Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Tao, Way, Middle Way, Emptiness, Stillness, Equanimity, Centeredness

     “The Way is in the middle because that’s the place where the energies are balanced. But how do you stop the pendulum from swinging to the outer edges? Amazingly enough, you do this by leaving it alone. It won’t keep swinging to the extremes unless you feed the extremes with energy. Just let the extremes go. Don’t participate in them, and the pendulum will naturally come toward the center. As it comes to the center, you will get filled with energy. This is because all the energy that had been wasted is now available to you. 
     If you choose to center and not participate in the extremes, you will come to know the Tao. You don’t grab it; you don’t even touch it. It’s just what the energy does when it’s not being used to swing toward the extremes. It finds its own way to the center of each event that takes place in life and remains quietly in the middle. The Tao is hollow, empty. Like the eye of a hurricane, its power is its emptiness. All things swirl around it, but it is unmoved. The swirl of life draws its energy from the center and the center draws its energy from the swirl of life. All these laws are the same – in weather, in nature, and in every aspect of your life.”

        Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007. 

Photo: UncleFai

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Release, Nonresistance, Acceptance, Surrender, Don't Resist - Let Energies Flow Through

     “Deep inner release is a spiritual path in and of itself. It is the path of nonresistance, the path of acceptance, the path of surrender. It’s about not resisting energies as they pass through you. If you have difficulty doing this, don’t get down on yourself. Just keep working with it. It’s the work of a lifetime to become that open, that complete, and that whole. 
     The key is to just relax and release, and deal only with what’s left in front of you. You do not need to worry about the rest. If you relax and release, you will see that it puts you through tremendous spiritual growth. You’ll start to feel an enormous amount of energy awaken inside of you. You will feel much more love than you’ve ever felt before. You will feel more peace and contentment, and eventually nothing will ever disturb you again.
     You truly can reach a state in which you never have any more stress, tension, or problems for the rest of your life. You just have to realize that life is giving you a gift, and that gift is the flow of events that takes place between your birth and your death. These events are exciting, challenging, and create tremendous growth. To comfortably handle this flow of life, your heart and mind must be open and expansive enough to encompass reality. The only reason they’re not is because you resist. Learn to stop resisting reality, and what used to look like stressful problems will begin to look like the stepping-stones of your spiritual journey.”

        Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007.

Photo: Vitaly Raskalov

Friday, March 29, 2013

Resisting Life Wastes Energy, Let Everything Flow Through You

     “How you deal with your energy flow has a major effect on your life. If you assert your will against the energy of an event that has already happened, it is like trying to stop the ripples caused by a leaf dropped into a still lake. Anything you do causes more disturbance, not less. When you resist, the energy has no place to go. It gets stuck in your psyche and seriously affects you. It blocks your heart’s energy flow and causes you to feel closed and less vibrant. This is literally what is happening when something is weighing on your mind or when things just get too heavy for you.
     This is the human predicament. Events have happened and we continue to hold their energy inside of us by resisting them. Now, when we face today’s events, we are neither prepared to receive them nor capable of digesting them. This is because we’re still struggling with past energies. Over time, the energies build up to the point that a person becomes so blocked that they either blow up or shut down completely. This is what it means to get stressed-out or even totally burned-out.
     There is no reason to get stressed-out. There is no reason for blowing up or shutting down. If you do not let this energy build up inside you, but instead allow each moment of each day to pass through you, then you can be as fresh every moment as you would be on a stress-free vacation. It is not life’s events that are causing problems or stress. It is your resistance to life’s events that is causing this experience. Since the problem is caused by using your will to resist the reality of life passing through you, the solution is quite obvious – stop resisting.”

        Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007.

Photo: Jill Hancock

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Who Am I? Observer, self & Self

     “As you go deeper into yourself, you will naturally come to realize that there is an aspect of your being that is always there and never changes. This is your sense of awareness, your consciousness. It is this awareness that is aware of your thoughts, experiences the ebb and flow of your emotions, and receives your physical senses. This is the root of Self. You are not your thoughts; you are aware of your thoughts. You are not your emotions; you feel your emotions. You are not your body; you look at it in the mirror and experience this world through its eyes and ears. You are the conscious being who is aware that you are aware of all these inner and outer things.”

        Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007.

