My contemplative practice (MM)

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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

My contemplative practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Hi,
just as David I´ve decided to start my own practice thread rather than use the general one in order to avoid the chaos that´s likely going to break out here. emoticon

So for a little introduction: I´ve always been very self-concious and perfectionistic which since early puberty resulted in low self-esteem. After a 1 year episode of drug abuse which caused a severe social anxiety disorder and depression there was one day which particularly stood out:
From the minute I got up until the evening I went to bed I had the most intense anxiety attacks, terror, shaking I´ve ever been through... very close to the limit I thought I could endure. The next morning was quite different, I felt as if some huge part of me/my identity had dropped away. Although feeling confused and lost there was also a tremendous reduction in fear in general. That was the starting point for my spiritual search.
I´ve been meditating since, on and off for 2 years, but due to inconsistency in practice never got to stream entry (not that I know of anyway).

Meditation helped me hugely in terms of self-awareness, quieting the mind, raising self-confidence by reducing my need for affirmation by others and allowing for more space/freedom to choose how to act on my desires/impulses.
The constant cycling between what I assumed to be equanimity and dark knight territory wasn´t too enjoyable though. Less identification with my emotions/thoughts
didn´t prevent them from occuring and all to often was and am I (and accordingly my actions) still subject to them.

This lead to my interest in the first accounts of AF that I read here which seemed reasonable and useful to me, furthermore they fitted some suspicions I had all along.

Reading the AFT website was.... well, a challenge. emoticon Don´t think I´ve ever had to look up more translations/definitions.
I`ve tried to incorporate HAIETMOBA in daily life and I´m still in the early phases of maintaining attentiveness and felicity.
Although attentiveness requires constant effort (which makes it a somewhat tiring exercise) the process itself as understood by me:
1) Paying attention to sensory input and mind states.
2) If I don´t find myself being happy and harmless, investigate the reason (underlying belief/conditioning) for that.
3) Ask myself wether the cause is silly or sensible. [*1*]
4) Get back to feeling happy.

Here are some contemplations/problems I´ve encountered:

1. Figuring out the real cause of suffering can sometimes lead to pure speculation/psychologising. An intellectual exercise which does nothing to prevent future occurrences of the same kind. When one actually finds out the real cause there´s a felt relief in the body, not just a deep exhalation happening as part of temporary relaxation, but also a kind of shivering/"energy" radiating out of the body. Anyone else have similar experiences? Any hints how to discover the real underlying belief or is it just a matter of exhausting all possibilities?
This poses especially problematic when a mixture of feelings or just very subtle feelings are involved.

2. Positive and negative motivation: When one loses only parts of the negative motivations (fear of loss of [social] status/affiliation, fear of loss of financial independence etc), to do certain things this can lead to rather problematic situations.
E.g.: After losing my positive motivations to earn large amounts of money due to Mediation/Dark Knighting, the only reason which caused me to work nonetheless was when my stress levels (fear of financial/existential demise) reached a certain threshold. As soon as the situation improved so did my motivation reduce again.
Eliminating only *SOME* of the conditioning generating this stress lead to higher and higher thresholds, translating into even more severe situations arising before action was/is deemed neccessary.
Only on the still rare occasions of 99% contenment with this moment of beeing alive, am I free to choose what to do: enabling me to actually enjoy working/earning money.

3. Being attentive, happy and harmless is less a challenge in physical activities as it is in intellectual. I feel much more embedded in the situation as I don´t have the full amount of cognitive capacities available to simultaneously think AND sense. I´d especially be interested in Trents experience of this as I recall he was/is(?) working as a computer programmer, anyone elses opinion of this is certainly welcome too tough. ;)

4. Compassion/pity: I have encountered several moments where (disguised) forms of (self-)pity / compassion arose, e.g. someone in (emotional) pain experiences a surprising positive change/message and bursts into tears of relief... and so was I. This has diminished greatly.

5. Engaging in social settings/conversations is quite different: If I were to "pull through" with the method, there seems to be hardly anything which I can contribute. All small talk is eliminated and I´m just.... there. Although I´m aware that there are underlying beliefs (of appearing boring and awkward) holding me back, I´d be interested in everybody elses opinion on this.

Although it is possible that I´ve experienced PCE´s on 2 occasions under the influence of drugs, my memory of them is quite distorted and might have just been ASC´s. Other than that I´m not even sure I had EE´s... there were times I felt tremendeous joy and lightness but it didn´t feel like a particularly different way of being/perceiving.
Overall I´m nevertheless way happier than ever in my life despite going through pretty challenging times. More input for practice I guess emoticon

So that´s it so far, feel free to comment and correct my assumptions (and english for that matter) or sharing your experiences.

Thanks to everyone devoting their time here, it´s a really unique place for sure.

Martin

[*1*] This has posed a problem in instances related to the stuff mentioned in "2.". When the only thing that keeps driving me to do something is fear, I can hardly genuinely answer the question if the belief causing fear is silly or sensible with "silly".
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David Roy Nelson, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 28 Join Date: 10/20/10 Recent Posts
Hilarious. I didn't know that I was supposed to post under the previously existing thread. Oh well. Like you, Martin, I lost a huge deal of motivation for material success when I was meditating. From my understanding of the meditation, reaching nibbana was the ultimate goal so why waste time studying for a degree, making money, etc. All time should be spent meditating. So really I would meditate all day, every day. I lost friends, scholarly opportunities, etc. This really put a damper on my life and could've really screwed things up had I not found AF.

In regards to the social situation question posed by you, Martin- I personally enjoy going out to parties, clubs, etc. I don't feel any need for superfluous communication. I am comfortable, aware, and open to new experiences and communication. Should any feelings of akward-ness, etc. arise then you will have something to look at and overcome. Everybody celebrates life in different ways and I enjoy being around people for a myriad of reasons. I've made business contacts, learned new things, met girlfriends, and in general had a good time in all sorts of social situations. I think that if you feel that you have nothing to offer you should re-examine that assertion, or get rid of anything preventing you from contributing.
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Hey David,

David Roy Nelson:
Hilarious. I didn't know that I was supposed to post under the previously existing thread. Oh well.
Shame on you, sir! No seriously, I think the pre-existing thread was just a proposition, not by any means a must-do. ;)

David Roy Nelson:
In regards to the social situation question posed by you, Martin- I personally enjoy going out to parties, clubs, etc. I don't feel any need for superfluous communication. I am comfortable, aware, and open to new experiences and communication. Should any feelings of akward-ness, etc. arise then you will have something to look at and overcome. Everybody celebrates life in different ways and I enjoy being around people for a myriad of reasons. I've made business contacts, learned new things, met girlfriends, and in general had a good time in all sorts of social situations. I think that if you feel that you have nothing to offer you should re-examine that assertion, or get rid of anything preventing you from contributing.


I suppose we are coming from two different ends of the spectrum here. I´ve always been more the introverted geeky guy (the Jungian INTP Type: http://www.mypersonality.info/personality-types/intp/) while you characterized your (former) self as
I was a frat boy, athlete, etc. and so on

While my challenge therefore (as you noted) probably lies in breaking down beliefs and barriers, that keep me from feeling comfortable and happy in social interactions, yours might be related to investigating what satisfaction/desires you derive from these. I might be totally off though, only you know.
Anyway I know I´ve come a long way since then and don´t intend to stop prematurely, so thanks for the pointer/reminder. emoticon
Craig N, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 134 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Martin M:

I`ve tried to incorporate HAIETMOBA in daily life and I´m still in the early phases of maintaining attentiveness and felicity.
Although attentiveness requires constant effort (which makes it a somewhat tiring exercise)


Just wanted to jump in here and ask if you're activating sensuousness when attentiveness is happening? While I haven't mastered getting from sensuousness to apperception yet, for a while I was really struggling with attentiveness because it felt really difficult to keep it running, and I'm getting that impression here from you so I thought I'd share what worked for me.

What I've found is that attentiveness has, for want of a better term, a kind of pingback mechanism; if I'm attentive and then lose it, attentiveness returns of it's own accord for a brief moment shortly thereafter - I get a pingback for free. Each time I sincerely look rather than willingly go back into affective mode, I get another pingback for free. I'm not sure why it works, but it's a really nice gift I seem to receive in exchange for having pure intent at the time.

Unfortunately because there are so many bad habits and subtle beliefs, and maybe it's just because the affective/imaginative faculty remains in place, I have also found that slipping into affective mode is almost unavoidable - unless I'm applying sensuousness. If I find myself attentive, I can use that moment by paying attention deep in the body to get sensuousness up and running, and it does go running - it has a momentum to it such that it can sustain itself much more so than attentiveness does. I have found that it's possible to remain sensuously attentive for most of the day, but it's not possible to remain attentive without sensuousness for more than scant moments scattered throughout the day.

I think the next step is to figure out how to get seamlessly and reliably from the palpable feeling of sensuousness to apperception. I haven't worked that out yet, but it seems that if I did, PCE's would be on-tap, the way sensuousness currently is.

Martin M:
Here are some contemplations/problems I´ve encountered:

1. Figuring out the real cause of suffering can sometimes lead to pure speculation/psychologising. An intellectual exercise which does nothing to prevent future occurrences of the same kind. When one actually finds out the real cause there´s a felt relief in the body, not just a deep exhalation happening as part of temporary relaxation, but also a kind of shivering/"energy" radiating out of the body. Anyone else have similar experiences? Any hints how to discover the real underlying belief or is it just a matter of exhausting all possibilities?
This poses especially problematic when a mixture of feelings or just very subtle feelings are involved.


What you really need to find is the facts of the matter, rather than any form of psychological mechanism. I assume by your description of the felt relief that you've experienced finding the real cause already... if you can see in real time that you saw the facts of the matter that can be useful feedback for how to approach things next time. In terms of how to discover the underlying belief, the feelings are for the most part synonymous with triggered-beliefs, so if you can see the feeling really clearly you should be able to see the belief that's been triggered by the situation. Then the challenge is to get past the belief and see the facts of the matter. A belief is always in opposition to a fact. It's just we've mistaken the two, we take the belief as our foundation in ignorance of, or - worse - selfishly disregarding, the fact.

Martin M:

5. Engaging in social settings/conversations is quite different: If I were to "pull through" with the method, there seems to be hardly anything which I can contribute. All small talk is eliminated and I´m just.... there. Although I´m aware that there are underlying beliefs (of appearing boring and awkward) holding me back, I´d be interested in everybody elses opinion on this.


I've experienced this too. I sometimes have almost nothing to contribute to (and no interest interest in rekindling once it sputters out) a conversation with people who I share little in common with, for example people I've just met with whom I don't sense any kind of common interest or experience. That's OK. I just won't be a salesperson any time soon. The 'me' that feels a need to impress is fighting a losing battle.

