POI vs Just DOing it

POI vs Just DOing it Martin 8/13/22 4:48 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Chris M 8/12/22 7:41 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Martin 8/13/22 2:11 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Jim Smith 8/13/22 5:19 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Martin 8/13/22 2:18 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Jim Smith 8/13/22 10:56 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Martin 8/13/22 11:17 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Pepe · 8/14/22 12:43 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Martin 8/14/22 2:09 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Pepe · 9/8/22 6:09 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/14/22 2:18 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/13/22 6:18 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Martin 8/13/22 2:19 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Adi Vader 8/13/22 8:57 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Martin 8/13/22 2:20 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/14/22 3:12 PM
RE: POI vs Just Doing it Chris M 8/13/22 3:41 PM
RE: POI vs Just Doing it Martin 8/13/22 3:54 PM
RE: POI vs Just Doing it Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/13/22 6:24 PM
RE: POI vs Just Doing it Martin 8/13/22 6:40 PM
RE: POI vs Just Doing it Chris M 8/13/22 4:47 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Bud E 8/14/22 5:49 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/14/22 6:05 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Jim Smith 8/14/22 7:01 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it T DC 8/15/22 12:20 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Bud E 8/15/22 10:53 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Chris M 8/15/22 10:56 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Jim Smith 8/14/22 7:42 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Martin 8/14/22 9:59 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/15/22 12:37 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it George S 8/15/22 2:01 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Chris M 8/15/22 8:59 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Ben Sulsky 8/15/22 9:26 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Chris M 8/15/22 10:51 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Ben Sulsky 8/16/22 11:54 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Chris M 8/16/22 12:39 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Not two, not one 8/15/22 4:42 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Pepe · 8/16/22 6:45 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it shargrol 9/8/22 6:28 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Pepe · 9/8/22 10:30 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Bud E 9/10/22 12:49 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it shargrol 9/9/22 5:19 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it shargrol 9/11/22 6:53 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Bud E 9/11/22 10:50 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it shargrol 9/11/22 6:54 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it shargrol 9/11/22 10:58 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Bud E 9/11/22 1:06 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it shargrol 9/11/22 1:34 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Bud E 9/11/22 5:11 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it shargrol 9/12/22 8:43 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Bud E 9/12/22 10:17 AM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it Dustin 9/15/22 8:35 PM
RE: POI vs Just DOing it shargrol 9/16/22 11:19 AM
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 4:48 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 3:46 PM

POI vs Just DOing it

Posts: 491 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
 Recently, Jim has posted a lot of good comments regarding his approach to practice and how it differs from the POI. I keep meaning to reply to Jim's comments with  a couple of observations, but I keep putting it off. Jim's recent comment in reply to J.P.'s post about vibrations was, I think, a pretty good example of the position that Jim has been staking out for the past while.

This thread exemplifies of one of the things I don't understand about the POI.

As far as I can tell noting is a fairly straightforward adaptation of the Satipatthana Sutta the sutra on establishing mindfulness. Noting is a way of cultivating mindfulness. When you practice mindfulness you cannot but help get understanding in dependent origination and  the three characteristics: impermanence, dukkha, and anatta, even if you don't think consciously in those terms you still get that just from being mindful.

So why don't people just practice noting, in sitting meditation and in daily life?

From threads like this it seems to me that people are spending most their mental effort on attaining the stages of POI when they should be focusing on seeing how the three characteristics play out in their mind, how dukkha arises from attachments and aversions, how there isn't anything you can find that can be considered self, how the idea of self changes from moment to moment. You can do that right now, this very moment. You don't have to wait to reach any particular stage. You can get awakened even if you are a crappy meditator by practicing in daily life. You don't need "good" meditation sessions that fulfill someone's definition of what you should experience. What you need is persistent mindfulness and that is not dependent on a particulary type of meditation.

As far as I can tell, one of the things people like about POI is that they can use the stages to compare themselves to other people, they know who is "better" and who is "worse" and where they fit in ... some day in the future. But that doesn't help you let go of attachments and aversions and make you mindful in the present moment. It gets you sucked in to attachments and aversions and distracted by hopes for the future. It is counterproductive.

So my advice is to watch your mind, noting is a fine way to do that, and notice when dukkha arises and how it fades, notice how you don't control your thoughts emotions impulses sensations or your sense of self, they aren't you or yours etc.

Don't worry about if your meditation is good or not, if you have vibrations, you can go out for a walk and watch your mind (practice noting) just as well as when you are sitting in a quiet room.

Your first concern should be watching your mind not attaining stages in meditation.

To be clear, I agree with the thrust of what Jim is saying, which I take to be that people can arrive at an understanding of DO (dependant origination) without going through the POI. This more or less has to be true, since there is no mention of the POI in the suttas, but lots of mentions of DO. 

At the same time, it seems to me that, for some people, and especially people who practice mostly or exclusively Mahasi-style noting, the POI can be experienced as an involuntary progression of experiences. People who experience it this way are less likely to be helped by suggestions that they stop trying to do it that way. I can't say this with any certainty, because I do not experience things in a POI-like progression, and there are clearly cases where people's experiences are indeed shaped by their expectations, but my sense is that it is not by any means all scripting and striving. It seems very likely that the POI accurately describes the experience of some meditators. What is more, Daniel argues in his book, and many posters here have agreed, that once the POI starts, a person is best advised to complete it. My guess is that there may be cases in which this is not true. But there are, no doubt, also cases in which it is true. I would guess that it is true for the majority of posters here. It's probably useful to address this straight on when getting into "to POI or not to POI" discussions. 

The other comment I would make is that, from my own experience, it is possible to go beyond the results afforded by the deliberate (sati-based) application of DO that I believe Jim is describing. Jim has said in other places that his practice is based on noticing dukkha as it arrises, or once it has arisen, and noticing it fade, sometimes with relaxation exercises to promote the fading. This is great! If 5% of the population started doing this, the world would immediately be a better place (not only for those people but for everyone). It's top-notch advice. At the same time, it does not seem to describe the situation in which suffering does not arise in the first place. Looking at the doctrine of DO, the necessary condition for this is that avijjā (ignorance) does not arise. Here, it is my understanding, and my experience, that avijjā can be prevented from arising or made less likely to arise, or caused to arise less frequently, by non-conceptual (possibly sub-conceptual) understanding. It is routinely argued that, at levels of attainment beyond my personal experience, it can be entirely rooted out by such understanding. Lee Brasington's book on DO is an accessible version of such an argument. 

What I am saying is that the method Jim appears to be advocating does not include a way to eradicate the first link in the chain of DO but rather is limited to maintaning sati, so that DO can been seen, in real time, and clinging (suffering) can be deliberately abandoned after the fact. The POI, on the other hand, is described as a process that leads to the rooting out of ignorance. If it can do this, and I personally believe that it can, that would explain why people would want to go through the POI, rather than just learn to recognize DO.

I'm sure I have got a lot wrong here. I will certainly have missed some of Jim's thinking and practice, and I know that my outsider view of the POI can't be the same as the view of someone who has experienced it, so I have probably annoyed people on both sides :-) Sorry about that. I'm not really trying to make a point here, or change anyone's mind. These are just thoughts that have run through my head while reading posts here recently so I thought I would share them to give my friends here something to pass the time with. 






 
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/12/22 7:41 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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The progress of insight allows us to see how ignorance is created by the mind. It's the ability to observe the mind doing exactly this (dependent origination) that reduces ignorance. We forever continue to experience our full human-ness but without the clinging to the delusion of permanence and self. This is the elimination of ignorance that the historical Buddha taught.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 5:19 AM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Martin...
 The POI, on the other hand, is described as a process that leads to the rooting out of ignorance. .
 

