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David Weiskopf

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David Weiskopf last won the day on August 12

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  1. Jo, How are you? You have been so quiet that I have grown concerned and hope you are well.

  2. Thanks, WBA, I was going to contribute a slightly different way of belittling myself, judging myself deficient. But, I don’t think the particular flavors matter. I do think it is good to have realistic ideas of our limitations, but that is different from letting judgments of them define and limit us. Maybe it can help us take appropriate steps to create conditions more conducive to success when we “go for it?”
  3. Hello again, "L." I am reading Rick Hanson's Neurodharma in anticipation of the bookclub being started by Maya and Kimber. There is good stuff in there about the topic I shared and your speculation about what might be affecting you. You might consider joining when it gets up and rolling.
  4. Hi, "L." I occasionally have had a similar experience, but I don't want to suggest any other similarities. I'll describe it in a moment. Are you possibly exerting too much effort to really bear down on a particular loving-kindness theme? Striving too hard at concentrating can cause problems. With the disclaimer offered below, I will venture three possible suggestions for your consideration: 1) Don't completely dismiss a possible medical problem out of hand; 2) Seek out an experienced teacher if you do not already have one; and, 3) Check online for resources about meditation-related difficulties like Dr. Britton and Cheetah House. https://www.cheetahhouse.org/cheetah-house-resources Please understand that I simply am a fellow meditator lacking in any expertise or highly specialized training. For many years I found meditation deeply settling, but I recently I have found the meaninglessness angle of emptiness to be somewhat challenging. I believe it has caused physical effects like tension and trouble sleeping. Having a complete bully for a leader who displays atrocious behavior on a daily basis also triggers tension and arousal in me. It makes existence seem more dreadful and meaningless. (Earlier today I laughed at the suggestion all of this is simply nature manifesting and wanted to respond, "Oh yeah, and so is extinction!") I definitely try to bring balance into my practice with loving-kindness, self-compassion, and compassion themes. They usually do provide wonderful ballast and opening to feelings of interconnectedness and wholeness. I mean even from a most cynical perspective, there are lots of wonderful experiences available to most people each and every day...like the joyful experience of breathing, for example, or exchanging a smile with someone. But, on a couple of occasions I did feel nauseous, only briefly, toward the end of a very settled, highly concentrated loving-kindness meditation. For me, inviting awareness of the sensation-filled and vibrant spaciousness of the body (whole-body awareness) seemed to settle the nausea right away. It's funny, looking back it seemed that the nausea was completely unrelated to the settledness and emotions I had been experiencing in my head and elsewhere in my body, as though my viscera and the vagal neural network had a mind of their own. As I said, I am no expert, and have just assumed there was holding manifesting in my body, associated with implicit memories of which I had no conscious awareness, that felt at odds with all that opening and kindness! If anyone ever watches that Netflix series The Midnight Gospel, it is like the aggressive dog avatar in the heart space that has to be expressed as possibly old karma and modified by good. I'm like, "There, there, scared angry doggie, things will be fine; I won't harm you nor react against you (but, I surely do not intend to act in ways that are defined by you)." Best wishes.
  5. Wow, that was a beautiful exposition of the two approaches. I only know Spira through your postings. I think it might be nice to add Kristin Neff's perspective on self-compassion. https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/self-compassion.break_.mp3 I know both Sean and Tara Brach have emphasized how important it is to spend time with the last part, really abiding with how one is feeling after having done the exercise. I suspect Spira was suggesting something similar when he told the questioner where she would find the "resolution" she is seeking. From my own perspective, there is one thing I would like to add and get your viewpoint on, Gillian. For many of us, I suspect most of us, the vedantic approach is the only one really available to us because we are so strongly identified with our first-person, autobiographical perspective. "This emotion is happening to me...What can I do!" I really don't know what Spira would say, but I suspect it would be something along the lines, "No, you and the emotion are one and an expression of the natural universe...Why would you fight that while you could delight in it?" If only that were easily done! We do not indulge this self-centered, dualistic tendency simply because it is useful to our survival nor because the sense of "Me" seems logically associated with the locus of our sensory experience. We do it out of subconscious processes that, speaking of emotions, involve a basic and root terror--of dying. Check out this video, which also by the way helps explain the denial of science we currently are experiencing in the political arena: Unconsciously we cling to perspectives rooted in ignorance and fear. We cannot help it (and demagogues and con artists exploit it)! Through practice the veil of delusion can be penetrated, freeing and expanding qualities of the heart that otherwise would remain closely guarded. Simply intellectually understanding this is not enough to get the job done, but it can help. Moreover, the job is not something one can push too quickly because it can be discomforting and overwhelming. Please share your thoughts.
