It helped me stay with emotions that would previously have led to food binges or alcohol or drug abuse. There are many forms of meditation, but the type I find most helpful as a regular practice is just sitting quietly and being mindful of my breath. Contrary to some popular conception, you don't have to join a cult, pay money, buy special clothes, or sit in lotus position. There's nothing fancy to it. There are three basic steps I recommend: sit or lie comfortably, breathe, and focus your attention on your breath. Focus on being in the moment and feeling the breath move through you. In this moment, there is no other and no judgment, just who you are. This is a moment to find your ground. This type of repetition in our behavior is what psychologists refer to as an enactment. John was fundamentally replicating what his father had originally done to him when he lashed out and was abusive over social media. He'd post demeaning comments to people, telling them they were stupid, idiots, losers, or weak-minded, repeating the cruel words his father had said to him when he'd been a young boy and teen. The first step in John's healing was to help him acknowledge, in a self-compassionate context, the pain his father's verbal abuse had caused him. The second step involved helping John to see how his insulting comments would make a person on the receiving end feel. Calling another person, stupid or an idiot is hurtful, whether it's said online or off. When we fully appreciate the extent to which we have hurt another, we move toward healthy feelings of regret and the healthy desire to want to make reparations, the making of amends for a wrong we've done another. This process of empathetic, imaginative reflection was also extended to John's mistreatment of his wife too. Helping John cultivate balanced awareness and develop his observing ego not only made him more aware of how his comments could make other people feel online, it also improved his relationships offline--especially his relationship with his wife. John learned to develop the capacity for self-compassion and compassion for all. If you can't do this, you're acknowledging your confirmation bias and that you were only looking to hear what you wanted to hear, instead of going into the test with an open mind and searching for a real solution. All too often when we test ourselves or, as coaches, test our athletes, we're trying to find something that is obvious even without any kind of test.

For example, Andy does a lot of work with fighters. One of them was trying to come back from elbow surgery that'd led to a long training layoff. He was out of shape and fifty pounds overweight and asked Andy to test his VO2 max. Andy refused. Because he knew the fighter's injury history and how it had disrupted his preparation and, just using his eyes, could tell that he was too heavy and unfit. However, he did run this test on a few other fighters because even though they were in great shape, he started noticing some performance issues with their conditioning that couldn't be pinpointed with simple observation alone. The VO2 max test helped identify their issue, and the fighters' coaches spent the next six weeks acting on this insight with a specific plan, after which the problems went away. Andy had a hunch that came from watching the athlete through the lens of many years' experience, and the test confirmed it--not the other way around. It gives you that little space to distance yourself from the story you may attach to whatever is going on. Your mind will wander. You'll start thinking about the bills you need to pay and what you're going to eat for dinner. That's okay. Just notice these thoughts and gently bring your attention back to your breath. You will get distracted again and again--I like to just label it thinking and keep coming back to my breath. This might sound too simple to affect behavior, but research tells us it works. A fascinating study on formerly incarcerated men who were substance-addicted exposed them to ten days of meditation training. Those who practiced ninety days of meditation reported drinking 87 percent less alcohol and using 89 percent less marijuana. That was six times as effective as the conventional chemical dependency plan provided to a control group. This even extended to his father. This new awareness was also positive for his career.

