The Inner Critic from the book “In Touch”. Part Two

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Judging always creates distance within yourself and between yourself and others.
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For example, if you believe that you should not be experiencing a difficult feeling such as anger, shame, or fear, you will not give your full affectionate attention to it.
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You will ignore it, push it away, or try to change it. The same process of refusal applies to others.
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If you believe that others should not be as they are, you will also try to ignore them, keep them at a distance, or change them.
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On the other hand, if you approach your life with the question, “What is actually happening?” you will have a very different experience.
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Judging always creates alienation. Nonjudgmental, affectionate attention fosters intimacy and understanding.
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Judging is different from discerning. Judging is about determining what is right or wrong, good or bad.
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Discerning is about clear seeing.
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Letting go of our judgments does not mean that we lose discernment. In fact, judging is a distortion of discernment.
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Once we are able to see through the mind’s tendency to judge everything dualistically, in terms of good and bad and right and wrong, we are actually much freer to see things as they are and respond appropriately.
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The Inner Critic from the book “In Touch”. Part One

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We have an inner critic—that part of the mind that creates an idea of how we and the world should be.
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The critic is actually a mental process, rather than a discrete entity.
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This inner critic is never satisfied; no matter how we or the world are, it is never good enough.
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When political and religious ideologues assume positions of power and try to impose their ideals, they bring great suffering to their subjects.
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Pol Pot, the idealistic communist leader who transformed the former Cambodia into a killing field in the 1980s, is a good example. Similarly, when we give the inner critic authority by believing it, we create a kind of inner killing field that chokes off any spontaneity and self-trust.
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You can easily detect the presence of this kind of tyrannical thinking within yourself: just notice when you have a thought that includes “should” or “should not.”
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How often do you torment yourself by thinking, “I should not be experiencing this” or “This should or should not be happening” or “He or she should or should not be doing that.”
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If you observe your thinking for a few minutes, you will usually find evidence of this critical tendency. It is pervasive and persuasive.
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Judging always creates distance within yourself and between yourself and others.
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I can recall the relief I felt as I gradually discovered the difference between how I thought I should be versus how I actually was, between an ideal and the real.
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If you relate to your experience as you think it should be, you keep it at arm’s length.
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Just Beginning, what are the chances you become a daily meditator?

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Mindfulness has exploded in America. Meditation carries many connotations for a novice’s initial investigation. Meditation books can be abstract, complex and overwhelming.
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Many people experience a frustrating practice with thoughts cascading constantly, filling their mind with distracting storylines laced with emotion. Many judge meditation as not helpful for them or a waste of time.
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Meditation seems mundane, feeble on the surface. We sit and follow our breath and it is going to do what? Neuroscience has now documented the powerful, dramatic changes capable with a mind so plastic. Where we place our attention has more influence on our life than anything else we can do.
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Mindfulness uses an intense, specific kind of focus to train the brain/mind. We are attempting to slow our breath, to let thoughts fade, thus emptying the mind by focusing on the breath.
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How that is accomplished varies. In my opinion, the best way starts with one breath and expands from there. I use this “Model” in the photo to help.
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First with eyes open we trace a breath, starting from the lower right hand corner, inhaling slowly. Then transitioning to the first pause which is connected to our exhale. Followed by the balancing last pause.
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This is one cycle, one breath, the basic building block of meditation.
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With eyes open work up to ten breaths without thought invading your mind. Focus and practice. Once you can accomplish this task, close your eyes and envision the model. With eyes closed continue as before.
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Perfect one breath, focus intently, then add another.
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The model will become second nature, a soothing habit. Next we start listening intently, feeling body sensations.
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When thoughts arrive, we gently let go and come back to the model without judgment or breathe into the body sensation.
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This is a learned skill like riding a bike or hitting a baseball.
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The benefits of practice are now documented by neuroscience.
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Introspection

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One does not become enlightened
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by imagining figures of light,
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but by making the darkness conscious.
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CARL JUNG
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Pre-Meditating routine