Photo: fmpicture

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Price of Freedom - Purifying the Pain in your Heart - the Fire of Yoga

     “Sometimes you will notice that it feels hot inside as pain passes. In fact, as you relax into the energy of the pain, you may feel tremendous heat in your heart. That is the pain being purified from your heart. Learn to enjoy that burning. It is called the fire of yoga.. It does not seem enjoyable, but you will learn to enjoy it because it is freeing you. In truth, pain is the price of freedom. And the moment you are willing to pay that price, you will no longer be afraid. The moment you are not afraid of the pain, you’ll be able to face all of life’s situations without fear.”

       Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Processing Emotional Fear / Pain - Just Energy Passing Through

     "Wise beings do not want to remain a slave to the fear of pain. They permit the world to be what it is instead of being afraid of it. They wholeheartedly participate in life, but not for the purpose of using life to avoid themselves. If life does something that causes a disturbance inside of you, instead of pulling away, let it pass through you like the wind. After all, things happen every day that cause inner disturbance. At any moment, you can feel frustration, anger, fear, jealousy, insecurity, or embarrassment. If you watch, you will see that the heart is trying to push it all away. If you want to be free, you have to learn to stop fighting these human feelings.
     When you feel pain, simply view it as energy. Just start seeing these inner experiences as energy passing through your heart and before the eye of your consciousness. Then relax. Do the opposite of contracting and closing. Relax and release. Relax your heart until you are actually face-to-face with the exact place where it hurts. Stay open and receptive so you can be present right where the tension is. You must be willing to be present right at the place of the tightness and pain, and then relax and go even deeper. This is very deep growth and transformation. But you will not want to do this. You will feel tremendous resistance to doing this, and that's what makes it so powerful. As you relax and feel the resistance, the heart will want to pull away, to close, to protect, and to defend itself. Keep relaxing. Relax your shoulders and relax your heart. Let go and give room for the pain to pass through you. It's just energy. Just see it as energy and let it go."
       Singer MA. "The untethered soul. The journey beyond self." New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Crisis of Faith, Limits of Intellect, Magical Thinking, Ego, Processing Obstacles, Meditation

      “… most of us have agonized over that sickening ‘crisis of faith’ when firmly held personal beliefs are suddenly stripped of a visceral sense of correctness, rightness, or meaning.”
       Burton RA. “On being certain. Believing you are right even when you’re not.” St. Martin’s Griffin, NY, 2008.

     Burton's book takes one as far as the intellect can go. But the intellect hits a glass ceiling, arresting at a relatively early stage in the normal psychosocial development trajectory. Sadly, many scientifically-educated people (religiously) believe that science / cognition is the source of all reliable information, and that Freud's "ordinary unhappiness" is "as good as it gets."

     If we seek the truth, and can handle it, we explore what is true with all our senses (mind-heart) open - with an "I don't know mind." This involves letting go of all ego-maintaining dualistic magical thinking. Many spiritual seekers hit and arrest at an emotional glass ceiling - unwilling to let go of comforting dogmas which they've outgrown.
     Sitting meditation, particularly over years of serious continuous practice and meditation retreats, gradually helps "process" obstacles to experiencing reality. This is mind-body work that each individual needs to do for herself to experience - even the Buddha didn't offer short-cuts.

     See also:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Let Go of Sticky Thoughts & Emotions Before Momentum & Energy Build

     “First, you start to have a thought or a feeling. This feeling could be as subtle as your energy flow starting to tighten and become defensive, or it could be something much stronger. If these energies capture your consciousness and all the power of awareness gets focused on them, this power actually feeds them. When you concentrate on these thoughts and emotions, they become charged with energy and power. This is why thoughts and emotions get stronger [build momentum] the more attention you give them. Let’s say you feel a little jealousy or a little fear. If you focus on it, it grows in importance and demands more of your attention. Then, because your attention feeds it, it becomes infused with even more energy and draws more attention. That’s how the cycle goes. Eventually, what started as a passing thought or emotion can become the center of your entire life. If you don’t let go [early], it can get completely out of control.
     A wise person remains centered enough to let go every time [as soon as] the energy shifts into a defensive [or offensive] mode. The moment the energy moves and you feel your consciousness start to get drawn into it you relax and release. Letting go means falling behind the energy instead of going into it. It just takes a moment of conscious effort to decide that you’re not going there. You just let go. It’s simply a matter of taking the risk that you are better off letting go than going with the energy. When you’re free from the hold the energy has on you, you will be free to experience the joy and expansiveness that exists within you.”

       Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007.

