Author Topic: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.  (Read 11130 times)

Andrew

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Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« on: February 01, 2012, 03:03:31 AM »
howdy,

 :)

Thought a new one of these would be nice to match the new year.

I would not have thought after the last couple of months I would be as 'calm' as I am now. I've been through a fair bit, but the general contemplative habit has meant that I've actually learnt a thing or two, especially about what it means to hold a 'view.'

No one view is ever all encompassing enough to truly live life by. One day there is anger, the next curiosity, the next despair, the next calm. No one phrase can sum this up, even writing things down like this just feel artificial, as if the moment the word forms on the screen there is a creative instant when what is being realised crystallises and doesn't reflect what is actually going on. It just can't capture real life. Though it could be said to be a part of it, there is so much more than what can ever be communicated this way.

Formal sitting has taken a back seat (ha!) but contemplation has been centre stage. And because of this I can, perhaps for the first time, clearly understand why 'thinking through' things is of limited value; there are just too many variables. A line of contemplation can have positive effects, but I can see now that it is only the mindfulness of each moment that truly counts.

Spending a month in Ghana also had a big impact on me. Woke me up in many ways.

Anyway, that's enough to prime the pump, I'll see what use I can make of this thread, and if it benefits others so be it.

Be well,

A

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Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2012, 02:05:03 AM »
Short morning sit, slight involuntary vibrations in hip/ right leg area.

I've been aware of a deep sadness and fear, after talking with a good friend last night it turns out that I choose this feeling as a basis of personality very young, (we talk extremely deeply, and often can see into the others situation). It actually lines up with my earliest memory which was a dream I had at 4 years old.

In the dream I was in a forest. there was a path with a fork in it, splitting the two paths was a tree stump. there was a procession of 'story book' animals; lions, lambs, alice in wonderland like characters who left behind a small music box on top of the stump. They went to the path on the right.
The music box played sad music as it's small metallic drum turned.

I never knew what to do with this music, and this memory, but realised I had just hung around listening to it for the last 32 years.

I choose the path on the left now.
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Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2012, 02:39:44 PM »
Remaining very open and calm towards the 'path'these days. appreciating the overall reduction on holding a 'view' or particular goal. Many times during the day i catch glimpses of the world through curious eyes. Just looking, in a relaxed way.

« Last Edit: February 06, 2012, 01:47:06 AM by Andrew »
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rob

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2012, 06:03:05 PM »
Exceedingly generous of you to share this with us. I'll be looking forward to reading the updates :)

Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2012, 12:36:33 AM »
haha, no worries, it's a weird mix of personal expression and wanting to be useful that keeps me coming back!

though it is funny to say that, day to day, there is less and less to write about.

I suppose a bit of background would be good to explain that point, as generally I've never been short of something to say.

Last year I really dove into a point of contemplation regarding 'breaking down the social identity' and also confronting a lot of latent religious beliefs. It all came to a point one day after a few wines, where the gaping emptiness of being alone in universe came to the forefront as i systematically went through all the things I held to be true (beliefs) and set them aside.

I ended up concluding that I, both as a body and thinking being, am no more (or less) significant than the least imaginable (and unimaginable, if such a thing can be imagined!) thing in the universe. Leaning against the door post thinking that I and the atoms of the wood are equivalent in significance. Simply letting all the conceit of being special drop away.

It was quite scary really, I had alot of residual belief about my importance/unimportance and throwing it all up in the air was a challenge.

After that night there has been a trip to ghana in west africa with the family and many personal dramas that have continued to smash away at all the 'I know what it going on' thinking.

the end result is a more relaxed moment to moment appreciation of just being where I am, doing what I'm doing, without striving to be something/someone else, or somewhere else.

amazingly I think I'm still waking up from growing up in an extreme religion despite having left over 10 years ago. I have glimpse now of what it means to be relaxed, and not always striving towards something.   
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rob

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2012, 08:55:05 PM »
Andrew--

That's the second time you've mentioned your trip to Ghana... may I ask what made it such a formative experience for you?

Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2012, 12:57:41 AM »
Yeah sure rob.

Although far from ignorant of the plight of the world in general, seeing the 'developing world' as it is called, in all it's detail, brought everything to a point for me.

