Yesterday was a death day for me as a friend of mine, a cat friend, died as I was holding him. It was a dad process. After he died the emotions rose up within me and I had to go outside to dwell in the sorrow for a few minutes.
This whole experience was very rich emotionally. I would not have wanted to have missed this drama. Yet, because of my clarity of mind, I could see that it was not real or permanent, so I was free from the fear of getting trapped in the drama or the discomfort and pain of the sadness. I could enjoy the richness of the moment.
Many years ago when my father died suddenly I was trapped in the sorrow and fear of that experience. I realized my own mortality and the idea of my death sat with me for months or even years. It became a theme of my life, the sorrow, and fear of death and destruction. I was trapped in the discomfort and pain of this idea and it affected all aspects of my life.
It was not until I developed the skills of clarity that I was able to see that death is just a thought, and electrochemical impulse traveling along the neurons of the brain, and that it had no power over me except for my habitual emotional reaction to this thought, which was something I could change.
And so, I started to work on developing the skills of relaxing and not reacting to thoughts.
I accidentally discovered a “spiritual” hack, a way to dramatically improve the effectiveness of my meditations on the quality of my life experience. AND, this hack also dramatically improve the quality of my relationships and experience with other people.
I call this discovery Meditation in Conversation. That is because I am basically meditating or practicing mindfulness DURING a conversation or even when listening to a lecture.
It started for me when I was in college and I would go to various meetings and lectures. Often I found that I violently disagreed with what was being said and it would take me days or even weeks to let go of my inner “dis-ease”.
Years later, when the stress of the world had finally gotten to me and my mental and physical health was seriously challenged, I went “seeking” a better understanding of myself. This is the beginning of my “spiritual” seeking but I was just trying to understand my mind and body better to have a healthier life experience.
In my seeking, I traveled around the world reading all sorts of books and listening to all sorts of teachers from many different traditions or perspectives.
One of the things I learned about was meditation. At first, it was very difficult but with patience and practice, I did master it. Because it felt good to experience the inner peace I was gaining I would practice meditation at every opportunity I could get. Most of the time when I was listening to a teacher talk I was just meditating and being mindful of my body/mind’s reactions or behaviors in relationship to what I was hearing. I noticed that I had physiological reactions to some of the things people say.
At some point, I remembered what I had learned in college psychology classes about Pavlov’s Dog and how that dog was programmed or conditioned to have a physiological response to artificial stimuli. For those who don’t know what I am referring to let me explain. Pavlov was a Russian behavior scientist. In his lab, he had a dog and every day he would bring the dog his food. When the dog saw the food he started salivating, a natural part of the digestive process. So Pavlov started ringing a bell when he brought the food and that conditioned the dog to associate in his mind the bell with food. Eventually, Pavlov could just ring the bell and the dog would salivate. The sound of the bell was an artificial stimulus that was producing a physiological response in the dog.
I recognize that I, too, had been “programmed” or conditioned to have psychological and physiological responses to words. For instance, if someone were to say to me that I was “bad” I noticed I would physically contract to greater or lesser degrees, probably because at some point or several points I was spanked for being “bad” as a child. Either way, the physiological reaction was a contraction and that was not comfortable.
Naturally, our ego does not like to think that we can be programmed like a robot or dog to have certain reactions, but the reality is we can and are programmed. People who are honest enough with themselves to admit this can then start working to re-program or condition themselves away from reactions or behaviors that no longer work for them.
That is what Meditation in Conversation is all about. The first step is just mindfulness; watching our mental, emotional, and physical reactions to what people are saying (or what we are reading or seeing).
I want to relate this process to “potty training” a child. We all went through that (I hope) so we can somewhat relate. I remember my parents potty training my much younger brother. At first, they would just ask Mike, my brother, if he needed to go potty. This was, of course, trying to get him to FEEL what he was feeling in his body or to raise his consciousness of his bowels and bladder. Could he detect the need to relieve himself? Normally, at first, he couldn’t tell and he would soil his diapers, but eventually, he would say, “I think so” and off to the bathroom he would go with my parent. In the bathroom, they would put him on his little potty, turn on the water dripping (to stimulate peeing) and say, “OK, now go potty.” This second stage of the process is where Mike was supposed to learn HOW to control his bladder and bowels within his body. This is gaining mastery over his body. Of course, this does not happen instantly but eventually, we all figure it out and gain control of an inner function of the body.