Craig
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Craig N:

Just wanted to jump in here and ask if you're activating sensuousness when attentiveness is happening? While I haven't mastered getting from sensuousness to apperception yet, for a while I was really struggling with attentiveness because it felt really difficult to keep it running, and I'm getting that impression here from you so I thought I'd share what worked for me.

Craig, I think your quite right. I was struggling with the meaning of all those individual terms (attentiveness, sensuousness, sensate etc) for a while. While attentiveness seems to refer solely to the process of paying close attention to ones general affective experience, sensuousness as defined on the AFT site / respectively the Oxford Dictionary:


Of, derived from, or affecting the senses aesthetically rather than sensually; readily affected by the senses, keenly responsive to the pleasures of sensation. Also, indicative of a sensuous temperament. Apparently first used by Mr. John Milton, to avoid certain associations of the existing word ‘sensual’. Thus: ‘sensuousness’ (n.): the quality of being sensuous; also: ‘sensuously’ (adv.): the experience of being sensuous; and: ‘sensuosity’ (n.): the capability of being sensuous)


So what one needs to consider is not only the pure sensate (in itself neutral) experience of reality but especially its aesthetical aspect which then leads to wonder and naivéte. Did I get that right?
I think that´s what I´m experiencing when looking at reflections, (semi-)transparent materials, shadows, light etc.
Is this aesthetics also what is refered to as the actual counterpart to beauty?

Craig N:

What I've found is that attentiveness has, for want of a better term, a kind of pingback mechanism; if I'm attentive and then lose it, attentiveness returns of it's own accord for a brief moment shortly thereafter - I get a pingback for free. Each time I sincerely look rather than willingly go back into affective mode, I get another pingback for free. I'm not sure why it works, but it's a really nice gift I seem to receive in exchange for having pure intent at the time.


I´m not sure I´ve experienced this or have been unaware of it. The moment I lose attentiveness is usually when some negative thought / feeling arises and the aversion to it causes a desire to dissociate. Pure intent is certainly something that enables me to get over that desire though.

Craig N:
Unfortunately because there are so many bad habits and subtle beliefs, and maybe it's just because the affective/imaginative faculty remains in place, I have also found that slipping into affective mode is almost unavoidable - unless I'm applying sensuousness. If I find myself attentive, I can use that moment by paying attention deep in the body to get sensuousness up and running, and it does go running - it has a momentum to it such that it can sustain itself much more so than attentiveness does. I have found that it's possible to remain sensuously attentive for most of the day, but it's not possible to remain attentive without sensuousness for more than scant moments scattered throughout the day.


Ok, I´m confused now. When you say "paying attention deep in the body to get sensuousness up and running..", you aren´t talking about the aesthetical aspect are you? To what degree is sensuousness rooted in the body if not a quality of actuality? Could you maybe give me a synonyme? (English isn´t my 1st language)

Craig N:

What you really need to find is the facts of the matter, rather than any form of psychological mechanism. I assume by your description of the felt relief that you've experienced finding the real cause already... if you can see in real time that you saw the facts of the matter that can be useful feedback for how to approach things next time.


Now that you mention it: only when I genuinely saw the real cause as not a fact but my creation have I felt that release.
Still tricky though, as often times it goes something like
"Is it silly to feel fear in this and that situation? Hmm yeah but XXX..."
Writing this I can see the difference a little more clearly though, will have to see how this turns out.

Craig N:

In terms of how to discover the underlying belief, the feelings are for the most part synonymous with triggered-beliefs, so if you can see the feeling really clearly you should be able to see the belief that's been triggered by the situation. Then the challenge is to get past the belief and see the facts of the matter. A belief is always in opposition to a fact. It's just we've mistaken the two, we take the belief as our foundation in ignorance of, or - worse - selfishly disregarding, the fact.


Not sure I get that. Say I´ve gotten a bill which I don´t yet know how to pay... my natural reaction is fear arising. How is this fear directly traceable to its causing belief? I might have the belief that "not paying my bills makes me a bad person" or "people who dont pay their bills land on the streets homeless" or or or
Choosing the one which relates to myself seems rather random to me. Though I might get a physical hint of my body while contemplating on each of them which one it is... still it´s a lengthy process.

In relation to this I´d be interested to which degree actualists who also attained paths in meditation could notice a corelation in their diminished ignorance and easier access to their unconcious beliefs.

Thanks for your time Craig, really appreciate it.

Martin
Craig N, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 134 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Martin M:
While attentiveness seems to refer solely to the process of paying close attention to ones general affective experience, sensuousness as defined on the AFT site / respectively the Oxford Dictionary:


Of, derived from, or affecting the senses aesthetically rather than sensually; readily affected by the senses, keenly responsive to the pleasures of sensation. Also, indicative of a sensuous temperament. Apparently first used by Mr. John Milton, to avoid certain associations of the existing word ‘sensual’. Thus: ‘sensuousness’ (n.): the quality of being sensuous; also: ‘sensuously’ (adv.): the experience of being sensuous; and: ‘sensuosity’ (n.): the capability of being sensuous)


So what one needs to consider is not only the pure sensate (in itself neutral) experience of reality but especially its aesthetical aspect which then leads to wonder and naivéte. Did I get that right?


(I believe the above relates to the below so I have put them together and replied afterwards)

Martin M:
Ok, I´m confused now. When you say "paying attention deep in the body to get sensuousness up and running..", you aren´t talking about the aesthetical aspect are you? To what degree is sensuousness rooted in the body if not a quality of actuality? Could you maybe give me a synonyme? (English isn´t my 1st language)


When I talk about the quality of sensuousness, I'm referring to something that becomes apparent after a certain amount of experience paying exclusive attention to the senses. It's a palpable feeling that could even be described as a sweetness, there is a warmth and welcomingness to it that suffuses the body. It is not an emotive feeling. It takes the place of emotive feelings, and is either/or. When emotions arise, the sensuousness has disappeared. When sensuousness is firmly in place (sometimes I refer to it spinning up), there is no room for feelings to arise.

Martin M:
I think that´s what I´m experiencing when looking at reflections, (semi-)transparent materials, shadows, light etc.
Is this aesthetics also what is refered to as the actual counterpart to beauty?


Yes also dew drops and reflections upon water I particularly enjoy, but I think that appreciation is more likely to induce apperceptiveness in me (the PCE) than it is (what I consider) sensuousness per se.

Martin M:
Craig N:

What I've found is that attentiveness has, for want of a better term, a kind of pingback mechanism; if I'm attentive and then lose it, attentiveness returns of it's own accord for a brief moment shortly thereafter - I get a pingback for free. Each time I sincerely look rather than willingly go back into affective mode, I get another pingback for free. I'm not sure why it works, but it's a really nice gift I seem to receive in exchange for having pure intent at the time.


I´m not sure I´ve experienced this or have been unaware of it. The moment I lose attentiveness is usually when some negative thought / feeling arises and the aversion to it causes a desire to dissociate. Pure intent is certainly something that enables me to get over that desire though.


Something you may or may not already be aware of is the need to be attentive toward not just negative feelings but all feelings. The negative stuff gets our attention because it is direct and obvious suffering, but the neutral (ground of being) and good feelings keep us locked out of the actual world just as much as the bad feelings do - we're just more comfortable in those modes. Eventually with pure intent an actualist will need to decide to no longer be willing to reside in those comfortable modes either.

Martin M:
Now that you mention it: only when I genuinely saw the real cause as not a fact but my creation have I felt that release.
Still tricky though, as often times it goes something like
"Is it silly to feel fear in this and that situation? Hmm yeah but XXX..."
Writing this I can see the difference a little more clearly though, will have to see how this turns out.


If you haven't seen it already I wrote some tips on seeing the silliness that might be helpful on this thread (second and third posts) http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1076533

Martin M:
Craig N:

In terms of how to discover the underlying belief, the feelings are for the most part synonymous with triggered-beliefs, so if you can see the feeling really clearly you should be able to see the belief that's been triggered by the situation. Then the challenge is to get past the belief and see the facts of the matter. A belief is always in opposition to a fact. It's just we've mistaken the two, we take the belief as our foundation in ignorance of, or - worse - selfishly disregarding, the fact.


Not sure I get that. Say I´ve gotten a bill which I don´t yet know how to pay... my natural reaction is fear arising. How is this fear directly traceable to its causing belief? I might have the belief that "not paying my bills makes me a bad person" or "people who dont pay their bills land on the streets homeless" or or or
Choosing the one which relates to myself seems rather random to me. Though I might get a physical hint of my body while contemplating on each of them which one it is... still it´s a lengthy process.


I think in the example you gave there may be several feelings involved and that might be confusing the issue. Being able to isolate the individual feelings is important, like picking apart threads in a rope. The rope as a whole is impervious, while the individual threads can be dealt with.

Possible feelings/beliefs that may be underlying it:
  • If you don't know how to pay the bill may not be able to pay it at all
  • You absolutely must pay it
  • If you don't pay it you'll be a bad person
  • If you don't pay it on time you'll face an authority figure's wrath
  • If you don't pay it on time you'll be slapped with a late fee
  • Late fees are horrible and you must never get into a situation that requires you to pay one

Craig
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Craig N:
When sensuousness is firmly in place (sometimes I refer to it spinning up), there is no room for feelings to arise.


Yes, I can relate to that.

Craig N:

Something you may or may not already be aware of is the need to be attentive toward not just negative feelings but all feelings. The negative stuff gets our attention because it is direct and obvious suffering, but the neutral (ground of being) and good feelings keep us locked out of the actual world just as much as the bad feelings do - we're just more comfortable in those modes. Eventually with pure intent an actualist will need to decide to no longer be willing to reside in those comfortable modes either.


Got me... again. emoticon
"Bathing" in good feelings is definitely something I´ve done especially after a rough patch and its corresponding bad feelings. Will try to pay more attention to that.

Craig N:

If you haven't seen it already I wrote some tips on seeing the silliness that might be helpful on this thread (second and third posts) http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1076533


Yes, I read that thread and remember it being quite helpful. Gonna reread it now.


Craig N:
I think in the example you gave there may be several feelings involved and that might be confusing the issue. Being able to isolate the individual feelings is important, like picking apart threads in a rope. The rope as a whole is impervious, while the individual threads can be dealt with.