All the ways we as humans go about existing, are just amazing. Perfectly rational one minute, absolute animals the next. Working so hard one minute, completely lazy the next. So clever, then just so dumb. I've grown up in Australia so I'm familiar with how ungrateful people can be and how 'entitled' we have become, but to see this in ghana almost made me laugh, if it wasn't so tragic. On the other hand, the strength of culture and belief that has sustained ghana without civil war is something I have never experienced, It's not that we don't have a strong culture, but it doesn't get tested like ghanaian culture/belief does, I get the feeling that Australia would quickly fall apart without it's wealth, what made us strong has now found it's way onto a couch with a widescreen TV and is growing fat instead. In ghana, despite the economic pressure, people are living peaceful lives for the most part. Driving in crazy traffic and not getting angry, living on top of each other and getting along. We humans truly are just amazing. We just adapt. We adjust our standards to the environment and forget that it could be any other way.

I'm talking obviously about my opinion/impressions etc, as actually describing ghana would be a book, movie, and documentary just to describe one day there.

It is the contrast, discovering something about being human, finding lost pieces of my own 'soul', being the outsider, being descriminated against and for, but never equal. It's the weather, the vibe, the traffic, the shit, the piss, the feeling of letting go of entitlement. Just being another expendable unit for once, not being lied to while being lied to more than ever. (That last bit is a bit cryptic, but it really does describe the feel)
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Cilla

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2012, 02:39:05 AM »
How exactly do you contemplate? What is your method?

I generally think of contemplation as thinking. If its not thinking that you do, what is it?

Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2012, 08:14:00 AM »
How do I contemplate? Personally I do exactly what you just said, I think about the topic, then I think about it again not forgetting what I just thought about, and keep going until I'm challenging some deep seated thought. So for example; i might think to myself "I am getting nowhere by being a buddhist" then i remember that being a buddhist in the truest sense it to not be a buddhist. Then I will think of all the ways I've started being 'buddhist' in my own mind, and let them go. I'll consider it all rubbish, just throw it all away. Then I'll see where I am in my thinking, what did that bring up? what was I hiding under all that buddhism? Why do I continue to create these 'beliefs' that I have no evidence for?

another one would be to contemplate the existence of god, all the ideas and speculations, throw them all away and just be with the moment, seeing what comes up next. If I find that I'm scared I ask what has changed? What did I just find? Could I possibly offend god? and if that was possible would that god be worth anything at all?

basically finding an area of conditioning and working through it until it is opening up into a more fluid 'i do not know what is going on' feeling.

It is useful if you are stuck in a rut. there is an old saying that i think is very true; if you keep doing what you have always done, you will get what you alway got. So change something. Anything. See what happens when you let it all go, one idea at a time, contemplate that the opposite might be true, then throw it away as well.

gets me back in the room pretty quick, but a warning, it can spin you off into negative emotions. You never quite know what you are hiding, but you can be sure fear won't be far away.

If you are stuck in 'i know what is wrong' chances are you don't, so contemplation can work at breaking down all the assumptions and expectations.

then get back to your practice... ;)

« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 08:18:42 AM by Andrew »
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Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2012, 03:52:41 AM »
Morning sit, very zen like, eyes open, good relaxed after glow, lots of little insights.

At one point I felt how arbitrary our sense of body posture is and how to the consciousness, the areas of the body are not in proportion at all. It reminds me of one of those medical charts where the relative sensitivity of various areas are drawn like some grotesque doll, massive head and hands, tiny neck, short body etc.

Brought a smile to my face.

Mental note made in mind to not 'end' but to keep awareness broad and relaxed.

Lot's of little dhamma thoughts followed sit, pleasant insights into how fruitless it can be is to try and 'talk about, and define'  various goals. (Not useless, but easly fruitless) Buddhas last words really do sum up the enigma; "All things are impermanent, work out your own salvation diligently" it hints at so much which cannot be put into words. reminded to stay as pleasantly happy as possible, feeling what ever is there and moving on, but preferably back to a relaxed happy base line.

Meditation struck me to be uncovering all those instinctual habits, those impulses that, even in the face of reason, drive so many thoughts. I notice body image judgements  (as i pass the mirror) are determined against what is logical.

Reminded to both let go of the idea that I am getting somewhere, while know full well I am. Build the raft knowing I will at any point not need it again.

happy days

« Last Edit: February 19, 2012, 03:55:02 AM by Andrew »
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Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2012, 01:12:56 PM »
Contemplating the overwhelming anger that has been my MO lately, and I can see how it really stems from a hatred of myself. Specifically my physical appearance.

At the moment I'm up to a stage in the contemplation of 'spinning out' on the ability to hate oneself at all.

I mean it is completely illogical, yet also amazing. Like finding a whole department in a company called "Ensuring we go Broke" occupying the top 10  floors of head office. Bizarre. Scandalous. Incredulous.

