Tag Archives | Meditation

Ten Obstacles to Sane Spirituality

EctoplasmicSnotJulian Walker wrote this excellent overview of New Age flakiness, and gives some corrective measures.

via Elephant Journal:

I am passionate about the relationships between three things:

> inquiry-based practices (yoga, meditation, bodywork and ecstatic dance happen to be my favorites)

> critical thinking (also called “viveka” in yogic parlance, or discriminating wisdom)

> and shadow work (after Jung – the psychological idea that we have a “shadow” that is where we hide the emotions, experiences, thoughts and aspects of self that we would rather not face. Shadow work then is the process of courageously turning inward to bring honest awareness and compassionate attention to this place.)

Having been a yoga teacher for the last 18 years, and having spent my adult life swimming in the waters of popular spirituality, my sense is that more often than not these three elements are missing both in theory and practice. My sense is that this comes down to one revelatory observation.

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2013 – Year of the Witch (Eight Bells Edition)

eight bells pictureEvery now and again you have moments in your life where profound realizations sort of creep up on you out of nowhere. I think it was because of a music nerd Facebook (friend me) discussion I became engaged with about guitar players years back that it hit me. Out of nowhere, I quite suddenly became acutely aware of the fact that right off the top of my head I could drop like 30 of my biggest guitar heroes and only one would be a heroine. That can’t be right, can it? I had to go through it about a 100 more fucking times because I couldn’t believe it. I had, Melynda Jackson from Subarachnoid Space, and errr…errr…umm…errr…no one. I mean, obviously Nancy Wilson, but as much as I like some Heart, I’ve never really ranked her as an influence on what I do specifically.

What a paternal head fuck our culture is.… Read the rest

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You’re Not a Monkey When You’re Stoned!

The title to this piece is something that randomly popped into my head when I was Occult ganj-i-tating a few months back. I wrote it down on my Facebook page (friend me for strangeness) and ultimately just dismissed it as a funny song title idea until the next few weeks found me catching up on Mad Men. Of course! With weed laws loosening and legal weed a reality in my home state of Washington, we’re going to need some slick marketing copy to make this stuff the center of our economy (as it rightfully should be), and who better to do that than a chronically stoned super freak like me? “You’re Not a Monkey When You’re Stoned.” What a great tag line (pot marketing people, call me), but Christ, you really don’t need a hypnotic tag line to sell this stuff. As I’ve found out first hand as a small time dealer, shit basically sells itself. Here’s why. Life is bullshit, pot can help! Man, that’s another great one. Someone should really hire my ass here because I could just keep going with these. But seriously, chances are, if you’re not among the supremely wealthy minority of privileged fucks running things, you probably have to work a day job that makes you want to blow your brains out a lot of the time. See, life is bullshit. I have no idea what the architects of this reality were thinking with all that, but the good news is that pot can take you far far away from everything, really fucking quick...
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Better Dating Through Mind Control

HumanmindHarris O’Malley writes at the Good Men Project:

Getting better at dating is hard enough.

It gets even harder when it feels like your own mind is fighting back against your attempts to improve yourself.

When I was younger, I used to be a chronic insomniac. I’d be physically tired, but I could never actually get to sleep; my body would be exhausted but I could never get my brain to quiet down long enough for me to relax and pass out. Every night became an exercise in what I called “riding the maelstrom”1a mental whirlpool of worst-case scenarios, self-recrimination, anxieties and doubts. I would start to drift off to sleep when suddenly I would remember something stupid I’d done that day—“Why did I say that to Emily, oh Christ I’m such a fucking idiot, no wonder I can’t get a girlfriend see this is why you’re a loser.

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Is LSD A Gateway Drug To Buddhism?

Dr. Rick Strassman, a psychiatric researcher with a specialization in psychotropic drugs, on the "enlightenment experience" and hallucinogens as a pathway for Westerners into Buddhism and Hinduism:
I went to a Zen temple in my early 20s, and, ever the scientist, every chance I got to speak to a monk one on one, I asked every one of them if they had tripped on psychedelics and how important their trips were in their decision to become a monk. And I'd say 99% of these junior monks in their 20s all got their start on LSD.
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Spiritual Bypassing: Using Spirituality To Avoid Pain

Author and psychotherapist Robert Augustus Masters outlines a pervasive phenomenon in contemporary New Age spirituality, spiritual bypassing:

Via Reality Sandwich:

Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.

Part of the reason for this is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, either personally or collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing “solutions,” regardless of how much suffering such “remedies” may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects.

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Scientists Declare Buddhist Monk The World’s Happiest Person

Happiness is a gamma wave. Via Oddity Central:

Matthieu Ricard was declared the happiest man on Earth by a group of scientists after it was discovered his brain produces a level of gamma waves never before reported in the field of neuroscience.

A former molecular geneticist who left his life and career behind to discover the secrets of Buddhism, Ricard is now one of the most celebrated monks in the Himalayas and a trusted advisor of the Dalai Lama. In 2009, neuroscientist Richard Davidson wired up the French monk’s head with 256 sensors as part of a research project on hundreds of advanced practitioners of meditation.

The scans showed something remarkable: when meditating on compassion, Ricard’s brain produced a level of gamma waves linked to consciousness, attention, learning and memory that were never even reported before in neuroscience literature. Furthermore, the scans scans also showed excessive activity in his brain’s left prefrontal cortex, giving him an abnormally large capacity for happiness and a reduced propensity towards negativity.

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Exploring The Mastermind Technique For Goal Accomplishment

Steve BarnesAuthor and personal development coach Steve Barnes begins a series of posts discussing the “Mastermind” concept–a technique of gathering and consolidating resources necessary for attaining goals. He starts off with describing a very cool NLP/visualization exercise he did with his daughter to help her overcome a performance block.

Via Dar Kush:

“The mastermind is the only known means of overcoming a lack of ability.”–Napoleon Hill.

A critical concept, whether we look at an individual, a couple, or a crowd. Whether the goals are internal or external, whether they are artistic, commercial or spiritual.

This is so critical that I want to concentrate my thoughts here for a while. The primary definition of a “Mastermind” is: two or more people working together in a spirit of perfect harmony to support shared or separate goals.

Let’s relate it simply to the first basic levels:  An individual.

The Eriksonian “Parts Party” is designed to create alignment between the different aspects of our personality.

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DIY Ganzfeld Hacks

The sound artist Kim Cascone passed along a great link for making DIY Ganzfeld goggles.  When I was at the Rhine Research Center we were able to see their Ganzfeld rooms, and I’ve been interested in experimenting with the technique once I get more time. These kind of ‘hacks’ are a great way to work with some of the consciousness studies research without having the benefits of grant funding or donors!

“The Ganzfeld effect is a form of visual sensory deprivation.  The idea is to give the open eyes a blank visual field of uniform color.  Since there is nothing for the eyes to see, the brain cuts off the unchanging input, and often manufactures its own images – these may be thought of as mild hallucinations.  Personally, I haven’t experienced any vivid hallucinations via a Ganzfield, but I find the effect to be rather relaxing.  I’ve found that a Ganzfeld is very good for helping to eliminate excess chatter in the mind, especially when practicing meditation.… Read the rest

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