Photo: jeetsupratim

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vow to Keep Your Heart Open, No Matter What

     “Once you’ve made the commitment to free yourself of that scared person inside, you will notice that there is a clear decision point at which your growth takes place. Spiritual growth is about the point at which you start to feel your energy change. For instance, somebody says something, and you start to feel the energy get a little strange inside. You will actually start to feel a tightening. That is your cue that it’s time to grow. It’s not time to defend yourself, because you don’t want the part of you that you would be defending. If you don’t want it, let it go.” 

       Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007. 

     See also:

Crow in the Garden by Felicia Knock

Monday, March 18, 2013

Clinging & Aversion vs Free Flow of Energies - Process in Real Time

     “two kinds of experiences can occur that block the heart. You are either trying to push energies away because they bother you, or you are trying to keep energies close because you like them. In both cases, you are not letting them pass, and you are wasting precious energy by blocking the flow through resisting and clinging.
     If you are willing to experience the gift of life instead of fighting with it, you will be moved to the depth of your being. When you reach this state, you will begin to see the secrets of the heart. The heart is the place through which energy flows to sustain you. It is the strength that carries you through life. It is the beautiful experience of love that pours through your whole being.
     To promote this state, simply allow the experiences of life to come in and pass through your being. If old energies come back up because you were unable to process them before, let go of them now. It’s that easy. Just open, relax your heart, forgive, laugh, or do anything you want. Just don’t push it back down. Of course it hurts when it comes up. It was stored with pain; it’s going to release with pain. You have to decide if you want to continue to walk around with stored pain blocking your heart and limiting your life. The alternative is to be willing to let it go when it gets stimulated. It only hurts for a minute and then it’s over.”

       Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007.

     See also:

Spirit in the Snow

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Say YES! to Everything, Embrace it All with Love, Remain Open

     “The ultimate trick is to not close. If you don’t close, you will have learned to stay open. Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it. When your heart starts to close, just say, ‘No. I’m not going to close. I’m going to relax. I’m going to let this situation take place and be there with it.” Honor and respect the situation, and deal with it. By all means deal with it. Do the best you can. But deal with it with openness. Deal with it with excitement and enthusiasm. No matter what it is, just let it be the sport of the day. In time, you will find that you forget how to close. No matter what anyone does, no matter what situation takes place, you won’t even feel the tendency to close. You will just embrace life with all your heart and soul. Once you’ve attained this very high state, your energy level will be phenomenal. You will have all the energy you need at all times. Just relax and open, and tremendous energy will rush up inside of you. You are only limited by your ability to stay open.”

        Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007. 

     See also:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Who am I? What is this? True Meditation, Awakening

     “When you contemplate the nature of Self, you are meditating. That is why meditation is the highest state. It is the return to the root of your being, the simple awareness of being aware. Once you become conscious of the consciousness itself, you attain a totally different state. You are now aware of who you are. You have become an awakened being. It’s really just the most natural thing in the world. Here I am. Here I always was. It’s like you have been on the couch watching TV, but you were so totally immersed in the show that you forgot where you were. Someone shook you, and now you’re back to the awareness that you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Nothing else changed. You simply stopped projecting your sense of self onto that particular object of consciousness. You woke up. That is spirituality. That is the nature of Self. That is who you are.”

       Singer MA. The untethered soul. The journey beyond self. New Harbinger Publications Inc, Oakland CA, 2007. 

Michael Hanson

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ultimate Reality, Oneness, Interbeing, One Love

     “Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest, which co-mingle their roots in the darkness underground.” William James

      “Darwin wrote that one of humankind’s noblest virtues ‘seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings.’ ” Miller G. A quest for compassion. Science 2009; 324: 458-9.

in a dusty spiral galaxy far, far away ...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Contributions of Mindfulness & Other Contemplative Traditions