A few other thoughts about it are interesting as well. I talk about having created a space to observe my internal universe no matter what is going on, tonight i realised I already had such a place, but I've been using it to channel all of this judgemental/societal/instincitve stuff. Time to sack the CEO. Again.

It really is very odd.

nothing about it makes the least bit of sense. surely I am the only 'I' I will ever be! Yet somehow I have made/created/ inherited the ability to hate myself. Amazing. Really amazing.

I mean, what is hating what? What is this ability to hate my teeth for example? How is that really working? what possible use is it to internalise some evolutionary/societal ideal and use it to internally torture myself with?

What conceivable use it it?

Bizarre in the extreme.

That space that observes, is observing that it was already in the presence of an observing space, filled with all manner of junk. I may well indeed (miraculously) hate myself, and hence hate in general, yet it is somehow encouraging that this miracle of self hatred is indeed possible; if such a useless and defiling thing can exist in this mind, then how much more a useful and purifying thing should come to grow there?

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Matthew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2012, 06:02:31 PM »
Don't replace the CEO :)
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Cilla

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2012, 03:59:51 AM »
I"ve got a few comments ot make on this latest point you make.

And i speak as someone who is no beauty either and who has also had issues with my appearance. Quite recently i've gained a lot of insights into this problem.

1. you hate your appearance when you are depresesd and you can live with your appearance quite well when you are not depressed, regardless of what you look like. Avoid looking in the mirror helps when you are in the throws of this mindset becuase it gives you less opportunity to tap into those habitual negative sentiments.



2. Look around you and notice all the ugly people who are also very successful. I think those of us who are not attractive have a tendency to think that you have to be goodlooking to be successful and there is truth in the statement that a good appearance helps you in your pursuit of success. But its only part of the picture. Also notice when you know unattractive people who you you like and respect so much. Notice what it is about them that you like and respect so much. Once i had a very ugly french teacher but he was a very good teacher and also a very nice person. I suspect inside he also did not like his appearance too much but he was married and he did have a good job and no doubt he had the respect of his colleagues as well as his students because he was a head lecturer in his department. One of my good friends had a limp and is terribly short due to some back problem she had when young. She is a lovely busy happy person. She has friends a good hubby adn so on and so forth. Her appearance does not appear to have held her back. What about Arafat the arab leader of the past. He was an ugly bastard if ever there was one but he got to lead his people. He also had a wife and family. Ugliness and beauty ultimately come form within. That is the beauty that counts the most. Cultivate it.

if you are indeed depressed, get help with that. I strongly advise meds particularly if nothing else has worked, also therapy.

In the meantime, you can use your resources to maximise your appearance. Can you afford to get yoru teeth fixed if they really are a problem. I mean are they unhealthy as well as jsut not looking right? If hey are healthy, then spend yoru money on something else. I have bad teeth too. They are crooked and yellow but they are strong and healthy and i've come to accept them and not bother about them. I like it when i see other peope who have bad teeth, especially if they are in teh public arena, like this otherwise attractive female singer hte other night. If she can live with her teeth, i can live iwth mine.

If you are short, you just have to get over it cause you can't grow any taller but notice all the short men who've done just fine. I am sure they'd all like ot be taller but they aren't and its just great htat it hasn't held them back.

Dwelling on our problems is the thign that holds us back. Stop thinking about these things you don't like and your self-hatred willl abate. Meditation can help you stop that sort of thinking.

Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2012, 05:00:52 AM »
Thanks Cilla for the encouragement.

I'm not depressed though. There is too much interesting stuff to dig up in all this mess to have time for that. No, It was an epiphany moment simply to be in awe that such feelings are indeed possible.

have you every looked at your hand early in the morning, just when you wake up? I find if you just look there is a lot of filling in the blanks that goes on as the day draws out. Each day is as if all the patterns play out fresh, like a very tired travelling circus, performing the same old tricks to the same old crowd. i just bothered to look long enough at this one the other day to actually think, 'how is that clown really doing that trick? wow, you know it's the same trick that I'm trying to learn here, and he had the answer all along'

I'm careful not to identify with such thoughts as 'I hate myself', it's more like stepping one space the the left and seeing this function capable of 'self hatred' is also capable of 'self observation'. It's like in the old kung fu movies when the old master is attacked by a young bandit, and once he has defeated the young upstart, he makes the defeated kid his apprentice. he could destroy him, but he sees in him all the qualities required to be a master.

the 'function' capable of self hatred has all the qualities needed to spark liberation.