Possible feelings/beliefs that may be underlying it:
  • If you don't know how to pay the bill may not be able to pay it at all
  • You absolutely must pay it
  • If you don't pay it you'll be a bad person
  • If you don't pay it on time you'll face an authority figure's wrath
  • If you don't pay it on time you'll be slapped with a late fee
  • Late fees are horrible and you must never get into a situation that requires you to pay one

Craig


Thanks for the clarification. I guess I was just hoping this would be a little easier, silly me. emoticon

After reading somewhere here (I think it was Katy) about abandoning self-commentary, I´ve paid more attention to that. It´s quite astounding to see how much of a habit I´ve grown out of it. I see something, I repeat this seeing verbally to myself... I plan to do something and express that too. It becomes more obvious that this self-commentary comes always after the perception or decision/thought that triggered it; also that it prevents me from beeing sensuous. Without this unneccesary talking/thinking there is more space to actually enjoy this moment.
k a steger, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 385 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
Hi Martin M -

Nice post. (Let me know if my reply is off target/should be taken down; this is your practice post!)

I thought about your item number one, here:

Here are some contemplations/problems I´ve encountered:

1. Figuring out the real cause of suffering can sometimes lead to pure speculation/psychologising. An intellectual exercise which does nothing to prevent future occurrences of the same kind. When one actually finds out the real cause there´s a felt relief in the body, not just a deep exhalation happening as part of temporary relaxation, but also a kind of shivering/"energy" radiating out of the body. Anyone else have similar experiences? Any hints how to discover the real underlying belief or is it just a matter of exhausting all possibilities?
This poses especially problematic when a mixture of feelings or just very subtle feelings are involved.


To me, this is great insight material and one of the great insight guides on the DhO can probably help. As well, Mr. Daniel Ingram offered his book online (for free! though I eventually bought it being in a position to do so and finding it very useful, very clear. It is explained so clearly that you will know how to test if your experience is the same or otherwise). Go to page 26 if you want to jump in: http://www.interactivebuddha.com/Mastering%20Adobe%20Version.pdf. He gives a favorite exercise there for suffering, too.

Your writing indicates to me that you intellectually know there is a difference to realizing suffering with intellectual exercises (speculation/psychologising) and realizing this with direct insight though doing-experience.

I would sum it up as intellectualism fostering cognito ergo sum (descartes: I think therefore I am), and no self fostering res ipsa loquitur (cicero: the thing speaks for itself).

While I have found that an intellectual exercises are a major sign of my intention (more intellect means more genuine interest means eventual intellect-exhaustion, means practice with strong intention), ideas are also inexhaustible. This boundlessness is how everything is (to me), is natural and can be a joy, a horror, a time-saver, a time waster, adversarial, analgesic...

It's nice to be able to let the mind vacation (meditation) or vacate (bye bye) and know other boundlessnesses. Calming the mind with these non-intellectual (yet sometimes very analytical) tools can be a precursor to deciding what to do with it (next).



_____
Per your comment on self-commentary. Florian stated in his thread "Empty Hands" ("2nd and 3rd jhana" DhO venue) - noting is not important so long as the noticing happens (am going from memory so please correct if I err). I distinctly feel that 'noting' with any 'i' reinforces 'i' -- I don't remember a time noting via 'i' sentences felt 'right' to me. But, it can be and feel right for others.

I will add more thoughts on this, but not in your thread as it relates to my experience, and it's nice to see a practice threads develop.


{edit! grammar, 1 minute after posting. go figure...}
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
k a steger:
Hi Martin M -

Nice post. (Let me know if my reply is off target/should be taken down; this is your practice post!)


No worries, every comment is welcome.

k a steger:

To me, this is great insight material and one of the great insight guides on the DhO can probably help. As well, Mr. Daniel Ingram offered his book online (for free! though I eventually bought it being in a position to do so and finding it very useful, very clear. It is explained so clearly that you will know how to test if your experience is the same or otherwise). Go to page 26 if you want to jump in: http://www.interactivebuddha.com/Mastering%20Adobe%20Version.pdf. He gives a favorite exercise there for suffering, too.


I´m not sure I understand what you are getting at here. I´ve read MCTB and just had another look at mentioned paragraph about suffering on page 26. Besides the statement how suffering can lead to insight, I don´t see a relation.
Also as far as I understand it´s not neccessarily useful to try to apply the 3 characteristics of buddhism to the actualism practice.

k a steger:

While I have found that an intellectual exercises are a major sign of my intention (more intellect means more genuine interest means eventual intellect-exhaustion, means practice with strong intention), ideas are also inexhaustible. This boundlessness is how everything is (to me), is natural and can be a joy, a horror, a time-saver, a time waster, adversarial, analgesic...


I´ve just started a daily (private) actualism journal, in which I note occurrences of emotions and their possible causes similar to what Craig suggested. Although it is indeed time consuming, it helps - as you indicated - with my intent for practice in general.


k a steger:

It's nice to be able to let the mind vacation (meditation) or vacate (bye bye) and know other boundlessnesses. Calming the mind with these non-intellectual (yet sometimes very analytical) tools can be a precursor to deciding what to do with it (next).


Since I´ve started actualism I´ve stopped meditation altogether as in my experience (and some others here) the more pronounced cycles, vibrations and other related phenomena are detrimental to my well-being and ability to cultivate sensuousness.
It was useful for me in calming down my "monkey mind" and this persists even after stopping sitting practice, so I´m certainly not opposed to it.

k a steger:

Per your comment on self-commentary. Florian stated in his thread "Empty Hands" ("2nd and 3rd jhana" DhO venue) - noting is not important so long as the noticing happens (am going from memory so please correct if I err). I distinctly feel that 'noting' with any 'i' reinforces 'i' -- I don't remember a time noting via 'i' sentences felt 'right' to me. But, it can be and feel right for others.

I will add more thoughts on this, but not in your thread as it relates to my experience, and it's nice to see a practice threads develop.



When talking about being aware of self-commentary I´m not refering to noting as part of a vipassana practice. It´s just part of being attentive how i experience (or avoid) every moment of being alive.

Edit: Regarding the issue of vipassana and actualism you might want to have a look at this thread if you haven´t done so before as it explains things way better than I did: Actualism and vipassana
k a steger, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 385 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
Hi Martin -

k a steger:
To me, this is great insight material and one of the great insight guides on the DhO can probably help. As well, Mr. Daniel Ingram offered his book online (for free! though I eventually bought it being in a position to do so and finding it very useful, very clear. It is explained so clearly that you will know how to test if your experience is the same or otherwise). Go to page 26 if you want to jump in: http://www.interactivebuddha.com/Mastering%20Adobe%20Version.pdf. He gives a favorite exercise there for suffering, too.


You reply:
I´m not sure I understand what you are getting at here. I´ve read MCTB and just had another look at mentioned paragraph about suffering on page 26. Besides the statement how suffering can lead to insight, I don´t see a relation.
Also as far as I understand it´s not neccessarily useful to try to apply the 3 characteristics of buddhism to the actualism practice.


Ok, to-reiterate for proximity, here is are the words in your post to which i replied:
1. Figuring out the real cause of suffering can sometimes lead to pure speculation/psychologising. An intellectual exercise which does nothing to prevent future occurrences of the same kind. When one actually finds out the real cause there´s a felt relief in the body, not just a deep exhalation happening as part of temporary relaxation, but also a kind of shivering/"energy" radiating out of the body. Anyone else have similar experiences? Any hints how to discover the real underlying belief or is it just a matter of exhausting all possibilities?
This poses especially problematic when a mixture of feelings or just very subtle feelings are involved.

Do you have a specific example of a real cause of suffering which you found, and how you found it, and more about why there was a bodily relief?

I think you are commenting that ones beliefs underly suffering, no?
If so, I think you are asking if there is a more efficient means of belief-identification than, say, exhausting all possibilities.

My first reference to MCTB does not resonant with you. So, how about the following 30-minute lab:

[indent]When a concept gets your attention (let's say, cutting down or fostering a tree that you are observing), spend 10 minutes in intellectual exercising. Exactly 10 minutes, no more. no less. 10 minutes. set an alarm.

At the end of 10 minutes, re-set the alarm for exactly 10 minutes again.

Now: (be) 5-sensateness. as words appear do nothing, (be) sensateness (i.e, Craig's pingback), and when whole story-lines appear, perhaps think "Product of Martin" and resume (be) sensateness.

Now reset the alarm for 10 minutes, and (be) sensateness. When words/story arises, use awareness to acknowledge what is happening mentally and physically ('frontal lobe pressure, shoulders tense, that thought again...) [/indent]

That is a 30-minute structure by which to see some mind patterns and skills over a few days or so. At present, when self arises in sensateness, I find the deliberate thought "Product of Katy" to be gentle, clear, and brief. Sensateness resumes.

_________


you write:
Besides the statement how suffering can lead to insight, I don´t see a relation.
Also as far as I understand it´s not neccessarily useful to try to apply the 3 characteristics of buddhism to the actualism practice.

Hmmm, it's not clear to me that I stated, "suffering can lead to insight". What I intended is that suffering can be understood through insight. Daniel's chapter is one hand on that elephant.

I understand with you that Buddhism's three characteristics is not necessarily useful to the actualism practice.

However, knowing suffering may be relevant even after no self. As yet, in this AF forum, suffering has been described in relation to personal beliefs and personal priorities around those beliefs and hypothetical pains or near-pains. Beliefs can be disspelled. Physical ongoing pain suffering is, however, active in the senses. What happens when there is no self achieved and there is physical ongoing pain? In whom does 'pain' reside...this positing is for another thread. ;)
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Hi Katy,

k a steger:

Do you have a specific example of a real cause of suffering which you found, and how you found it, and more about why there was a bodily relief?


Don´t have a specific example but it appears to me as an intellectual understanding that the previously held belief is actually just one of many and not neccessarily correct interpretation of a situation, i.e. seeing it for the illusion it was.

k a steger:

I think you are commenting that ones beliefs underly suffering, no?
If so, I think you are asking if there is a more efficient means of belief-identification than, say, exhausting all possibilities.

My first reference to MCTB does not resonant with you. So, how about the following 30-minute lab:

[indent]When a concept gets your attention (let's say, cutting down or fostering a tree that you are observing), spend 10 minutes in intellectual exercising. Exactly 10 minutes, no more. no less. 10 minutes. set an alarm.

At the end of 10 minutes, re-set the alarm for exactly 10 minutes again.

Now: (be) 5-sensateness. as words appear do nothing, (be) sensateness (i.e, Craig's pingback), and when whole story-lines appear, perhaps think "Product of Martin" and resume (be) sensateness.

Now reset the alarm for 10 minutes, and (be) sensateness. When words/story arises, use awareness to acknowledge what is happening mentally and physically ('frontal lobe pressure, shoulders tense, that thought again...) [/indent]

That is a 30-minute structure by which to see some mind patterns and skills over a few days or so. At present, when self arises in sensateness, I find the deliberate thought "Product of Katy" to be gentle, clear, and brief. Sensateness resumes.


