My friend, Florentin, is trying to raise over $40K for stem cell treatments for Parkinson’s. There’s a process for collecting stem cells from your lovehandles and using them for treatment that offers some hope. I don’t know what all Michael J. Fox has done or helped to prove or disprove, but we sre need more $$$ for this research.
If you have a few $$$ to spare, this is a great opportunity for a random act of kindness.
I remember when external noises were a nuisance and distraction during meditation. Like many(?) or most(?), I used to think I was supposed to block out noise. What a hoot! Nothing leads to deepening meditation like effort and contraction. At some point, I realized that I can’t stop my ears and brain from doing what they do – registering sound and other convenient processes.
All (most?) of us have had experiences where we were so engrossed in something that all other activity seemed to cease. So the exercise seems to be one of increasing our absorption into ??? eventually awareness of awareness?
It’s interesting how curiosity does not have to involve thinking. We don’t have to engage the content of the mind with our minds(?). I noticed that for many years my meditation seemed to be linked to my eyeballs – always looking for something inside because I seemed to be located right behind those eyeballs in my head. What a relief to discover that those eyeballs, head and body do not contain, nor confine, me.
Imagine my pleasant surprise, one day, to discover that my mind could keep on thinking and planning without me having to be present and overseeing the process. This increased my curiosity about what was meditating – and that seems to be key – a real interest in meditation. Of course, this interest is not so much about understanding meditation with the mind, nor observing the process to improve it. The interest is deeper, subtler – more like our soul has an interest or the meditation has an interest.
All(?) spiritual teachings say that God, the Divine, Allah, True Nature, WHATEVER you name IT - is right HERE , right NOW. Most, also assert, that the Divine is always in a process of revealing itself to us. That being the case why would I need eyes to go looking for it. Why should I need to work so hard. Perhaps I should relax, you know – rest and abide in attentive awareness with no thought of getting anywhere or finding anything – just hang loose in a relaxed way as traffic goes by and dogs bark.
It’s more pleasant now that meditation is not goal oriented. I meditate not for the pleasure of it or for gain, but for… hmm, my mind has no rational reason it can offer. The impulse seems to be coming from elsewhere – perhaps that other end of the candle where the Divine is burning through my veils.
Awareness of mindfulness – a mind with or without content.
The beauty of meditation is that all of life, even our thinking mind, can keep on keeping on while we tend to something much more significant.
The Dance Between Heart, Mind, Reality and the World
We’re in love and life is grand, majestic, full of light and… we often worry about the loss of love.
We’re in love, getting to know each other and STUFF comes up – and joy and pain are dancing in an intimate embrace.
We’re working through some deep wound from the past. It’s challenging, agonizing and yet, we continue – often with joy
Bliss & Joy are NOT Dependent Upon Circumstances
The heart dances to a different drum than our normal mind and conditioning imagine. In the world of separate entities, love is often dependent and tied to the past – unconscious needs and demands muddying the waters of current experience. Love becomes a shadow of its true nature patterned with blemishes, dark spots and holes.
Love cannot be learned or taught; love comes as grace. ~Rumi
When we begin the work, the return to the true nature of the heart – the heart rejoices in every step regardless of pain and suffering. The heart loves to be free, to be naked to its nature – transparent to reality.
My friends, Dixon and Valorie, partners in life and at Integral Partnerships, are concentrating some of their attention and efforts on working with couples interested in deepening the connection to the sacred in relationship.
Moving deeper into the realm of intimacy and divine erosvia relatinship has been a conscious desire in me for many years now. Liberating Joy in Relationship is the first workshop Dixon and Valorie will be offering for couples seeking to deepen the sacred in their relationship. Part of the workshop will focus on how the inner critic can cause havoc in relationships and disconnect us from our natural state of joy and eros.
The other day, I was talking with Dixon and Valorie about one of my favorite sayings – “50% of something is nothing.” This speaks directly to how both parties can lose in compromise. In a very real way, most compromises result in each party losing something, especially at an emotional level. What I have found is that open-ended inquiry by both parties can open up each side of the dialectic in a way that an unforeseen option can arise where neither party is compromising and yet the situation is resolved in a very real way.
Many times, if not most of the times, our positions that we compromise are laden with baggage from the past and arrested development we would just as soon keep unconscious.
Between flights the other day in Detroit, I picked up the latest issue of Rolling Stone with Louis CK on the cover and read this gem:
The worst thing happening to this generation is that they’re taking discomfort away from themselves… Louis Ck
It reminded me of some ending comments and observations in this video about sociopaths – that our culture, more and more, supports moving away from emotional conflict through drugs. Feeling anxious, feeling depressed, feeling forlorn – take a pill. I’m not knocking the pills or that some people certainly need the support, but the point in the film and what I hear Louis CK noting is that average people are being seduced by big pharma that any emotional suffering is a good reason to pop a pill. Their message is quite a bit different from Meher Baba‘s – Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
What do those that look beyond the suffering or those that understand the deeper nature of suffering say?