« Last Edit: February 27, 2012, 05:29:44 AM by Andrew »
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Satipatthana

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2012, 08:20:20 AM »
Cilla used the word "ugly", so although it's such an ugly word, I'll continue it's use.

What is ugly? Sounds like a good subject for contemplation.

I find myself just looking at what is. That's what it is. There is this that I'm seeing now, there is that, that I've seen at other times. What's the difference?

Beauty is in the eye (or should we say mind?) of the beholder. As is ugly. You can't have one with out the other, but both are based on nothing. A 6 inch rope is shorter than a 8, an 8 is shorter than a 10. The only way to know the difference is by comparison and then developing desire for or against whatever the differences we perceive there to be.

And then there is this word vanity. Vanity means "something that's worthless" - vain, no value. In our beauty culture we've changed the word to mean attention to one's self-beauty, but that is only one narrow application of this word. It is vain to obsess over beauty, it is also vain to obsess over "ugly". Neither has any value.

When I look in the mirror I see what is. When I see my wife, I see what is. Her looks cause me no grief nor joy, but our relationship can cause both - and yet even this must be overcome.

Maybe I'm rambling now...

I think your own self-aversion, painful as it is, is common with us all. We all share attributes that we don't like about ourselves, equally as much as you don't like this. It's like a job, all jobs have good and bad. Leaving this job to go to another one isn't going to release me from problems, mainly because wherever I go, there I am. And so it goes with relationships. I take myself into each one of them, thus the problem starts.

One thing I've found about every face I've ever observed (and yes, I'm an "observer of faces", mostly reading personality, mood, etc), is that the very first impression that hits my mind when someone is smiling is how attractive they are. Only after closer "observation" do I find things about them that I might not find attractive.

I believe all of us are attracted more to those who are content with our selves (sigh, so hard to do this - the self is the problem, to be content with our self is in itself not possible), people who exude happiness, and a relaxed acceptance of others.

And even this initial attraction must be done away with as it's based on emptiness. (Sorry, just had to throw that in.) Fortunately most people aren't busy throwing this initial attraction away. (Fortunately for the temporary ego who lives on being attractive, but ultimately it's not fortunate because the bearer of this subject-to-attractiveness nature suffers for having it).

But even in doing away with these attractions and aversions, I've found they have to come in steps. While I know it's vain for someone to wear make-up, and a health-hazard for someone to go to a tanning bed (just for two examples), and hope that one wouldn't do these things, I see that as the final destination (the not doing of these things). And the path to this final destination usually has to start with better self-esteem; and self-acceptance may only be achieved in the beginning by practicing these "vain" things. If someone needs to do "vain" things in order to first accept themselves, fine. As their self-acceptance grows, and ignorance is replaced, these things will be replaced by what is real (which I'm quite certain is nothing, in several different senses).

Now I feel like I'm sounding like a shrink-ologist.

Eventually we come to the place where there's no self to have esteem over, no self to accept, no ugly, no beauty, and we see our body, house, car, etc, only as tools that are subject to our will (yet another problem) to perform good in this world. I've seen that in glimpses, but it's still out of reach because I still obsess over "me".

Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2012, 08:50:24 AM »

I believe all of us are attracted more to those who are content with our selves (sigh, so hard to do this - the self is the problem, to be content with our self is in itself not possible), people who exude happiness, and a relaxed acceptance of others.



This is so true. There are times when I'm cruzing in a certain frame of mind which is a step or two more relaxed than normal and I notice people picking up on it, without me actually saying or doing anything, not even smiling at them. They respond. Then there is a distinct fear that will arise in such circumstances that tends to snap me back to normal reality, but the more I see it the more I remember not to shy away but instead to look at the mind as it moves to establish the status quo.

Certainly I've come accross some thoughts today about how this tendency for the human animal to have negative feeling/thoughts towards itself can be 'social useful' in the sense of Society's use of it.. In being able to have such negativity/belief/thought, the actual ability rather than just the content, it allows the human to be more easily controlled by others. It makes us 'conform'. We become controllable, and docile in the face of social hierachies. By bowing mentally to the images of genetic desireablilty, who ever controls those images has another means of controlling the population.

But enough of that, it seemed relevant to share, they are only passing observations, like 'that cloud looks like  an elephant', back to this moment now... ;)

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Matthew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2012, 09:24:25 AM »
You can't give up anything until you own it or own up to it or fully face it in the moment ...
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Cilla

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2012, 11:35:57 AM »
Ah as i didn't read the whole thread this time (not sure i've done it before either) i've just realised that your thread is more a diary and you probably didn't need my input anyway.