That is part of the process of Meditation in Conversation, we first practice mindfulness to gain awareness in our body then we can gain mastery over that process. In so doing we are stopping “soiling” ourselves with messy emotional responses to what life is offering.
I am sure that everyone can relate to times they were in conversation and got angry or upset in some way that causes them to blurt out something that they regretted later. This is to say nothing of the discomfort or even pain of our emotional reactions to what is said. Well, this Meditation in Conversation process will help you gain mastery over yourself in a way that enables you to control your responses so that you can “relieve” yourself when it is appropriate.
And, as in normal potty training, we are not trained to constrict our bowels or bladder, only to do so until we are in the bathroom. We don’t want to constrict our emotions or expressions either, but we would like to have civil conversations instead of acting like a two-year-old and blurting out whatever we are feeling and interrupting whoever is currently speaking.
More so, after a conversation, we don’t want to be left with an emotional trauma that scars us. This type of damage is only a product of our emotional reactions to a situation or conversation.
Sometimes it is not possible to express ourselves to someone, so with the skills one develops in Meditation in Conversation we can even totally release the “need” to express ourselves. I did this after my father died and I felt a very strong desire to express to him how I felt about him. Of course, I could not express it to him so I had to let that desire go. Some people have journaled to do the same thing or wrote a letter then burned it. We don’t always have the opportunity to sit down and write something, so the skill to let it go internally is better.
The second step is to learn to relax and let go of our conditioned response to various words or the thoughts they produce. Normal meditation says to just watch the thoughts come and go and EVENTUALLY, they will diminish in intensity. But I learned a “hack” here from studying psychology, physiology, and substance abuse. I learned that thoughts were electrochemical impulses traveling along the neurons of the brain and down into the body. The “electro” part is an electrical charge that travels along the outside of the neuron but when it gets to the end of the neuron or synapse then a chemical process happens where it/we release various neurotransmitters that either enable or suppress the electrical impulse. Neurotransmitters like cortisol, noradrenaline, and adrenaline enhance the electrical impulse which then dissipates into the muscles causing them to contract. You may remember this from biology class in high school where if you were like me you bisected a frog and as part of that process, at least we did this, we shocked the separated leg of the frog and it jumped or the muscles contracted. So when these “negative” neurotransmitters are released they cause contraction in the body, which, if held, we experience as stress, discomfort, or even pain. Thus I call those negative.
On the other hand, there are “positive” neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These neurotransmitters diminish the electrical charge traveling down the neuron so that that charge does not dissipate into the muscles causing them to contract but instead cause the muscles to relax, which we experience as positive or pleasurable.
When we are “doing” emotions such as joy or anger or love or depression or gratitude we are just intentionally (if not consciously) releasing the related neurotransmitters based on particular thoughts we have. For instance, if we are afraid we are having thoughts of the future, maybe the very near future but still the future, and then we are releasing the “negative” neurotransmitters that can give us power on how to deal physically with the danger of some sort. But if those perceived dangers are not immediate then the electrical charge just disparate into the whole body cause all the muscles to contract, which we call stress and experience as uncomfortable, painful, or negative. If we are experiencing joy we are releasing the “positive” neurotransmitters that cause us to relax and feel good.
Another benefit of Meditation in Conversation is that the skills one develops liberate us to be more open and honest with others. Why? Well, as we gain skill in relaxing around our thoughts we no longer will fear OURSELVES and our reactions to what people say to us. We have learned how to relax and let go of the sometimes hurtful words.