Interesting exercise... will see if I can put it into use.
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
haven´t posted an update for quite a while here, but as I´ve been asked how it´s going for me and in order to clarify some things for myself, here it is:

There are many subtle shifts in perception and feelings. I find myself in a common situation but something (emotionally) is different/missing. This can be quite suprising as one gets so used to old behavioural patterns that it´s neccessary to be exposed various times before it can dissolve and give way to more/better options.

Most times lately, I find myself kind of cycling between
1) really feeling the neccessity to dig deep(er),i.e. being attentive and exploring my feelings and
2) just being satisfied with the peace of mind I have achieved.

The latter phase then usually consists of distraction by entertainment or food. Only when I have gotten fed up with that (again), do I collect the neccessary intent to proceed to 1).

Sometimes I´m able to perceive a persistent negative feeling, kind of in the background or underneath a more superficial feeling. The more I allow myself to feel it, the bigger the aversion - until it´s barely tolerable. Feels like a wall of hate / resentment / sadness which I could never overcome, only step away from by focusing my attention on being sensuous.
Applying 'silly or sensible' to that doesn´t seem possible, as the deeper I get to the bottom of this feeling the more I identify with it which lessens my ability to compare it to my moments of clearer perception... 'I' don´t seem to have a choice in feeling this.
Is this a hint of the instinctual passions or just some feeling which cause I´m not yet conscious about?

In this relation I thought about what it means that 'I am my feelings and my feelings are me'. I´m not sure I do understand this experientally because that would require me to have an experience of 'me' not being my feelings and therefore 'me' not being at all, i.e. a pce?
I do have very very short moments where I do get an idea of what it might feel like, just for the split of a second, too short to make anything useful out of it, though.

Another matter that I cannot quite resolve is the judgment about other people´s lifestyle. I can prevent being tolerant and understanding all I want but deep down: How could I not judge the usual approaches to life as being silly AND inferior to mine when that judgment is the very basis of my reason to pursue actualism. Naturally this attitude translates more or less obviously in my interactions with other people, triggers defensivness and a sort of probing of someones values, a desire to prove them wrong etc.

Although all of this is at times confusing, overwhelming and frustrating, I do see progress and I guess it is just a matter of time before I have eliminated enough obstacles/ gathered enough momentum in order for an EE or PCE to occur. Just need to remind myself to not take this seriously but sincerely more often.

Was kinda hoping to contribute something more useful but the more I (re)read the actualism site, the more I see that most of my experiences/problems have already been discussed thoroughly. Anyway the mere effort of writing posts here seems helpful for knowing where I am... and where not: strongly recommended.

As usual any comment or related experiences welcome emoticon

Martin
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
[note: i have edited (augmented) one portion of my reply (the part which concerns feelings and the feeler) for clarity.]


Martin M:
haven´t posted an update for quite a while here, but as I´ve been asked how it´s going for me and in order to clarify some things for myself, here it is:

There are many subtle shifts in perception and feelings. I find myself in a common situation but something (emotionally) is different/missing. This can be quite suprising as one gets so used to old behavioural patterns that it´s neccessary to be exposed various times before it can dissolve and give way to more/better options.

Most times lately, I find myself kind of cycling between
1) really feeling the neccessity to dig deep(er),i.e. being attentive and exploring my feelings and
2) just being satisfied with the peace of mind I have achieved.

The latter phase then usually consists of distraction by entertainment or food. Only when I have gotten fed up with that (again), do I collect the neccessary intent to proceed to 1).

have you tried being attentive to and really enjoying entertainment and food?


Martin M:

Sometimes I´m able to perceive a persistent negative feeling, kind of in the background or underneath a more superficial feeling. The more I allow myself to feel it, the bigger the aversion - until it´s barely tolerable. Feels like a wall of hate / resentment / sadness which I could never overcome, only step away from by focusing my attention on being sensuous.
Applying 'silly or sensible' to that doesn´t seem possible, as the deeper I get to the bottom of this feeling the more I identify with it which lessens my ability to compare it to my moments of clearer perception... 'I' don´t seem to have a choice in feeling this.
Is this a hint of the instinctual passions or just some feeling which cause I´m not yet conscious about?

instinctual passions are emotions not yet formed; emotions are forms which instinctual passions take.

as 'i' am 'my feelings' and 'they' are 'me', then 'i' am the instinctual passions.

being attentive to the persistent background negative feeling without being overwhelmed by it is all that is required.. it is unnecessary to attempt to overcome it.


Martin M:

In this relation I thought about what it means that 'I am my feelings and my feelings are me'. I´m not sure I do understand this experientally because that would require me to have an experience of 'me' not being my feelings and therefore 'me' not being at all, i.e. a pce?

the very feeling 'i' is a feeling.

in the same way that the 'i' that was the observer was nothing but what is observed, the 'i' that is the feeler turns out to be nothing but the feeling ... and so both ('i' and feeling) vanish entirely.

first you have to understand that 'i' am a feeling (like any other feeling). then you understand that 'i' am this very feeling (that is, there is actually no feeler separate from the feeling; there is actually no feeling separate from its feeler). resulting from a complete understanding of this, a condition wherein there is neither 'i' nor feeling (nor something else) may occur (which condition is entirely different from realising unity between 'i' and feeling).

i have emphasised this very point to many people with great effect, and most recently to two online meditation forum owners, on two separate occasions. it was profound to both.


Martin M:

I do have very very short moments where I do get an idea of what it might feel like, just for the split of a second, too short to make anything useful out of it, though.

does this happen when you experience this moment of being alive?


Martin M:

Was kinda hoping to contribute something more useful but the more I (re)read the actualism site, the more I see that most of my experiences/problems have already been discussed thoroughly.

that sort of diy inclination to what resources already exist goes a long way.

tarin
Ram Ravan, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 9 Join Date: 8/12/10 Recent Posts
tarin greco:

first you have to understand that 'i' am a feeling (like any other feeling). then you understand that 'i' am this very feeling (that is, there is actually no feeler; there is actually no feeling; there was never actually any difference). then, no 'i', no feeling.
tarin



Post attention and reflection:

‘I am just a feeling’ becomes an ‘emotive feeling’ and it then overwhelms and takes over the mind.

I noticed that ‘I am just a feeling’ is an emotive feeling and that emotive feeling is a feeling. And, then, towards seeing: "I am ‘a’ feeling (like any other feeling)". Then towards 'I am a feeling'. .

For me, at times, as in now, what happens is: First a background context. I am seeing how this is the ‘live’ (live used as in tv broadcast live as in this is happening right here and now. Hence trying to see it as" only" moment and to see there is no actually any difference between the two - Only and Live) moment in time and this place in space is the ‘live’ place that is happening right now right here. Then I track the feeling (feeler and find that it (that feeling) is a feeling of I trying to feel the feeling. So I am this feeling, two things happenning now

1) This mostly gives raise to a branch of feeling 'oh i am almost about to see i am this feeling' which i realise later is a feeling. A reflexive action of the feeling.

2) i am this feeling translates into a sense of presence. Then clutter. then i think I should be actually here, I am not of course and then the loop starts. ends with 'I as a sense of presence',

So here, should I, as you say, "being attentive to the persistent background negative feeling without being overwhelmed by it is all that is required.. it is unnecessary to attempt to overcome it" That negative feeling is now, stripped of its negativeness, a sense. Or feels like one.

Then nothing happens and soon, it changes into a negative feeling. And the feeler in conflict with the feeling.

This I am trying to see through by going back to noticing how this moment in place is 'Live" . Constant to and fro happens and in moments of success - i go back to the phase of 'I as a sense of presence feeling'
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Thanks for your response Tarin.


the very feeling 'i' is a feeling.

in the same way that the 'i' that was the observer was nothing but what is observed, the 'i' that is the feeler turns out to be nothing but the feeling ... and so both vanish entirely.

first you have to understand that 'i' am a feeling (like any other feeling). then you understand that 'i' am this very feeling (that is, there is actually no feeler; there is actually no feeling; there was never actually any difference). then, no 'i', no feeling.

i have emphasised this very point to many people with great effect, and most recently to two online meditation forum owners, on two separate occasions. it was profound to both.


I have reflected on this and I think I understand it better now, i.e. I can recognize that what I feel is who I feel I am. This needs some time to sink in and further observation in real-time.

I made notes about my impressions of a sensate experience while reclining on the couch:


I look at the texture of my wallpaper, the shadow my lamp casts through the various colours of the curtains. No matter how often I "scan" these few meters of my apartment, it doesn´t get old. There is no sense of urge or hurry at all. An appreciation not of a particular quality but of the process of perceiving in general. When I turn my attentiveness inwards, there is still a sense of being, subtle but apparent. All of this feels very natural, effortless.
I feel curiousity, not in a disruptive or active manner but very smooth, characterized by a somewhat automatic exploration of every detail my eyes can make out.
I don´t neccessarily experience wonder, it is only when I simultaneously reflect on what it is that I see, the physical process that brings it into existence or the work and ideas that created man-made objects. This easily distracts from the pure sensate experience though, i.e. a defocussing of the eyes blurrying the view.
It seems similar with felicity, I need to generate it actively which feels artificial and counter-intuitive to the rest of the experience.
I think this lack of felicity is also the reason why it can deteriorate into a slight feeling of dullness.


Any hints where I do need to change my approach? How to turn felicity and wonder into a natural part of the experience?

Thanks,

Martin
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Shashank Dixit, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
the very feeling 'i' is a feeling.

in the same way that the 'i' that was the observer was nothing but what is observed, the 'i' that is the feeler turns out to be nothing but the feeling ... and so both vanish entirely.

first you have to understand that 'i' am a feeling (like any other feeling). then you understand that 'i' am this very feeling (that is, there is actually no feeler; there is actually no feeling; there was never actually any difference). then, no 'i', no feeling.



Holy..This is SO profound indeed..It just struck in me..I will think deeper on this.

Sometimes I wonder why we focus on anicca ( impermanence) when we have to be really
feeling no-self in the entire mind-body ?

Also , I feel that what you said above is probably the same realisation as in this Indian school of practise :-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tat_Tvam_Asi

( The literal translation of Tat Tvam Asi is "You are That"..I believe a lot of schools might have misinterpreted it , but what you said sounds identical. )

Thanks ,

- Shashank
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David Nelson, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 28 Join Date: 10/20/10 Recent Posts
Shashank Dixit:
the very feeling 'i' is a feeling.

in the same way that the 'i' that was the observer was nothing but what is observed, the 'i' that is the feeler turns out to be nothing but the feeling ... and so both vanish entirely.

first you have to understand that 'i' am a feeling (like any other feeling). then you understand that 'i' am this very feeling (that is, there is actually no feeler; there is actually no feeling; there was never actually any difference). then, no 'i', no feeling.



Holy..This is SO profound indeed..It just struck in me..I will think deeper on this.