  6. I’m game. I have about 100 more pages to go in Antonio Damasio’s The Feeling of What Happens first. It is slow going for me.
  7. Gillian, instead of worrying about being engulfed by a wave of emotion or how to deal with it as a challenge, suppose we surrender any distance and completely give ourselves to being the wave and knowing it fully? As I have suggested, my sense is that some deficiency or excess in the body gives rise to an emotion, but not just to an emotion. The emotion is inextricably bound-up with associated memories sensed as being our personal history and projected onto a stage for which we are urged to write the next action. It frames our consciousness; our awareness is not separate from it. Cognitive distancing therefore creates an artificial separation and moves us out of the action, making us observers. Why not move so close that there is no separation, but only the stirrings and fragments for writing the next movements? Wouldn't it be useful to hear them out completely and understand their context? We would have to have ardent and intimate interest because there might not be even a minute before the emotion gives way to something new. So, we would have to settle completely into it without the wish to accomplish anything or make anything different, being as still as we could be so as not to disrupt it. There can be a perspective of stillness with a wave in the same manner we can sense our bodies to be still even though we are rotating the earth's center at around 1000 miles per hour. But, to achieve that we would have to eliminate separation from the wave of emotion, stop judging it or preferring it to be different. Think what we might learn. Think how doing so, without introducing separation, might change the way subsequent moments of consciousness are framed. With practice I think this alternative can be available to us, as I am sure you know. If so, I am hoping we can find words that point to it.
  8. Yes. That, I believe, is what Gil Fronsdal means by, "this too." Everything in our experience is included. Beautifully said. That really describes in part how our experience broadens, as you said above. Your use of the term "cognitive distance" was unfamiliar to me and I figured in psychology there must be some concept of "cognitive distancing," so I looked it up in my browser. I thought this article really discussed the overall strategy well and listed many useful tactics. https://www.yvp.com.au/2017/11/14/cognitive-fusion-and-cognitive-distancing/#:~:text=Cognitive distancing is the act,by an attitude of acceptance. I guess your phrase about "being defined" by emotions would be part of the "cognitive fusion" discussed in the article. In my personal mindfulness practice, I think of it in terms of "identification" and "becoming" a person attached to the emotion, or maybe more precisely my ideas about the emotion, as opposed to being attuned to it and/or informed by it. I don't deliberate nearly so much as I rely on perspectives gained from meditation practice and, based on your prior posts, I am guessing you respond similarly. These perspectives include greater spaciousness, acceptance, confidence, flexibility, openness, patience, and compassion. The attachment to an emotion or fixation on it does not happen as easily as in the past. When it does happen it carries all sorts of warnings, not that they always are heeded. Our emotions are trying to tell us something important. They are trying to move us toward undertaking some satisfying action. The problem of discerning what action might be most appropriate is greatly compounded by the fact that we can have emotions about our emotions and our emotions arrive with memories, some conscious and some latent, about which we also can have emotions. How to untangle such a knot! The intellect cannot do it alone, even with the assistance of such useful ideas as in the above article, because all it understands is the surface or outer appearance of the knot. I think just the impossibility of penetrating the depths of the problem often leads us to act out impulsively in troubling ways. It is so understandable, but then we get caught in the rut of having to rationalize and validate our actions while minimizing the havoc they cause. So, we get more caught up in knots. For me, blaming formed a big part of this picture, "It must be somebody's fault...probably somebody else's, but if not him or her, then it must be me." But, in the most important sense, it simply "IS," and we have to start there if we are going to make it better in the future. So, as I see it, part of mindfulness practice is creating a safe and spacious container in which we can recognize our habitual impulses, start letting them go, and begin to see what bubbles up that formed conditions for those impulses. We know when this is working because we feel more whole, more integrated, more balanced, and more contented and relaxed. It is gratifying. I think of this as a different sort of "cognitive distancing" that helps us better see the greater context of experience in our daily affairs as well. It causes shifts in both attitudinal and cognitive predispositions. I would think both types of cognitive distancing would have their uses and benefits. I am so glad you posted what you did. I think this is such an important topic and I was a little distressed that no one was talking about it. I also worried that my post might have put people off. So, thanks for your input. Have a great week.