Are you confusing noting with POI?

My understanding is that POI is just a way to interpret the experiences that arise from noting. I don't believe I have said anything against noting. When I say "observe the activity of the mind" that is pretty much, for practical purposes, the same as noting, based on the Satipatthana Sutta. Everything we experience thoughts, emotions, impulses, sensory input, and sense of self comes into consciousness through the mind. If you observe everything that goes through your mind you are noting everything that you experience. My objection is to POI not noting. 

Can you provide a quote or page number in Brasington's book to support what you wrote about it?

This quote is from Daniel's book. I think it's his opinion about the idea that you can stop all dukkha from arising.
https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-v-awakening/37-models-of-the-stages-of-awakening/the-theravada-four-path-model/
Since the Theravada four-path model explicitly states that realization is mostly about eliminating greed, hatred, restlessness, worry, etc., this suggests a limited emotional range model, and deserves some serious skepticism. In fact, this is a good time to go into what I love and despise about the Theravada. [For the societal growth process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis to take place, some poor fool has to be willing to state the antithesis part and trust the synthesis to the organic process that follows and, in this case, that poor fool is me, and the person in whom I am putting my trust to synthesize well is you.] I absolutely love its emphasis on the three characteristics, love the astounding power of its techniques, and am grateful beyond words for the maps it provided me with for the territory before second path, however incomplete and idealized. I am profoundly grateful, at times to the point of tears, and I mean that, for the monasteries I got to sit in, for its preservation of what has been true and useful in Buddhism for over 2,500 years, and for the chance to have sat with real, awakened teachers.

And yet, its maps of enlightenment still contain a hefty helping of scary market-driven propaganda and so much garbage that is life-denying, dangerously out of touch with what happens, and an impediment to practice for millions of people. That the enlightened lineage holders of the modern Theravada and their ex-monk and ex-nun Western counterparts don’t have the guts to stand up and say, “We are deeply sorry that for 2,500 years, many of our predecessors perpetuated this craziness to put food in their bowls and fool ignorant peasants so that they might be supported in their other useful work, and we vow to do better!” is a crying shame. The huge question is, how many of the monastics are really practicing deeply, really giving attainment of actual realization everything they have, rather than being monastics for worldly reasons, that, while potentially of benefit to them and their supporters, lack the key focus for which the Buddha founded the order?


I don't think this is really an appropriate way to express the limitations of awakening and I am not so sure that there is no one who has perfected awakening, but for the most part I tend to agree that very very very few people if any will perfect awakening.

Preventing all dukkha from arising doesn't work very well in practice because it is ultimately based on suppression which is the opposite of letting go. It's my belief that suppression is one of the reasons you see purportedly awakened beings behaving like jerks.
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/21393142
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/9570391
​​​​​​​https://tricycle.org/tag/sex-scandal/
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 6:18 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 6:18 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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I see the phenomenological territory that I sloppily refer to as the ñanas as a series of courses and exams running on a rolling schedule. You can flunk them many many times, but the courses and the exams will keep running, so there are plenty of opportunities for graduation. It's a very forgiving curriculum in that regard. Nobody gets kicked out. 
Adi Vader, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 8:57 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 8:57 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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I am jotting down some thoughts here. My comment isnt really a response to your topline post. But I hope its relevant and useful.
Its best to see the PoI as a collection of 5 distinct insights.

Shunyata - Emptiness
Anityata - Unreliability
Dukkha - Cognitive friction between rationality and 'compulsive postures of the mind'
Anatma - An absence of a core that is in control and to whom all of 'this' is happening
Idampratyayata - Specific conditionality

Emptiness - All of conscious experience is constructed, it is assembled. 'Stuff' doesnt carry meaning, meaning is imputed into stuff. Beginning with the Nama Rupa insight (Form and its nomenclature) where a sound is sensed as a perturbation in awareness, which is recognized first as having impinged on awareness, then recognized as having come through the sense door of hearing, then recognized as having been made by motorbike ... ending with loud/low pitch etc ..... and that it comes and it goes ... where did it come from where did it go ... where did the layered recognition come from where did it go ? ... Cotton Eye Joe!!

Associated with this is the idampratyata that there is a chain of enablement - An ear, ear sensitivity, an impingement, ..... onwards to fuck that neighbourhood kid ... throw away his motorcycle keys!

Unreliability - One would assume that since everything is empty, dukkha is also empty ... so the project is over!!!! But well, it isnt,  because we realize that we have a need within for stuff to be reliable ... stuff that is empty can never be relied upon .... and that leads to fear

Associated with this is the idampratyata of a very deep sankhara we hold - the sankhara that makes awareness meet its objects with certain grips or ways of engaging. Dependent on Sankharas arises a consciousness that meets its objects twisted in certain specific ways

Dukkha - The understanding that all of conscious experience is basically bare awareness meeting  its objects through certain specific conditioned  twists or grips, or wrinkles or stances or postures. And then we start to let go of these grips.

The idampratyata is the understanding of the grips of the mind - grip 1,2,3,4 - lead to fear .... drop 1 - misery, drop 1,2 - disgust, drop 1,2,3 - get me out of here., drop them all - equanimity.

Anatma - Equanimity does not mean being equanimous to stuff and therefore stuff doesnt act as a trigger. Sankhara upekkha / samskara upeksha.  To be equanimous towards the sankharas. so a mosquito bites is an object .... irritation it leads to is also an object ... and it isnt resisted, it is examined and the process of its arising is also examined. 

The idampratyata or conditionality is ..... I exist, a mosquito bit me, I am irritated .... is wrong! The conditionality is there was a perturbation in awareness, recognized as coming through the sense door fo the body, named as being a mosquito bite ... dependent on the mosquito bite is imputed a mosquito ... as well as a me that got bit. Moment by moment stuff isnt happening to me, stuff happens and therefore to reconcile the world of conscious experience into actors 'I' am created! .... mosquitos are created!


This comes about through establishing mindfulness in the four frames of reference while simulataneously intentionally/ as a byproduct of the practice paradigm  - cultivating the other 6 factors of awakening.

Mahasi Noting is just one particular practice paradigm, and it is extremely crude!! I fuckin hate Mahasi Noting!!!! emoticon emoticon
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 2:11 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 2:11 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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That makes sense.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 2:18 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 2:18 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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You are probably right. I don't have page numbers, and I could well be wrong. I would not want to get into trying to show that the understanding that I had as I wrote that post was necessarily correct. 

I think your approach is great. I also think that even more freedom than that which I understand from reading your descriptions is possible, but who knows. I may be misunderstanding your descriptions and, in any case, it's impossible to compare inner experiences. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 2:19 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 2:19 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Nice!
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 2:20 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Thank you, Adi. I will spend some time with this.
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 3:41 PM
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RE: POI vs Just Doing it

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Martin, I fixed the capitalization typo in the title of this topic.

- Chris
DhO Moderator
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Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 3:54 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 3:54 PM

RE: POI vs Just Doing it

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Thanks, Chris. That was actually meant as wit, not an inadvertent error. Just "DOing it" being meant to be read as "dee-oh-ing it" and referring to dependant origination (DO), so the title could have been read as "Path of Insight vs just directly seeing and applying the doctrine of dependant origination."

