Sunday, August 21, 2016

On Meditation

"The route to mindfulness is present-centered attention. Mindfulness is being 'willfully passive.' We deliberately decide to observe present experience without interfering with it... [B]y bringing theses experiences into consciousness, we will be able... to transcend them, to know them, to complete them and to move on." 

-- Ron Kurtz in Body-Centered Psychotherapy: The Hakomi Method, Mendocino, CA: LifeRhythm, 1990. 


"Chogyam Trungpa... stressed that... to return again and again to the immediacy of our experience... uncovers a complete openness to things just as they are without conceptual padding. It allows us to lighten up and to appreciate our world and ourselves unconditionally... to become one with it rather than split ourselves in two, one part of us rejecting or judging another part... His instruction on how to relate with the thoughts was [to]... leave them free to dissolve back into space without making meditation into a self-improvement project." 

-- Pema Chodron in Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears, Boston: Shambala, 2010.


"The practice of self-observation begins with a desire and resolution on your part: 'I want to know what really is, regardless of how I prefer things to be. ... In its most general form, the practice of self-observation is simply a matter of paying attention to everything, noticing whatever happens, being open-mindedly curious about all that is going on. This everything will almost always be a mixture of perceptions of external events and your internal reactions to them. ... Whatever is, is an appropriate focus for observation."



"To practice insight meditation, one should restrict one's attention to the bare notice of sensations and thoughts. One's attitude should be completely receptive to whatever contents arise in the mind. ... [D]istracting thoughts or feelings may be noted, registered, and left behind. As this process goes on, the meditator has a succession of realizations about the nature of mind and self."

-- Arthur Deikman in The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy, Beacon Press, 1982. 


"We have not come together to satisfy our intellects. This we can do through books and second-hand information. We have come to satisfy the inner need to know ourselves, to share our oneness, to hear directly what life is. To receive life we must be open to it. Life can only be understood by life. The means that being open is itself life. ... Nothing that can be known has existence in itself. It depends on a knower. The knower is consciousness. Only consciousness never changes. We must find out what never changes in us."

"The mind cannot go beyond itself through its own will. At a certain point it can no longer stay in the realm of thinking and there comes a moment when we find ourselves at the threshold of being. It is only a spontaneous giving up. You will find yourself in a state of waiting without waiting. Then you will be open to the openness. But this is not a process of will. What you are looking for can never be asserted, can never be objective, can never be affirmed. ... It is better to say, "I don't know." In this not knowing there is real knowing."

-- Jean Klein in Beyond Knowledge, Third Millennium, 1994.


"So when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. ... The though then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of compulsive thinking."



"While the mind may try to escape from conditioning itself through meditation, Krishnamurti says, it simply creates in the very attempt another prison of methods to follow and goals to achieve. He opposes techniques of every kind and urges the putting aside of all authority and tradition: From them, one can only collect more knowledge, while understanding is needed instead. According to Krishnamurti, no technique can free the mind, for any effort by the mind only weaves another net. He ... emphatically opposes concentration methods:

"'By repeating Amen or Om or Coca-Cola indefinitely you obvously have a certain experience because by repetition the mind becomes quiet ... It is one of the favorite gambits of some teachers of meditation to insist upon their pupils learning concentration, that is, fixing the mind on one thought and driving out all other thoughts. This is a most stupid, ugly thing, which any schoolboy can do because he is forced to.'

"The 'meditation' Krishnamurti advocates has no system, least of all 'repetition and imitation.' He proposes as both means and end a 'choiceless awareness,' the 'experiencing of what is without naming.' This state is beyond all thought; all thought, he says, belongs to the past, and meditation is always in the present. To be in the present, the mind must relinquish the habits acquired out of the urge to be secure... One must let go of at thought and imagining. ...

"'You have to watch, as you watch a lizard going by, walking across the wall, seeing all of its four feet, how it sticks to the wall, you have to watch it, and as you watch it, you see all the movements, the delicacy of its movements. So in the same way, watch your thinking, do not correct it, do not suppress it -- do not say it is too hard -- just watch it... When the mind realizes the totality of its own conditioning ... then all its movements come to an end: It is completely still, without any desire, without any compulsion, without any motive.'"



