Author Topic: Can you connect with positive thoughts and disconnect with negative thoughts?  (Read 588 times)

curiousperson

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Multiple, mainly Vipassana
It is my understanding the Vipassana meditation aims to reduce the power that thoughts have over us not only during meditation but also in everyday life. While being too closely connected with some thoughts makes us feel bad, being connected with other thoughts makes us feel good. Is it possible to dissociate from the bad thoughts while staying connected to the good thoughts?
And as a second part of the question, beyond momentary happiness, some thoughts can be therapeutic (or detrimental) in the long term when you deeply connect with them. The ability of psychedelics to help people deeply connect with certain thoughts seems to be part of the reason why psychedelics can be therapeutic (or detrimental). If meditation weakens the connection between us and our thoughts and reduces their power over us, could this limit the therapeutic effect of psychedelics or certain positive philosophies? Is there a way to differentiate therapeutic thoughts from detrimental ones and to connect with only the former? Thank you all for your input!

stillpointdancer

  • stillpointdancer
  • Member
  • Retired teacher, deepening understanding of Dharma
    • Insight meditation
    • Exploring the results of 30 years of meditating
It is my understanding the Vipassana meditation aims to reduce the power that thoughts have over us not only during meditation but also in everyday life. While being too closely connected with some thoughts makes us feel bad, being connected with other thoughts makes us feel good. Is it possible to dissociate from the bad thoughts while staying connected to the good thoughts?
And as a second part of the question, beyond momentary happiness, some thoughts can be therapeutic (or detrimental) in the long term when you deeply connect with them. The ability of psychedelics to help people deeply connect with certain thoughts seems to be part of the reason why psychedelics can be therapeutic (or detrimental). If meditation weakens the connection between us and our thoughts and reduces their power over us, could this limit the therapeutic effect of psychedelics or certain positive philosophies? Is there a way to differentiate therapeutic thoughts from detrimental ones and to connect with only the former? Thank you all for your input!

You could see vipassana meditation as a was of changing your relationship with your thoughts. They arise, you note they have arisen, and you let them go. In this sense you treat all thoughts as the same and reserve judgement on them. Looking at the issue in terms of your first question you get the opportunity to develop as a person, with more freedom to deal with the suffering that Buddhism talks about.

As to the main aim of your question, vipassana is only one type of meditation, one string to your bow, if you like. There are others such as mindfulness meditation where you deal more with what you are talking about. You develop mindfulness on the mat and then take it with you into everyday life. If you are talking therapy, then it is closest to Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) that has been developed for this purpose. This is a good introduction to types currently offered by the NHS in the UK: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/types-of-therapy/

In terms of 'happy thought' strategies in Buddhism there are things like body scan meditations, but the idea is to be relaxed with your body and mind, rather than pursuing some happy thought. Such thoughts are dealt with as transient and not really useful in your development, in the same way that unhappy thoughts aren't either. Keeping all this in mind I think that some kind of cognitive therapy is probably a better short term strategy than vipassana meditation alone.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Goofaholix

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Theravada / Insight Meditation
It's possible to do that, but then it wouldn't be Vipassana.

Vipassana is about clearly seeing what is going on objectively without reactivity.  It doesn't matter whether thought is positive or negative thought is just thought.  If anything you want to engage with negative thought more because these are the recurring themes that drag you down and by engaging one sees them clearly until they lose their hold over you.

Generally you engage with thought as a process, it's usually not recommended to get involved in the story as that's what sucks you in, and don't judge the relative negativity or positivity of that.

Having said that there are times when you may need to inject some positive thoughts to lift you up a bit, this if what metta practice is for as an example.

curiousperson

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Multiple, mainly Vipassana
Thank you! So would loving kindness meditation be an example of metta practice?

Goofaholix

  • Member
  • Write something about yourself here
    • Theravada / Insight Meditation
Thank you! So would loving kindness meditation be an example of metta practice?

Lovingkindness is the English translation of metta.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
It is my understanding the Vipassana meditation aims to reduce the power that thoughts have over us not only during meditation but also in everyday life.

