Saturday, December 28, 2019

View and Behavior

     It's easy - for some, automatic - to react unwisely to other's unwise words and behaviors. Both parties then quickly rationalize their own bad behavior, blaming the other (delusional ego-defending). This helps perpetuate endless cycles of unnecessary suffering. 
     A surprisingly wise question to ask at this point: 'Would I rather be right or happy?' Of course both parties are wrong to harm the other. However, when they both admit their error and apologize, both are wiser & happier.

     “ 'Keep the view as vast as space. Keep your actions as fine as flour.'
     The quality of emptiness that we are referring to was never born; likewise, it cannot die. This essential nature of our lives is unborn – like space itself. Space provides no place to abide, no foothold in which to secure our steps. In skylike emptiness, we cannot be stuck. Yet here we are, alive in this wondrous world of appearances, which can always benefit from wise discernment. With particularity as fine as flour, we discriminate between actions that intend to relieve suffering for ourselves and others and those that intend to cause harm.”
       Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Helen Tworkov. “In Love with the World. A Monk’s Journey through the Bardos of Living and Dying.” Spiegel & Grau, 2019.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Awkward Path to Peace, Equanimity & Joy

     If you're seriously committed to meditation practice, your noble quest to see clearly and find peace, equanimity & joy independent of circumstances might be smooth & easy, but more likely will have some ups & downs.

     “Depending upon various factors – such as psychological disposition, early conditioning, genetics, random chance – some people experience significant instability along the journey from surface to Source.

     Understand that your ordinary ordering principle is being ripped away – the body cannot get comfortable, the mind cannot get answers – but a new ordering principle, which is much deeper, is in the process of revealing itself.

     The awkward intermediate zone is a stage that some meditators pass through wherein the old coping mechanism (tighten up & turn away) is in the process of being shed, but the new coping mechanism (open up & turn toward) is not yet strong enough to provide abiding safety and fulfillment.”
       Shinzen Young. “The Science of Enlightenment. How Meditation Works.” Sounds True, 2016. 

Friday, December 13, 2019

Complete Experiencing - Healing Trauma

     To be held in safety & unconditional love is one of the most fundamental of human needs. But life's paradoxical. A part of us longs for, while another part resists intimate connection.
     Meditation practice helps us to clearly see ourselves, others & the rest of reality, accept and re-establish intimate relationship with everything - "life's 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows." Shinzen Young's book (below) clearly explains how to achieve this through regular meditation practice.

     "Every time we identify with feeling separate from life, that’s a very subtle trauma. It’s the trauma of the perception of isolation." Caverly Morgan

      "... everything yearns to be met. Everything yearns to resolve itself in love – that love being the open space of acceptance, of allowing, of staying resolutely present, and unconditionally open to every nuance of your inner experience." Amoda Maa

      "Once we are willing to be directly intimate with our life as it arises, joy emerges out of the simplest of life experiences." Pat Enkyo O'Hara
     "To be enlightened is to be intimate with all things." Dogen

     "If trauma is defined as ‘inescapably stressful event that overwhelms people’s existing coping mechanisms’ and that in its psychological sense overwhelms the integrity and continuity of the self because its damage to the internalized links between self and other, then for a great many people there can be many small traumas, generating many areas of sequestered, dissociated, and partially dissociated experience. This is in addition to vulnerability to severe trauma.
     ... most crucially at issue in dissociatively-based psychopathology is the collapse of relationality – both interpersonal and intrapersonal (or interstate). Dissociation, as a state of being divided and as a chronic process, is ultimately a barrier to relationality, both within and between selves.
     ... I believe (most of us have) an addictive proprietorship over dissociative solutions ... The way we do this and how much we do it may differ, but I think we do it all the same.”
     Elizabeth F. Howell. “The Dissociative Mind.” Routledge, 2008

      “Paradoxically, the more we try to change ourselves, the more we prevent change from occurring. On the other hand, the more we allow ourselves to fully experience who we are, the greater the possibility of change.
      Every identification we hold about ourselves disconnects us from the fluidity of our core nature. Our identifications – that is, all the fixed beliefs we take to be our true self – along with the associated patterns of nervous systems dysregulation separate us from ourselves and the experience of being present and engaged. As much as we may feel constrained by our survival styles, we are afraid to, or do not know how to, move beyond them.
      Our survival styles are reflected in our bodies in two ways: as areas of tension (hypertonicity) and as areas of weakness or disconnection (hypotonicity). Patterns of tension and weakness reveal the ways we have learned to compensate for the disconnection from our needs, core self, and life force.

     All of us are somewhere on the continuum of connection to disconnection from our core selves and our bodies.”
       Laurence Heller, Aline LaPierre. "Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship.” North Atlantic Books, 2012.

     “The basic premise of mindfulness meditation is that consistently infusing the qualities of concentration, clarity, and equanimity into ordinary experience over time causes a fundamental shift in our paradigm. It is for this reason that mindfulness is sometimes called insight meditation.