"We must be willing to be completely ordinary people, which means accepting ourselves as we are without trying to become greater, purer, more spiritual, more insightful. If we can accept our imperfections as they are, quite ordinarily, then we can use them as part of the path. But if we try to get rid of our imperfections, then they will be enemies, obstacles on the road to our 'self-improvement.' ... The attitude you bring to spirituality should be natural, ordinary, without ambition. ... And the same is true for the breath. If we can see it as it is, without trying to use it to improve ourselves, then it becomes a part of the path because we are no longer using it as a tool of our personal ambition."



"We seem to have numerous 'I's. There is the I of 'I want,' the I of 'I wrote a letter,' the I of 'I am a psychiatrist' or 'I am thinking.' But there is another I that is basic, that underlies desires, activities, and physical characteristics. This is the subjective sense of our existence. It is different from self-image, the body, passions, fears, social category -- these are aspects of our person that we usually refer to when we speak of the self, but they do not refer to the core of our conscious being, they are not the origin of our sense of personal existence."

"Awareness is something apart from, and different from, all that of which we are aware: thoughts, emotions, images, sensations, desires, and memory. Awareness is the ground in which the mind's contents manifest themselves; they appear in it and disappear once again. ...careful introspection reveals that the objects of awareness -- sensations, thoughts, memories, images and emotions -- are constantly changing and superseding each other. In contrast, awareness continues independently of any specific mental contents."

-- Arthur Deikman in Meditations on a Blue Vase, Fearless Books, 2014.


"While meditation may be cultivated as a formal practice once or twice a day..., the aim is to bring a fresh awareness into everything we do. Whether walking or standing still, sitting or laying down, alone or in company, resting or working, I try to maintain that same careful attention. ... Awareness is a process of deepening self-acceptance. It is neither a cold, surgical examination of life nor a means of becoming perfect. Whatever it observes, it embraces. There is nothing unworthy of acceptance. ... But to embrace hatred does not mean to indulge it. To embrace hatred is to accept it for what it is: a disruptive but transient state of mind. Awareness observes it jolt into being, coloring consciousness and gripping the body. The heart accelerates, the breath becomes shallow and jagged, and an almost physical urge to react dominates the mind. At the same time, the frenzy is set against a dark, quiet gulf of hurt, humiliation, and shame. Awareness notices all this without condoning or condemning, repressing or expressing. It recognizes that just as hatred arises, so will it pass away."


"...if we watch the mind as though it were a film projected on a screen, as concentration deepens, it may go into a kind of slow motion and allow us to see more of what is happening. This then deepens our awareness and further allows us to observe the film almost frame by frame, to discover how one thought leads imperceptively to the next. We see how thoughts we took to be 'me' or 'mine' are just an ongoing process. This perspective help break our deep identification with the seeming solid reality of the movie of the mind. As we become less engrossed in the melodrama, we see it's just flow, and can watch it all as it passes. We are not drawn into the action by the passing of judgmental comment... or impatience. When we simply see -- moment to moment -- what's occurring, observing without judgment or preference, we don't get lost thinking... [and] we begin developing... choiceless awareness. We see intention, out of which action comes. We observe the natural process of mind and discover how much of what we so treasured to be ourselves is essentially impersonal phenomena passing by."

-- Stephen Levine in A Gradual Awakening, Anchor-Doubleday, 1979.


"Awareness and equanimity -- this is Vipassana meditation. When practiced together. they lead to liberation from suffering. ... We must become aware of the totality of mind and matter in their subtlest nature. For this purpose it is not enough merely to be mindful of superficial aspects of body and mind, such a physical movements or thoughts. We must develop awareness of sensations throughout the body and maintain equanimity toward them. If we are aware but lack equanimity, then the more conscious we become of the sensations within and the more sensitive we become to them, the more likely we are to react, thereby increasing suffering. On the other hand, if we have equanimity, but know nothing of the sensations within, then this equanimity is only superficial, concealing reactions that are constantly going on unknown in the depths of the mind. ... We seek to be conscious of everything that happens within and at the same time not to react to it, understanding that it will change."

