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  • Writer's pictureIan

Enactive Dao Psychological Flexibility Practices

Enactive Dao is spiritual at it's core, but psychological training is also important. Psychological flexibility is an essential concept that overlaps significantly with the principles of Enactive Dao. Here's how they interrelate:

  1. Engaged Practice and Acceptance: Both Enactive Dao and the concept of psychological flexibility emphasize the need for acceptance and active engagement with life. In the context of psychological flexibility, acceptance refers to the ability to experience feelings, thoughts, and sensations without unnecessary defense or avoidance. This aligns with the engaged practice of Enactive Dao, which invites practitioners to be fully present and participative in life's unfolding.

  2. Embrace of Change and Flow and Present Moment Awareness: The principle of embracing change and flow in Enactive Dao resonates with the core of psychological flexibility, which is the capacity to stay in the present moment and adapt one's behavior in line with changing circumstances and personal values. This flexibility facilitates a harmonious flow with life's inevitable changes, reducing struggle and enhancing well-being.

  3. Balance and Harmony and Committed Action: Balance and harmony, as foundational principles of Enactive Dao, align with the concept of committed action within psychological flexibility. Committed action involves taking steps that align with your values, contributing to a sense of balance and harmony in life. This intentional action in alignment with personal values leads to a more balanced and fulfilling existence.

  4. Ecological Awareness and Contextual Sensitivity: Enactive Dao's principle of ecological awareness shares similarities with the psychological flexibility aspect of being contextually sensitive, which involves awareness and adjustment according to one's environment and situations. Recognizing that we are part of an interdependent ecosystem encourages flexibility in our responses and behaviors.

  5. Integration of Body and Mind and Self-as-Process: Psychological flexibility also includes the notion of "self-as-process" rather than a static entity, which aligns well with Enactive Dao's principle of integrating body and mind. Viewing oneself as a dynamic, integrated process facilitates a more fluid and adaptive way of being in the world.

In essence, psychological flexibility can be seen as a modern psychological understanding that aligns well with the ancient wisdom encapsulated in Enactive Dao. Both highlight the importance of living fully and authentically in the present, embracing life's changes, acting in line with personal values, and recognizing our interconnectedness with the world around us.

Enactive Dao Psychological Flexibility Practices

  1. Mindful Observation: Spend time each day simply observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This practice can help you to cultivate an awareness of your internal experience and to understand that thoughts and feelings are transient, not defining aspects of your identity. For example, if you notice feelings of anxiety, observe them as you would observe a leaf floating on a stream. They are part of your experience in this moment, but they are not 'you' and they will pass.

  2. Value Clarification: Identify what is truly important to you, your core values, and let them guide your actions. In Enactive Dao, this might mean recognizing values like balance, harmony, or natural flow and enacting them in your daily life. It's not about achieving a particular outcome, but living in alignment with these values as an ongoing process.

  3. Committed Action: Once you've identified your values, commit to actions that embody them. For instance, if you value balance and harmony, you might commit to a daily practice of Tai Chi or Qigong. The focus is not on 'success' or 'failure', but on the act of committing and recommitting to your values in each moment.

  4. Defusion: Learn to step back from your thoughts and see them for what they are: just thoughts, not concrete realities. For example, if you have a thought like "I'm not good at this," you might mentally reframe it as "I'm having the thought that I'm not good at this." This can help you to avoid getting caught up in unhelpful thought patterns and to see your thoughts from a broader perspective.

  5. Present Moment Awareness: Rather than getting caught up in thoughts about the past or future, practice bringing your attention to the present moment. This might involve mindfulness meditation, mindful walking in nature, or simply taking a few moments to breathe and ground yourself in the here and now.

  6. Self-as-Context: Cultivate an understanding of the self as a fluid, changing process, not a fixed entity. In the context of Enactive Dao, this means seeing yourself as a part of Dao, inseparable from the flow of life around you. This can help to lessen attachment to a rigid sense of self and to open you to a broader, more flexible perspective on your identity and experience.

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