Category: Acceptance

Mental Habits, Nutriment and Happiness

Mental Habits, Nutriment and Happiness

The Pattern that leads to Depression 

As I see more and more patients, especially the elderly, and especially during this Covid-19 pandemic, I see a pattern.   

This is the pattern – our mental states, whether happy or otherwise, is very dependent on our mental habits that we have cultivated and strengthened over time.  

This is especially so in the elderly because as we grow older, our mental states tend to be dependent on our dominant mental habits. As we start to lose control over some of our physical functions, we seem to also gradually lose control over our ability to direct our mind. Thus, our mental habits become the dominant determinant of our mental states. 

This loss of control over our life is a source of fear for us, and especially so for the elderly. This fear, coupled with the dominant mental habits, become the trigger for anxiety and depression. 

Thus, if we have the mental habit of wanting to control people, circumstances or outcomes, we become fearful in old age as we gradually lose control. If we have the mental habits of focusing on the negative, we become more worrisome over time, and again, this leads to more anxiety and depression. 

Training the Mind 

Another pattern that I notice is this – it becomes increasingly difficult to train the mind as we grow older. This is understandable as we become more and more set in our mental habits, in our ways.  

Therefore, the wise advice of the ancient sages – that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second-best time to do so is now. The best time to cultivate and train our mind is 20 years ago, but if we have not started, now is the second-best time to do so. 

What kind of mental habits should we cultivate, and how do we do that? 

Well, one of the best mental habits that we can cultivate, that will continue to be beneficial for us now and into the future, is the habit of focusing on the positive. Learn to see the positive in any situation. In fact, if you can see the positive in even the most negative situation, then you have won a prize hard to gain even though you may have lost something else. Therefore, train your mind to see the positive in any situation. 

One effective way of seeing the positive in any situation is to learn gratitude. Gratitude trains our mind to see the good in everything. Open your eyes in the morning and you can be grateful for being alive. Walk into the bathroom and you can be grateful that you are still mobile and strong. Eat your breakfast and be grateful that you have food on the table. Walk outside your house or go to work, and be grateful of the freedom that you still have. Return home at night and be grateful that you have lived another day. There is just so many things you can train your mind to be grateful for.  

Secondly, unlearn the habit of wanting to control people, situations or outcomes. Learn to accept things as they come to you. Be OK with whatever comes along. Just make the best of the situation. Look for your best possible response to the situation that is beneficial to both you and those involved. Let go of your fear or feeling of discomfort at not being able to control the outcome. If the fear or unpleasant feeling persists, be OK with that too. Just learn to watch your fear or discomfort non-judgmentally, and see that they will dissipate with time. They will go away when you don’t feed them with your judgment. On the other hand, if you do feed them with your attention and judgment, they grow stronger and more persistent. This is the wisdom of non-judgmental awareness, and the insight or realization that you will gain. This is also the concept of nutriment is action.  

Too Old to Train the Mind? Try Chanting 

It is often said that “you can’t train an old dog new tricks”. Although not an absolute rule, this observation is generally accurate. It is difficult to train your mind when you are old because you already have a strong set of mental habits. So, start training your mind when you are young. Start now. 

For those who find it difficult to train your mind now, you can try chanting. Chanting, done regularly and diligently, is also a form of mind training. When you chant, you are focusing your mind on something positive or neutral, and therefore not focusing on the negative. The longer you can chant, the better the benefits. So, learn chanting.  

Another method is to keep your mind busy with some kind of work or activity, such as gardening, exercise, walking in the park, playing mahjong with friends. If you have a hobby, then focus on the hobby. Spend more time at your hobby. Any kind of activities that can take your mind away from thinking negatively is a good activity for this purpose. 

Be of Service to Others 

Finally, look for and join societies or clubs that give meaningful services to others. Become a volunteer. Do some charity work. Be of service to others. 

Practice till You Get It Right

Practice till You Get It Right

Once you have gotten the right and wholesome world view, your mind formulates some life principles to be used as guidance in life. Your life principles become a compass that guides you in everything you think, say and do.

There are, however, some important life skills you need to cultivate and fine-tune if you were to set the wheel of transformation in motion.

Some of the essential life skills are:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Letting Go

Theoretical knowledge will not transform you. Only when you put what you know into practice can you begin to see the changes you desire.

So… Practice! Practice! Practice!

Daily Mindfulness for Personal Transformation contains practical tips, tools and skills that are essential to your practice.

We invite you to join us in practicing and sharing the skills and tools you use for personal transformation. We are a happy family of serious practitioners who are keen and willing to share our experiences with you. Sign up now for our newsletter and begin the sharing.

Understanding the Grieving Process

Understanding the Grieving Process

What is Grief?

Grief is often defined as intense sorrow caused by a loss. We grieve when we expect to lose or have lost someone or something that we are attached to. The intensity of our grief is proportionate to the degree of attachment that we have to the loss. In other words, the more attached we are to the other person or thing, the greater is our grief when the loss occurred.

The pain of loss can sometimes feel overwhelming, and is often accompanied by a mixture of emotions and thoughts. It is important to know that grieving for the loss of a loved one or something that we treasured and valued is a natural reaction. It is alright to feel sad, hurt and confused when we are grieving. Often, the grieving process can take a long time before we can move on with our life.

Causes of Grief

Some of the more common causes of grief are:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce or separation
  • Loss of a job
  • Miscarriage
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of health
  • Financial loss
  • Retirement
  • Loss of a friendship

Stages of Grief

According to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five stages of grief. They are:

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  • Anger: Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

Dr. Kubler-Ross observed these stages in her patients who were terminally ill. While these may be common reactions to loss, it is also important to know that each person experiences grief in his or her own unique way. Variation is common and is to be expected. Also, it is not necessary to go through all the stages in order to heal.

Four Tasks of Mourning

William Worden suggests that there are four tasks one must accomplish in order for the grieving and mourning processes to be completed appropriately, and life equilibrium to be re-established. They are:

  • Task 1: Accept the reality of the loss. …
  • Task 2: Process your grief and pain. …
  • Task 3: Adjust to the world without your loved one in it. …
  • Task 4: Find a way to maintain a connection to the person who died while embarking on your own life.

Accepting the reality of our loss is necessary for healing to occur. The more we resist this new reality, the longer it will take us to get through our grieving process. As we gradually accept the loss and move on, we establish a new equilibrium. Pain and sorrow subside. Confusion is gradually replaced by new outlook in life and new purpose.

For most people, life goes on. Some may even find a renewed vigor and appreciation of life.

Pathological Grief

However, there is a handful who may continue to have symptoms of grief that are far too long, too debilitating and too intense. This would be considered pathological grief and would require consultation with a psychiatrist.