Life 101: Notice + allow

 

I sometimes write about a basic form of mindfulness which can be translated into notice + allow.

Notice what’s here in the sense fields, allow it to be, and perhaps notice it’s already allowed to be here.

In daily life, there is an additional emphasis I find very helpful. And that is to notice sensations, and especially those sensations that fuel and give substance to stressful thoughts and identities.

When these sensations happen outside of conscious awareness, the thoughts they lend their apparent solidity to tend to seem real, solid, and true. And when they are brought into conscious awareness, and the way they combine with certain thoughts and identities to lend them a sense of solidity is brought into conscious awareness, it’s as if we peek behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz and the illusion falls apart.

It’s easiest to discover this through inquiry, and especially the Living Inquiries. And then notice it while taking some time out and having space and time to notice. And then, after a while, we can bring it into daily life.

For me, this is one of my favorite explorations these days. I notice my mind is caught up in stressful thoughts or identities. (I notice the typical symptoms like stress, tension, blame, mental complaining, feeling like a victim, feeling I need to protect something, a compulsion etc.) I bring attention to the sensations in the body and allow them to be as they are. And I specifically look for and give attention to the sensations giving the stressful thoughts a sense of solidity, reality, and truth.

And that tends to break the spell. It creates space to notice and allow it all, and not be so caught up in it. It shifts the mind out of identifying with the stressful thoughts and identities, and into that which allows and is it all.

And that gives space for relating to what comes up in me more intentionally, and the triggering situation in life more intentionally. It opens for a slightly more mature and kind way of being.

It is fascinating how such as simple mechanism creates our stressful beliefs and hangups. We have thoughts which, in themselves, are innocent questions about the world. The mind then associates these with certain sensations in the body, and may even tense up muscles to create sensations it can associate the thoughts with. The sensations then gives a sense of solidity, reality, and truth to the thoughts. And the thoughts give a sense of meaning to the sensations.

As long as this happens outside of our conscious awareness, the thoughts seem solid and true, and we perceive, act, and live in the world as if they are true. As soon as we “peek behind the curtain”, the illusion falls apart, it loses it’s grip, and we can relate to it more intentionally.

In my imagination, in a future society that’s a little more mature, this is Life 101. This is what children learn along with riding a bike, reading, writing, and singing songs.

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Bliss addiction

 

This is another 101 topic I have written about before and thought I would briefly revisit.

We can be addicted to bliss, especially during a certain phase of the spiritual path.

Here is what often happens:

We get a taste of bliss.

We want it again.

We try different strategies to get it again.

We try strategies to get it to stay.

And eventually, we discover that we seek a transitory state and an experience, and that’s ultimately futile.

As far as I can tell, this bliss-seeking compulsion has a few different functions.

It’s a carrot on the path. It keeps us going so our seeking and practices become more established and more of a stable habit. Especially as it tends to happen early on the intentional path.

It can bring a certain healing. It can make us feel loved. It can help us trust life more.

It’s a lesson in the difference between states and what we are. It helps us differentiate the two.

It’s an invitation to explore what in us drives the compulsion and find healing for it.

As experiences come and go, we will eventually notice that what we are is what experiences happen within and as. And that that’s what it really is about, at least as we mature a bit. Seeking and losing and refinding and relosing bliss is a strong invitation to notice this.

And what drives this compulsion to find bliss, or really any compulsion? It’s often a sense of lack, a sense of not being good enough, and wanting to escape uncomfortable identifications and feelings.

So there is nothing wrong in seeking bliss. It’s natural. It’s quite common. It has several functions. And it leads us to a slightly more mature phase of the path.

Note: What strategies do we use to seek and maintain bliss? Most often, it’s a combination of meditation practices, prayer, and yogic or energetic practices. And for some, it’s psychoactive drugs.

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Getting to know those you dislike

 

This is another one of the things that parents, in the best case, tell their children.

If I enter a room or a group I’ll spend some time in, my mind tends to quickly sort people into “like” and “dislike” – at least as an initial map.

I have made it a practice to get to know those I have put in the “dislike” category. To get to know them a bit as humans and some of their back story.

It helps me to see them as humans rather than cardboard cutouts. It humanizes them in my mind. I may end up liking them or not, but that’s secondary.

And, of course, they are “me over there”. This is just me as this human being getting to know me as that human over there. And it reflects how I approach and relate to parts of myself and my own experience I dislike. Do I agree with the initial dislike and try to avoid it? Or do I know it’s worth getting to know it?

So if my mind tells itself “I don’t like that person” that’s a signal to get to know that person, at least a bit.

Note: This happend in the most recent Vortex Healing course I attended. My mind immediately disliked a person there, and just by circumstances I ended up talking with her for a while, seeing her as a real human being, and finding sympathy for her. She is still not someone I would actively pursue a friendship with but my experience of her has changed.

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Not knowing what we’ll find

 

A part of Life 101 is having an open mind.

We don’t know what we’ll find in any exploration of life, whether it’s through science, psychological or spiritual explorations, or just through living our daily lives.

We honestly don’t know, apart from that it – most likely – will be different from what we think, expect, envision, hope, or fear. And when we admit to ourselves, and remind ourselves, that we don’t know, it helps us stay honest with ourselves and the process and notice what’s actually here.

It’s easier said than done. Our minds are typically experts at getting themselves caught up in hopes, fears, and expectations. Our hopes and fears have a charge, and that charge makes them irresistible to the mind. (Of course, the mind creates all this itself, but that’s for other posts.)

What can we do? We can notice. Allow. See it’s the play of the mind. Notice the specific fears and hopes. Meet them with kindness and respect. Inquire into the fears and hopes and see what we find. All of that helps the mind soften and release it’s tendency to get caught in its own creations of hopes and fears.

It can also help to see that this is universal. It’s an universal human experience. And it’s here for a good reason. Having hopes and fears, giving them a charge, and even for the mind getting caught in them, all helped our ancestors survive. We wouldn’t be here without it. At the same time, it’s not conducive to more rational big picture or long-term decisions on behalf of ourselves and humanity, or even for our individual contentment (if that’s what we seek).

Note: I mentioned charge above, and have written about it in other posts. The charge comes from thoughts – mental words and images, being associated with bodily sensations. Sensations lend a sense of reality and solidity to the thoughts and make them seem true, and thoughts lend a sense of meaning to the sensations. For instance, a set of sensation is taken by the mind to mean that I am this body, and that same idea is given a sense of substance and truth by the same sensations.

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Life 101

 

So much of what I write here is Life 101.

It’s very basic. Simple. Even written so it’s easier to understand.

And yet, it’s not so obvious in the context of our contemporary culture.

Perhaps it will be more obvious and mainstream in the future?

And perhaps it will be included more often in a Life 101 track through school.

It seems as important as the other basics already included in most schools: language, maths, history, sports, religions, and social studies.

Here are some ideas for what could be included in a Life 101 track:

Communication skills.

Relationship skills.

Media literacy.

Critical thinking. Rational thinking.

Training of a more stable attention. (Helpful for anything.)

And perhaps, for the especially interested:

Mind-body practices. (Yoga, tai chi, chigong.)

Basic forms of meditation.

Basic inquiry.

Parts work (subpersonalities).

And even, in some schools, basic universal spirituality. (What it’s about, typical process etc.)

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