Translator: Dina M. Ezz Auditor: Riyad Almubarak If you can stay calm in the crowd, If you can see the wonderful trips of your neighbors Without jealousy, If you can love everyone unconditionally, If you can feel reassured wherever you are, In this case you will often … dog. (Laughter) Right? We want to reach these unrealistic standards of idealism, And then we blame ourselves if we can’t. The significance is, We shouldn’t be perfect, Idealism is something that cannot be achieved. But we can change ourselves. Everyone has the ability to change, learn and mature No matter the circumstances. As a professor and scientist, I study how people change, How they turn, One of the most effective ways is mental alertness. My journey to reach for mental alertness was unexpected. When I was 17, I had a spinal operation The metal stick is placed in the vertebral column. Turned from an active teenager, To sleep on the hospital bed unable to walk.
During the long rehabilitation period, I tried to know how to live in this body Who cannot do what he used to do. The physical pain was difficult, But the worst was fear and loneliness, Simply put, I didn’t have the tools to live with this situation. So I started searching for anything that helps me, In the end, the search led me to a monastery in Thailand To experience meditation for the first time in my life.
In the monastery, The monks didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Thai, But I understood that mental alertness has to do To focus at the moment. The only thing that asked me was that I feel in and out of my nose. So I started: one breath, two breaths My mind strayed, then I regained my focus again. One breath, two breaths, I’ve been displaced again, Commented in the past or lost in the future, No matter how I tried to concentrate, I couldn’t focus on the present moment.
I was frustrated that I expected meditation to be like this, But in fact it looked like this. (Laughter) Being present is not easy. In fact, try it yourself. I kept talking for about 3 minutes, Have you noticed that your mind is homeless? We are all exposed to it. Research from Harvard University The mind is displaced at an average rate of 47% of the time. 47%. That means we lose half of our lives, That we don’t exist. So part of mindfulness Is to train the mind to come, Where we already exist. Like now, let’s try together. Close your eyes, and just feel your foot on the floor. Slide your toes, And feel your whole body sitting here. Make your face relax, Let your jaw muscles relax, Focused on breathing. Feel yourself in and out of your body. Just be there. as you’re now, Take a deeper breath, in and out, open your eyes. So… When I was in the monastery, I was trying hard to do it, Just to be present.
But regardless of my hard efforts, my mind has always been displaced. At this time, I began to judge myself. “What’s your problem? You’re so bad at this.” “Why are you here? You’re fake.” Not only did I judge myself, but I began to judge others, Even the monks. “Why are they just sitting here? Shouldn’t they do anything?” (Laughter) Fortunately, a monk from London who spoke English arrived, When I told him about my suffering, he looked at me and said, “My God, you are not practicing mental alertness, You practice judging, impatience, frustration. ” Then he said five words that did not leave my mind: “What you practice becomes stronger.” What you practice becomes stronger.
We now know with the presence of neuroplasticity. That our repeated experiments make up the brain. In fact, we can sculpt and strengthen communication between neurons, Repeated practice. For example, in the famous study of taxi drivers in London, The part responsible for seeing and locating the brain is larger and stronger. They have been traveling around the 25,000 London suburbs throughout the day. When you look at the brains of meditators, Areas related to concentration, learning and empathy, Become bigger and stronger. Called increased cortical thickness, The growth of new nerves in response to repeated practice. What we practice becomes stronger. The monk explained to me that if I were meditating, So I was just stronger judging, Meditation with frustration means that I feel stronger.
He taught me that mental alertness doesn’t just mean concentration, But it means the way we focus, lightly. He told me it was like an intimate hug that welcomed everyone, Even our imperfections and chaos inside us. He also pointed out that we exercise all the time, moment by moment, Not only in times of meditation but at all times. We grow something every minute. So the question we have to ask ourselves is what we want to develop? What do you want to do? When I left Thailand, I wanted to continue to exercise mental alertness, And I wanted to understand it on a scientific level.
So I started preparing for my doctorate and eventually became a university professor, And I’ve spent the last 20 years, In the search for the effect of mental alertness through a large population, Including veterans with PTSD and insomnia patients, Women with breast cancer, college students under stress, Executives who run mega projects, And many more, the data showed two basic things. Firstly, Mindfulness has a positive effect, it’s beneficial to you. They strengthen the immune system, Reduces stress, reduces cholesterol, helps sleep better. When we published our first research, it was in 1998, There have been a few studies on this. But now there are many Shows the benefits of mental alertness. It is useful for us. The second thing we learned was a bit unexpected. Almost all the people we worked with, Regardless of their age, gender or cultural background, They were talking about the same thing.