“Blessed be those who are not offended in me.” Jesus
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was all about blessedness, which means a state of supreme happiness. This is what we all want. Meditation is blessedness training. Nobody wants to be offended, upset, or angered. These behaviors are just our habits. Meditation in Conversation is developing the skill of respecting and loving ourselves; learning to NOT abuse ourselves physically or emotionally.
In my town, Boulder, Colorado, there used to be lots of Seekers, spiritual seekers. Today, it seems the town is mostly filled with seekers of money.
Oh, there are the Fighters here too, people who want to fight anyone who disagrees with them. These are the those who think of themselves as the Left or Right, Democrats or Republicans, religious, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and the like. But the fighters are only creating more darkness and they live in Hell with their constant battle to change the world. The Fighters are motivated by fear and hatred, war dominates their life.
Seekers are people aware enough to recognize that the only real change comes from within, FIRST. Seekers want to find the light within so that they can share that with others.
I used to be a Seeker until I found what I was looking for. Now I feel attracted to being around Seeker so that I might be of service to those who seek that light within. For a while, after finding I traveled the world over and particularly this country looking for anyone who might be seeking the light. But after years of seeking the Seekers and not finding them, I came back to Boulder where I had found many Seekers before, but they were gone. Seekers don’t tend to be into money and Boulder had become so expensive that the Seekers left, I guess.
I am sure that there are others here, who like me have found a way to stay in beautiful Boulder with all the physically healthy options. But have those who were Seekers found that light within that they no longer seek it, or have they given up seeking that light and still see the world as all screwed up?
On NextDoor, there seem to be more fighters and those who have surrendered to the darkness than Finders. If there are more people like me who found what they were looking for then are they interested in finding team members to help them practice that light, to practice a healthy lifestyle for BOTH body and mind?
Or are there still some Seekers here who want to hang out with Finders so that they can develop the skills of the light?
If so, let me know and I will create a way for us to connect.
We all have been taught or trained to have emotional reactions to words. And we have been taught to lie to ourselves and blame others for our uncomfortable emotional reactions.
For thousands of years, people have tried to encourage and teach others to take responsibility for their own reactions, and to practice not taking offense at what people say. It takes effort to re-train ourselves to not be emotionally reactive to what people say. In my experience, few people have the desire or willingness to make the effort to overcome their conditioning. BUT, it is possible to overcome the world’s influence on us IF we are willing to make the effort.
Thousands of years ago when people started talking about this they called this practice “watching”, but today we call it mindfulness. It is just the practice of watching ourselves and our reactions to what people say and deeper than that is to watch our thoughts and our reactions to our thoughts. Then it is about learning to relax or let go of those uncomfortable emotional reactions. There are lots of “hacks” or shortcuts to learning how to relax if a person is open to them. Seek and you will find…or ask me.
The eastern spiritual traditions are about finding peace; the western traditions are about passion. By combining BOTH strategies we can expedite our spiritual evolution and increase the quality of our life experience.
In this podcast, I talk about how I unintentionally combined the strategies of the east and west and how that profoundly helped me on my journey to Heaven/Nirvana/Enlightenment.
Ancient words that point at an experience that anyone can have who is open to it. Modern understanding has given us new insights into ancient methods that help a person open up to these experiences or states of consciousness. It is also important to recognize that a large segment of society does not want anyone to experience Heaven, Nirvana or Enlightenment, which is why they condition people to reject the very idea that anyone can experience this.
Outline of conversation:
• Most people have heard these words but don’t know what they really mean.
• Words that point at something very good
• Ancient people have talked about them
• Religious and spiritual people talk about them
• Often talked about or imagined as impossible to experience
• The everyday experience that we don’t realize is amazing
• Enlightened people just realize its value
• Practice makes perfect
• How to practice
• A community can help to remember
• Mind programmed by society to forget; Others benefit by our forgetting
• NOW is all that is real; thoughts of past or future are distractions from the reality of NOW; ego/survival mechanism over activity motivates us to look at past and future and ignore NOW
• Heaven is healthy; relaxes the body and removes dis-ease, tension, and stress
• How Neurotransmitters work
• How the practice serves humanity, radiating outward that others can feel.