Sometimes I wonder why we focus on anicca ( impermanence) when we have to be really
feeling no-self in the entire mind-body ?

Also , I feel that what you said above is probably the same realisation as in this Indian school of practise :-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tat_Tvam_Asi

( The literal translation of Tat Tvam Asi is "You are That"..I believe a lot of schools might have misinterpreted it , but what you said sounds identical. )

Thanks ,

- Shashank


Hi Shashank,

I'd like to point out a few things that may help you to understand actualism. First of all, nowhere is it discussed that you/we should be "feeling no-self in the entire mind-body". I might ask "what is exactly doing the feeling?" Also I did some research into what Tat Tvam Asi is, and found this in the Wikipedia entry:

"'Thou' stands for the inherent substratum in each one of us without which our very existence is out of question. Certainly it is not the body, mind, the senses, or anything that we call ours. It is the innermost Self, stripped of all egoic tendencies. It is Ātman."

Clearly this 180 degrees opposite to what Tarin is describing here. This Indian school of practice, along with many others, put their first step in the wrong direction in assuming the existence of some 'ultimate realm' beyond time and space. Basically, what they proclaim is that 'you' are none other than a divine being part of an 'ultimate realm' beyond time and space.

While you are thinking more deeply about Tarin's words I suggest you visit the AF website and do some research amongst the enormous collection of writings presented there. The address is: www.actualfreedom.com.au Please don't hesitate to share any findings you think are important whilst thinking more deeply about the relationship between the 'feeling' and the 'feeler', or lack thereof.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
Thank you David. Indeed , I will be studying more and be back. In the meanwhile , yesterday I thought that 'feeling' may not be the right word and instead 'i' is a perception because feelings are technically good, bad and neutral. Perceptions in turn are of
3 types :- direct , inference and erronous. So I'm thinking more in these lines. But maybe its just a matter of terminology ?
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Martin M:
Thanks for your response Tarin.

you're welcome.

Martin M:


I look at the texture of my wallpaper, the shadow my lamp casts through the various colours of the curtains. No matter how often I "scan" these few meters of my apartment, it doesn´t get old. There is no sense of urge or hurry at all. An appreciation not of a particular quality but of the process of perceiving in general. When I turn my attentiveness inwards, there is still a sense of being, subtle but apparent. All of this feels very natural, effortless.
I feel curiousity, not in a disruptive or active manner but very smooth, characterized by a somewhat automatic exploration of every detail my eyes can make out.
I don´t neccessarily experience wonder, it is only when I simultaneously reflect on what it is that I see, the physical process that brings it into existence or the work and ideas that created man-made objects. This easily distracts from the pure sensate experience though, i.e. a defocussing of the eyes blurrying the view.
It seems similar with felicity, I need to generate it actively which feels artificial and counter-intuitive to the rest of the experience.
I think this lack of felicity is also the reason why it can deteriorate into a slight feeling of dullness.


Any hints where I do need to change my approach? How to turn felicity and wonder into a natural part of the experience?


see if this selection clipped from richard's correspondences helps:

RICHARD: (...) I would like to emphasise a couple of important aspects to {the above selection} regarding sincerity/ naiveté.

Given that it is, plainly and simply, always ‘my’ choice as to how ‘I’ experience this moment then the optimum manner in which to do so is, of course, sincerely/ naïvely.

Thus the part-sentence in that previous post of mine (quote) ‘and to be sincere is to be the key which unlocks naiveté’ (endquote) is worth expanding upon.

The operative words in that part-sentence are (quote) ‘... to be the key ...’ (endquote) and with particular emphasis on the word ‘be’ (rather than ‘have’ for instance).

In other words, to be sincerity (not only have sincerity) is to be the key (not merely have the key) to be naiveté (not just have naiveté).

(Bear in mind that, at root, ‘I’ am ‘my’ feelings and ‘my’ feelings are ‘me’ and it will all become clear).

As there is something I have oft-times encouraged a fellow human being to try, in face-to-face interactions, which usually has the desired effect it is well worth detailing here:

Reach down inside of yourself intuitively (aka feeling it out) and go past the rather superficial emotions/ feelings (generally in the chest area) into the deeper, more profound passions/ feelings (generally in the solar plexus area) until you come to a place (generally about four-finger widths below the navel) where you intuitively feel you elementarily have existence as a feeling being (as in ‘me’ at the core of ‘my’ being ... which is ‘being’ itself).

Now, having located ‘being’ itself, gently and tenderly sense out the area immediately below that (just above/just before and almost touching on the sex centre).

Here you will find yourself both likeable and liking (for here lies sincerity/ naiveté).

Here is where you can, finally, like yourself (very important) no matter what.

Here is the nearest a ‘self’ can get to innocence whilst remaining a ‘self’.

Here lies tenderness/ sweetness and togetherness/ closeness.

Here is where it is possible to be the key.

(source)

also, some discussion of the application of the method detailed in that passage can be found in this thread.

tarin
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
tarin greco:
the very feeling 'i' is a feeling.

in the same way that the 'i' that was the observer was nothing but what is observed, the 'i' that is the feeler turns out to be nothing but the feeling ... and so both ('i' and feeling) vanish entirely.

first you have to understand that 'i' am a feeling (like any other feeling). then you understand that 'i' am this very feeling (that is, there is actually no feeler separate from the feeling; there is actually no feeling separate from its feeler). resulting from a complete understanding of this, a condition wherein there is neither 'i' nor feeling (nor something else) may occur (which condition is entirely different from realising unity between 'i' and feeling).

i have emphasised this very point to many people with great effect, and most recently to two online meditation forum owners, on two separate occasions. it was profound to both.


Can this understanding have any role in ending unpleasant feelings and changing to felicitous ones? Should this realisation end the justifications for feeling bad, or is the above quote just related to understanding how 'i' am my feelings?
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Nad A.:
tarin greco:
the very feeling 'i' is a feeling.

in the same way that the 'i' that was the observer was nothing but what is observed, the 'i' that is the feeler turns out to be nothing but the feeling ... and so both ('i' and feeling) vanish entirely.

first you have to understand that 'i' am a feeling (like any other feeling). then you understand that 'i' am this very feeling (that is, there is actually no feeler separate from the feeling; there is actually no feeling separate from its feeler). resulting from a complete understanding of this, a condition wherein there is neither 'i' nor feeling (nor something else) may occur (which condition is entirely different from realising unity between 'i' and feeling).

i have emphasised this very point to many people with great effect, and most recently to two online meditation forum owners, on two separate occasions. it was profound to both.


Can this understanding have any role in ending unpleasant feelings and changing to felicitous ones? Should this realisation end the justifications for feeling bad, or is the above quote just related to understanding how 'i' am my feelings?


yes; understanding how 'i' am 'my feelings' is the way out of feeling bad (and the way into feeling felicitous).. for once 'i' see the relationship between 'me' and 'they', then it becomes somewhat absurd or comical (richard calls it 'silly') that 'i' should inflict such suffering on 'myself'. have a look for yourself and see if what i'm saying here makes sense.

tarin
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
tarin greco:

yes; understanding how 'i' am 'my feelings' is the way out of feeling bad (and the way into feeling felicitous).. for once 'i' see the relationship between 'me' and 'they', then it becomes somewhat absurd or comical (richard calls it 'silly') that 'i' should inflict such suffering 'myself'. have a look for yourself and see if what i'm saying here makes sense.


i´ve had that when either looking back at an emotional reaction I´ve had or imagening myself in a future situation where I know how I usually react... thinking about it, these seem to be the closest moments where I understand how I am my feelings and vice versa.
my acting retrospectively indeed looks pretty funny then, I actually often have the impression of myself being a drama-queen eh king!
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Martin M:
tarin greco:

yes; understanding how 'i' am 'my feelings' is the way out of feeling bad (and the way into feeling felicitous).. for once 'i' see the relationship between 'me' and 'they', then it becomes somewhat absurd or comical (richard calls it 'silly') that 'i' should inflict such suffering 'myself'. have a look for yourself and see if what i'm saying here makes sense.


i´ve had that when either looking back at an emotional reaction I´ve had or imagening myself in a future situation where I know how I usually react... thinking about it, these seem to be the closest moments where I understand how I am my feelings and vice versa.
my acting retrospectively indeed looks pretty funny then, I actually often have the impression of myself being a drama-queen eh king!


in evaluating one's emotional reactions: one reflects on one's evaluation of oneself in remembering such past moments (or conceiving of such future moments), and feels, through such reflection on those evaluations, one's intuition of oneself.

when those moments are not experienced with shame, they open the way to naivete.

even if those moments are experienced with shame, when one is conscious of one's shame then feeling one's shame with naivete opens the way to naivete further.

tarin
Nad A., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 237 Join Date: 8/26/10 Recent Posts
tarin greco:
Nad A.:


Can this understanding have any role in ending unpleasant feelings and changing to felicitous ones? Should this realisation end the justifications for feeling bad, or is the above quote just related to understanding how 'i' am my feelings?


yes; understanding how 'i' am 'my feelings' is the way out of feeling bad (and the way into feeling felicitous).. for once 'i' see the relationship between 'me' and 'they', then it becomes somewhat absurd or comical (richard calls it 'silly') that 'i' should inflict such suffering on 'myself'. have a look for yourself and see if what i'm saying here makes sense.

tarin


When I look into this, I am left with the observation that there aren't two objects 'me' and 'my feeling', there's just the feeling running in my consciousness. It's very interesting and always seems like it's new information, counter-intuitive, not what I had previously been experiencing.

But that feeling is often still able to remain and do its usual thing though, even without the idea that there's a separate 'me' feeling it. It doesn't always end feeling bad. It can seem in the moment like some of these feelings don't need an illusory 'i' to run.

Maybe I'm not seeing/understanding it properly.
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
"Give me one good reason not to be happy right now"

I sit and wait until something comes up which it does when I´m not 100% content with this moment. This question is especially useful for subtle feelings or moods (which after all just seem to be unconscious feelings in the background).

And a maybe trivial insight I noted in my journal while contemplating about shame/guilt:

Although the affective faculty is obviously often times inadequate and inaccurate in dealing with the complexities of modern life and society, it seems vital to see that emotions certainly aren´t useless in totality but did develop through evolution for particular reasons. Tracing back to those reasons and their implicated value to me and or society allows me to substitute these emotions for intellectual considerations. By that the method of actualism seems to gradually reveal the neccessity of taking responsibility for myself and my actions or simply facing the consequences of not doing so. No emotional involvement needed and definitely no reason not to be happy and harmless.