As to shrink ology, if you mean therapists be they psychologists or psychiartrists, they don't talk like this, except perhaps sometimes in books when they are theorising but certainly not in a clinical setting.

Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2012, 12:51:39 PM »
You can't give up anything until you own it or own up to it or fully face it in the moment ...

Hmm, yes, it seems to be the part that is 'right' about things lately, there is no forcing myself to be or do anything, so much more of what is there is there. thanks for the advice.

Cilla, no worries. Practice threads spring up around here from time to time, feel free to start your own, i find that they are periodically helpful. Though everything that has a beginning has an end   ;) For me the on going challenge is to relax into practice without striving while still getting it done. Writing things down has some level of accountability. I found out how thoroughly inconsistant and unsatisfactory my opinion is most of the time by re-reading them;  great fun!

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Matthew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2012, 01:20:27 PM »
You can't give up anything until you own it or own up to it or fully face it in the moment ...

Hmm, yes, it seems to be the part that is 'right' about things lately, there is no forcing myself to be or do anything, so much more of what is there is there. thanks for the advice.

It was not so much "advice" but more a "reflection" on where I perceived you to be coming from with your recent posting :)
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Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2012, 07:49:11 AM »
Incase anyone feels like 'sticking it to the man' today, see if this fits the bill;

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stop_murder_and_rape_for_profit/?copy

Give because you can..

A
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Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2012, 08:41:08 AM »
Been a couple of weeks since a post as I've been hanging out on the Dharma Overground a bit more. I've resurrected some of the actualist practices that were working last year before getting 'side tracked' with 'social identity' stuff and africa. Well africa wasn't so much a side track but a reality check.

anyway, been asking the question "How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?" with the purpose of find a way back to 'happy and harmless' as much as possible. Still getting a sort of awake moment, with a slight fearful chill, but also a trapped in my head feeling. Could be the new scratches on my glasses though...

Upped the sitting a little, especially on Sunday mornings when I get time to myself without the rabble, uh, I mean family. Still staring at my rock as a kasina which was interesting on sunday as I noticed in my 'getting comfortable' part of the sit that no matter where I put it (the rock) infront of me it never felt central. It was then i noticed that there was an internal emotional 'turning away' happening, what it straight in front is being shunned. I found that a really interesting thing, reminded me of a host of things about technique , especially 'mindfulness to the fore' by buddha. Also the social habit of turning to one side and not holding eye contact, there is a shifting of focus away from whatever is right infront of me.

Happiness levels are getting a little more stable, still think I'm most likely just getting to 'normal' -whatever that is. Freud called his work 'getting people back to the normal level of unhappiness', something like that!

Been thinking about Buddhas words about sources of pleasure. Somewhere he says there are three main types,

Sensual

Achievement

Letting Go

Today it dawned on me that the first two can be used to trigger the third if the sensual is simply 'enjoying having senses- being here at all- wonder etc', the achievement is 'actually practising, enjoying the moment that one remembers to be mindful etc'  leading to the letting go of the cause of stress ;)
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Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2012, 05:51:29 AM »
Yesterday and today I've been looking around me and saying to myself "this is amazing, this is so HD, look at this place" not because I feel it that much, but because, when you think about it, it is.
 ;)
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Andrew

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2012, 06:28:05 AM »
Been feeling down, frustrated and angry, for the last 24 hours. then today I was driving and realised 'this is where it all happened, this 'here and now' is where it all happened' All the pain, hurt, conditioning, happened right now, in this nowness, and this feeling is the same one, I have another opportunity to live this moment, to face it with calm and bring attention to where I am, here and now, rather living the illusion of having 'a past' or a 'future', there is only this nowness, and it all happened now, or otherwise said, it is all happening now, as I imagined it happened 'then'.

through chance i stopped at a hungry jacks (burger king) which is a long way from where I live, but is the same one I stopped at when running an errand on the day before my father died 6 years ago. It drove home the nowness of everything, that it is all here, everything is happening in my experience through the feeling of emotion perpetually now. Again, I can calmly be here, in this nowness, bringing that pain back to the actual world around me with calmness.

Refacing the here and now that has always been the stage and story, and has never come or gone.
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Vivek

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Re: Calmly going forward- Andrew's practice thread.
« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2012, 09:34:03 AM »
It's amazing how simple insights have such a profound impact. All we have to do, ever, is to be in the NOW, that's all. In the now, our past problems are only memories; in the now, our worries and anxieties about the future, are only imaginations.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?