In the last newsletter I wrote about the negativity bias. Today I want to expand on that, using Rick Hanson’s HEAL Process. I wanted to share some of what I learned from the Harvard Conference on Meditation and Psychotherapy I spoke at two weekends ago.
In order to learn we need to actively cultivate two types of learning environments.
The contextual factor operates in the background while the other type is our engagement in the present moment.
Rick’s contextual factors parallel what I’ve described as the basic foundations of cultivating a secure internal base: Openness, mindfulness, view of positive experience, growth/learning mindset, motivation, self-efficacy, self-esteem, feeling supported, sense of safety.
Within those factors we can choose, “How do I want to be with this experience that I’m in?”
These engagement factors include making the experience personally relevant, being alert and attended to the sense of novelty, noticing the sense of reward, positive emotions, making our attention granular, interoception (noticing our internal experience), repeating the experience (even if only in our own internal mind movie), elaborating on it/creating meaning out of it.
Doing this primes our nervous system to not only learn from the present experience but, perhaps more importantly, primes us for future beneficial experiences.
Plus, get this, it heightens the consolidation of past experiences.
And all this is under our conscious control!
There are so many little experiences we have during the day that can create a new trait as long as we cultivate it and install it.
This is Rick’s H.E.A.L. Process – providing a way that we can Mindfully Cultivate a new positive trait.
- [H] Have a beneficial experience – this activates the whole process
Installation happens as we do the following:
- [E] Enrich it.
- [A] Absorb it.
- [L] Link positive and negative material (which Rick says in optional – but I have found it essential!)
Here’s how you can try out Rick’s process at home.
Notice that you are relaxing as you exhale:
- Bring the experience to the foreground of attention
- Stay with it; open to it in your body; keep it fresh
- Be mindful of what is rewarding; sense it sinking in
Create an experience of compassion:
- Offer yourself, and all beings, the sincere wish not suffer
- Let the wish pervade the mind; finding a way to make this wish personally relevant
As you contact the felt experience of it, let it grow and spread inside you.