Thursday, February 23, 2012

When my lecturer talked about Zen Buddhism....

I was pretty Zen. I stoned through the lecture. 

Interestingly, this lecturer who talked about Psychological Gardening in the very first lecture, has infused a lot of Buddhism into his lectures. He repeatedly talks about the importance of self-awareness and having a sense of control.

He talked about how seeing that certain conditions within our control, we gain confidence in our abilities, in general. For example, if we see that we can make time to train more, we will hence be more confident of achieving higher performance.

He then talked about how psychological conditions are within our control as well. It’s interesting that he highlighted that athletes who perform well are able to identify the slightest bit of self-doubt or negative emotion and snap out of it to achieve their peak performance.

Of course, these skills that people use to create such psychological conditions can be trained. He calls it: dealing with our inner chimps. How apt a description it is, isn’t it?

In today’s lecture, he said something that made me feel proud as a Buddhist. I quote,
”There are a lot of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy techniques that are greatly similar to Buddhist practices. In fact, CBT can be seen as a contemporary, scientific way to Buddhist practices. Some coaches have included meditational practices into their sessions and found tremendous effects on increasing the mental toughness (resilience, overcoming challenges, commitment) .”

(Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology deals with people’s thinking processes and behaviors. Hence, a main focus on therapies is the practice of self-awareness – of people’s thoughts—and training people to change their thinking patterns to increase a desired effect. Eg. Getting those with low self-esteem to catch themselves in self-doubt)

Through the history of the development of psychology, a huge flaw, due to the human nature, has occurred. Psychology used to focus on curing the negatives, correcting the wrongs, etc. However, it has vastly neglected the positive nature of humans. It has neglected the processes of naturing, facilitating and fulfilling people’s potentials.

When you look at a tree, see it for its leaves, its branches, its trunk and the roots, then and only then will you see the tree. (Soho)”

Indeed, this (adaptive) flaw that we have of noticing the negatives can be seen in our daily practices where we often fail to praise the good but instead only criticize the bad. Sometimes, this bias can have a snowball effect and cause us to never be able to see the goodness in people.
So he made us do something:

-whenever we name a flaw/reason to doubt ourselves, we must pair it with something positive about ourselves.

-whenever we name a flaw to someone, we must pair it with something positive about them too.

So being the extremely critical person that I am, I sat down for quite a long time to think about it.

And when I saw people as a whole individual (like a whole tree) instead of as a composition of just their flaws, I found myself a happier person.

Why a happier person? Now that I see them as an individual, a whole person, a lot of the negative emotions that I used to feel about them has gone away.

Try it, you might become a happier person too J

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