Writing Therapy

Research suggests that simply writing down 5 facts or sentences about yourself and the occurrences in your day each night will help with both anxiety and insomnia. These anecdotes could be trivial facts, deep thoughts and feelings, things you need to remember, or things you want to say to somebody else. Basically anything that is on your mind. Along with theories of sleep hygiene, this diary-entry like process intends to aid sleep by leasing your mind of worries, feeling of sadness, guilt and fear. This may or may not be successful for different people, but I like to think of the theory as evidence to the therapy that writing provides.

I don’t suffer with anxiety but I am a renowned insomniac, so here is mine:

1. I want to move to Italy.
2. At some point I really need to make a diary out of a human being again. Why is it so hard to change the habit of a lifetime? 
3. I need to cook Lucia’s dinners for the week before she gets home and I have been putting it off all day (I miss her). While I’m at it I should make hazelnut biscotti!
4. I learnt how to say ‘how are you’ in polish!!!!! JAK SIE MASZ! 
5. Friendship is like gold dust but only because you have to work hard to build and keep it. I don’t want to loose this one.
6. (there are no rules) American Horror Story is the most fucked up series I have ever watched but I have so much time to talk about it!!!

I am probably not going to fall asleep straight away now – but you get the jist. Adapt it, something along the same lines or slightly different could work for you. In my opinion, this will tell you a lot more about yourself than paying someone else to, read between the lines.

Psychology, Buddhism and neglect of positive emotions

Apologies for the hap-haphazardness of this post but i am rushing on train and I am going through material so fast that if i don’t post this now I will never catch up…

http://www.buddhanet.net/compassion.htm

After reading the article above I have to comment on what I think about the associations made between psychology and the recognition of positive emotions and Buddhist practices.

Firstly, the article suggests that throughout western psychology, in both research and treatment the focus is primarily on the role of negative emotions, which I agree with. Although psychology bases a lot of its findings on a lack of compassion, hope, happiness, kindness, these are not the emotions that are dealt with on a daily basis. Research, be it physiological or behavior-based is concerned with identifying root causes of negative emotions,such as anxiety, depression, and psychological treatments are based around the correction of these. The article suggests that this is due to the ‘disease model’ that western society has created.
However, I disagree that modern psychology has neglected the role of positive emotions entirely. Although research and behavior is often diagnosed and treated in accordance with these, there has been a vast amount of success seen in the recovery of patients who are taught techniques to enhance or control their use of empathy, compassion etc. Consequently, to say that all therapy is based upon the reversal of negative emotions would be narrow.
Especially within the treatment sector, much focus within the last 5 years has been surrounding self-help and improvement. This involves using patients existing positive emotions of compassion, happiness, love, kindness and building on them to encourage growth and renewal. Many therapists now offer sessions for those that are under no mental or emotional strain but wish to improve upon the quality of their well-being. This has also stemmed to treatment for those with anxiety, depression, low-self esteem as therapists have found successful methods of building on the positive emotions they already hold.
As well as seeping into treatment, the role of positive emotions has been addressed by multiple bodies of research including their impact on intelligence, creativity, and success.
When it comes to the specific views the article expresses toward compassion and empathy in line with the Buddhist faith, I am in total agreement. Although we look at the roles of positive emotions and their impact on our everyday behaviors, opinions, in western culture it is true that we forget that a state of happiness is also resultant of a psychological process. It is also true that we fail to distinguish a gradient between higher levels of compassion and a general concern for another being. In this sense, psychology, especially in the west is arguably concerned with diagnosis and treatment rather than allowing patients to explore their own emotions, which will often result in happiness as they learn to understand what makes them happy, when outside influences such as work, money, fame, popularity are taken out of the equation.
After reading around the topic my knowledge on both Buddhism and the role of the self in psychology has significantly increased. I’m still deciding if I think incorporating religious ideas within research and treatment is a good move as psychology is first and foremost recognized as a science, but perhaps this calls for a more distinguishing line between psychology as a science and psychology as influential in methods of treatment.

Buddha meets Freud

My recent reading has been surrounding the topics of Buddhism and science and how they are compatible they are with one another. From what I understand within the last few years there has been examinations of both the meditative practice and Buddhist ideas about the human mind and how it works.

Research into both areas has suggested that the most obvious way to identify a link would be to look at brain scans of those who meditate or those who practice aspects of the Buddhist faith which have identified a positive link.
Buddhists believe that human suffering which could encompass anything from anxiety to extreme sadness or unfulfilled cravings results from a distorted view of reality – which is one of the core beliefs of modern psychology. In the same way that Buddhists address negative thoughts or misconceptions about reality with meditation methods, psychology has various methods which are used in both medical and therapeutic settings to target and ultimately re-write negative thought patterns. Consequently, current thinking suggests that rather than dismissing early Buddhist methods, psychology, with the help of physiology and science, is able to appreciate and even incorporate buddhism into their approaches towards understanding the human brain and improving human behaviours and thought patterns.

I am about to take an online course where i will learn a lot more about how the two coincide with one another, and there will be a lot of reading material which I will probably want to offer my perspective on and cant wait to get to grips with.
I am currently reading an article about Buddhist and psychological perspectives on emotions and well being which i aim to comment on at some point. Link is below

https://sbinstitute.com/aw/wellbeing.pdf

I am not sure why but although I see the links between the two, I can’t help but feel Buddhism being explained or understood by psychology takes away from its spirituality, but the nature of psychology is that nothing should be left undiscovered, unexplored so i guess that is to be expected.

4 ways to boost creativity

For any creative individuals, artists, writers, designers etc, sometimes motivation and inspiration can be lacking. This doesn’t mean you don’t want to be in full-creative mode but often there’s just a block, you easily loose your train of thought or you can’t get down on paper (seeing that this is the 21st century the use of paper
counts for all other technological canvas’) what you can visualise in your head, which can be mind numbingly frustrating. After studying creativity and possible enhancement techniques for a year, I have summarised the practical tips research suggests can not only increase our motivation to be creative but the quality of the material we produce.

do things differently
Following the same routine or lifestyle pattern inhibits our creative flow. As human beings we are more likely to produce novel stimuli when we do things differently, step out of our comfort zones or take a risk. If you feel stuck, seek out new experiences, this will allow you to address your work with a new and fresh perspective.

improvise
Don’t stick to set patterns! Following rules when trying to be creative is bad enough but following your own rules is a killer for expression. Don’t work within any moulds, yours or anyone else’s. Improvise freely, if you write or paint, use what you feel, not what you expect to see on the page. Don’t self monitor, you might surprise yourself.

take a break
Perhaps the most obvious, but taking a break when stuck is shown to improve any subsequent performance. Acting as a period of incubation, your subconscious is free to take hold of any material you have previously been working on while you are having time out. Take a shower, read a few pages of a book, listen to music, you may find on returning to your task you are able to think and process more clearly.

Create a creative space
Work in a room or space that’s catered to your specific creative needs. You will know where you work best, where you feel your most free and relaxed. It’s likely to be in a space you are comfortable and familiar with. If you realise you don’t have this, create it. Find out if you need minimal noise, a nice view, or food on tap. (I’m not sure this one is actual research rather than just something I learnt whilst doing my dissertation. 8000 words really tests you.)