He got along better with his coworkers and his supervisor, all of which improved his employment security. Mending Walls I believe it's safe to say that all psychologists will agree that teaching clients self-compassion leads to tremendous healing and growth. Most times we aren't able to take care of ourselves from a place of self-compassion because we weren't treated in a compassionate way as young children, so we repeat the dynamic with others and ourselves. The research on self-compassion also shows it to be a crucial component to forgiveness for both ourselves and others. This practice reaps dividends not only in our offline lives but in our online lives as well. Exercising self-compassion and compassion for all people online is just as important and can contribute to healing on a global level. With the rise in hate speech and cyberbullying and the climbing numbers of teen suicides, it is imperative that as a society, nation, and world we recognize the urgent call for cultivating online digital compassion. The lesson is that you should use technology to see what your eyes can't, but recognize that it's still only a tool to find data that a coach must then use to inform your programming. The Limits of Scientific Studies Objective data from scientific studies is essential for any area of research, whether it's the effects of a certain nutritional supplement or how subatomic particles behave. But when it comes to health and fitness, marketing and media hyperbole can lead to misunderstandings and misguided action. We may think we're doing something great for our bodies, but are we treating symptoms instead of the cause, or even interfering in a natural and positive bodily process? Is a product promising the world without delivering? A healthy skepticism and willingness to experiment can help separate the scientific wheat from the chaff. Doing the Dishes with a Hammer Imagine you're asked by a company that makes tools to see if their new hammer works. You could go one of two ways when looking into the usefulness of the hammer. This study is part of a mounting body of research that points to what I already know from experience: meditation practice makes a difference. Personally, I celebrate how it helps me sit with waves of emotion that would have previously had me driving down roads I don't want to go on.

You can find mindfulness practices to try later in this article. MEDITATION AND HABIT CHANGE Thanks to neuroplasticity, we can change the habitual responses of our brain. For most of us, our brains are set to go into reactive mode and so we are less capable of staying with emotions. If you practice meditation, your brain grows more able to tolerate feelings. You can become a witness to your own experience and step out of the craving. The craving may seem to have the upper hand, but a meditation practice can weaken its hold by deconditioning you to its power. You won't necessarily banish the desire, but you are more able to acknowledge it as a part of being human and recognize its transience, making you less vulnerable to acting on it. Most will agree that tragic events taking place via social media don't stem from users being too compassionate, too mindful of their emotions, too understanding of how their actions and behaviors affect others, too empathetic, or too concerned over the success of the human race. We can all play our part in the solution by first helping ourselves and then teaching others. Imagine a digital world where we elevate the dialogue to the degree that compassion is engendered, where disagreements played out online enlighten us all instead of breaking us down, where the best of humanity is showcased in place of the very worst. As great author Leo Tolstoy said, everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. Below are some ideas to help you start on the path toward implementing self-compassion, both online and off. Recommendations Make sense of your past. It's never okay to make negative comments to or about others. If you find yourself engaged in digital confrontations, examine your family history. It's common for people to reenact dysfunctional relational dynamics. First, you could pound nails into planks of wood. Yep, you'd tell the company's owners, this hammer works for pounding nails.

But what if instead you focused your efforts on trying to wash the dirty dishes in your kitchen sink with that same hammer? You'd come back with a report stating that the tool was useless. This analogy might seem a little silly, but it applies quite well to the field of exercise science. Every fitness wearable or supplement works in some way or another. It's just a question of whether this functionality lines up with how the company is marketing its products and the path chosen by the research scientists who looked into its effectiveness. So if Andy were going to study the benefits of tart cherry juice, he wouldn't investigate potential benefits that he knows aren't going to materialize, such as increased protein synthesis. Instead, he'd look at the existing literature and home in on a likely use for tart cherry extract, like reducing inflammation. Then he would set up a study with two groups, one that would take a certain dose of the extract after exercising and one that wouldn't. Let's review the trigger, behavior, reward process discussed in article 4 to understand how meditation can help you change problematic behavior. Say you're sensitive to social rejection. You draw in the smoke and savor the temporary feeling of pleasure and distraction, which further ingrains the biologic pathway so you are conditioned to keep choosing that response. You can see some of the ways this is a problem. One of them is that the fix is temporary and you never really get satisfaction for the real need, which is feeling connected and accepted. Vaping soothed you briefly, but you still feel inadequate and unworthy. On top of the shame you felt from the rejection, you may have the added shame for vaping. Hating on yourself for vaping, or for whatever your habitual coping response is, just adds more fuel to your feelings of unworthiness and the drive to soothe yourself and get out of your pain. There's no way you can heal from addiction or move on from your coping strategies unless you address your shame. Just as you can't eat your way to happiness and stability, you can't shame or hate yourself into better behavior. Left unexamined, sadly, these behaviors rarely change. Learn to identify the ways in which social media can support your journey of self-compassion.