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Athletes nowadays have sports psychologists trying to influence the mind for peak performance. These professionals use many mindful techniques.
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The negative, doubt and worry are not highlighted. Focusing on the process, clearing the mind, setting a direction and then trusting yourself to exert maximum energy is the process.
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A pre shot routine (baseball hitter, golfer, free throw in basketball) is used to calm the nerves and focus on the task. Perform the practiced skills and trust the results.
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Amnesia is taught. Forget the last play, last shot , last mistake. A mistake, an error is assessed, an adjustment made, then full throttle again. Thought is directed. Focus is stressed throughout the competition.
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The mind is not left unattended to wander, to ruminate, to create confusion or judgment. To be at ease and empty of thought saves energy, eliminates stress and delivers some of our best performances.
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Place a superstar competitor under immense challenge and pressure.
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Example: Michael Jordan an intense competitor under stress would deliver a performance equaling the greatest of all time. Many athletes wither under the intense spotlight of competition.
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Setting up a pre-meditation routine can be soothing, beneficial and productive. Form and routine bring familiarity and direction.
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We begin by scanning the body detecting pain, tension, tightness or sensations. We breathe into them without thought, accepting everything as it is right now.
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We have an intention, simple positive words, some words supporting others and general direction.
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Maybe we have a special place, incense, a comfortable blanket to wrap around us, or Tibetan bells announcing the next 15 minutes of focus.
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Our mind will know it is time meditate.
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Honor your practice and devote all out commitment to focus, to practice, to letting go, to deepen.
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Focus, one mans journey

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Dissociation, ego, self, emotions, thoughts, awakening and enlightenment fill up books on meditation and mindfulness. Brain chemistry, neuroscience plots mind functions with functional MRI’s.
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We study how the mind works, how complex chemicals and functions of the brain influence behavior, wellbeing or suffering.
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The actual process of sitting (meditating) remains a mystery. Buddhists count their breaths, some use mantras,some guided meditation and some an emotion or intention.
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Focus for me is dramatically different. Counting was a disaster for me, thoughts flowed like the mighty Mississippi. First I designed a model (Breathing Track), concrete, a continuum and traceable.
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We need to build focus on the breath first to proceed. Next we bring in the other senses. With eyelids closed I look at my eyelids, my minds eye. Some see white light, some a fuzzy grey or maybe a somewhat brighter light. It does not matter.
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Observe it. Know it. Become it.   How? Quiet down and focus intently.
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Next listen. Listen for your heartbeat, the pulsation below your heartbeat or the sound emanating between your ears, inside your head.
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Next feel the smallest body sensations internally or muscular-skeletally. Find the stillness inside yourself. Slow your heart trying to stop it quietly just before passing out.
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Feel gravity weighing you down, the air entering your nostril as cool and exiting as warm. Entering filled with life force exiting with waste product.
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Our breath is our immediate life force, our connection between the internal and external worlds, the process which controls our nervous system.
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Focus is the key skill that facilitates wellbeing, healing, improving and happiness.
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From Buddhas Brain: parts of the self

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“At any moment, the parts of self that are present depend on many factors, including genetic heritage, personal history, temperament, and situations.
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In particular, self depends a lot on the feeling tone of experience. When the feeling tone is neutral, the self tends to fade into the background.
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But as soon as something distinctly pleasant or unpleasant appears – for example, an interesting email or a physical pain – the self quickly mobilizes along the processing cascade that moves from feeling tone to craving, and from craving to clinging.

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The self organizes around strong desires.

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Which comes first: Do “I” form a desire? Or does desire form and “I?”
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My two cents
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Leave “I” rest for a while. Work of improving everyday, sitting quietly, getting to observe the “I” better.
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Then you will see the delusion and mental gyrations of a bluff.
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Yes a bluff, my thoughts were powerless outside my brain.
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Not a very far reach at all.
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When one of your thoughts stop traffic, I will follow you.
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Until then thoughts have no power outside our own mind.
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