Edit 15 min later:
While posting this: fear of looking stupid and desire for someone congratulating me for my "great insight". 'I' am ridiculous ;)
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Martin M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Talked to my father on the telephone today. I became aware of my usual conversational patterns that I have when talking to him. In that instant I "allowed myself to drop those" (that´s the best way to express it, it wasn´t really a decision to do so), just listen to what he was actually saying and answer in a meaningful way.
After it was over I realized the ease and enjoyment of it and in that moment it triggered a series of insights into my identity. I came to understand what being actually free would imply: the dissolution of ME.
This is certainly no news for any practicing actualist, but reading about it and actually understanding it for oneself by experience is a whole different point entirely. The revelation was followed by serious fear and shame, my mind came up with concerns and doubt: "How could I do this to my family? How could I betray them and my friends? Wouldn´t this make me boring, a robot, a zombie, xxx?"
It hit hard and the radical nature of this journey became clear to me.
I´m adressing these objections just now, trying to see what the facts are. I had to calm myself / my self that this 'experiment' wouldn´t be permanent, i.e. there is no danger in me pursuing this and seeing the actual world for myself. 'I' could come back if I deemed this to be neccessary or would find this way of living impossible or unenjoyable.
Writing about it makes me think at the conversation or at a point during the contemplation afterwards I had either a very short ee/pce or the memory of one. How else would I have been able to recognize so clearly those aspects of 'me'?
Either way.... this is HUGE. emoticon
k a steger, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 385 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
excellent news, thank you
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Jon T, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/30/10 Recent Posts
Hi Martin,

I wanted to chime in because we share the same profession. I doubt I have anything useful to add but since I'm chiming let me try.

1) Pure intent is lovely concept
2) The world is really pretty just as it is. It's nice to be able to step outside the self and, for the lack of a better term, be the universe for a short while.
3) It's helpful to have a nice life and a healthy self-esteem. It makes practice much less urgent. If being "me" is pretty good then there isn't such a rush to kill "me" off.
4) I don't trust Richard or Peter.
5) Being permanently free from the human condition is an extremely radical choice. Choosing to live a life of transcendence most of the time, being affectively human some of the time and being anhedonically human at other times seems like a viable alternative.
6) I see me as a feeling and my feelings as the result of me. All feelings are the result of me and I am nothing but a feeling, the original feeling in a chain reaction, if you will. And so when I am experiencing an emotion, I say that this emotion is the result of me and I'm nothing but a feeling, a vague sense, not real, lacking substance. Knowing that I'm not real, I know the feeling isn't real (not to mention that it causes suffering or IS suffering and that it's ephemeral which, in particular, is helpful to know when the feeling of self is particularly strong). And so I don't have to fully examine why I'm not happy at this moment. I'm not happy, because, I'm a separate identity. Get rid of the separate identity, the feeling of separation, and bam! the unhappiness is gone. It may come back quite quickly but rinse and repeat. If it keeps coming back then some diligent investigation is in order. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about that too often. (This may be why metta was prescribed by the Buddha...i'm just saying....) Getting rid good feelings can be done in the same in my experience.

RE: your work- It's difficult to be felicitous when you are online for hours at a time and the only sound is flat mushed together music (the sounds are all mushed together due to limitations of MP3) and the ring of the software telling you that it's your turn. And the only tactile sensation is your hand on the mouse. And the only visual sensation is the same computer screen. HAIETMOBA can help but it seems to fall short when life is monotonous. At such time, I look for the 3 characteristics within what I'm feeling. When life is dull, one's feelings are much more interesting than the sensate universe around one. I think next time I'll apply naivite and felicity to my feelings and see what happens.
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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Thought I would revive this thread, seeing that it has been 8 months since my last post.

I´ve been dealing with very challenging (financial) circumstances which - although most certainly detrimental to happiness at the time - have forced me to give up various beliefs I had formed about myself such as always having to be self-reliant, never making mistakes and similar "perfectionist attitudes".
"Forced to give up" in the sense of: either keeping those ideals now obviously contradictory to current reality and suffering the pain of the conflict or letting go of them as part of 'me', losing the pride and also not be subject to them again.
Not only has this decreased my suffering but also the neccessity to defend myself when talking about these problems.

I´ve also had a very prolonged episode of sorrow, foremost as a consequence of above mentioned situation and the ideas/fears which I connected to it. I feel like I have cleaned up a good chunk of that and am now in a position where it is actually reasonably possible to cultivate felicity and sensousness.

This has actually been quite fun to practice:

Trying to pay (sensous) attention to at least one more detail which one previously used to ignore, especially all kinds of sounds, shadows, reflections, textures etc.
Don´t know if anyone else has tried similar, but one of the first things I´ve become really fascinated by was watching my face really closely in a well lit mirror (and I´ve not been particularly prone to that thing in the past lol). This is also an interesting exercise to spot feeling tones and generate sincerity / naiveté.

Curiously I´ve often times found myself (almost franticly) looking to do or experience stuff which enables me to feel some kind of strong emotion (watching horror movies, real-life drama etc) or do something 'meaningful'.
Especially as sometimes the world does appear rather bleak or stark.
Scary or violent movies seem generally like a good way to investigate fear (of being hurt). Just seeing which part of the body tenses up in thrilling moments and intentionally releasing it as soon as possible has led to me becoming less stressed.

Although I´ve still not had a PCE or EE (comparing mine to other´s reports) I´m not uselessly obsessed about it. I guess the general improvement in life quality is good enough to be confident that it´ll come with time.

Right now I´m mostly concerned with harmlessness, being attentive to malice towards others and (now less pronounced) towards myself.
Adam Bieber, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 112 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Sounds good to me Martin. Life is improving, keep doing what your doing. You should read the actualism website a lot to know what it is to keep looking for and finding. Noticing this will make earth more interesting. The actualism method is a slow process that has immediate rewards.
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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Playing poker, I can usually be 95%+ attentive to my experience.
Negative emotions like frustration, sadness, despair, anger, rage, feelings of revenge are often grounded in the body, manifesting as not particularly pleasant sensations (as they are of a very intense nature).
As a result their corresponding mind states do not occur.
Nevertheless, not only do I fail to ground them all the time... I´m also starting to doubt if this is actually the right way to go about it at all.
I was assuming that these are instinctual passions that just need to 'do their thing' and will at some point dissipate without returning (at least in those instances) but I´ve done this for a long time and I don´t see too much progress.

Maybe they aren´t instinctual but a part of my social identity? Is there a way to clearly differentiate?

Any advice welcome.
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Andrew Jones, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 336 Join Date: 5/23/11 Recent Posts
Hi Martin,

I'm really new to this, but I find the touch of the air on the skin, or in the nasal passages/airways the most persistent and constant source of sensory input. It can be pleasant too, though sometimes I feel a harsh edge to the sensations which I guess are the attention wave messing up the pure sensation.


Just my 2c.

Edit: mis-read you, delete pointless point...
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Jon T, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/30/10 Recent Posts
Playing poker, I can usually be 95%+ attentive to my experience.


That's a really high number.


As a result their corresponding mind states do not occur.


It's these mind states which most distract me from the game.


and I don´t see too much progress.



I have just begun to ground these in the body (doing vipassana for hours on end). And I was pretty excited about this practice until I read this post.

Maybe they aren´t instinctual but a part of my social identity? Is there a way to clearly differentiate?



I don't think there is. I think you can deduct where an emotion came from but the deduction will distract you from this moment.

I'm going to ramble here and hopefully something I write will be of help: It's probably tempting to hold onto an emotion at the tables. Perhaps you are studying them and can't study it if it dissipates too quickly. If that's the case then don't worry about studying the emotion and just let it go.
If anger is centered in the body and the corresponding mind states do not occur then what are you thinking about? As I'm sure you know, the mind easily influences the body and vice versa. If you aren't thinking about the anger then what is keeping it around?
You play online or live? When online, I tended to dwell on how much money I won or lost and how much longer I had to keep playing. Is this what you think dwell on too? I'd love to hear more. You may be the only other Poker Player - Actualist in the world.
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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Thanks for the answers.

Jon T:
Playing poker, I can usually be 95%+ attentive to my experience.


That's a really high number.


As a result their corresponding mind states do not occur.


It's these mind states which most distract me from the game.


and I don´t see too much progress.



I have just begun to ground these in the body (doing vipassana for hours on end). And I was pretty excited about this practice until I read this post.



Don´t get me wrong Jon, being able to ground these emotions (which I understand to be the automatic result of being attentive to their (physical) properties in the body) is way superior, i.e. less to no mental reaction towards them. In that sense I very much do suggest to keep doing it.
When I said I don´t see much progress I was refering to the experience of those feelings... I was expecting them to happen less frequently or at least with diminished intensity - which I´m not sure is the case.
As long as they are grounded they are not much of a problem though, only unpleasant e.g. like intense heat.
I agree that it is mind states which are most distracting... I still experience them when running really bad and emotions get to pile up.... which I guess would be an indicator that I´m suppressing at least a part of them.

Jon T:

If anger is centered in the body and the corresponding mind states do not occur then what are you thinking about? As I'm sure you know, the mind easily influences the body and vice versa. If you aren't thinking about the anger then what is keeping it around?


When anger is grounded I usually don´t think about anything except where in the body it is and how it is felt and the game.
It then dissipates in a matter of seconds. If during this interval there is another event that triggers anger, the feeling intensifies and at some point I´m no longer able to ground it, meaning I experience the mind state of anger and the urge of expressing it.

Jon T:

You play online or live? When online, I tended to dwell on how much money I won or lost and how much longer I had to keep playing. Is this what you think dwell on too? I'd love to hear more. You may be the only other Poker Player - Actualist in the world.


I only play online. There are various patterns for me that regularly occur:

- I´m winning money: urge to quit playing in order to save the winnings, i.e. fear of losing
- I´m losing money: urge to keep playing to chase losses, fear of losing becomes irrelevant
- the later in the session (I usually play for 3 hours at a time), the greater the aversion and the desire to stop playing*

- anger, rage, hate: losing a hand against the odds
(the more aggressive the opponent´s style, the more intense the feeling -
the more unlikely the chances of losing the hand, the more intense the feeling)
these emotions are most likely to blow the fuses: at some point they become too intense for me to just be attentive towards them (actually kind of reminds me of some dark knight meditation sessions which I felt the need to abort)

shame: being called on a bluff, making a (bad) call myself - which is felt even in situations where it is (mathematically / game theoretically) correct to bluff/call
seems to be a case of social conditioning:
a) judging myself for making a mistake (expectation of playing "perfect")
b) a belief: "I lost, so I must have done something wrong"

shame has become less of an occurrence though, I think it is just a continuous matter of being aware of the feeling as soon as it happens and at the same time being aware of the (invalid) belief supporting it**

sadness, despair: one or multiple really bad sessions (in a row)
it´s actually more a feeling of helplessness, "no matter how hard I try, I cannot beat chance" (shortterm - which can be quite long in poker ;))
usually accompanied by cynicism "oh yeah, good catch/well played etc"



I´ve done concentration meditation in the past but was never particularly good at diagnosing which jhana I´m in (probably due to lack of effort). My guess is I´ve been in 1-4 and comparing the way attention is felt in those to the state that I´m (often) in while playing, I would (wildly) guess that I´m in 2nd, maybe 3rd jhana ... concentration at that point is mainly self-sustaining but still very narrowly focused on the action on the screen.