Until you’ve found pain, you won’t reach the cure Until you’ve given up life, you won’t unite with the supreme soul Until you’ve found fire inside yourself, like the Friend, You won’t reach the spring of life, like Khezr (the green man) – Rumi
So to really deal with the issue of suffering, we need to understand reality. We need to go all the way through the process of realization. The process of realization, of understanding the truth, is a process of understanding and relieving oneself from suffering. There is no shortcut; there is only one way. What’s causing suffering cannot be surmounted, cannot simply be dropped, cannot be ignored, cannot even be erased by some essential awakening or realization. Suffering is a fundamental factor in our lives that has to be dealt with. We need a lot of study and understanding; we need to go through all the dimensions before we can exit the realm of suffering. Many of us hope we can exit right away, hope we can transcend our problems through spiritual experience. But unless we actually penetrate our beliefs and identifications, our life will always involve suffering. - A. H. Almaas
What brings people to the path? For most, it’s suffering and a desire to end the suffering, but that desire is at the root of the suffering. How can one end suffering by suffering.? I suppose the answer to that is enlightenment, but if the suffering ceases, then obviously the desire does too, so what’s left – enlightenment, realization? Sounds great! Sign me up! Are there any risks?
I didn’t come to the spiritual journey through a longing to be rid of suffering. In fact, the spiritual journey came to me. And it only took about .1826 nanoseconds before the Wheel of Samsara incorporated my interest, efforts and ambitions involving enlightenment and realization. Ah, the suffering – so sweet, so subtle… I mean after all – we are our suffering and who really wants to get rid of their suffering?
Our suffering is so ingrained into our identity, they are in fact the same thing. And the amount of energy we invest every moment (waking or not) into perpetuating the suffering/identity is really beyond our comprehension.
Of course, our surface suffering, the stuff we think we can do something about, is only the teeniest tip of a very deep system of dreams and disappointments that keep us buying the National Enquirer, People Magazines and watching TMZ.
Adventures in neuroscience mental coding – mindfulness
In my last post, I gave a very brief introduction to our mind’s use of object relations as a way of storing and processing information. The mind is very useful, but as they say – the mind is a good servant, but a lousy master. The mind is perfect for what it does – record, recall, compare and extrapolate data, but there are a few flies in our mental ointment:
The brain body/mind starts receiving and recording impressions long before we take our first breath. For months after that first breath, our nervous system, physical body and psyche are still an undifferentiated system.
We are born into this world as extremely sensitive and impressionable beings., which results in very powerful imprinting on the body/mind/soul. From about 5 years of age on, our sensitivity wanes and new impressions carry less and less of emotional/body charge which lessens the creation of deep, lasting impressions (except in the case of trauma).
As an organism, we are hardwired for survival. The brain’s evolution is skewed to give instantaneous attention to negative perceptions to support our fight or flight response. This helps to establish veils of perception that are skewed more toward the “negative” than the positive and sets in motion inertia of constant mental activity – chatter, chatter, chatter.
Our parents and holding environment bombard us with a constant stream of thoughts, sensations and emotions that had little connection to or alignment with our sublime spiritual nature – we are objectified long before we are born and are seen as just another thing, albeit a living entity thing.
So, we wind up with a voice in our head that chatters all the time, which might not be so bad if we were constantly chanting the sacred. But, even this would suffer from our early conditioning because by the time we start seeking the real, we are an entity identity operating system with bloated, outdated, suboptimal, looping code that makes Windows look lean, mean and full of dazzling light.
The bias of the brain tilts implicit memories in a negative direction, even when most of your experiences are actually positive.
The brain is designed to change through experiences, especially negative ones; we learn from our experiences, particularly those that happened during childhood, and it is natural for that learning to stick with us.
A toddler has about three times as many synapses as an adult; on the way to adulthood, adolescents can lose up to 10,000 synapses per second in the prefrontal cortex.
Emotional arousal facilitates learning by increasing neural excitation and consolidating synaptic change.
Given the negativity bias of the brain, it takes an active effort to internalize positive experiences and heal negative ones.
Because of all the ways your brain changes its structure, your experience matters beyond its momentary, subjective impact. It makes enduring changes in the physical tissues of your brain which affect your well-being, functioning, and relationships. Based on science, this is a fundamental reason for being kind to yourself, cultivating wholesome experiences, and taking them in.
Focus on your emotions and body sensations, since these are the essence of implicit memory. Let the experience fill your body and be as intense as possible.
…most of the shaping of your mind remains forever unconscious. This is called implicit memory, and it includes your expectations, models of relationships, emotional tendencies, and general outlook. Implicit memory establishes the interior landscape of your mind— what it feels like to be you— based on the slowly accumulating residues of lived experience.
Only we humans worry about the future, regret the past, and blame ourselves for the present. We get frustrated when we can’t have what we want, and disappointed when what we like ends. We suffer that we suffer. We get upset about being in pain, angry about dying, sad about waking up sad yet another day. This kind of suffering— which encompasses most of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction— is constructed by the brain. It is made up.
The discoveries being made in neuroscience are bringing new insights into ancient spiritual practices and psychodynamics. This knowledge can be supportive and assist us in deepening our spiritual practice and movement toward realization and enlightenment. Understanding the mechanics of how the brain filters and assimilates perception into our subjective reality of self and the world affords us with more opportunity for precise and powerful practice that is more being and less doing.
How the mind’s simple operating system distorts the world and traps us in the past
How the Mind Relates to the World and Others…
There is you/me
There is the other
There is an energetic/emotional/mental relationship between the two that connects to the past and the present is seen and interpreted through this lens.
Our experiences before and after birth impress themselves upon our mind and nervous system as memory traces – mostly unconscious. These impressions form the building blocks for all future interactions with the world and others as the mind tries to learn from past experience by interpreting events and comparing what’s happening now to the past (projecting the past onto the present) and anticipating the future. These internal mental relationships are called object relations. Continue Reading »