• Often to simple for complex minds to accept o Jesus pointed this out when he talked about being like a child to enter heaven
Rebuilding a life after addiction isn’t easy. Addressing the physical and psychological issues that caused your substance abuse in the first place is an around-the-clock battle in many cases. Combined with the pressure of providing for your needs and those of your family, it can feel like too much to bear. To minimize stress and frustration that could threaten your sobriety, you must be patient, both with the process and with yourself.
One day at a time
Whether you are in a 12-step program or another type of recovery process, the “one day at a time” adage is true for everyone. Getting your life back on track takes time. Focus only on handling the matters of the day to avoid overwhelming yourself. Some days it will be all you can do to stay sober, but doing so will give you a win even if you do nothing else. Other days you may have the constitution to tackle additional matters or self or everyday life. Either way, all consideration of the future should be in relation to what you can do here and now to make it positive.
Finding employment helps those in recovery maintain a purpose for continuing that journey and builds a positive routine. It’s important to be patient, network continuously and utilize all resources that are available to you. Leverage people within your recovery network to help you find your next opportunity. Be sure to express your gratitude to those who offer assistance, even if the opportunity doesn’t work out.
Changes with dual purpose
Part of the recovery process includes making changes to yourself and your routine to help avoid relapse. While it is incredibly important, those changes don’t have to be simply for the sake of changing. Instead, focus the changes on other goals to help you get double the benefits. If you’d like to gain weight or slim down while toning up, focus your fitness routine on weightlifting. If you are environmentally minded, your healthy and nutritious diet might mean avoiding GMO products. Whatever your passions or personal beliefs, actively incorporate those into your decisions.
If you are changing your appearance by getting a new haircut or clothing, opt for a style that will help you look the part as you search for your next job opportunity. If you plan to move so you can avoid relapse, consider a supportive area that puts you closer to family, work, a gym or even somewhere you find relaxing.
Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Taking each day one at a time means tackling each challenge. Focus on finding employment and making changes that matter. With determination, purpose and motivation to change, it won’t be long until the successes out number the setbacks.
I wonder how many people are aware that life can be experienced as Perfect, Heavenly or Nirvana right NOW. It does not seem to be that a lot of people are aware that they can have a perfect life, live in a perfect world and have all the peace, happiness, joy and love that they want, and they can have that right NOW, this very moment, IF they are open to it.
I interact with so many people who seem to have forgotten this or who maybe never knew this. They look out at the world and see it as all fucked up; filled with evil and darkness…they seem to dwell on the idea that we are doomed.
Mind you that not everyone is that dark, depressed and depressing, but that most people seem to have that sickness to some degree or another, not being aware that this darkness is entirely optional, subjective and voluntary.
Sometimes people acknowledge that they have a choice, but then they go back to choosing the darkness. I see this as only a habit, a very bad or unhealthy habit. As a person who sees myself as one with all these people I do for them as I would want them do for me, which is to help me overcome this unhealthy habit. I do this by reminding people they have a choice.
It is surprising how many people do not want to be reminded they have a choice, as if they WANT to miserable.
I knew a woman who took this attitude to its logical conclusion last year; she died at 50 years of age. She was so miserable in her life that she admitted she wanted to die. So when she was diagnosed with cancer she said she was glad. She had no interest in waking up and realizing that her misery was a choice. I suppose, given the culture she came from, that her fear of guilt was what kept her so afraid to even look at what she was doing that was causing her so much misery.
And I suppose that is why so many people HATE feedback on their choices that are making them so miserable.
Personally, I LOVE feedback on whatever I am doing that might be causing me misery. I often do get feedback from people on the things I am doing that THEY don’t like. These people tend to be the miserable people and they imagine I want to be around them, so they ‘give me advice’ on how to be around people like them so that I, TOO, can enable them to stay in their misery. I say ‘too’ here because most of their friends don’t really care about them, they just want to enable them to stay in their misery, just as they are. Misery loves company, they say.