-- William Hart channeling S. N. Goenka in The Art ofLiving: Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S. N. Goenka, HarperOne, 1987.


"The reason [point of concentration] meditation... is so popular is because people really want something mechanical that will change their state of consciousness. There are many things that can do it, but it's really very different from living awareness. Most of what goes on in the name of [point of concentration] meditation is just another tranquilizer. It's a way of cooling oneself out, removing oneself from what is, removing oneself from seeing totally the living moment... so that one gets lost in the projections of one's own mind. ... Concentration, which always involves effort, is not meditation. Concentration is a narrowing of the spectrum of awareness, a strengthening of thought. ... Real meditation is a widening of the spectrum of awareness that excludes nothing; there is never effort or force."



"...the brain changes physically in response to experience, and new mental skills can be acquired with intentional effort, with focused awareness and concentration. Experience activates neural firing, which in turn leads to the production of proteins that enable new connections to be made among neurons, in the process called neuroplasticity. ... The implication is that neuroplasticity is activated by attention itself, ... [and] by sensory input.

"At the heart of this process... is a form of internal 'tuning in' to oneself that enables people to become their best friend. ... You can have those thoughts and feelings and also be able to just notice them with the wisdom that they are not your identity. They are simply part of your mind's experience. ... The aim-and-sustain skill developed during observation enables you to hold your attention steady, to stabilize the mind. The next step is to distinguish the quality of awareness from the object of attention.

"Without preconceived ideas or judgments, this mindful awareness, this receptive attention, brings us into a tranquil place where we can be aware of and know all elements of our experience."

-- Daniel Siegel in Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, Bantam, 2010.


"Meditation originates and culminates in the everyday sublimes. I have little interest in achieving states of sustained concentration in which the sensory richness of experience is replaced by pure introspective rapture. I have no interest in reciting mantras, visualizing Buddhas or mandalas, gaining out-of-body experiences, reading others people's thoughts, practicing lucid dreaming, or channeling psychic energies through chakras, let alone letting my consciousness be absorbed in the transcendent perfection of the Unconditioned. Meditation is about embracing what is happening to this organism as it touches its environment in this moment."

-- Stephen Batchelor in After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age, Yale U. Press, 2015.



"The expansion of consciousness does not lie in the quantitative accumulation of experiences, but in a qualitative change in the person experiencing... Each time you climb to a higher vantage point the range of your vision is enlarged and your understanding of your entire situation is altered. You see things from a more encompassing perspective which allows you to be less concerned and anxious and enables you to relate to your environment in terms of how it really is rather than how you imagined it to be from a more limited point of view."

-- Swami Rama and Swami Ajaya in Creative Use of Emotion, Himalayan Institute Press, 1987. 



"Real meditation is the highest form of intelligence. It is not a matter of sitting cross-legged in a corner with your eyes shut or standing on your head or whatever it is you do. To meditate is to be completely aware as you are walking, as you are riding in the bus, as you are working in your office or in your kitchen; completely aware of the words you use, the gestures you make, the manner of your talk, the way you eat, and how you push people around. To be choicelessly aware of everything about you and within yourself, is meditation."

-- Jiddu Krishnamurti in The Collected Works, Vol. XIII, Krishnamurti Foundations, 2014.


"'How come nothing happened for me? What a dud I am!' ... But often it is those who said they didn't 'get it' so easily who later display considerable insight into that which blocks the qualities they were attempting to cultivate. They may well have seen the nature of that which limits forgiveness or mercy or letting go or healing more clearly than one who 'in a lucky moment' was able to get some depth of experience of the qualities they were examining. It is often when it 'doesn't work' that the work to be done is most clearly seen." 