It is often easier to be witty in my own mind, than in the minds of others :-)
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 4:47 PM
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RE: POI vs Just Doing it

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I'm sorry! I put it back the way it was.

- Chris
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 6:24 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 6:24 PM

RE: POI vs Just Doing it

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I picked up on that reference and found it witty. 
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 6:40 PM
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RE: POI vs Just Doing it

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Whew! :-)
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 10:56 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Bhante V. didn't think meditation produced the results described in the Pali Canon until he added relaxation to it.
https://web.archive.org/web/20180621093536/https://www.dhammasukha.org/ven-bhante-vimalaramsi.html
Bhante practiced Vipassana very intensely his first 20 years under an American teacher and in Burma, under U Pandita and U Janaka. Finally around 1990 he was told that he had achieved the endpoint of the practice, as it was taught by the Sayadaws, and now he should go teach. He didn't feel comfortable that he had really found the end of suffering. He felt he did not have the true personality change that awakening should bring, even after going through the 16 levels of Insight or knowledges, as outlined by Mahasi Sayadaw in Progress of Insight.

Changing Direction
From 1991 to 2000 he dedicated himself to "direct experience through study of the suttas and meditation practice". At first he stayed with K. Sri Dhammananda in Malaysia and taught Metta meditation. Then he had a real change in direction with his meeting of a Sri Lankan senior monk, Bhante Punnaji, also in Malaysia. His advice was to ‘study the suttas directly and to let go of relying on commentaries like the Visuddhi Magga'. Specifically he said, ‘Read only the suttas, then practice'. This was very significant because the commentaries were influencing how he was seeing the entirety of the Dhamma, at the time. It was suggested to put them aside while he studied the suttas as a standalone system. Nanavira in the early sixties, suggested this and then Stephen Batchelor also talked about just using only the suttas in his book "A Buddhist Atheist".

When Bhante began to do this, he discovered first hand, the interwoven nature of the Teachings. In each sutta he found the elements of the 4 Noble Truths, the 8-Fold Path, and the impersonal process of Dependent Origination. Dependent Origination or Paticcasamupada is the core of the Buddha's teachings. He realized that the word sutta literally meant "thread" and that the threads together, created a finely woven cloth, whereas, one single thread does not equal a cloth! Through his own objective first hand experience, the 8-Fold Path began to come alive. When he realized the secret of the teachings was on his doorstep he took the Majjhima Nikaya to a cave in Thailand and spent 3 months, living with a cobra as company, reading and then practicing just what the suttas said. In very little time, he said, he had gone deeper in his meditation, than ever before. What started as two weeks to study suttas turned into three months of deep practice. Out of this was born TWIM or Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation completely based on the suttas in the Majjhima Nikaya. He found the Jhanas had an entirely different explanation and experience. Nibbana was possible!

https://www.dhammasukha.org/the-6rs

...

WHAT ARE THE 6Rs?

The 6Rs are steps which evolve into one fluid motion becoming a new wholesome habitual tendency that relieves any dis-ease in mind and body. This cycle begins when mindfulness remembers the 6Rs which are:

1. Recognize

2. Release

3. Relax

4. Re-Smile

5. Return

6. Repeat
...

Relax: After releasing the feeling or sensation, and allowing it to be there without trying to control it, there is a subtle, barely noticeable tension within mind/body. This is why the Relax step (“Tranquilization” step as stated in the suttas) is being pointed out by the Buddha in his meditation instructions. Please, don’t skip this step! It would be like not putting oil in a car so the motor can run smoothly. The important Pāli word here is “pas’sambaya”. This word specifically means “to tranquilize” and appears as “an action verb to be performed” as described in the suttas and is not “a general kind of relaxing” that is included within other release steps found in other kinds of meditation. This point is sometimes misunderstood in translation, which then changes the end result!

Without performing this step of relaxation every time in the cycle, the meditator will not experience a close-up view of the ceasing of the tension caused by craving or the feeling of relief as the tightness is relaxed. Note that craving always first manifests as a tightness or tension in both one’s mind and body. You have a momentary opportunity to see and experience the true nature and relief of cessation of tightness and suffering while performing the Release/Relax steps.

Noting alone won't get you to what is described in the Pali Canon.

​​​​​​​I'm not sure if perfection is possible but I think you will get a lot closer if you include relaxation in your practice to facilitate letting go.
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Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/13/22 11:17 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Yes, indeed. I'm a really big fan of the 6R approach. For me, it produces softer jhanas than the Brasington breath-based approach, but I like it a lot and make a point of keeping it in my rotation. 
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Pepe ·, modified 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 12:43 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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FWIIW, I expand Kenneth Folk's "Mahamudra Noting" focus on pleasant/unpleasant mind states to any phenomena on the 6 senses. The practice is to observe what arises and then either "allow" or "release". So you have 4 scenarios:

1. A pleasant phenomena/mind state arises and you allow to unfold whatever happens
2. An unpleasant phenomena/mind state arises and you release it 
3. A unpleasant phenomena/mind state arises and you allow to unfold whatever happens
4. A pleasant phenomena/mind state arises and you release it (don't cling to it)

Though in my present practice is all about "allowing" (say ~95%) both pleasant and unpleasant stuff, there are times during a session (or whole session or even a row of days) when it's needed to apply either allowing or releasing. Not a structured, predefined reaction, but more an on the fly move.

IMHO, the shortcoming of Vimalaramsi's 6Rs is that it restricts the practice to scenarios 1 and 2, but neglects escenarios 3 and 4. So basically, you are eventually bypassing some part of your psyche. Yep, you get pleasant states and a nice carry over off-cushion, but you're not going deep enough to unroot ignorance/dukkha.
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Added: Furthermore, sometimes when everythings fine this okness needs to be tested, through some kind of trigger practice, as soft as add-hoc inquiries ("What I'm evading?"), or some kind of 'reverse inquiry' ("Now I'm almighty meditator, dukkha's finally gone, I should start teaching my stuff, it's the best") or even recall unpleasant memories.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 2:09 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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That sounds very potent. I am going to spend time with this. I like 3 and 4, and especially 4 the practice of releasing the pleasant. The way the mind engages with the pleasant often seems to be hidden. 

Recently, I am trying to investigate what is going on when nothing is going on. That is to say, particularly in sits, but also sometimes off the cushion, when there are no pleasant objects and no unpleasant objects, and no verbal thoughts or mental images arise, what is happening? I think this may overlap with what you say here about OKness. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 2:18 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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I agree that supression is a real danger, as pointed out by both Jim and Pepe, with regard to different approaches to practice. Personally, I don't think that issue is restricted to some specific practice, but that it can sneak into any practice - especially if we get so invested in having attained spiritual progress that we no longer want to see the reactive patterns that still remain. 

edited to add: I also think that when we get into arguments about which methods uproot all the reactive patterns most efficiently, sometimes (but not always) this can be a warning sign that we are getting too invested in our method of choice, and that can contribute to blind spots and supression. At the same time, critical discussions are also important and helpful. I especially appreciate when the discussion brings forth nuances about all the methods discussed, both pitfalls and potentials. This thread is promising so far. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 3:12 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Adi Vader:
I fuckin hate Mahasi Noting!!!! emoticon emoticon


Did you note aversion? emoticon

(quickly running away to a safe spot)
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Bud E, modified 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 5:49 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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There is one aspect of the POI which is invaluable, and often gets missed by folks in a hurry to replicate it (as I did). It's not just a roadmap, it's also a warning. Specifically, it adresses the common pitfall of mistaking the A&P for something it's not.