I´m only mentioning this because as I´m now remembering I´ve had some success with widening my attention while playing, being aware of my whole visual field etc. It seemed to reduce the importance of what was going on at the tables but at this point it still feels somewhat forced.


* as a result of at some point being unable to ground emotions and the mental exhaustion that high concentration comes with
**I think this is one of the challenges for me: playing (online) poker requires at times such high concentration on the game itself (a decision with multiple variables to be made nearly every second), that I often do not have the time to reflect about the cause of a feeling
it´s probably essential for me to do that work extensively before every session I play... recalling every situation which usually triggers me and what´s behind it, so that I´m able to dismiss it more quickly as silly
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Jon T, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/30/10 Recent Posts
When I said I don´t see much progress I was refering to the experience of those feelings... I was expecting them to happen less frequently or at least with diminished intensity - which I´m not sure is the case.
As long as they are grounded they are not much of a problem though, only unpleasant e.g. like intense heat.


I can relate. When I first started Vipassana, this was exactly my approach. Actualism changed that significantly and now I am going back to vipassana. I don't know what it all means but I think that I just misunderstood what Actualism was all about. Or perhaps, I just needed to do the prerequisite social deconstruction. At any rate, I can relate to feeling the emotion without letting it control my actions or thoughts. And if it did change my thoughts it was only to cope with the emotion. So if I felt a prolonged feeling of boredom, I might say. "It's only boredom. It's not that painful. There's no reason to run from it." Same things with irritation and disgust, etc.

One thing we should remember is that all the AF people recommend being happy while being sensual. And I think the AFT site urges people to use sensuousness to get back to being happy. This is incredibly hard to do while playing 12 tables at a time, isolated from everything but a little corner of your room. So I recommend two things. Develop some stock fabrications that are logical and applicable: After a bout of bad luck, you might say. "Statistical chance is a fascinating thing." After a loss, "He (your opponent) is suffering less right now." "If the best players didn't loose frequently then the worse players would never play". Personally, I am trying to focus on the statistical angle. It's hard though when you aren't fully rolled for a game or you've been loosing for 3 weeks and are beginning to suffer doubt about your abilities and your bankroll. For this reason, it's important that we are overrolled for our game, willing to drop down a level as soon as doubt creeps in and in the daily habit of having others review our play.

The other thing I recommend is to spice up your office space with a plant and some color and design...a painting or photograph, a wind chime, etc. Then you can get fascinated at the plant or painting to boost your felicity levels when needed.

Another note, It's not easy to know when you are suffering less because the tendency is to compare your current level of suffering with the goal of being AF. But when I think about it, I can tell that I'm suffering less. Before, (in a live game) I often berated a player if his bad play costs me a pot and was rarely able to say 'nice hand.' I still berate from time to time but I now routinely say 'nice hand.' And my censures are often followed by an attempt to make nice. So if I blurt out, "what kind of call is that?" I may follow it with, "good read, nice hand." It's not just an improvement in etiquette. It's an accurate reflection of my overall mood in life. Rather than stew in my own resentment and think I'm justified in being angry, I now know that happiness is the result of skillful choices, i alone am responsible for my own happiness and it's silly to be anything but happy.


I´m only mentioning this because as I´m now remembering I´ve had some success with widening my attention while playing, being aware of my whole visual field etc. It seemed to reduce the importance of what was going on at the tables but at this point it still feels somewhat forced.


This seems like a good practice.

shame: being called on a bluff, making a (bad) call myself - which is felt even in situations where it is (mathematically / game theoretically) correct to bluff/call
seems to be a case of social conditioning:
a) judging myself for making a mistake (expectation of playing "perfect")
b) a belief: "I lost, so I must have done something wrong"



Stock fabrications may be good for this particular problem. If you make a mathematically correct call and get shown the nuts then it's helpful to think. "He played that well. He may think that he suckered me and maybe he did. I'm not perfect. I'll have to review that hand after my session. But at any rate, the worse a player he thinks I am, the better it is for me. I don't play to be the best but to marvel at the intricacies of chance, psychology and math and to make rent which I can still easily do. The more money he wins, the less he'll suffer and take it out on the world. And every mistake is an opportunity to learn about this fascinating game." All of that can probably be reduced to, "That was an interesting hand."


Another thing we need to keep in mind is that our raison d'etre is to be happy and harmless all the time. If it becomes impossible to return to happiness then we should strongly consider taking a break for a few minutes/hours/days. If we find it difficult to pull ourselves away from the tables despite being miserable then we should question the belief that's keeping us there.
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Jon T:
One thing we should remember is that all the AF people recommend being happy while being sensual. And I think the AFT site urges people to use sensuousness to get back to being happy. This is incredibly hard to do while playing 12 tables at a time, isolated from everything but a little corner of your room.


In my practice I completely ignored the way I felt (whether good or bad) and kept the attention up.

Feeling good is surely better (and surely makes the practice easier), but in my experience, paying attention is good enough if you can do it rain or shine. So, cultivate some felicity when possible, but don't worry about it when you can't.

(I had a range of PCE-like experiences that were preceded by feeling *bad*...I do not know how common this is. This is where I got the idea to ignore how I felt and focus on maxing out attention / sensuousness.)
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Jon T, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 401 Join Date: 12/30/10 Recent Posts
How is your ability to be attentive to sensuousness while keeping emotions grounded? Is it better / worse than when not keeping emotions grounded?


For me, it's better. Anchoring attention on feeling slows down thought formation which allows for greater sensuousness. It is allows for a real clear contrast between what is actual and what is affective.

my practice I completely ignored the way I felt (whether good or bad) and kept the attention up.

Feeling good is surely better (and surely makes the practice easier), but in my experience, paying attention is good enough if you can do it rain or shine. So, cultivate some felicity when possible, but don't worry about it when you can't.

(I had a range of PCE-like experiences that were preceded by feeling *bad*...I do not know how common this is. This is where I got the idea to ignore how I felt and focus on maxing out attention / sensuousness.)



This advice is unique and it encourages me to continue on my current track.

tx for all your posts EIS.
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Andrew Jones, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 336 Join Date: 5/23/11 Recent Posts
End in Sight:


Feeling good is surely better (and surely makes the practice easier), but in my experience, paying attention is good enough if you can do it rain or shine. So, cultivate some felicity when possible, but don't worry about it when you can't.

(I had a range of PCE-like experiences that were preceded by feeling *bad*...I do not know how common this is. This is where I got the idea to ignore how I felt and focus on maxing out attention / sensuousness.)


This comment has come in handy lately, thanks for that EiS. I think John Wilde made the comment that feeling happy deliberately is not much better than leaving it to chance, it would seem that the is a good amount of truth in that. I've come to simply being 'happy' to be paying attention. Perhaps better said, 'pleased to be practicing' rather than any carefree felicity. Like most I guess sitting infront of a computer has only limited opportunity for feeling exuberant to the point of forgetting that 'I' exist.
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Martin M:
Playing poker, I can usually be 95%+ attentive to my experience.
Negative emotions like frustration, sadness, despair, anger, rage, feelings of revenge are often grounded in the body, manifesting as not particularly pleasant sensations (as they are of a very intense nature).
As a result their corresponding mind states do not occur.
Nevertheless, not only do I fail to ground them all the time... I´m also starting to doubt if this is actually the right way to go about it at all.
I was assuming that these are instinctual passions that just need to 'do their thing' and will at some point dissipate without returning (at least in those instances) but I´ve done this for a long time and I don´t see too much progress.


In my experience, this (grounding emotions) is a useful and good thing. Just because it may not be sufficient in itself, doesn't mean it isn't helpful.

How is your ability to be attentive to sensuousness while keeping emotions grounded? Is it better / worse than when not keeping emotions grounded?
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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
noticed something pretty cool today:

While i was doing somewhat repetitive physical labor, I tried to pay really close attention to what was happening in my visual field.
At various moments for less than a second each, I experienced what I think here is called stillness: the objects in attention were simply very stable or better the perception of them was very stable.

Later while trying to repeat that experience, I understood how this perception of stillness is prevented (please correct me if i´m in any way off):
there is a 'bounce of attention' where the visual field gets blurry / unfocused for a split second and attention moves inward... this happens every second to every few seconds if not recognized.

This reminded me of a smiliar pattern that occured for me very frequently in my years in school: as that was generally a (emotionally) stressfull time, I used to (what I called) dissociate from experience, expressed in the same defocusing of eyes and an inward movement of attention which had kind of a tranquilizing effect, a mechanism to get away from stress.

Now in those times this dissociating lasted multiple seconds (sometimes intentionally longer), whereas what I was observing today happens really quickly.
It seems to occur habitually when sight is fixed on one object and almost always when the eyes move from one object to another, also often with the blink of the eyes. It´s definitely easier to notice when there is less movement going on.
Anyway... the effect of the absence of this pattern seems to be an 'auto-focusing' of the eyes: the longer attention doesn´t bounce, the higher the perceptional clarity ... or at least the absence of attention bounce seems to be the prerequsite for clarity to be able to develope.

Is that what is called the 'attention wave'?
Should I try to minimize its occurrence? Seems pretty tough because the amounts of concentration required to be aware of it in real-time (and thereby preventing it from occuring) are really, really high.

In that context Daniel´s note of his conversation with Trent and Tarin makes a lot of sense though: (my emphasis)

What you are ultimately going for is not the PCE: that is like concentration, where as investigation is insight and is part of what may be necessary for attaining AF.


So is it neccessary and useful to cultivate this high dregree of attention / concentration , ideally at all times, to trigger a PCE?
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Martin M:
Later while trying to repeat that experience, I understood how this perception of stillness is prevented (please correct me if i´m in any way off):
there is a 'bounce of attention' where the visual field gets blurry / unfocused for a split second and attention moves inward... this happens every second to every few seconds if not recognized.


Yes!

If you continue to look at this phenomenon, you will see that it happens even more rapidly than that. In fact...

* It happens during every affective experience
* There is an affective experience multiple times per second

The affective experiences that are associated with this are quite subtle compared to overt emotions, but they are real, and they are what stand in the way of peace.

Should I try to minimize its occurrence? Seems pretty tough because the amounts of concentration required to be aware of it in real-time (and thereby preventing it from occuring) are really, really high.


This is a complicated issue.

