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
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.
Many times in my life someone has said something to me that upset me to the core of my being. Sometimes I was so upset that I put out of my mind what the person said, but the effect of what they said stayed with me…I was devastated.
Originally at the time I could not see ‘The Gift’ in this experience but later as I watched how this experience manifested in my world I could see that in reality it was a gift, probably one of the greatest gifts that person could have given me, for they were inviting me to wake up to what I was thinking and doing that was creating such devastation in my world. They were inviting me to choose to love myself and overcome my habit of not loved myself.
This is NOT something that is easy to see, particularly if one is still in the devastation or the reverberations of that devastation. When in the drama of the devastation I would usually rationalize within myself, and sometimes with others, that I was in the ‘right’ and that the person who upset me was wrong. The normal progression of this thinking was for me to see them as someone to avoid for they were not considerate of my feelings or emotions. Never would I look at the fact that I was the one who was not being considerate of my feelings or emotions, I would just automatically assume the other person was responsible and I would go into some form of “righteous indignation” that everybody around me would support. Naturally I would want to ‘punish’ them in some way and often that meant I would avoid them at the least.
This is a very hard thing to overcome, for our entire society or social support structures encourage us to continue in our unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving. If everyone thinks this way then can it be wrong?
It took a tremendous amount of focus and discipline for me to see that it really was me that was the uncaring one here; I was the one who was not caring about my feelings and emotions.
A major transition happened for me in my world when I began to see that when people upset me with their words that this was a gift and I started appreciating it as a gift. The very act of appreciation was healing my emotional wound or re-training myself to react in a way that was healthy for me.
Today, I cannot remember all the people who have given me this wonderful gift so I cannot share with them now just how valuable I feel that gift was to me. This thought saddens me but I accept it as part of the process.
Now, often, I see myself as the bearer of “The Gift” to people and most of the time the person who is receiving that gift does not have the presence of mind to be aware that it is a gift. It has been a discipline for me to be the bearer of the gift and to recognize that most people will not have that presence of mind to appreciate the gift, at least in the present moment and maybe never be able to think of me and be grateful for what I have given them.
The ability to see the ‘big picture’ here is important for our own peace of mind. It takes work to have the ability to see that in the long run most people who are gifted with an awaking experience like this will not be able to see the benefit of it when it is happening but that in the long run they will be better off because of it.
Of course, not all upsetting people is gifting them in a way that will sooner or later benefit them. The best way to do this is when you can point out to them how it was their reactions that caused them harm and not what you said to them. Still, most people will not get this, particularly in the present moment, but later that ‘seed’ of an idea can manifest into some self-knowledge or realization that will grow into a changed behavior that will benefit them in the long run.
When I think of this gifting I often think of Jesus and how he was gifting the people of his time. Obviously most of them did not get that they were getting a gift; they just saw Jesus as some jerk that was pushing their buttons and someone to get rid of. Hopefully, with all that animosity directed back at Jesus he was able to take care of himself recognize that in the long run he was serving those others and humanity in general.
I also think of Gandhi and Martin Luther King as they upset a lot of people in their time and most of those people could not see the Gift that they were receiving.
I recognize that it takes a particularly caring individual to make it a habit to gift people in the way that Jesus, Gandhi and MLK did, but we all can and do at times gift one other with our honesty, and honesty that can wake them up to a better life experience. The important thing to remember is that we are gifting them and that in the long run they will be better off if they are even a little bit open to it.
After each mass killing either here or abroad we hear a lot of people talking about how this could have been adverted, how we could have prevented this type of tragedies. Or they start to ask questions on what we can do to prevent these types of tragedies.
What people completely fail to look at is that the world has changed radically and we are only going to see more and more of these types of tragedies. No amount of legislation will overcome the world wide trend of more people crowding into a small planet. Even with sufficient resources for all these people, which we do not have, there will always be pressure with the crowds and some people will crack under that pressure. It is a function of physics and biology that cannot be denied.
Some people will claim we could outlaw the guns used in such killings, but they fail to recognize that guns are outlawed in China and they have these mass killings with knives. China is more of police state then the U.S. and they cannot stop these kinds of tragedies.
Can we avoid these tragedies by avoiding the pressure cookers of big cities? Santa Barbara, CA and Newtown, CT are not consider to be pressure cookers like like LA or NY so people can reasonably think that these would be the last places one would expect these types of tragedies to occur. But they did occur there and they will start to occur at many more such places in the future.
So what is an intelligent person to do?
The first and foremost thing to remember is that we have to take care of ourselves first, which means that we have to remain calm and centered so that we can have the clarity of mind that will enable us to see the best course of action. This calm or blessed state as Jesus called it is not something one ‘chooses’ in the moment but one that comes with practice. Mindfulness and meditation is just such a practice.
Disaster or tragedy may befall any of us in this modern world but those who can remain calm and collected have a better chance of survival than those prone to reacting emotionally to dramatic events. This capacity to remain calm and collected does not come easy; you cannot take a pill for it. Practice is the only way we know of today to acquire the skill necessary to manage OURSELVES when crisis comes.
Mindfulness and meditation is the practice of developing mastery over our bodies and our minds that so that we can be the master over ourselves instead of external situations or people controlling or manipulating us.
It is also worth noting that those who perpetuate these types of tragedies are NOT meditators, so that teaching mindfulness and meditation to everyone would help diminish the number and severity of such crimes. We can each do our part by first “removing the log from our own eye” and learning how to use mindfulness and meditation in our own lives. Then we can help others by sharing what we have found and demonstrating the advantages we have found from such self-mastery.