"This is mistaking what is not the path for the path, and it is a corruption of insight which usually takes place in the manner just described."

It describes the ten corruptions of insight in addition to the other stages. If you're treating it as a checklist of "stuff I must do", you'll probably encounter the usual roadblocks like energy issues, pride as a meditator, mistaking visual or auditory sensations for things they're not etc. And of course, the big one: I had a big flashy blissful experience therefore i'm now enlightened, followed by the fall when that doesn't hold up in actual experience. Of course if you don't know about these stages at all due to no exposure to the POI, you're even more likely to fall into that. I'd suggest the POI is valuable, but it needs to be used correctly or it's just another cause of stress and distraction.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 6:05 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 6:04 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Yes, it's a whole set of warnings about reoccurring pitfalls, to remind us to secondguess ourselves when we identify with our current state of mind. 
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 7:01 PM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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POI is supposed to be a map. But why are there so many posts asking: Is this A/P? Is this DN? Is this stream entry?  If the map doesn't show people where they are, it seems likely that is because the map doesn't work, and/or the map is wrong.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 7:42 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 7:15 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Just to be sure I am being clear: My belief is that trying to stop dukkha from arising without relaxing tends to involve suppression (not really letting go) which ultimately doesn't work and that is why people say that awakening has limitations.

When you involve relaxation to let go, you start by letting go / relaxing whenever you see the mind producing dukkha and over time it becomes ingrained / habitual /automatic / rapid and you don't notice it, so it seems like you just stop producing dukkha and maybe that is what happens. But it doesn't happen all at once - some issues are easy to let go of, some are hard, some have to be raised into conscoiusness etc. You see the effectiveness right away with some of the easy issus and the effect increases over time as you tackle harder and harder issues. You have to persist and be patient. I think with relaxation, the limitations on awakening are much less than otherwise. 

As you get better at letting go, it feels like surrender, it feels like accepting imperfections, imperfections in yourself, in other people, and in the universe, it feels like everything is perfect just as it is. You don't need anything to be different in this moment. 

Unless you have achieved perfection, accepting imperfection (letting go) gets you closer to perfection than rejecting imperfection (attachment/aversion).

And I'm not saying everything really is perfect. And it doesn't mean you ignore problems, it means you can respond to problems with compassion and reason rather than out of control emotions or suppressed emotions.

And when I refert to dukkha I mean emotions that arise from thinking, like if you see a lion you might be afraid but if you didn't see it you wouldn't be afraid. Some kinds of anxiety and depression etc are biolgical in nature not due to thinking and I am not saying you can just let go of those kinds of emotions.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 9:59 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/14/22 9:59 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

Posts: 491 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
That is helpful. Thank you, Jim.

I especially liked this. 
As you get better at letting go, it feels like surrender, it feels like accepting imperfections, imperfections in yourself, in other people, and in the universe, it feels like everything is perfect just as it is. You don't need anything to be different in this moment. 

Yesterday, in the morning, I was thinking about relaxing and letting go. There is a way of being that is available now, and wasn't before, which is a little hard to describe, but is consistent with what you say here. There is no need to change anything, and nothing to be pulled to or repelled from. There is also no thinking about this in conceptual terms, and no thinking about things beyond what is happening right now. No rumination. No fear. No wishing. (This basically fits with descriptions of awake awareness/presence.) But the thing that appears to differ between this and my understanding of your description is that this is instantaneously available. No relaxing is required to get there. It is an unhooking or dropping the habitual way of being and seeing what was right there all along. It is not at any distance. No physiological change (such as relaxation, or concentration) is necessary, nor would such a change even have any bearing on it. For me, this is not permanent. It fades quite quickly. But if I am not distracted by things in the environment like work, or people, I can renew it, and it deepens and becomes very lovely. This is not simply not suffering in the sense that there is no aversion or worry. It's actively wonderful. 

I have been able to do this for a few years now, and it is getting easier, so it could be that my experience is in line with what you are describing it terms of getting better at letting go. There is, however, another thing. That is the nondual thing. Yesterday, I was on a train, and it just began. First I was just unhooked/aware/present, and then the inside/outside thing went away. There were trees and buildings and people and motion and sky and sounds but there was nobody watching it, nobody experiencing it. The experiencer came and went at first, like driving through patches of mist. Then it was just what was happening, until we reached our destination after about a half hour and I started talking with the friend who was with me. I cannot even attempt to say how nice this was. 

This kind of thing, over which I have no control (how could there be control without a controller) seems to come about due to changes in the way that the mind is working. It is not a way of thinking about experience, or an approach, or an attitude, and it does not involve any kind of analysis. It doesn't begin with looking at dukkha, and it cannot even be said to be unhooking or letting go, because there is no unhooker, and no one having let go. 

Unfortunately, I have no real idea why either of these ways of being became available. It is possible that they might have become available to me through relaxation practice and conceptual understanding of dependent origination but my current guess is that the mind reorganized itself, at a nonconceptual level, possibly as a result of seeing things many times, possibly as a result of being allowed to operate without being swamped by thought. I don't know. And I don't know how long it will last (although it seems to be a continuation and a deepening of what has been going on for about two and a half years). And, of course, I have heard other people report similar things and most of the people I have heard describe this report having passed through POI stages. So for me, even though I have never found myself on a POI map, I feel a fellowship with people who chart their experiences that way. 

I don't even know what I am trying to say here. I guess it might be something like: there is a lot available and that's great. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 12:37 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 12:06 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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This is beautiful.

It is lovely to see a peace-maker in action. 
T DC, modified 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 12:20 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 12:18 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

Posts: 473 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
Jim Smith POI is supposed to be a map. But why are there so many posts asking: Is this A/P? Is this DN? Is this stream entry?  If the map doesn't show people where they are, it seems likely that is because the map doesn't work, and/or the map is wrong.


It's definitely a map, it just requires some interpretation.  The same could be said for any and all meditation maps - they're subtle and can be variably defined, interpreted, and applied by different individuals.  Meditation works with subtle mental states that can vary widely between different people, there's no getting around that.  The real miracle is that any of the maps "work" at all, i.e. apply broadly to the meditation experiences of very different individuals across time and space, culture, etc.

Maps such as the POI can be a kind of godsend if they work for you, because they can help put your experience into a greater context on the path.  Instead of feeling hopelessly discombobulated and lost, we can start to understand the order in the seeming chaos of our experience.  Which can in fact help us to stop fighting against it as much, to relax, and thus oriented, to make quicker, more efficient and effective progress by focusing our meditative efforts in a specific mental direction, instead of just flailing around.

Not all maps resonate with all people - so to each their own.  Each person can have a favorite and least favorite map, as it were, but thanks to the wide diversity of experience on the path, just because the POI or 4 path model or whatever doesn't work for you, doesn't mean it's objectively wrong or can't work for someone else.
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 2:01 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 1:56 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Great discussion. It prompted me to collate a bunch of mappy thoughts (obviously heavily influenced by MCTB ).

The POI is based on the suttas and follows a jhanic progression ...

Mind & Body contains a lot of satipatthana stuff, Cause & Effect is mostly Dependent Origination and the 3Cs is all over the suttas. A&P is characterized by rapture/piti jhana factor, which is stage 5 anapanasati. It’s sometimes considered to be second jhana due to the piti and drop in effort compared with the first 3 nanas or first 4 stages of anapanasati.

Following their first cessation, Mahasi POI meditators cycle straight from A&P (which is actually the first nana in the visuddhimagga). They are aware of piti as soon as they pay attention and the first three nanas have become more like habitual modes of perception which can be applied at any stage in meditation.