  9. Pointing in the direction to which I alluded, I offer this brief talk by noted neuroscientist and author Antonio Damasio. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilrelFkDYls For those fans of Buddha's teachings, I would point out that the Buddha had very similar insights, without the benefit of modern technology and science, some 2500 years ago and modern mindfulness teachings in great part derive from those insights. My personal view of his teachings on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness is to immerse one in the foundations for wisdom and wellbeing as opposed to ignorance/delusion and suffering. It starts with the first foundation--mindfulness of the body, or mindfulness of the sensations of the body and developing a deep and relaxed awareness of the body, the ground of our experience. It progresses to the second foundation--mindfulness of feelings, understanding that our intentions and impulses to act even on the mental level involve basic feelings intertwined with cognition of sensations. The conditions for their arising involve body states just as sensations do. They in turn affect the quality of our conscious experience and the ways we relate to it. This is the third foundation--quality of mind, which is where things really start to get complicated and probably where we could include emotions that express how we subjectively relate to certain objects. This stage easily lends itself to misconceptions and rationalizations for indulging in all sorts of behaviors that are counterproductive in terms of our sustained wellbeing (ignorance/delusion). With practice and experience we begin to turn the corner and appreciate alternatives exist that lead to healthier states of mind. Then we are ready to train in the fourth foundation of mindfulness with various perspectives that help us attune with our nature, deepen our understanding of what those healthier alternatives are for each of us, and make them more readily available to us. This is only my personal understanding. Please feel free to refute or disregard it. I mean it, feel free to be merciless because I might learn something from it.
  10. At first reading this, I made myself a coffee and then listened to Joseph Goldstein on emotions and moods. My initial thought was the question, "how do you relate to your emotions," and the description that they "flow through us" belies a mistaken impression of emotions. They are not separate from us, they are we. There is no one separate from emotions. I have found most people have a very strong emotional response to this suggestion as though it is threatening. They have strongly identified with a seemingly continual phenomenon of having awareness of emotions within their organism that seems somehow separate from emotions. Let me ask, however, which is "you," the awareness, the emotions, or what? Mindfulness practice can reinforce the delusion that emotions are separate from the "I" we each experience through awareness. Not only are we taught to be more mindful of emotions, we are told we can learn to "regulate" them. While there is truth to this, there also is the risk that it might reinforce a tendency to denigrate the importance of emotions in regulating and maintaining our wellbeing. Perhaps emotions are part and parcel of our awareness, although sometimes at levels below our conscious recognition. Perhaps consciousness and emotions are abilities developed over the course of evolution that arise in response to changes in states within the body to impel actions to restore and maintain those states within certain levels or even to optimize those states. Perhaps emotions and consciousness are not even separate abilities, but our mind conceives of them as being different when they are inextricable. This conception and our continual tendency to act as though it were true is one reason why Joseph Goldstein's teachings and Gillian's invitation are so skillful. Still, it might be helpful to consider If emotions and consciousness interdependently co-arise, perceiving them as separate and distinct can exacerbate any dissonance, distress or unbalance we might feel. It might throw us into inner conflict. After I listened to Joseph, I listened to Gil Fronsdal's live online session which coincidentally was about the aspect of mindfulness practice that leads toward integration and inclusiveness. This aspect of practices accepts and embraces even difficulties, such as unsettling emotions, as being part of lived, embodied experience without our having to identify with it, take it up, become it, or get tightly entangled with it. Or, at least this aspect of practice leads to a certain acceptance of and distancing from getting all entangled with it! This part of practice takes a lot of time to develop. Now, I am just trying to suggest emotions are important, they reflect important events in our bodies and imbue our consciousness. They are not separate. My suggestion is that exploring this possibility can be life-changing. If anyone fears that viewing emotions from this perspective might make them seem too powerful and overwhelming, that is something to be honored too. Best Wishes.
