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Shrinking the world by studying a rock

Posted Jan 14 2013 5:00am

When problems seem insurmountable

Pebbles

Building Concentration

There is a technique that when used correctly helps to shrink things down to proper size. Used inappropriately it can turn the smallest of issues into insurmountable obstacles. Let’s talk about this “Alice” skill.

Whatever you attend to you get more of.

One effective technique for shrinking things down is to increase our ability to concentrate. Pain, unhappiness and the negatives of life come screaming into our awareness. The happy, peaceful and contented items stand there, like a shy child, waiting for us to notice them.

Try this exercise. It will only take a couple of minutes and it may be worth many times that.

Look down at the floor or the ground. If you are confined to the indoors pick a spot on the floor, a speck of dust or even a discarded piece of paper.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to be outside for this exercise look for pebble. Really look at this object. What color is it? Is it smooth or textured? What patterns are visible? How does this thing interact with its world? Does it lay flat or does it wobble?

As you sense your mind wandering off return it to this vital task at hand. You goal is to learn all you can about what it would be like to be that pebble.

Keep racketing up you concentration on your pebble. The more you concentrate on that pebble the large it grows in your consciousness and the more the rest of the universe will recede. All of existence becomes concentrated in that one stone.

People who practice this pebble meditation find that their abilities to concentrate at will grows. The result is that distractions shrink and become irrelevant. The background noise fades away and so do our other perceptions.

So what benefits does this pebble meditation bestow besides a chance to practice our concentration?

People in chronic pain clinics who learn to concentrate on an object report that while their mind is on the pebble the experience of their pain shrinks.

If you spend all of your time focused on your pain, you will find the pain grows. Their question becomes “How is my back feeling now? Not what else exists besides my back pain?

The objects of our attention play a role in our recovery from emotional as well as physical pain.

The wood spurge leaf of three, the squirrel running across the path and the pebble at our feet have all played a role in alleviating suffering.

The risk? If you start caring enough about that pebble you may find a strong temptation to pick him up and take him home. If you pay attention to another person, you risk to caring enough about them to let them into your life.

What would you like to shrink out of your life by discontinuing paying it attention? What will you grow in your life by making it the center of your attention?

Pebbles (Photo credit: andrew dowsett)

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page . For information about my other writing work beyond this blog there is also a Facebook authors page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com .


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