I have the impression that meditators with a samatha background who subsequently learn about the POI and/or start practicing Mahasi-style noting are less likely to experience a straight progression through the nanas. I assume this is because they probably already have some exposure to satipatthana/DO/3Cs and a lot of experience with piti, so the first 4 nanas just don’t seem that remarkable to them.

The dukkha nanas are about working through unpleasant feelings and perceptions, which also happens in stage 7 anapanasati (citta sankhara = vedana + sanna). This is sometimes considered to be third jhana territory, because the whole emotional space is opened up which also includes the pleasant feeling of sukha (stage 6 anapanasati). The dukkha nanas cover the primary negative emotions - fear, sadness (misery) and disgust (which includes shame and guilt, and anger can also be experienced here as well). I don’t see any particular reason why they should be experienced in this order, so that could be partially scripted.

The extent to which unpleasant emotions predominate depends on how much focus has been given to calming the hindrances (especially “ill will”), which is a function of the samatha-vipassana weighting in practice. It seems to be the case that many POI meditators lose interest in noting/POI in favor of samatha somewhere along 2nd-3rd path, presumably because they have cleared out a lot of old hindrances so they experience milder dukkha nanas and stronger sukha. This would also be true of mediators with a samatha background. Maybe they are less hindered to start with, which is why they gravitate towards samatha.

Equanimity is about calming sankharas, which is the same as stage 8 anapanasati and sometimes considered to to be fourth jhana.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but I think you can make a case that there is a kernel of the POI in the suttas:

MN 44, Culavedella Sutta

"Is passion-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all pleasant feeling? Is resistance-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all painful feeling? Is ignorance-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling?"
"No... There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. With that he abandons passion. No passion-obsession gets obsessed there.[4]There is the case where a monk considers, 'O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that those who are noble now enter & remain in?' And as he thus nurses this yearning for the unexcelled liberations, there arises within him sorrow based on that yearning. With that he abandons resistance. No resistance-obsession gets obsessed there.[5] There is the case where a monk, with the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. With that he abandons ignorance. No ignorance-obsession gets obsessed there."[6]

​​​​​​​To paraphrase: once the meditator gets over rapture/piti they yearn for liberation (“desire deliverance”) and experience sorrow/sadness and “distress”, which leads to equanimity.

Ignorance (avijja) is the first link of DO and the final fetter. With a more modern psychological lens you could identify ignorance with psychological defense mechanisms (unconscious conditioning/sankharas). Personally I doubt that ignorance can ever fully be uprooted. Every supposed arahant I’ve seen still seems to display unconscious reactive patterns at times. You could even argue that expecting to eliminate ignorance is itself ignorance, like the belief in a perfect future enlightenment. This is emphasized in zen, although it also carries the shadow side of ignoring personal issues. Whether you believe in perfect enlightenment or no enlightenment, it’s still just clinging to thoughts …
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 8:59 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 8:59 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Jim Smith --
Just to be sure I am being clear: My belief is that trying to stop dukkha from arising without relaxing tends to involve suppression (not really letting go) which ultimately doesn't work and that is why people say that awakening has limitations.

If you're trying to stop dukkha from arising you are already going down a non-useful path. What we should be doing is using our practice to recognize dukkha for what it is, thus removing its fangs and its hold over our reactions. Stopping dukkha altogether is suppression.
Ben Sulsky, modified 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 9:26 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 9:25 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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I think what Jim and others are pointing at is that POIers end up on this forum all the time having traumatic psychological experiences and/or megalomania and it's a pretty volatile path and maybe there are better alternatives.  

As a devotee of Daniel Ingram / Mahasi noting, I encourage everyone to remember how unpleasant fast noting at the abdomen is at high speed.  It is not fun.  Sure, if you can meet unpleasantness with limitless equanimity then you're golden but that's a lot to ask at the beginning!  Mostly it just sucks.

I likened this part of the path to hitting my mind with a sledgehammer, smashing through a bunch of obstacles by sheer force (until equanimity, which unsurprisingly, took me a long time to figure out).

In my particular case, a sledgehammer was the perfect tool because I'm hard minded and good at putting myself back together.  I think for a lot of people maybe that's not the right tool.  
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 10:51 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 10:49 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Ben --

... POIers end up on this forum all the time having traumatic psychological experiences and/or megalomania and it's a pretty volatile path and maybe there are better alternatives.  

Having been around this and the related forums for many years I think reading MCTB and a tendency to attract assertive, competitive young men to this place has led to what you're calling psychological experiences and/or megalomania. I think it's a tendency to over-practice. Look at how many posters show up saying things like, "I've been meditating for 6 hours a day for two years..." 

So it's as much caused by the nature of the subjects as it is the method. The method is sound, I think. The application of the method is sometimes over the top.

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Bud E, modified 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 10:53 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 10:53 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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For as long as there have been maps of all kinds, there have been people misreading those maps and getting themselves in trouble. Whether it's a roadmap that is misread and leads to driving down the wrong road, nautical maps that lead to arriving on the wrong island or continent, or spiritual maps that lead to confusion and mistaken practise. I think it's more the tendency for people to quickly read ikea instructions and say "yeah, yeah I got this" and end up with extra screws, versus anything wrong with the maps themselves.
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 10:56 AM
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RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Well put, Bud E.
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Not two, not one, modified 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 4:42 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/15/22 4:42 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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I have been thinking about the link between the POI and the Four Frames of Reference (Body-Emotions-Mind-Dharmas). The POI starts with noting the body, until A&P. Then the dark night is about Emotions. Equanimity is about Mind (including consciousness). And of course Path is about Dharmas.

During the dukkha nanas it is hard to concentrate on and perceive clearly the discrete physical sensations of the body (or indeed any discrete sensations). However, more aggregate emotional formations naturally present themselves, and so make a much better object for investigation. There are hints of this in Mahasi Sayadaw's work, as he initially talks about body noting, but then moves on to emotional noting and mind noting. This is kind of hidden - he only presents these other forms of noting as examples, but I find the sequencing very interesting.

So during the dukkha nanas, it should be natural for practice to move on from noting the body to noting emotional formations. This can be done through clearly perceiving things like solidity, fluidity, clarity, energy, movement and the space of the emotion, clearly observing emotions arising and passing away, and clearly seeing them as not-self and a source of unsatisfactoriness if clung to. At this stage investigation can occur throughout the day as emotional formations arise.  Later when noting speeds up again, the emotional formations can be traced back to their physical roots of discrete sensations and the reaction to those sensations.

I wonder how much trouble is caused by overly dedicated practitioners staying fixated on the body, instead of moving on to the next frame of reference when it starts to naturally present itself?

Anyway, this is just a hypothesis.

Malcolm
Ben Sulsky, modified 1 Month ago at 8/16/22 11:54 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/16/22 11:54 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Chris M
Ben --

... POIers end up on this forum all the time having traumatic psychological experiences and/or megalomania and it's a pretty volatile path and maybe there are better alternatives.  

Having been around this and the related forums for many years I think reading MCTB and a tendency to attract assertive, competitive young men to this place has led to what you're calling psychological experiences and/or megalomania. I think it's a tendency to over-practice. Look at how many posters show up saying things like, "I've been meditating for 6 hours a day for two years..." 

So it's as much caused by the nature of the subjects as it is the method. The method is sound, I think. The application of the method is sometimes over the top.