Vipassana means insight, it is a quality, or fruit, outcome, of meditation. Shamatha means calm or tranquility. It is the other main quality one first develops through practice. Equanimity is also important. Meditation brings that which is unconscious into consciousness - so when you begin practicing you notice how thoughts have a life of their own in a sense. They rise up from subconscious processes into the conscious mind and we identify with them. Through the development of tranquillity and insight we start to undo the power of subconscious processes, we identify with them less, we see they are not "our thoughts" but really they are the result of the conditioning and habits of the mind.

Quote
While being too closely connected with some thoughts makes us feel bad, being connected with other thoughts makes us feel good. Is it possible to dissociate from the bad thoughts while staying connected to the good thoughts?

Good and bad are relative judgements. Equanimity, tranquillity and insight give us the power to step back from the habituated mind and see more clearly, more calmly and less judgementally.

Quote
And as a second part of the question, beyond momentary happiness, some thoughts can be therapeutic (or detrimental) in the long term when you deeply connect with them.

All subconscious thought is not going to bring long term happiness. The development of metta/kindness/compassion/sympathetic joy in tandem with the development of insight/tranquillity and equanimity will lead to long term joy. The undoing of negative thought patterns and the reduction of habituated thought patterns. These become hard wired into your neurological circuits - and meditation undoes this and re-wires the brain. You become less concerned with past/future and live more in the present.

Quote
The ability of psychedelics to help people deeply connect with certain thoughts seems to be part of the reason why psychedelics can be therapeutic (or detrimental). If meditation weakens the connection between us and our thoughts and reduces their power over us, could this limit the therapeutic effect of psychedelics or certain positive philosophies?

This is an area that was under much research in the 60's - and then went underground as the substances that can be used therapeutically were banned. It never went away and there has always been a large body of therapists working "under the radar" to help heal trauma in particular through the use of MDMA, LSD, psilocybins and other psychoactive compounds. It has seen a renaissance in the last few years as clinicians have been given licence in some countries to start exploring the therapeutic benefits again  on a limited basis.

The development of mindfulness, insight, tranquillity and equanimity will only enhance the effects in these contexts - they will in no way reduce the benefits.

Quote
Is there a way to differentiate therapeutic thoughts from detrimental ones and to connect with only the former? Thank you all for your input!

As you gain insight through practice you will know better what thoughts are wholesome and those which are not; those which add to your wellbeing and those which do not. They may not be the ones you belive them to be when you start the work of learning who you really are.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

curiousperson

  • Member
  • Who are you?
    • Multiple, mainly Vipassana
Thanks Matthew! After practicing more over the past few days, this is all starting to make sense. I am realizing the difference between fully conscious thought and subconscious thought.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
You're welcome curiousperson. When starting, most thought is far from fully conscious. This is where the key components of the practice described from the link on the homepage come into play:

Sitting mindful of the feelings in the body as you breathe in and out, and calming bodily fabrications as you breathe in and out, you will induce the Parasympathetic nervous system. This turns on the calming "rest and digest" state - through activating the vagus nerve. The mind follows the body into calm. Thoughts arise from the subconscious and intrude, yet we progressively learn to not attach, just by noticing the arising of these thoughts, maintaining equanimity (non judgement). As calm develops in the mind, the time spent being mindful of the body and breath increases, intrusive thoughts begin to diminish. Insight then grows, in tandem with deepening levels of calm. None of this involves a great deal of force: enough effort to maintain the practice but not so much as to intrude upon the calm you are learning to inhabit.

Keep it up :)
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
1 Replies
2634 Views
Last post February 03, 2010, 09:00:00 PM
by Matthew
3 Replies
1601 Views
Last post January 01, 2011, 05:18:11 PM
by siddharthgode
1 Replies
1731 Views
Last post April 07, 2011, 08:55:57 AM
by Andrew
2 Replies
1560 Views
Last post March 07, 2013, 03:34:22 AM
by siddharthgode
15 Replies
4266 Views
Last post July 04, 2013, 10:36:02 PM
by Matthew
2 Replies
1145 Views
Last post April 17, 2015, 07:28:46 PM
by GooperMC
5 Replies
2361 Views
Last post January 17, 2016, 08:30:58 PM
by Matthew