Archive for the ‘Assorted’ Category

The Undefeated Mind: Pain

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A Tranquil Trek
Photograph by Aaron Huey
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“Though the experience of physical pain and emotional pain are clearly different, functional imaging studies show that, with few exceptions, the regions of the brain that these types of pain activate are identical.
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These include not only the regions responsible for giving pain its unpleasant character, but also those responsible for regulating its size, location, and intensity (perhaps partially explaining the startling finding that Tylenol, a centrally acting pain reliever, alleviates not only the pain of a smashed finger but also the pain of hurt feelings.)
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No wonder, then, that physical and emotional pain produce the same reaction: a strong desire to avoid the things that cause them.
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“Suffer what there is to suffer.
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Enjoy what there is to enjoy.
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Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life,” wrote Nichiren Daishonin.
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Yet most of us clearly don’t.
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Unfortunately, the strategies we use to avoid emotional pain often cause more harm than does the experience of emotional pain itself:
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more harm results, for example, from excessive drinking or drug use than from the anxiety they’re often used to anesthetize;
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more harm results from relationship sabotage than from the fear of intimacy that often drives it.
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Desire and Acceptance: Approval

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Australian Sundew
Photograph by Helene Schmitz
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We all desire to fulfill Maslov’s hierarchy of needs (food, clothing, shelter, security, interpersonal relationships, etc).
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After basic need are met, acceptance and gratitude decide if we have a chance at happiness.
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Our relationship with desires play an important role.
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Can we accept what we have as plenty or do we covet more as necessity.
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How powerful is our need for approval.
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Our need for approval is proportionate to our self worth.
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Approval is external and can be fleeting.
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Consider how dependent we can be on external stimulus.
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If approval is so important, then disapproval can be devastating.
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Approval can change and become disapproval from the same source or sources.
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Again, happiness is an internal state.
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Ricard: desire again

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Bright Eye
Photograph by Joe Motohashi, National Geographic Your Shot
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“Everyone would agree that desire is natural and plays an essential role in helping us to realize our aspirations.
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But desire is only a blind force that in itself is neither helpful nor harmful.
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Everything depends on what kind of influence it has over us.
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It is capable of either providing inspiration to our lives or poisoning them.
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It can encourage us to act in a way that is constructive for ourselves and others, but it can also bring about intense pain.
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When desire becomes a possessive and pervasive craving, pain results.
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Desire then forces us to become dependent on the very causes of suffering.
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In that case it is a source of unhappiness, and there is no advantage in continuing to be ruled by it.
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The antidote to a desire that causes suffering is inner freedom.”
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Desire never ends!

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Water
Photograph by Peter Lik: National Geographic
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Desires attach to emotions, creating urgency, thus becoming a need.
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Needs eliminate our sense of gratitude because we feel loss.
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Hard to be grateful when we are deprived of a perceived necessity, a missed satisfaction.
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Modern society bombards us with products which are seen as necessity.
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Explore Maslov’s hierarchy of needs.
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After basic food, water, shelter, and personal interaction, more possessions do not always correlate with improved happiness.
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To be happy, desires have to be in perspective, in balance.
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How can we be grateful, when we live with urgent desire?
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Gratitude does not flow from desire.
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Matthieu Ricard: If you are the victim of a strong desire

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From Above
Photograph by Craig Goodwin, National Geographic Your Shot
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If you are the victim of a strong desire that is troubling you and won’t leave you alone, begin by examining its main characteristics and identifying the appropriate antidotes.
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One aspect of desire is urgency.
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To counter that urgency, calm your thoughts and observe the coming and going of the breath as described earlier.
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Desire also has a restrictive and disturbing aspect.
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As an antidote to this, imagine the comforting and soothing quality of inner freedom.
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Spend a few moments allowing a feeling of freedom to arise and grow.
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Desire tends to distort reality and make you view its object as fundamentally desirable.
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In order to regain a more accurate view of things, take the time to examine all aspects of the object of your desire, and meditate for a few moments on its less attractive and less desirable sides.
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Finally, let your mind relax into the peace of awareness, free from hope and fear, and appreciate the freshness of the present moment, which acts like a balm to the burning of desire.
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The pauses, the transitions are the connectors

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Want to decrease the chances thoughts interrupt your meditation/mindfulness practice?
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Focus intently on the pauses!
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After the inhale feel the length, the duration of your pause.
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Treat it like a refrain in a song.
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After the exhale, repeat the same refrain, the same number of notes, a timed, exact duplicate.
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If we focus on using our pauses to connect the end of the inhale to the beginning of the exhale and the end of the exhale with the beginning of the inhale, thoughts will lose their opportunity to disrupt our sits.
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The breath becomes a continuum.
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Our goal is to focus intently on the breath, allowing the mind to empty.
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Our practice deepens as we increase the duration (time) our mind is empty.
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Throw out everything else and focus on the pauses.
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Ricard: satisfy your hunger

Rail Bridge Reflection

Rail Bridge Reflection, Scotland – David Dalziel at: http://www.photobotos.com
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“Meditation is a matter not of theory but of practice, just as it does not satisfy your hunger to read a restaurant menu if you are not going to eat something from it.
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Nevertheless, it is an invaluable help to be able to consult the guidelines for meditation found in the works of the sages of the past.
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These works are treasure troves of instruction that clearly expound the goal and methods of meditation, describe the best way to practice it, and deal with the pitfalls that may await the practitioner.”
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Meditation/Mindfulness is not an intellectual entity.
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Taking a class or reading a 1000 books does nothing for us.
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We have to sit in silence and face our mind, our demons, our fears, our ego.
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