-- Stephen Levine in Healing into Life and Death, Anchor Doubleday, 1987. 


"Meditation is inquiry into the very being of the meditator. As human beings we are all capable of inquiry, of discovery, and this whole process is meditation. Meditation is inquiry into the very being of the meditator. You cannot meditate without self-knowledge, without being aware of the ways of your own mind, from the superficial responses to the most complex subtleties of thought. I am sure it is not really difficult to know, to be aware of oneself, but it is difficult for most of us because we are so afraid to inquire, to grope, to search out. Our fear is not of the unknown, but of letting go of the known. It is only when the mind allows the known to fade away that there is complete freedom from the known, and only then is it possible for the new impulse to come into being.

-- Jiddu Krishnamurti in The Collected Works, Vol. X, Krishnamurti Foundations, 2014.


"Because awareness is a view of reality free from ideas and judgments, it is clearly impossible to define and write down what it reveals. Anything which can be described is an idea. ... I shall therefore have to be content with talking about the false impression which awareness removes, rather than the truth which it reveals. The latter can only be symbolized with words which mean little or nothing to those without a direct understanding of the truth in question. What is true and positive is too real and too living to be described, and to try to describe it is like putting red paint on a red rose.

"Understanding comes through awareness. Can we, then, approach our experience -- our sensations, feelings, and thoughts -- quite simply, as if we had never known them before, and, without prejudice, look at what is going on. ... There is no experience but present experience. What you know, what you are actually aware of, is just what is happening at this moment, and no more."



"There is no other way to succeed than to draw the mind back every time it turns outwards and fix it in the Self. There is no need for meditation or mantra or japa or anything of the sort, because these are our real nature. All that is needed is to give up thinking of objects rather than the Self. Meditation is not so much thinking of the Self as giving up thinking of the not-Self. When you give up thinking of outward objects and prevent your mind from going outwards by turning it inwards and fixing it in the Self, the Self alone remains."

"Whenever a thought arises, do not be carried away by it. You become aware of the body when you forget the Self. But can you forget the Self? Being the Self how can you forget it? There must be two selves for one to forget the other. It is absurd. So the Self is not depressed, nor is it imperfect. It is ever happy."



"...so long as I do not understand myself, I have no basis for thought, and all my search will be in vain. I can escape into illusions, I can run away from contention, strife, struggle; I can worship another; I can look for my salvation through somebody else. But so long as I am ignorant of myself, so long as I am unaware of the total process of myself, I have no [accurate] basis for thought, for affection, for action. ... Without knowing yourself, without knowing your own ways of thinking and why you think certain things, without knowing the background of your conditioning and why you have certain beliefs about art and religion, about your country and your neighbor and about yourself, how can you truly think about anything.

"The more you know about yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end -- you don't come to an achievement, you don't come to a conclusion. It is an endless  river. ... Only when the mind is tranquil -- through self-knowledge... -- only then, in that tranquility, in that silence, can reality come into being."

Jiddu Krishnamurti in The Krishnamurti Reader, Penguin-Arcana, 1954.



I'm ready
Ready for the laughing gas
I'm ready
Ready for what's next
Ready to duck
Ready to dive
Ready to say
I'm glad to be alive
I'm ready
Ready for the push, uh huh

In the cool of the night
In the warmth of the breeze
I'll be crawling 'round
On my hands and knees

...

Ready
Ready for the gridlock
I'm ready
To take it to the street, uh huh
I'm ready for the shuffle
Ready for the deal
Ready to let go of the steering wheel
I'm ready
Ready for the crush, uh huh

Zoo Station
Zoo Station
Alright
Alright, alright, alright, not alright
It's alright, it's alright, it's alright, it's alright

Time is a train
Makes the future the past
Leaves you standing in the station
Your face pressed up against the glass

-- Adam Clayton, Dave Evans, Larry Mullen, Paul Hewson • Copyright © 1991, Universal Music Publishing Group


The 10 StEPs of Emotion Processing via Self-Observation Meditation

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