Just being able to perceive it clearly will be helpful to you (perceiving it clearly eventually turns it off, bit by bit), but working directly on this will aggravate the attention wave and all the affective stuff that corresponds to it.

Being able to minimize it is a useful thing, but you have to be sure that you're minimizing it, rather than losing your ability to perceive it. This is especially tricky, because when you've successfully minimized it, attention is not "looking inward" and it may paradoxically seem as if you're not putting effort into paying attention.

At minimum, you can recognize the way that emotional experience themselves aggravate the attention wave, and try to avoid things like that in daily life. That will certainly be good.

Another thing I would recommend is to try to see where attention goes, when it goes "inward". It should turn out to be some place or other on your (affective) body, the particular place corresponding to your current feelings / emotion / drives / mood. It is very hard to see this at the beginning, but very valuable if you can get the hang of it.

Beyond that, what you do with the observation you've made depends on how you want to approach your own practice. If you work on enhancing your ability to see this phenomenon, that is a valid path, but it's insight / vipassana. Apart from how it fits with your strengths and weaknesses, the main advantages are that it will eventually directly reveal how all the disparate concepts (felicity, PCEs, sensuousness, affect, etc) work / why the path makes sense, and that you don't have to be concerned with how you feel (felicity) in order to improve the clarity of your perception; the main disadvantage is that it is generally a more "affect-laden" way to go.

If you can see it clearly, minimizing it can't fail to be a good thing, but you may not be able to do this consistently. (If you can't do it consistently, it wouldn't be your practice going badly, but just variation in the functioning of your mind.)
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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

Posts: 91 Join Date: 9/3/09 Recent Posts
Thanks EiS.

End in Sight:
Martin M:
Later while trying to repeat that experience, I understood how this perception of stillness is prevented (please correct me if i´m in any way off):
there is a 'bounce of attention' where the visual field gets blurry / unfocused for a split second and attention moves inward... this happens every second to every few seconds if not recognized.


Yes!

If you continue to look at this phenomenon, you will see that it happens even more rapidly than that. In fact...

* It happens during every affective experience
* There is an affective experience multiple times per second

The affective experiences that are associated with this are quite subtle compared to overt emotions, but they are real, and they are what stand in the way of peace.


Makes sense. It´s funny.... I noticed this bounce during more gross affective experiences before but never made much of it... probably because I didn´t see the connection between these bounces and stillness.

End in Sight:
Should I try to minimize its occurrence? Seems pretty tough because the amounts of concentration required to be aware of it in real-time (and thereby preventing it from occuring) are really, really high.


This is a complicated issue.

Just being able to perceive it clearly will be helpful to you (perceiving it clearly eventually turns it off, bit by bit), but working directly on this will aggravate the attention wave and all the affective stuff that corresponds to it.

Being able to minimize it is a useful thing, but you have to be sure that you're minimizing it, rather than losing your ability to perceive it. This is especially tricky, because when you've successfully minimized it, attention is not "looking inward" and it may paradoxically seem as if you're not putting effort into paying attention.



To clarify: Do you understand something different about "working directly on this" than simply perceiving it?
I don´t see yet how this could aggravate it.
In the same context: How can minimizing it (by perceiving it) result in losing my ability to perceive it?
Is it sensible to just take my ability to perceive stillness as an indicator for its absence ?


Another thing I would recommend is to try to see where attention goes, when it goes "inward". It should turn out to be some place or other on your (affective) body, the particular place corresponding to your current feelings / emotion / drives / mood. It is very hard to see this at the beginning, but very valuable if you can get the hang of it.


Would you recommend to try this while formally meditating? Might be harder, though because of the lack of visual feedback (stillness).
I think I´ll try to pay attention to this in those situations in daily life that already require high concentration (work) and focus on felicity / sensousness in other areas.
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

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Martin M:
To clarify: Do you understand something different about "working directly on this" than simply perceiving it?
I don´t see yet how this could aggravate it.


Looking at it produces more of it.

Fundamentally, looking at it *is* it.

The more you look at it, the more of it you make.

There isn't anything to working on it other than perceiving it, but keep in mind that there are different levels of "preciseness" when working on it: you can watch the movement from sense experience to looking "inward" back to sense experience in a very detailed way, or in a not-so-detailed way.

If you want to work on it, the best way is the most detailed: watch for the slightest movement "inwards" like a cat waits at a mouse hole, and remember that the movement "inwards" is rapid and consistently happening.

In the same context: How can minimizing it (by perceiving it) result in losing my ability to perceive it?


If you are working on developing your sensitivity to it, not seeing it could be an indication of having minimized it, but it could also be an indication of not being sensitive enough to see it.

Think of it this way: it is always happening, but the majority of people never notice it at all. If they wanted to start noticing it, they would have to work hard at making it apparent, and if it wasn't apparent, it could be because they backslid to not noticing it.

Is it sensible to just take my ability to perceive stillness as an indicator for its absence ?


If "stillness" means something like "closeness to PCE" and you can judge that accurately, then yes.

However, keep in mind that checking for this (as a mental action) paradoxically pushes you further from it. In a full PCE, one cannot check for the "inward" movement of attention at all, there is nowhere to look.


Another thing I would recommend is to try to see where attention goes, when it goes "inward". It should turn out to be some place or other on your (affective) body, the particular place corresponding to your current feelings / emotion / drives / mood. It is very hard to see this at the beginning, but very valuable if you can get the hang of it.


Would you recommend to try this while formally meditating? Might be harder, though because of the lack of visual feedback (stillness).


If you want to pursue insight, you can look for this all the time.

In general, when your sensitivity is high enough, you won't need any visual feedback. However, you may be able to notice right now that when you close your eyes, sometimes you're looking at the blackness of your eyelids, and sometimes the blackness defocuses and turns into other things...you can use that during closed-eye meditation.
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

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By the way, keep in mind that the bouncing of attention is not a simple phenomenon...it appears simple at first (just sense experience "vibrating" or attention "wiggling"), but it is surprisingly complicated and has many constituent parts. So, keep assuming there is more to see than whatever you can see, so that the details keep opening up over time.

Also, it isn't required that you see all the details to make progress (people make progress without ever really looking at this thing after all), so don't be discouraged if you run into difficulties, just keep trying to see a little bit more.
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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

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Thanks, I´ll play around with this and see what comes up.
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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

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i´ve been experiencing a phenomenon for the 2nd time now and would like to hear others' input on that:

i was driving on the highway back home, really enjoying the senses when, what I suspect to be, the entrance / shift to an EE / PCE occurred.
With that shift arises intense fear, especially a fear of becoming unconsciuos or of not being in control any more. The physical symptoms it produces (shaking, nauseau etc) further increase that fear and in a sense proof its validity.
Going 80 mp/h, I didn´t consider this to be a good opportunity to just let go and see what happens, therefore I had to 'reassert myself' which ended the story.

The nauseau stands out to me and I have experienced it in another setting when I considered myself close to a PCE. It definitely distracts / prevents me from entering.
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

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I had something like that in the past (though only the psychological aspects)...I am not sure what to do about it, except to take heart, as (despite the pronounced negative affect) you are *still* having strong EEs, which to me indicates something developmentally good happening.

I never did anything in reference to experiences like those, just soldiered on. Seemed to work.
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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

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I was noticing how attention phased in and out today and tried to see why I failed to pay continous attention.
First it seemed like I was just too lazy, like I had to try harder but then i realized, it wasn´t the paying attention that required effort but the aversion (and subsequent clinging) to my current experience.
It felt like a very basic resentment, kind of subtle but when seen clearly it dissolved and the difference was quite apparent. Felicity and a sense of wonder arose naturally and effortlessly and I had a very high grade EE for a couple of seconds.
This reminded me of something EiS mentioned before; that there´s two ways to go about it:
- either by being hardcore concentrated, paying continuous attention (pushing through (negative) affect)
or
- the felicitious route, which enables attention/sensuousness etc more easily by having dealt with affect beforehand

the tricky thing about the latter is the pure intent and sincerity neccessary to be aware of and let go of the slightest dissatisfaction towards the present moment

oh and I got a theory what causes the nauseau I described in my post earlier: when the attention wave becomes less pronounced or is temporarily suspended, i.e. things appear unmoving, still etc
, motion (of or in my visual field) appears more continuous, fluid because there aren´t the usual hick-ups and resets in attention which create the impression that there´s a gap in experience/movement
being unused to this continuity might be the causing factor for disorientation/nauseau
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My actualism practice (MM)

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Martin M:
I was noticing how attention phased in and out today and tried to see why I failed to pay continous attention.
First it seemed like I was just too lazy, like I had to try harder but then i realized, it wasn´t the paying attention that required effort but the aversion (and subsequent clinging) to my current experience.


Nice insight!
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Martin M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: My contemplative practice (MM)

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In regard to the recent development of my practice, I thought it would be appropriate to rename the thread of my journal, as choosing my practice method nowadays is no more (or even less) actualism exclusive but rather a matter of picking the fruit which seems to hang the lowest.

Ever since I had the experience of "stillness" indicated in an earlier post, my experience is more and more characterized by increasing levels of (perceptual) clarity and peacefulness.
With that experience as a reference point and the changed baseline, it is also easier to remain attentive to sensuousness.

When direct-pointing, sutta style jhana and TWIM became prominent on the DhO, I´ve also experimented and benefitted from those.
Although my attempt at the latter two would probably have to be described as half-hearted (I find it hard to motivate myself to do anything involving too much effort), I still appreciate the increased recognition of contrast between modes where high amounts as opposed to lower amounts of 'me' seem to be around - which I would consider to be one side-effect of sutta style jhana / TWIM.
Direct-Pointing for me had effects under the buddhist category of "right view" (by reducing wrong view) or the actualist removal of (social) conditioning.
Less identification, less suffering, more felicity.

I´ve also tried to be attentive to tension which arises in the head due to 'my' effort or believe of having / being able to control experience.
This was/is especially the case when reading material that is (for me) hard to comprehend.
Actively relaxing all sense of effort, straining, controlling etc. helped greatly with this.

Lately I´ve been getting a little into non-dual inquiry, recognizing awareness etc, mainly due to the mentioned increased levels of openness and clarity in daily-life.
Jury is still out on the usefulness of that and it´s obvious that there´s a (negative) side-effect to mixing practices:
there is an increased need to clarify and resolve the perceived differences / contradictions of those practices.
At the same time this leads to a better understanding of each one and enables me to choose more skillfully which one to apply.

Oh, another thing that comes to mind is a decreased urge of "having to achieve enlightenment / actual freedom", though funnily enough I can´t say I´m less inclined to practice, probably even more so. Sounds paradoxical but I find that very high and very low levels of suffering are most conducive to my practice, when I´m right in the middle I´m often content with just distracting myself with whatever else is available.