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Same difference, right?
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Chris M, modified 1 Month ago at 8/16/22 12:39 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/16/22 12:39 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Same difference, right?

 Superficially maybe, but I'm distinguishing among types of Mahasi noting meditators. The over the top ones that are typically young, competitive men are the ones that get into troublesome territory. 
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Pepe ·, modified 1 Month ago at 8/16/22 6:45 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 8/16/22 6:45 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Hi Malcom, 

I like your classification. FWIIW (with no walk to back-up the talk) I have also been toying with something similar, connecting the three dantiens in Taoism with the 3Cs inside PoI, taking as reference MCTB2 basically and my personal experience. So it's subdivided in 9 zones. In particular, the idea was to account for those blurry zones  like A&P - Dissolution (arising vs fading phenomena) and DD/ReOb - Low-EQ (kind of a back-and-forth between 'bargaining', 'depression' and 'acceptance' in late DN with 'relief' + 'denial' in Low-EQ, when clinging to calm states).  Also, speculating that perhaps there's some blurry zone between High-EQ/Path/Fruition and Review/M&B (though it's stated that next path starts in A&P). Anyway, it's just a pet model that has pros and cons, not trying to sell it to anyone, just sharing as perhaps others may develop it further.


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Pepe ·, modified 19 Days ago at 9/8/22 6:09 PM
Created 19 Days ago at 9/8/22 5:42 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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I found a video from Scott Kiloby about bypassing stuff, related to what I wrote above. Just wanted to shared a "trimmed" version of it (it's still wordy though emoticon):

"When I became interested in non-duality and inquiry there was really no talk of trauma back then. It was more about just sort of recognizing the awareness that's here, that's prior to thought, and just to seeing that none of the thoughts and the feelings and sensations that arise are really me. They're happening within me and this me being an awareness not a story, but an awareness that's even prior to the story".

"So that's what I got out of those non-dual teachings. Very helpful. It brought about the awakening the recognition that I am not any of the stuff. And there was a sense even that none of the stuff is really real, it's just made up fictional thinking interpretation, put on society, put on life. And then we get lost in the interpretation and we suffer. So the awakening was about seeing none of that is really real. It's not what I am, it's just interpretation. I can live here in the moment without a lot of interpretation and just be free and happy and peaceful".

"But what I found out is that that awakening is not it's not the end. It's not the end of the unfolding that we call spirituality. For 10 years I did thousands of sessions with people all over the world who were coming to this recognition of awakening but then finding out that they had unresolved issues which I later found out that's trauma or unresolved issues around addiction".

"That awakening to awareness was certainly the beginning of freedom of a different way of experiencing life for sure and well worth the recognition, but they were suffering still in various ways.  And they were curious about why that was happening".

"As I started to look at the non-dual world, I started to notice that they're really not trauma informed. The scientific research in the last 15 years shows how trauma lies at the basis of so many ills in society.  In fact everyone is traumatized to a certain degree, whether they realize it or not. The studies shows how trauma was driving so much of our behavior addiction, often driving the seeking for enlightenment because we're trying to run from our trauma or we're trying to find self-improvement in the future to avoid this traumatic stuff". 

"I found out in the clinical setting that trauma is even behind a lot of diagnosis like anxiety and depression, because anxiety and depression are just abstract clinical terms but when you look at what trauma is, it's talking about actual human experience. It's about what happened to me or what happened to you that then became an emotional imprint in our systems that we carried over in time not having been able to resolve that, and then meeting current triggers in our experience, but not always making the connection that the current trigger is actually connected to an earlier trauma that we've been carrying around".

"So when I came back to the non-dual teaching world and started to watch these teachers say 'just be here now', I thought 'yeah that's fine, but you've got to go back to the past because the past is in you now'. You see through memory, through feeling and sensation, your body remembers, your system remembers the pain of the past. So it's not just about being here now, it's about seeing that the triggers that were arising now have a connection to the past". 

"But we don't have to psychoanalyze here, this is not therapy, this is not counseling, this is not feel good talk to the inner child stuff. This is a radical look at the past, which we experience as words and pictures and feelings and sensations that are arising now. It really isn't the past that we can experience other than our memories, thoughts, words, pictures, feelings and sensations that give us an impression of the past".
​​​​​​​
"So when we're looking from awareness why would we avoid an aspect of ourselves? Why would we turn away from the pain of the past and just sort of try to be here now?" 
 
"The truth is it's just not working for people. And I think largely the reason that so many people are still struggling in the non-dual world or the awakening world is that they're just avoiding or not. They're not trauma informed. They don't understand how all this is working".

"So I want to encourage you to definitely use the somatic tools that I've talked about before in earlier videos in your everyday life as triggers come up, but also to have a deeper understanding before we start working in the next videos around trauma".

"Trauma is not just those sort of classic cases that I have worked with like war veterans who've been through horrific situations, or people who were just beat to a pulp, gay people bashed, people chased by serial killers, people who as a child they were seriously molested by all sorts of adults for years, people who had such bad things happened to them that their memories got repressed so they don't remember anything from like age nine back, cases of extreme abandonment or neglect".  

"On one end of the spectrum we have those examples but we're trying to open the conversation to include the whole spectrum, like people making fun of me, or having a mother that's constantly judgmental or a father who's always let down by you or just isn't present there with you too focused on his job. That's drama too, because all of these things leave an emotional and psychological imprint".

"I'm going to show you more tools about how we work with trauma but we have to work with it in a different way because this can be very overwhelming stuff to look at, so we've devised these tools as you've seen to keep us from being overwhelmed in that investigation of trauma".

"I'm just saying the awakening went all the way down to my body once I became trauma-informed and started to use these tools that we've been developing. I'm still in the process of embodiment, it just it's just the way it is. The awakeness is here constantly, I live in the now I mean. I live from present awareness the story the past and future is not there for me much anymore, but the trauma and the pain that we've held onto is a process". 

"So through the years, the trauma that I felt in my throat from not being able to speak has gone, the trauma or the blockage or contraction in my chest that would kept me from loving openly has gone, the stomach tightness that driving force of contraction down in my stomach is gone, the pelvic area is clear. The embodiment process includes even coming down in a deeper way into the body and you can't really do that with most of the non-dual teachings unless they're somatic based".

"Many people can just stop for a moment and just be present. But working out this trauma is a process, because we hide this stuff from ourselves, there's resistance to looking at. There's no magic pill there we have to become open to look at that stuff from our past.  But I can assure you from in my own experience and in working with others that that investigation is absolutely beautiful and fascinating and freeing and liberating in a way that's hard to put into words".

"I want to talk at some point about the connection between trauma and the identities that we get that get formed in us, the deficiency stories that are often hooked into the trauma. For example, when I was bullied as a kid it wasn't just the traumatic event that itself left an imprint, there also was a story that God created an identity in me which was that I'm unlovable, I'm unsafe and I deserve to be punished. Those are identity related belief systems about me. So when we talk about seeing through ego we have to see through those stories, that's part of ego and those stories are often connected to trauma".

"So you can try to ‘be here now’ all you want but if you're carrying that past pain you're going to experience that oscillation you're not going to be able to stabilize here in the moment fully because that trauma is going to sneak back up on you and give you a charge here and a trigger here. Some people even after awakening they get into a bad place because they're ignoring that trauma".
shargrol, modified 19 Days ago at 9/8/22 6:28 PM
Created 19 Days ago at 9/8/22 6:26 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Good stuff. 

