Positivity?

Evolutionary strategies for brain entrainment require us to understand the art of discipline that I talked about in the Last Blog

Discipline…

I talked about discipline meaning ‘doing your entrainment practices regularly, ideally daily, for a long enough period of time of them to take effect’.

Habit creation…

We also looked at how the brain works on habit settings, particular neurological grooves and to get ourselves out of those ruts, we have to do things differently. We have to start building whole new habits.

Conscious habit creation…

Entraining our brains requires us not just to build new habits of unconsciousness but to generate habits consciously, to do this we have to stay fresh and bright in each moment of entrainment, rest in openness, inquiry, interest in what’s happening and stay determined.

Determination is needed or we’ll just drop the practice. 

One of the things that often helps determination is knowing why we are doing what we are doing.

Remember, when we repeatedly and regularly build these beneficial states into our system through conscious intention and attention, the felt sense of peace, contentment and love becomes installed. We move from state to trait, from practice to habit. We install healthy habits of brain entrainment and our brains and our lives work differently.

Not two things…

Remember the body is not separate from the brain, there are not two things here. If we go back to embryology we will find that the central nervous system and brain is originally part of the ectoderm, the skin. Your skin is the outside of your brain.

Body based practice and sitting practice fit together beautifully. They integrate our experience of existence into a unified whole that can then begin to know it’s place in the ecological dance of reality. This is where we got to last Blog.

This Blog in the Happiness Series we will look at positivity which is the precise opposite of the negativity bias I talked about in the first Blog of the series.

Contextual Positivity…

Positivity can arise from family and social conditioning but largely this remains contextual. This means we are positive when all the right conditions are there for us, however, as soon as the context changes, as soon as those nice conditions on which we rely for our positivity are stripped away we will feel out of sorts, negative and lacking in joy.

Non-Contextual Positivity…

Non-contextual positivity and joy arises out of this ‘disciplined enough’ approach to brain entrainment.

This positivity principle evidenced in neuroscience, also exists in Martin Seligman’s evidence based Positive Psychology, where it is one of the happiness habits.

Savouring…

‘Savouring’ is where you enjoy and celebrate what is positive in your life. When you let your mind linger on positive experiences and relish them to the full, your brain is not so Teflon to the positive. We soak our synapses in positivity neurotransmitters. Savouring is not gripping onto the experience, it is lingering joyfully without gripping and it also involves allowing release for the next moment of joy to arise.

Positivity and savouring work well to support each other in entraining the brain out of the negativity bias and into seeing the world from a place of appreciation and celebration.

Positivity and Buddha…

Chogyam Trungpa calls this awareness of simple beauty ‘Basic Goodness’. This basic goodness is considered an intimation of our Original Nature. Unlike some traditions which view human nature as basically bad, Buddhism at it’s best teaches that we are all basically decent and good human beings. This is a very positive view and one that encourages us to live like this. Positive views encourage and support positivity.

Evolutionary Practice…

Evolutionary practice to cultivate positive views and positive vision requires discipline. Yet, the will power of discipline is an art, a flower growing inexorably towards the sun, not a stick to beat ourselves with. Sooner or later the desire to grow overcomes the habitual feelings of tiredness, distraction, avoidance, exhaustion, laziness, ill discipline and torpor, so we start to practice again. In the cultivation of discipline we make mistakes, we get it wrong, we forget. That is all part of the learning curve. Then we get back on the horse, (to mix metaphors) pick up the practice and start again. That’s what the the will power of discipline is like, simply an ongoing focus on the values that matter to us. Discipline is simply aligning with our values on a regular basis.

Values…

Do you know your values?

What is precious to you?

What things if they were missing in your life, would make life less worth living?

Do your choices and behaviours align with your espoused values? 

Do your intentions and attentions align with your espoused values? 

Two sides of the same coin…

Will power and discipline as elements of the same process of entrainment are powers of alignment and focus we cultivate through the methods of practice, through dedication and devotion, by choosing to sit and entrain our neurology.

Savouring and positivity are two sides of the same exploration that work to alter any residual negativity bias and reset our brain into a more helpful and evolutionary focus.

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