  11. Jack Kornfield relates a wonderful story like Jo's. Here is a link with the excerpt: https://mariashriver.com/jack-kornfield-ive-been-thinking-the-heart-of-forgiveness/ Here is a similar story that I first learned from reading the book, cited in the post, that started me on my spiritual path: https://greatbrainidea.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/through-ivan-hector/
  12. The prison film was very humbling. "Just-like-me" has been a fairly regular practice of mine for years, basically because I was trying to find metta teachings that spoke to me. After failing to relate well to a couple of the often-recommended books, I found Jeffrey Hopkins book A Truthful Heart that spends a lot of time on "just-like-me." Hopkins in one of those amazing characters who was a gangster and juvenile delinquent who went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, translator for the Dali Lama, and a professor at U. Va. His early aggression was something to which I really could relate! I think "just-like-me" practice can do a lot toward starting to deconstruct the crazy ways we identify with personality views, blame ourselves and blame others. In the G.R.I.P. prison program they have a saying something like "Leaving Prison Before You Get Out." It's not about fantasy or detachment from reality, it's about personal insight and freedom. I think a lot of people on the outside are too spoiled to do the work. I know I can feel the pulls of smugness and comfort resisting the necessary effort, masking the fears, and draining the courage. The graduates of those prison programs are real warriors of the heart. They serve as an inspiration to me, so do the victims and relatives who support them and bear witness to the prisoners' transformation. I think that is part of the trick: not to blame and rationalize our failure to press onward, but to have kindness and really apply ourselves to growing.
  13. Thanks, Robyn. I'll try to sit with secular buddhism's next practice session. I used to occasionally read articles on their website, but right now I am pretty immersed in the Insight Meditation Center and its online offerings. https://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/ Still, I look for ways to broaden and inform my outlook.
  14. Jo, in this era of instant gratification I suspect many of your clients simply are too eager, too impatient. In the Buddhist map, even piti gives way to a subtler and more serene pleasure sukha that pervades the entire body. The process is one of settling and relinquishing that basically happens naturally. Sukha in turn gives way too an even cooler settledness and bliss in equanimity. It is part of “peeling the layers of the onion,” a metaphor often used to describe meditation. Seeking and trying too hard to make this process happen just gets in the way. As you let attention simply settle, abide with present-moment experience, and transition into a spacious awareness of the whole body, it is as though you naturally tire of successive stages of agitation, abandon them, and settle more deeply. It just takes time, showing up again and again for formal meditation practice in a safe setting with interest, kindness, and patience. While it isn’t always pretty and sublime, you learn no time practicing is wasted. That is one of the biggest lessons of mindfulness, right? It is simply a losing game to oppose the way things are. If we want our actions to have positive effects, it helps if we are grounded in how things are, accept how things are. That’s where we have to start time and again. When we stop fighting it, we tend to find some peace and joy in the acceptance, certainly relief. Well, that’s my take anyway.
  15. Very interesting post about ASMR. I was not familiar with it, but it sounds very similar to the concept of piti in Buddhist meditation. Here is one brief explanation of it from Sutta Central: Pīti is a sense of joy or uplift that occurs during the course of meditation. It is best understood as an emotional response to the pleasure experienced in meditation. It may have physical manifestations, such as goosebumps or hair-raising, but is primarily a psychological quality. Since it is a subtle excitement or thrill in response to pleasure, it is moderated by passaddhi [tranquility], and drops away in the deeper states of samādhi [often translated as "concentration" but it might better be translated as "synchrony" or "settled harmony"].... In modernity, pīti may be related to the psychological phenomena known as frisson or A.S.M.R.,1and moreover, in a case study, researchers have reported strong dopamine reward system activations in the brain of a long-term Buddhist practitioner during meditation.2 I find slow body sweeping and then settling on the sensations of the breath, similar to what yogawithpriyanka referenced, to be very conducive to developing piti and samadhi. It took many months of practice before I experienced piti. But, not everyone will find initially placing attention to bodily sensations rewarding. This was discussed in the topic covering the book Trauma-Sesnitive Mindfulness. I recall Sean very recently sent out an email about a package he put together to help with sleep. Here is a link to the website: https://mindfulnessexercises.com/tranquil-meditation-sleep-music/?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Tranquil+Meditation+Sleep+Music&utm_campaign=2020_03_10_Tranquil+Meditation+Sleep+Music I myself have not checked it out yet. Best wishes.
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