Elisha Goldstein, PhD, a psychologist and mindfulness teacher, has written a very helpful new book, The Now Effect.
In his multi-faceted work with mindfulness, Elisha’s been a co-founder of the Mindfulness Center for Psychotherapy and Psychiatry, and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. He is also the author of the popular blog “Mindfulness and Psychotherapy” on Psychcentral.com, as well as writing for the Huffington Post and MentalHelp.net. The 12-week program “Mindfulness at Work” that is currently being run in many multinational corporations is yet another of his offerings.
Here’s how one reviewer described The Now Effect: “Shot through with stories, poetry, and down to earth lessons, the brief chapters in this book are entertaining but never trite and make mindfulness practice refreshingly accessible. Accompanied by Elisha’s clear online video instruction, The Now Effect will become a valuable resource for clinicians, doctors, patients, teachers, and anyone else who is looking to rediscover and rest in the present moment.” (Pat Ogden PhD, Founder, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute)
I’m pleased to offer an excerpt of Elisha’s writing , below. Enjoy!
If you were sitting in a room and just outside you heard the waves of the ocean on one side and a jack hammer on the left side, assuming the decibel level was the same, which would your brain be drawn to?
If you guessed the jack hammer, you’re right. But why is it that our brains are drawn toward what’s annoying or negative more than what’s pleasant and positive? And how can we rebalance this automatic nature of our minds?
This is a tricky one. It’s been well established that our brains have an automatic negativity bias. In our history as a human species those people whose minds were not primed to immediately target danger didn’t pass their genes on through the evolutionary chain. So our brains, over time, became more deeply ingrained with the bias toward focusing on threats and negativity.
An awareness of this bias alone can help you with the old adage “Don’t believe everything you think.”
Simply the knowledge that your thoughts are more inclined toward the negative primes your mind to begin to question these thoughts as they come.
For example, in a moment you find your mind swirling on negative details you may start to also have a thought arise, “my mind has a bias toward the negative.” This thought pops you into a mindful space, a moment of clarity and choice that I call The Now Effect.
In this space you will have the awareness to ask the question “Is this thought true? What evidence do I have for this thought? Is there another way I can see this situation?” This opens the door to see opportunities and possibilities you never knew existed.
As we intentionally practice and repeat having these experiences they get stored as implicit memories. These are the memories that influence our immediate snap judgments and decision making from moment-to-moment.
So imagine a time where you get caught in a swirl of automatic negative thinking about the future, yourself, or the past and seconds later an awareness comes over you like a moment of grace allowing you to break free from this cycle and into a space of choice to be your own best friend in that moment instead of a reactive enemy.
The truth is, just reading this right now has already primed your mind to see these moments of choice to break free from the confines and unhealthy habitual patterns in the mind and into a space of choice, possibility and freedom. As you intentionally practice this, you’ll retrain the auto-pilot of the mind toward healthier and more effective ways of responding to life, this is one of the greatest gifts of the Now Effect.
Another important way to prime your mind to be more mindful is surrounding yourself with a community who reminds you of this. That’s why I created The Now Effect Community so people could get free daily now moment reminders to their inbox and free access to a monthly live online event around content and practices in The Now Effect and to answer important questions. This deepens our connection to mindfulness and helps develop what I call a “mindful instinct.”
Remember, basic learning theory tells us if we intentionally practice and repeat something it begins to become automatic. If you practice getting space from your automatic negative thoughts, you will eventually start realizing greater freedom and open up to new ways of seeing yourself, which will lead to new actions and a better life.
From Elisha Goldstein, PhD, author of The Now Effect