Emotion and Meditation: First Steps and Initial Thoughts for Poker Players

Internet Resources on Guided Meditation Headspace is an excellent resource for those wanting to try out meditation for themselves. The website offers 10 free sessions of 10 minutes each which also includes some great ideas for mindfulness, increasing awareness and managing emotions. *** My introduction to meditation began from two different sources, the Headspace website above and from classes with those interested in learning and practising Buddhism of which meditation is an integral part of their studies and attaining spiritual enlightenment. I've found both extremely useful in aiding me to begin my journey to understanding and implementing meditation into my daily activities. Understanding Emotion "I spent my whole life trying to be careless. woman and children can be careless but not men." - Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone, The Godfather For most of my life I viewed emotions as a great weakness to being a man and a hindrance to managing and maintaining myself. As a child I was told not to behave that way or to go along and obey those in authority - my emotion was repressed or chosen by others. As I got older I noticed how an angry man would seemingly lose his ability to gauge right from wrong and commit some gross acts unbecoming of his normal character. It seemed to me that being emotional was something that the weak or temporarily insane allow themselves to be and a real man never has their emotions rise beyond a particularly threshold. My goal was to become an emotionless robot so that I wouldn't let any emotion control my thoughts and behaviour. But in doing so I was first misunderstanding how a rational thinking being should approach emotion and how important emotion is to us in our everyday lives. As human beings our spectrum of emotion is what really makes us human and makes life worth living. For me to deny myself the experience of enjoying my emotions and my foolhardy attempt to repress them was simply undesirable and just plain wrong. Instead of an absence of emotion I should have instead accepted its part in my life and aimed for understanding and control. Emotion as a Tool for Learning and Achieving Once we understand and accept that our emotions will forever be part of our lives, next we can begin to harness the power of our emotions in order to help us to truly excel and achieve great things. Our emotions can provide us with a three-fold means to being successful. 1. Emotion as signal for knowledge locked away in our unconscious. As a poker player our A-Game is our skill set operating on the level of Unconscious Competence, by allowing our mind to flow we can naturally allow our gut instinct to make decisions effortlessly without much conscious thinking. 2. Emotion as a red flag for areas needing improvement. Those times we feel angry or upset become markers as to areas of our game we need to improve. Hate getting 3-bet? Betting too thin and being called by better too often? Not sure whether to bet or check-decide? By writing down those times you feel flustered or uneasy you gain information as to parts of your game needing the attention. 3. Emotion as a source for energy to accomplish our goals. Both motivation and inspiration begin with emotion. Those people / pictures / videos / music / ideas that inspire you create a spark inside that makes you want to make a change. That initial emotional reaction gets your mind working and postulating as to what is possible if you work hard and really decide to make an impact in your life. Once you set out your new goals and targets the emotional drive is needed that pushes you further when you are faced with challenges. Emotion and Beginner Meditation After several meditation sessions I noticed that I was more emotional than before. But then I realized what was really going on. I ALWAYS had these emotions but I was bottling them up inside and not dealing with them as they arose. Now I was immediately aware of their onset and was able to choose how I wanted to react to them. During poker play I would make a decision to deal with them in-game by injecting logic and take deeper breaths or take a break from my session and resume with more mental clarity after writing in my Tilt Journal. Addressing Residual Accumulated Emotion and Preventing Further Accumulated Emotion Using Meditation A common theme for addressing issues is first awareness and acceptance of the emotions to begin with. For me the residual emotions left from several prolonged downswings had two main themes: 1. Fear of losing 2. loss of self-esteem or poor self-image Each of the above issues carried plenty of residual emotions. During my poker sessions, when I identified those particular emotions popping up while I play if I felt deeper breaths and injecting logic wasn't quite settling my feelings I would stop my session and meditate on those feelings, allowing them to come and go in my mind. For me, providing a safe space for which to gently experience the emotion and then think and/or write about it after allowed me to come to some real resolutions and hopefully reduce or eliminate them completely. Overall Benefits of Meditation (Thus Far) Increased awareness Understanding and managing emotion Addressing residual emotion Reducing the effects of 'bloated brain'. Renewing mental energy Finding inner peace *** Please share your experiences with meditation, good luck
Posted in Meditation and Mindfulness.

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