     If you want to be happy independent of conditions, you’ll need to learn how to have a complete experience of each basic type of body sensation. On the spiritual path, we have to learn how to have a complete experience of anger, so that anger does not cause suffering which then distorts our behavior. For the same reason, we have to learn how to have a complete experience of fear, sadness, and so on. We even have to learn how to have a complete experience of physical pain, as well as other unpleasant feelings in the body such as fatigue and nausea. When I say, ‘Have a complete experience of x,’ its’ just a quick way of saying, ‘Experience x with so much concentration, clarity, and equanimity that there’s no time to coagulate x – or yourself – into a thing.’ You and x become an integrated flow of energy and spaciousness.
     Learning how to have a complete experience of discomfort sets us free. Learning how to have a complete experience of pleasure deeply fulfills. … The body sensations of making love are spiritual to the extent that they are complete, that is, experienced in a state of concentration, sensory clarity, and equanimity. To know what true love is, we need to experience it as it truly is. In Tibet, that’s called the oneness of bliss and void.” 
       Shinzen Young. “The Science of Enlightenment. How Meditation Works.” Sounds True, 2016.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Fruits of Meditation

      Busyness, restlessness, distraction, intolerance to discomfort, and impatience energizes searching, but results in a lot of shallow, dry wells, exacerbating a chronic sense of 'lack.' 
     Those who persevere, 'delving deep,' achieve all that meditation has to offer. Lifelong committed meditation practice yields profound benefits, far beyond stress reduction.

      “Often when we meditate, we are not consciously aware of much happening. It just seems like we are sitting there. Much of the time, our mind may be wandering, and when our mind is not wandering, it goes to sleep. After a while, we become aware that we are physically uncomfortable, and then we come back to our object of meditation for a couple of seconds. Sometimes meditation practice goes on and on like this, and it doesn’t seem as if anything of real value is taking place. When we tell our friends what we experienced at a meditation retreat – mostly pain, sleepiness, and confusion – they may well say, ‘You paid good money for that?’
     But all the while, clarity and equanimity are slowly but surely trickling down into the subconscious. They rewire us at the most fundamental levels without us necessarily knowing it at the time. How do we know that it’s happening? We notice that things are changing in daily life. Our behavior and perception seem to be improving spontaneously. … In meditation, a lot of the learning that takes place is of this type. Meditation can clean out stored materials without necessarily requiring that you recall specific memories, traumas, and such.
     We might refer to this paradigm as the ‘trickle down’ model for reaching the subconscious. This contrasts with the ‘dredge up’ model used in much of psychotherapy. In the dredge up model, we reach down and explore a specific complex. This leads to a specific personal insight that then improves our quality of life. Dredge up and trickle down could be looked upon as mutually complementary processes. For some meditators, trickle down purification may be sufficient. But when that’s not the case, they can utilize the services of dredge up experts, that is, competent mental health professionals. It’s important to appreciate the awesome power of meditation practice, but it’s also important to realize its limitations. Sometimes other elements are required – therapy, 12-step programs, openness to social feedback, having a list of explicitly stated ethical guidelines, and so forth.” 
        Shinzen Young. “The Science of Enlightenment. How Meditation Works.” Sounds True, 2016.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Maturity, Growing Up, Becoming Conscious, Awakening ...

     “Maturity is the ability to live fully and equally in multiple contexts.”
          David Whyte, poet and philosopher

      “True adulthood… is a difficult beauty, an intensely hard-won glory, which commercial forces and cultural vapidity should not be permitted to deprive you of.” Toni Morrison

     “One form of discomfort or pain arises when our lives are out of alignment with our goals, such as when what we do doesn’t fit our values, or when we have changed but our lives have not. If you notice a sense of disconnection and discomfort in your work, your job or your career, pay attention to it!”  
       Mark Lesser, “Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader.” New World Library, 2019. 

     “Women need to define success differently than men. If you don’t learn to unplug and recharge, you’re not going to be as good a leader. Look at the price we’re paying. Look at the increase in heart disease and diabetes for career women. If success continues to be defined as driving yourself into the ground and burning out, it will be disastrous for our families, our companies, and our world. We have so many people making terrible decisions, despite the fact that they have high IQs and great degrees. If success doesn’t include your own health and happiness, then what is it?” Arianna Huffington

     “Action has meaning only in relationship, and without understanding relationship, action on any level will only breed conflict.” Krishnamurti

     “The problem with the world is 
       that we draw our family circle too small.” Mother Teresa

     “Rapture is not a selfish emotion. It is pure gratitude, flowing freely through the body, heart, and soul. Gratitude for what? For breath, for colors, for music, for friendship, humor, weather, sleep, awareness. It is a willing engagement with the whole messy miracle of life.”
        Elizabeth Lesser, “Broken Open”

     “I would say that the thrust of my life has been initially about getting free, and then realizing that my freedom is not independent of everybody else. Then I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn't create more suffering. I help people as a work on myself and I work on myself to help people.” Ram Das

I HIGHLY recommend this wonderful, powerful 2019 movie!