomfortable) desire sensation, focusing on both the reality of my needs for well being and power to choose.

    • #14597
      Sophia G.
      Participant

      Hi here’s my thoughts, seeing as you asked.. It is an interesting subject, though I hesitated a lot about saying my bit, as it’s not specifically about a detailed issue. But, as you asked..

      I expect most meditators have big ‘blind spots’. Certainly it seems that way to me, from what people say and from what I observe, people’s attitudes & reactions etc. I have huge blind spots myself. I was amazed (and pretty embarrassed actually) by how blind I was to my own eating problems and reasons etc, tho I meditated regularly for years.

      Also there are a lot of different & varied sorts of practices on a very long spectrum that all go under the blanket term ‘meditation’.

      Some of these are ‘merely observing’ which is a technical name in some meditation circles for just observing – Also sometimes called ‘just sitting’ – And the instructions are to carefully try to NOT actively change our experience, just to observe it (and then, if you’re ‘lucky’, Things-Will-Happen and there will be an interesting change or insights).

      Some other meditations involve very active visualisations of different types, including engendering Loving Kindness, or others involving receiving love and more from ‘higher’ sources.

      For me, the self directed neuroplastic techniques that Gillian shows us are a mixture of observing and very much active: We are encouraged to observe what’s going on, and to be aware, all the time if we can, around our food attitudes/issues/actions! But obviously very very much to then be active and to deliberately choose, and steer, our new paths through. Very active. Not just ‘just observing’.

      I guess awareness is the common factor/key, and of course even ‘just observing’ brings its own changes when you see what’s really going on. But it’s not enough in this case, with addictions etc.

      And if Meditation = Awareness, as many people say it is, then surely it’s not possible to separate any mediation techniques from ‘other’ stuff we ‘do’ with our minds?

      IMO only: In theory meditators may have an advantage, I suppose, as we are supposed to be attempting already to be aware of what’s going on within, but honestly personally I really don’t think it is generally an advantage:

      I find that many many people who have never had any interest all in meditation are more aware, sensible, and sensitive in life than others who have meditated for years, and who may even be doing ‘spiritual bypassing’ which I understand is common amongst meditators. That’s just my own personal take on it.

      So (as you asked our thoughts) personally IMO I don’t see any advantage here in our ELO course for people who have had meditation experiences compared to those who haven’t..

      We are all equal in that we all have minds, which we use in different ways.

      Gillian recommends some techniques and excellent teachers which she alludes to in the course, which I forget where right now, but including I think for being kind to yourself and appreciating ourselves much more. All those can help us very much.

      I am so excited to have discovered some neuroplastic techniques e.g. how activation our PFC means we can over-ride the limbic desires, that I’ve just bought and am enjoying a book Gillian recommended, ‘Hardwiring Happiness’ by Rick Hanson. How I wish I’d discovered all this in the past.

      I knew something about neural pathways and that we could change our ways/habits, but the real how-to-do detail I am learning here on the ELO course is really immeasurable, so very very valuable to me. Changing my life. Such an impact. But we have to actually Do it, have a go. (That’s another similarity with meditation I guess 🙂 )

    • #14606
      Cyndi B.
      Participant

      Hey, Sophia. I appreciate your reply. Yeah, I don’t know or assert that any flavor of a meditation practice is beneficial to ELO either. I just wondered how I myself might be with this ELO material had I not learned how to sit with my thoughts… which I personally wanted to learn to do, when I realized what a miserable struggle it was for me to do. Interesting to hear what others’ experiences are around this intersection, and agree with your praise for course.

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