In good practice, awakening feeds healing and healing feeds awakening. But that's really just an ideal that never quite happens. In all of us, there is normally just a little too much focus on awakening (which is really just a bit of spiritual bypassing) or a little too much focus on healing (which is basically a past-oriented wounded/victim mentality). It's something to check every so often, just to see if we've gone too far to either side...  Our friends will often drop hints if we've gone a bit too woo-woo or too psychological emoticon

The thing about trauma and coping mechanisms is that the foundational belief behind them is closer than close... it really doesn't show up as a "thing" in terms of individual thoughts, emotions, urge, or sensations. They are only really discovered through periods of feeling "off" and actions/behaviors just not fitting the situation. If you don't surpress these feelings of friction/disconnect, eventually a pattern will become visible --- ah, so that's the reason I'm doing that thing even though it isn't effective! And then suddenly you see the pattern. It's more of a complex cluster of related thoughts and emotions over a couple of minutes, rather than just whatever momentarily shows up in "the now".

One of the most interesting things to me (and this is related to the previous paragraph) is that you can't deduce a core traumatic belief from the style of  coping mechanism. That is, the behavior isn't diagnostic. Someone with unresolved abuse could be 1) avoiding situations that have conflicts, 2) finding abusive people and submitting to them, or 3) being abusive to other people. All three of these people have unresolved abuse, yet their behavior is wildly different. (And as an aside: person #1 could falsely be seen as "spiritual", because they seem to be saintly and "above it all".) So it really takes some investigative work to uncover what might be the unseen and unquestion core wound/false belief that is creating a coping mechanism. 

Hmm, thinking about it now... the difference between healthy coping and a coping mechanism is that in the latter, it's blindly applied to a stressful situation which is why it often doesn't quite fit. Healthy coping is just a state of flow that adapts to a difficult situation. It's stressful, but responsive to the situation. 

Anyway... thanks for that post Pepe, as you can see it got me thinking...
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Pepe ·, modified 19 Days ago at 9/8/22 10:30 PM
Created 19 Days ago at 9/8/22 10:30 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Thanks Shargrol for adding to the topic. Good that you mentioned checking whether inclining too much either awakening or healing. In my short experience, changing focus happen by itself. Awakening process and healing process happen in waves (or maybe it's my latin cyclothymic background emoticon), kind of hiting a wall and needing to change focus so as to keep moving.  In healing for example, lots of stuff bubble up day after day in meditation, dreams and during daily activities, but then it gets repetitive and there's nothing really new or an insight to observe. Kind of reaching a plateau where everyday is mostly the same, the practice lose some traction, and the awakening garden is once again seen greener...  Given the cultural stereotypes, don't know if I'm being wise or lazy emoticon​​​​​​​ 
shargrol, modified 19 Days ago at 9/9/22 5:19 AM
Created 19 Days ago at 9/9/22 5:19 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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I totally agree, it is rarely simply equally balanced, it is normally more like phases, or coming and going of waves, or a dance. emoticon

It's very similar to how practice sometimes has more of a vipassina emphasis and sometimes more samatha... but both are important and both are needed... and one supports the other.
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Bud E, modified 17 Days ago at 9/10/22 12:49 PM
Created 17 Days ago at 9/10/22 12:48 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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shargrolSomeone with unresolved abuse could be 1) avoiding situations that have conflicts, 2) finding abusive people and submitting to them, or 3) being abusive to other people. All three of these people have unresolved abuse, yet their behavior is wildly different. (And as an aside: person #1 could falsely be seen as "spiritual", because they seem to be saintly and "above it all".) So it really takes some investigative work to uncover what might be the unseen and unquestion core wound/false belief that is creating a coping mechanism.  Hmm, thinking about it now... the difference between healthy coping and a coping mechanism is that in the latter, it's blindly applied to a stressful situation which is why it often doesn't quite fit. Healthy coping is just a state of flow that adapts to a difficult situation. It's stressful, but responsive to the situation.

In the Demonic Jhana thread, i'd forgotten the more aggressive advice Daniel gave to stamp out such states immediately. When I originally read the sutta where Uncle Sid recommended the same (crushing mind with mind) many years ago, I remember thinking "wait, what?!". It just seemed so un-buddhist to approach any sensation that way, instead of with the usual equanimity. After considering this, a chain of memories of situations where i've avoided conflict arose, and I found myself defending the idea of avoiding conflict. There is past trauma which feels like it justifies that reaction. It seems like I may be applying it as a default reaction instead of a mindful choice depending on the situation. So, if someone were to suspect they may be exhibiting signs of #1, what would your advice be?
shargrol, modified 17 Days ago at 9/11/22 6:53 AM
Created 17 Days ago at 9/11/22 6:53 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

Posts: 1830 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
I'll be honest, it's hard to give advice on this, just because there can be so many different causes of avoidance and what might be good advice for some people, might be bad advice for others. So I would mostly use the discovery of an avoidance pattern as an opportunity for more investigation.

"Interesting, why am I wary of conflict?"
"How did my views on conflict develop as a kid and as a young adult?"
"Was it smart for me to avoid conflict then?"
"Is it smart for me to avoid conflict now?"
"Am I limiting myself by avoiding conflict?"
"What are the thoughts I associate with conflict?"
"What are the emotions?"
"What are the body sensations?"
"Do I try to avoid the thoughts? the emotions? the feeling of the body sensations?"
"Can it be okay to think the thoughts? to feel the emotions? to feel the body sensations?"
"What might be a more balanced way to think and behave in times of conflict?"
"What little training exercises can I give myself to practice what I want to happen?"
etc.

In other words, when we discover these psychological patterns it's an great opportunity for really taking a good look at our mind/body and behavioral habits. Chances are we'll realize there are some changes we can slowly make over time to be more in balance.

The final thing I would say is that no one should be afraid of reading non-meditation self-help books or going to a therapist or any of the associated stuff we can do --- besides meditation --- to make changes in our life. Sometimes we discover we avoid because of past trauma, in which case learning about trauma is helpful. Sometimes we discover we avoid because we're worried if we get in a conflict we will get angry, in which case learning more about healthy anger is important. Sometimes we discover that we avoid because we feel unworthy of something, in which case we can work on changing that core belief. Etc. etc.   

Life is sort of a psychological adventure. emoticon
shargrol, modified 17 Days ago at 9/11/22 6:54 AM
Created 17 Days ago at 9/11/22 6:54 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

Posts: 1830 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
And I should also add, there is a pretty good book on trauma and meditation: 

​​​​​​​Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healingby David A. Treleaven and Willoughby Britton | Feb 13, 2018
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Bud E, modified 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 10:50 AM
Created 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 10:50 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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shargrol

Life is sort of a psychological adventure. emoticon


Thanks for the explanation. Your suggestions are basically the kind of investigation that i'd usually do, but seeing if it's the physical sensations, emotions, or thoughts that i'm avoiding specifically is a good idea. When reactivity occurs it's tempting to just lump it all together and reject the whole pile. Recently I noticed that it feels much more rooted in the body than it used to. The mental and emotional reactivity has decreased, but that physical contraction is still surprisingly strong when the avoidance instinct kicks in. Of course that physical contraction still conditions emotions and thinking, it just seems more subtle than before. Perhaps it's just a more sneaky form of bypassing.   emoticon

It's funny how practise often starts with chasing after bliss and impressive states, attainments etc. Eventually it settles down to something fairly basic and low key. Mostly just "cleaning up your shit", as Linda would phrase it.
shargrol, modified 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 10:58 AM
Created 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 10:58 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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For what it's worth, this book is really good at pointing to how we make a lot of assumptions about thoughts, emotions, and body sensation... and then avoid them like crazy. This book does a good job at showing that usually the actual experience, the body sensations, are not what we fear them to be and are actually quite workable. You might enjoy it.