     "Contemplative disciplines make several radical claims about states of mind. First, they suggest that all of us potentially have available to us families of functionally specific and higher states, and that contemplative practices can foster these. Moreover, they claim that many of these contemplative states of mind can offer multiple psychological, somatic, and spiritual benefits. These states may heal, catalyze development, cultivate specific capacities such as positive emotions, as well as produce insights, understanding, and wisdom.
     In other words, contemplative disciplines suggest that certain kinds of insight, understanding, and wisdom are more likely to occur in specific states of mind, and some may occur only in specific states.
     So mind states are far more malleable than is usually recognized, there are many more functionally specific and higher states potentially available to us than we recognize, and some of these may foster exceptional capacities, including sapiential ones. However, contemplative traditions aim not just to glimpse altered states and higher perspectives, but to stabilize them. The goal is to transform transient states into enduring traits, higher states into higher stages, peak experiences into plateau experiences, and epiphanies into personalities. ... the goal is 'to transform flashes of illumination into abiding light.' The result is that brief glimpses extend into continuous vision, novel perspectives become permanent metaperspectives, and new insights develop into enduring understandings.
     In short, certain functionally specific and higher states may be doorways through which wisdom — in the form of valuable insights, understandings, perspectives and resultant ways of lifecan emerge and find expression. Equally important, contemplative disciplines have developed specific practices and inner technologies to cultivate these states and their insights." 
       Walsh R. The varieties of wisdom: Contemplative, cross-cultural, and integral contributions. Research in Human Development 2011; 8(2): 109-127.

Photo: qhenson

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Buddhist Psychology, Abhidharma, Qualities Crucial to Maturation & Wisdom

     "Buddhist psychology (Abhidharma) describes seven qualities or capacities that are crucial to fostering mental maturation and wisdom: the seven factors of enlightenment. These are composed of three calming factors (calm, concentration, and equanimity) and three energizing factors (effort, energy, and rapture), and a superordinate factor of mindfulness
     The calming and energizing factors need to be of comparable strength to balance each other and to avoid the disabling extremes of sleepiness and agitation. Moreover, when all seven are strong and balanced then there is the possibility of a major developmental leap: a leap into transconceptual awareness known as 'cessation' and its resultant transconceptual wisdom."
       Walsh R. The varieties of wisdom: Contemplative, cross-cultural, and integral contributions. Research in Human Development 2011; 8(2): 109-127.

Photo: Evgenia Arbugaena

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Suffering, Mindfulness, Wisdom, Equanimity, Joy

     Mindfulness practice is a well-established, intentional path from suffering towards wisdom, equanimity and joy.

     Wisdom is “a developmental process involving self-transcendence. Self-transcendence refers to the ability to move beyond self-centered consciousness, and to see things as they are with clear awareness of human nature and human problems, and with a considerable measure of freedom from biological and social conditioning. This ability to move beyond a self-centered perspective is certainly an important component of wisdom. 
     Transcending the self is needed to move beyond ingrained, automatic ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, and to connect empathetically with the experiences of others.”
        Le TN, Levenson MR. Wisdom as self-transcendence: What's love (& individualism) got to do with it? Journal of Research in Personality 2005; 39(4): 443-457.

     "wise individuals evince less despair and greater equanimity because they (are) more likely to grapple with existential dilemmas and paradoxes that give life more meaning."
       Le TN. Life satisfaction, openness value, self-transcendence, and wisdom. Journal of Happiness Studies 2011; 12(2): 171-182. 

     "When we truly live each moment, what happens to the burden of life? ... If we are totally what we are, in every second, we begin to experience life as joy. Standing between us and a life of joy are our thoughts, our ideas, our expectations, and our hopes and fears.

      ... people who have been practicing for some time begin to have a sense of humor about their burden. After all, the thought that life is a burden is only a concept. We're simply doing what we're doing, second by second by second. The measure of fruitful practice is that we feel life less as a burden and more as a joy."

        Beck CJ. Nothing special: Living Zen. HarperCollins, 1995.

     See also:

Photo: Car629

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mindfulness - Letting Go of Negative Automatic Thinking

     "cognitive symptoms associated with anxiety and depression are typically characterized by worry and rumination, respectively, cognitive symptoms that have traditionally been regarded as automatic processes (i.e., perceived by the individual to be beyond his or her capacity for voluntary inhibition or control. In contrast, mindfulness has been described as a non-judgmental, non-conceptual, and accepting form of awareness of one’s mental, emotional, and bodily-sensory experiences. 
     Mindfulness Meditation-based Clinical Interventions (MMCIs) teach participants to regard their negative thoughts as passing phenomenological events that may momentarily capture attention but can then be let go of. Therefore a key principle of mindfulness meditation practice is to not react too strongly to thoughts, such as by ascribing too significant a meaning or importance to them, identifying one’s ‘self’ or ‘true reality’ with the content of one’s thoughts, or attempting to suppress negative thoughts. Consequently MMCIs seek to promote a form of awareness of negative thoughts in which qualities of acceptance, de-centering, and letting-go cultivate one’s inner capacity to reflect upon and influence one’s own cognitive experiences. This purposeful orientation toward one’s thoughts may promote affect regulation through cognitive flexibility. For example, Kabat-Zinn et al hypothesized that: ‘the insight that one is not one’s thoughts means that one has a potential range of responses to a given thought if one is able to identify it as such. This increased range of options is associated with a feeling of control... [that] is a feature of a cognitive pathway explaining’ the clinical efficacy of MMCIs for reducing anxiety and depression."
       Frewen PA et al. Letting go: Mindfulness and negative automatic thinking. Cognitive Therapy and Research 2008; 32(6): 758-774.
Photo: Knorp