And to be honest, these miserable people are not that miserable around most people, just people who are honest with them. Most people are not honest so that is not a really big problem.
Yet, these people look out on the world and see it as ugly, sick, evil, bad or fucked up, and that is the quality of their life experience whenever they happen to look around themselves.
I do care about these people but I don’t want to enable them to stay stuck in their hell and I want to be around people who don’t want to stay in their hell.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…and so it ugliness. We CAN change how we see things and thus change how we experience what life is offering. It is an option TO THOSE WHO ARE OPEN TO IT.
I guess I have come to accept that not only will I never be appreciated in life, but that I will probably never be TOLERATED by anyone. This is sad to me but understandable.
The book I am writing, Mindful Listening, is designed to address this challenge that people have with other people, particularly people like me who speak our minds and who find judgment as a positive thing in life.
It is somewhat painful to write this, a pain that I not only accept but appreciate. I feel the pain because I care about people. Yet, I don’t feel trapped in this pain; I recognize I always have a choice.
I am feeling loneliness and loneliness is something I have written about before as being a CHOICE. I have pointed out that it is silly to feel lonely given that there are 7+ billion people on the planet. The only reason a person is feeling lonely is because they do not have the courage to reach out and connect with people.
Yet, at this time, I feel that I have TRIED to reach out and connect with people, and at every turn I have been rejected and shunned by those people.
Behind my loneliness is my feeling the pain of people’s fear they have of themselves and their reactions what I stimulate in them. I want to feel this loneliness, this pain, for it connects me to people and helps to motivate me to find a way to help people.
I rarely dream of interacting with people any more. If I do I imagine I am pissing off people (POP) as a talk radio DJ once described it. To me, POP is about upsetting people, upsetting their slumber, waking them up. I imagine that someday I will go back to public speaking where I intentionally say things that will upset someone, if not everyone, and then point out that only those who are asleep can be upset, and that my book, Mindful Listening, shows people how to develop the ‘ears to hear’ and that will enable them to ‘overcome the world’ as Jesus talked about.
One challenge with this ‘dream’ is that in practice when I do such things there is a lot of animosity directed at me and I still have a habit of reacting to that animosity with tension or resistance, which creates a lot of discomfort for me. One benefit of the practice is that I get to work on my skills of loving myself IN SPITE of the animosity directed toward me. Sometimes I feel intimidated by the challenge and other times I feel inspired by the benefit. When I remember to practice loving myself then I choose the inspiration over the intimidation.
Of course, I just did this as I was writing this.
Practice is repetition and building a habit. I get lots of practice living with the person I am living with. She most often does not like me, or at least right now does not like me much, so she is constantly judging and rejecting me. So I get lots of practice being at peace with judgment and rejection and embracing the habits of Emotional Self Care or loving myself.
I am so grateful to the universe that I was privileged enough to be able to wake up and recognize the value of things like Emotional Self Care and the value of loving myself. I can see how others might not see or understand the value of such things, particularly as they seek out emotional care from others. For them, relationships are all about finding others who will stroke their egos and comfort them both physically and emotionally.
Yet, they cannot see nor will they even look at the inherent fear they feel at the thought that those people can and probably will reject them or leave them at some point in their life. Although this may not be relevant to them in the immediate situation they still subconsciously think about it and carry with them the fear of this scenario.
Most people live in denial of this but it can be exposed if one talks to them about it and their reaction is often powerful and very negative. Words are such a powerful tool for exposing people inherent dishonesty, particularly their dishonesty with themselves.
Since I am often one who sees these incongruities in a person’s life, and one who sometimes points them out, people find that being around me is intolerable. Sometimes I don’t even have to say anything for a person to recognize that I have realized their incongruities, which makes them uncomfortable with me.
After a while of being around this discomfort and associating that we me people no longer want to even tolerate my presence. I wish I could find people who are like me, for I would love to be around someone who would care enough to point out my incongruities, the incongruities that are inherently causing me internal discomfort.