Already Free: Buddhism Meets Psychotherapy on the Path of Liberation Paperback – Illustrated, June 1, 2015
by Bruce Tift MA LMFT (Author), Tami Simon (Foreword)
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Bud E, modified 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 1:06 PM
Created 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 1:06 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Looks like I have some reading to do, thanks.

Two things i'm noticing regarding avoiding conflict is that it's often avoiding a memory of a prior conflict, not what's actually occurring in that moment. The prior conflict may have no significant connection to the current one, except for some vague sensation of similarity. Sometimes this is even at a semi conscious level, where it seems easier to just go with it than recognize more fully what's going on. The other thing is that burning bridges isn't just about anger or vengeance, it's also an attempt to cut off the possibility of any future conflict. It's as much defensive as offensive. It seems so obvious typing it out, but not so much when doing it.
shargrol, modified 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 1:34 PM
Created 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 1:33 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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that's EXACTLY how it happens. The unconscious pattern is triggered when there is a _reminder_ of the old event/trauma/neglect. Then the body/mind goes on autopilot and does it's coping mechanism.

The basic theory is that when the pattern was created, the ability to stay present was impossible at the time. It was just too much. And some coping mechanism was used to soften the full intensity of the experience. So it sorta was helpful at one time... but the problem is it kind of "wires itself in" as an unconscious habit.

If you really want to geek out on all the classic patterns of coping, this book is pretty complete. Reading it can be very thought provoking because it helps tease out all the ways we can create unconscious patterns. It took me a while to get through this book just because it gave me so much to think about.

Reinventing Your Life: The Breakthrough Program to End Negative Behavior and Feel Great Again Paperback – Unabridged, May 1, 1994
by Jeffrey E. Young  (Author), Janet S. Klosko  (Author), Aaron T. Beck (Foreword)
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Bud E, modified 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 5:11 PM
Created 16 Days ago at 9/11/22 5:05 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Noticing one other thing about the aversion. When the unconscious pattern is arising, it's not just that it's easier to go along with it, there's a palpable resistance to seeing more clearly. Like there's a bundle of shame and resentment and fear etc. shouting "shut up, shut up, shut up" when there's an attempt to untangle the knot mindfully. It's both a physical, emotional and mental sensation. Tension and frigidity, like a semi conscious deer in headlights reaction. I don't shut down in more directly dangerous situations, so it's interesting that memories of trauma (which is not actually dangerous in the direct sense) can cause that.

A good reading list, and some new avenues of investigation. Thanks again, and apologies for the threadjack.  emoticon
shargrol, modified 15 Days ago at 9/12/22 8:43 AM
Created 15 Days ago at 9/12/22 8:27 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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Bud E  I don't shut down in more directly dangerous situations, so it's interesting that memories of trauma (which is not actually dangerous in the direct sense) can cause that.
Neat, that's interesting about not shutting down in truly dangerous situations. I suspect that's because there is so much new information that fills the mind that it can't go unconscious and just use the old habit. Kinda makes sense from an efficiency standpoint: use low-computational demand habits for most situations, but don't go unconsious during dire situations. The mind is fascinating!

It also is sort of the same mechanism for digesting old trauma: just enough attention and investigation is used to go back into the old memories so that the thoughts and emotions and sensations can be re-experienced more consciously. When that's done, then those old experiences are firmly relegated to "the past" and no longer haunt the mind. (Obviously, this can require time and for really tough stuff guided therapy helps.) In contrast, what happens a lot is people sort of constantly and vaguely dwell on the past and that keeps the past in the present but without any new clarity or insight.  ​​​​​​​ 
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Bud E, modified 15 Days ago at 9/12/22 10:17 AM
Created 15 Days ago at 9/12/22 10:17 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

Posts: 11 Join Date: 4/29/22 Recent Posts
shargrol
I suspect that's because there is so much new information that fills the mind that it can't go unconscious and just use the old habit. Kinda makes sense from an efficiency standpoint: use low-computational demand habits for most situations, but don't go unconsious during dire situations. The mind is fascinating!

It also is sort of the same mechanism for digesting old trauma: just enough attention and investigation is used to go back into the old memories so that the thoughts and emotions and sensations can be re-experienced more consciously. When that's done, then those old experiences are firmly relegated to "the past" and no longer haunt the mind. (Obviously, this can require time and for really tough stuff guided therapy helps.) In contrast, what happens a lot is people sort of constantly and vaguely dwell on the past and that keeps the past in the present but without any new clarity or insight.  ​​​​​​​ 
When in genuinely life threatening situations, time seems to slow down and there is a high level of clarity and barely any sense of agency, just flow. So yeah it's interesting that there's such a mix of behaviours with slightly different triggers.

Funny you should mention the past. Previously I worked through some other trauma from a different situation in childhood, and it worked out basically how you described. First I just soaked in memories of that trauma, letting it all just show itself fully without any attempt to filter it. Less rumination and more vipassana. Wasn't fun, but also wasn't as bad as i'd expected. Then eventually I started just saying "old news" whenever that stuff would show up. After you've read a newspaper, there's not a whole lot to be gained from reading it again, and it's boring. When mind looked at those memories as being like old newspapers, it seemed to lose interest and that trauma stopped haunting me. I'll see if I can do basically the same thing with this.
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Dustin, modified 12 Days ago at 9/15/22 8:35 PM
Created 12 Days ago at 9/15/22 8:35 PM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

Posts: 113 Join Date: 12/28/17 Recent Posts
shargrol
Bud E  I don't shut down in more directly dangerous situations, so it's interesting that memories of trauma (which is not actually dangerous in the direct sense) can cause that.
Neat, that's interesting about not shutting down in truly dangerous situations. I suspect that's because there is so much new information that fills the mind that it can't go unconscious and just use the old habit. Kinda makes sense from an efficiency standpoint: use low-computational demand habits for most situations, but don't go unconsious during dire situations. The mind is fascinating!

It also is sort of the same mechanism for digesting old trauma: just enough attention and investigation is used to go back into the old memories so that the thoughts and emotions and sensations can be re-experienced more consciously. When that's done, then those old experiences are firmly relegated to "the past" and no longer haunt the mind. (Obviously, this can require time and for really tough stuff guided therapy helps.) In contrast, what happens a lot is people sort of constantly and vaguely dwell on the past and that keeps the past in the present but without any new clarity or insight.  ​​​​​​​ 

I think I spent a lot of time in the last couple of years constantly and vaguely dwelling on the past like you said and sometimes re-traumatizing my self without gaining insight until I realized I kept getting lost in trance and day dreaming modes. Or just pushing through to get eq but not getting anywhere at all. But it took a bunch of times through cycles to be able to rest and see what I was doing or mistakes I was making. Kind of like I kept going into practice trying to do therapy instead of investigation. 

here's a question shargrol, what do you mean by guided therapy? 
shargrol, modified 11 Days ago at 9/16/22 11:19 AM
Created 11 Days ago at 9/16/22 11:19 AM

RE: POI vs Just DOing it

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I mean a therapy that is supported by a trained professional, who will guide the patient in re-experiencing and understanding their past trauma.

Meditation is great, but professional therapy has it's value especially for people struggling with past trauma/abuse/neglect and the maladapted beliefs and behavoirs that can become established. Professionals are pretty good at helping patients in this way.