The feeling that they are “not good enough,” “I’m not okay,” “I don’t live this life properly.” This immense sense of shame and self-judgment. We all know what they mean by these words Because shame is a common thing we all felt before. Worse, we have this misconception That if we feel shame about ourselves, if we die ourselves, We will somehow improve. Shame doesn’t help us. Shame has never benefited anyone, nor can anyone. Literally and physically, he can’t help us because when we feel shame, Brain centers responsible for growth and learning Close. This is a picture of the brain of a person who feels shame depicted by magnetic resonance technology. What happens is that Amjadla (part of the brain) stimulates the secretion of norepinephrine and cortisol consecutively To fill the whole body, closed learning centers of the brain And changed the path we take to survive.
Literally, shame steals our minds, Steals the energy the brain needs to change. The worst is that when you feel shame we try to avoid it, So we hide from our parts that we feel ashamed of, Those parts are the first to focus. But it becomes painful to look at them. So what is the alternative? The alternative is to focus gently. First, kindness gives us courage To look at these parts that we don’t want to see. And second, the compassion gives us dopamine, Which activates brain learning centers It gives us the resources we need to change.
Sincere and lasting change requires a gentle focus. The words of the monk hesitated in my ear, Mindfulness is not just about concentration, it means focusing gently. This kindness wasn’t just marginal or just good, It is a key thing in the exercise. Part of the mental alertness is overlooked. So my colleagues and I developed a model of mental alertness training Which explicitly includes our attitude and intention, As well as our focus. All of these parts work together. Simply put, Mindfulness is deliberately focused gently. We used this model At the Veterans Hospital for a group suffering from PTSD. I was shocked to find out We are losing more warriors to suicide than we are losing from fighting.
Our soldiers feel a lot of pain and shame. So the goal of the mindfulness group was to urge them to focus gently, Even on things that are hard to forget. There was a man in the group who never spoke a word and never raised his head. Two months later, it seemed elusive. On the day he raised his hand and said, “I don’t want to be better. After what I saw in the war and what I did, I don’t deserve to be better.
” And then he looked at the earth, and he started telling us everything in detail What he saw and what he did. I still feel terrified about what he said And how he felt a strong shame. I looked around to see the rest of the group reacting, I did not feel that they were judging him, but felt sympathy for their faces. I asked him to look up to see this sympathy and kindness. When he looked around, his face began to relax, And I saw hope in his eyes, The possibilities were not only his past, But his ability to improve his choices now, and change for the better.
This was probably the most important thing I learned. We can all change regardless of the circumstances. This requires focusing gently and not shame. This needs a lot of training. I’d like to share with you a simple exercise that has always helped me. In the past, I experienced a difficult divorce, And you wake up every day, I feel shame. The meditation teacher suggested that I do a clear exercise of focus gently. She said, “What do you think to say, I love you, Shona, every day.” I said in my mind: “Impossible”, this seemed artificial. I saw my hesitation and suggested, What do you think about just saying, Good morning, Shona. And try to put your hand on your heart when saying This helps to release oxytocin, this is useful for you. ” She knows that she will convince me of science. So the next day, I put my hand on my heart, I breathed and said, “Good morning Yashuna,” It was kinda nice.
I kept practicing, A month later when I saw her, I admitted to her that this exercise helped me very much. She said to me, “Wonderful, I graduated. Now it’s time for the advanced exercise “Good morning, I love you, Shona.” So the next day, I put my hand on my heart turned to myself and I said: “Good morning, I love you, Shona.” I didn’t feel anything, Maybe I felt ridiculous, but I certainly didn’t feel loved. But I kept practicing because, you know, what we practice becomes stronger.
And then one day, I put my hand on my heart, I breathed, “Good morning, I love you, Shona,” And I felt it. I felt my grandmother’s love, my mother’s love, I felt my love for myself. I wish I could tell you That from that day I became living in the shell of my love for myself, I never felt shame or judged myself afterwards, This is not true. But the truth is that this way of focusing gently was established within me, It grows strongly every day. So I would like to invite you tomorrow, To put your hands on your alkali and say, “Good morning.” If you had the courage “Good morning, I love you.” Thanks. (Applause) (Cheers) .