Monday, March 4, 2013

Softening the Anguish of the Hungry Life

      “Each hunger has an associated fear. The desire for pleasure has as its handmaiden the fear of pain, the hunger for being seen is shadowed by the fear of invisibility, and the hunger for escape brings with it the fear of engagement and intimacy. 
     At the root of all these fears is a terror of emptiness, the concern that this self – personal or social – will die in a cold nothingness. This terror is usually kept beneath the surface of consciousness, recognized only by its surface manifestations: an avoidance of being alone, the fear of being criticized, a pulling back from close relationship. 
     In all three cases, the fading of a hunger means the fading of its associated fear, and the fading of a fear brings the fading of its associated hunger. This is because the hunger and the fear are two facets of the same thing. 
     And when the meditative mind sees the root fear and meets it with acceptance, it begins to diminish – and all the hungers dissolve with it. With such fading, relationships cease to be powered by longing and desperation. The anguish of the hungry life softens.”

     Kramer G. “Insight dialogue. T
he interpersonal path to freedom.” Shambhala, Boston, 2007.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Remainderless Fading of Hunger

     "What is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering? The remainderless fading and cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, and letting go of that very hunger."

     "Cessation refers to the lessening of toxic qualities in our lives: specifically, lessening of the hungers for pleasure, being, and nonbeing and diminishment of the unwholesome roots of greed, hatred, and delusion nurtured by the hungers. Ignorance about the nature of identification and impermanence also diminishes in this cessation. As these intoxicants fade, the quality of life improves. Part of the path of their fading involves the cultivation of certain qualities, such as clear awareness, compassion, wise attention, and insight. But fundamentally, the focus is on the fading. What remains is ease, goodness, wisdom, and joy."

       Kramer G. “Insight dialogue. The interpersonal path to freedom.” Shambhala, Boston, 2007.

Photo: Jen003

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Big Stuff is No Sweat! We Choose to Sweat the Small Stuff

     Walking along chatting with a friend, suddenly trip-falling face-forward onto the sidewalk. Everything in slow motion. Only thought "what?" Hands manage to touch sidewalk a microsecond before my face, more specifically, my mouth and nose, a bit off to the left side. Immediately I'm up again, physically and emotionally rattled somewhat. I notice my neck is stiff - must have braced for the fall, pulling back from the face-plant. Lower lip tastes of blood. I reassure my friend and passing motorist, who stopped & jumped out of his van, that I'm fine.
     This reminds me of an event many years ago when our car spun around completely three times on a busy, snow-covered highway. Everything then too was in slow-mo, very clear.
     Whether it's the sidewalk kissing you on the lips, or the highway playing spin-the-bottle with you and your family, direct engagement with physical reality is, quite surprisingly, simply interesting. A man who (remarkably) survived an attack by a large wild animal reported that he felt no pain, nor fear during the attack - very interesting indeed!
     These life-or-death events are just "interesting", while our comparatively humdrum daily anxieties can be emotional roller-coasters. Could it be that we try to evade our very real fear of death (existential terror) by distracting ourselves with non-stop soap-operas?
     Wouldn't dealing directly, skillfully with our existential fears make our lives less melodramatic and more joyful?

Photo: jakertin

Friday, March 1, 2013

Let Go of Everything To Embrace All

     "An existential crisis may occur in cancer patients when they realize that their death may be imminent. ... this (is a) crisis, in which the meaning of life itself is at stake. In dealing with an existential crisis, it is important to have the courage to confront the loss of meaning and security. Then, a new sense of meaning may emerge which is essentially a receptive experience of connectedness with an ego-transcending reality, such as mankind, nature, or God. This reduces existential fear and despair and leads to acceptance of 'life-as-it-is', including its finitude."

       Yang W, Staps T, Hijmans E. Existential crisis and the awareness of dying: the role of meaning and spirituality. Omega (Westport) 2010; 61(1): 53-69.

For details see:

Photo: Kivi