Monday, January 18, 2016

Talk 22 - Sedona Method, Like Vipassana


Somewhere after WWII, a man named Lester Levenson had a heart attack, and facing mortality, asked himself some hard questions.  He ended up with his own process of coming to terms with reality and finding happiness and peace that came to be known as The Sedona Method (book)The bullet points of the vipassana-like process are:
  • Feel what you are feeling
  • Ask "Could I let this feeling go," allow this feeling to be here, welcome this feeling
  • Ask "Would I be willing to let this feeling go?"
  • Ask "When?"
  • Repeat as necessary
Very much in line with the overall process of awareness and letting go that we see running through all successful meditative practices.  The technique is explored in the book linked above, also the Sedona Method company has a lot of pricey CD based instruction and retreats as well.

It's been a while since I was exposed to this.  I believe Lester had a thing where he would go beyond the basic feelings and further subdivide things into "wanting approval" or "wanting control".  More opportunities for noting/labeling, like submission/dominance or craving/aversion.

Also as I recall, Lester described first a level of happiness where he emphasized dissolving one's need to change things and leaning in the direction of love (perhaps like metta), and then "beyond" that a level of peace where he described letting go of trying to find happiness and giving support to other people.

Talk 21 - Focusing, Like Vipassana

Focusing (website) and a book by Eugene Gendlin, a professor of psychology at University of Chicago.

Focusing is described, in part, as a therapeutic technique that "teaches you to identify and change the way your personal problems concretely exist in your body."  In many ways it is vipassana, learning to become aware of one's body, feelings and thoughts and the subsequent discharge of tension.

The bullet points of the technique are:
  • Clearing A Space - getting still, aware, relaxing
  • Felt Sense - focus on the non-verbal aspects
  • Handle - like noting or labeling in vipassana
  • Resonating - checking and adjusting the handle to match the felt sense, steep in it
  • Asking - what is in this felt sense, or what makes this quality?
  • Receiving - allowing, surrendering
What focusing is not:
  • Talking to oneself
  • An Analytic Process
  • Mere Body Sensation
  • Not Just Getting In Touch With Gut Feelings - but rather the "broader, at first unclear, unrecognizable discomfort which the whole problem (all that) makes in your body".  Gendlin suggests words like heavy, tight, "like glue", cowed, jittery.
The book provides a lot of examples and exposition to flesh out the process, which could be useful for people working with vipassana.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Talk 20 - What Is Awakening?

Some views on awakening from a decent sample of fairly awake people.

From Buddha At The Gas Pump, 14 people discuss the theme "What Is Awakening", starting after a 7-8 minute introduction. 

From Sounds True, interviews with 34 people on "What Is Awakening".  Seems a bit expensive here, but this was initially available as a freebie for people trying out Audible.  Also, it weighs in at a prodigious ~23 hours.  This collection contains some big names like Tolle, Adyashanti, Kornfield, Wilber, Brach and includes some science friendly types like Hanson.  I really liked Mukti's direct pointing, Hanson's reasonable approach, and Adyashanti breaking down in tears.

I think it's useful to get a lot of different views, and although there are indeed a lot of different perspectives, I think what is important are the similarities that cut through all of it.  Jeffrey Martin's work on surveying and studying these type of people is useful as well.

For myself, at one time I posited that awakening is something like the degree to which one has re-trained the mind metaphorically "back" towards the original, bare, pre-conceptual awareness style.  Which I would still substantially agree with.  Some people bristle at the metaphor of the original mind, because we leave that behind with the conditioning of language and culture, and we can't ever quite put the genie entirely back in the bottle.  But I still think it's a good pointer.

I think now I might want to point a bit more at the relative degree to which the mind is unattached to objects of awareness.  In my opinion it's that constant direction of letting go, of relaxation, that is the essential benefit of awakening.  Letting go of attachment to thoughts, self-identity, emotions, so there is an internal flexibility and openness and ease of being.  Internally, one stops fighting and arguing with reality and leaves things be.

In a conversation the other day, I noticed towards the end I was trying to make a certain point, which is fine, but I was grasping a bit, and that kind of thing really sticks out to me in recent years.  In that moment, I was fighting a little bit internally, like I wasn't completely okay with the outcome if I didn't get this point across.  And that's where the practice is for me, to see that internal grasping and to let go of that and if possible, any beliefs that might be causing it.  I can still make points, and could even do this very emphatically if that is what is actually flowing without internal resistance, but to be clear the path I am taking is towards where everything is just happening as it is, without the arguing or grasping or resistance.  An ease of being.  Ultimately to be more okay with everything.  In that sense awakening is just kind of adjusting to reality, to what is.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Roland Griffiths and Psilocybin and Meditation

Psychedelic researcher Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins on a few podcasts talking about psilocybin and meditation.

Buddhist Geeks 377: Meditating on Mushrooms
Although the formal research is ongoing, in this podcast Roland hints that at least so far,  there appear to be significant benefits for experienced meditators that occasionally (and carefully and prudently) experiment with psilocybin.  Your mileage may vary, but in my experience, duh!  Very exciting to finally hear a little bit about this slowly progressing study.

They are still looking for appropriate candidates that are experienced meditators that have either no experience with psychedelics or experience that preceded regular meditation practice.

Buddhist Geeks 378: Psilocybin: A Crash Course in Mindfulness
Continuing the interview with Roland Griffiths.

Radiolab: Blisshrooms
Some talk about the Good Friday Experiment, Griffiths' validation of that, etc.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Jeffrey Martin's Finders Course Protocol

For reference on the Finders Course, some notes from a Three-Part Video Workshop taken by Jake Yeager.

The advice seems to be to meditate for an hour a day, starting with breath meditation and then body scanning and then moving on to a number of different major meditation protocols to see what works, mixed with a bit of positive psychology.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Psilocybin Research Expanding

A study at UW-Madison is doing something along the lines of the Johns Hopkins research on psilocybin.  The main emphasis here is on the pharmacokinetics, however attention is paid to set and setting.

And the NYU - Johns Hopkins studies continue, now with an eye towards members of the clergy as participants in the psilocybin research.



Lucid Dreamers More Aware

“Our results indicate that self-reflection in everyday life is more pronounced in persons who can easily control their dreams”

It does seems kind of obvious, that awareness in daily life would lead to awareness in dreams.  That's certainly been my experience, not that I'm a "super" lucid dreamer or something.  But since I've "gotten the meditation thing done", the lucid dreaming has definitely increased from close to nothing to not uncommon.  I think it's particularly useful to closely examine one's environment in a lucid dream, and also to meditate within the dream.