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McMindfullness
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10/14/14 4:42 AM
Hi Guys
I'm bumping into a lot of people recently who have done the MBSR program. I'm all for people meditating more, but I'm concerned that MBSR is a bait and switch. People go looking for healing/relaxation and end up in the dark night, I don't know what to say to these people who are obviously experienceing "Mind and Body" for the first time or worse are in "A&P" and have no idea about the sh!t storm they maybe walking into. Any thoughts?

Later

RE: McMindfullness
Answer
10/14/14 8:43 AM as a reply to Howard Maxwell Clegg.
It is a frequent topic of conversation here, a major rant in my book, and you should definitely check out the work of Willough Britton, who talks about that all the time.

We gets lots of MBRS graduates here who are now caught in insights they never were told could happen who are freaking out without any good conceptual frameworks or things to help normalize that. It is a true tragedy. I do hope that within a few decades these basic useful maps will make their way into that extremely naive and very new tradition.

I was actually just up at their headquarters in Massachusettes a few months ago and talking about this with some of the people there, and they did say that they are starting to very slowly, delicately and gently try to introduce these things in some way. We'll see what comes of all of that, but I hope it will be something good.

RE: McMindfullness
Answer
10/14/14 9:24 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Funny you should mention your book, I read it a few years ago and it changed my life, after 10 years (or more) in the dark night I finally got stream entry with its help and the folk here at dho. Thankyou so much for that, nice to know that I was never bat-shit crazy, just in transition. I'm now studying with Kenneth Folk and got 2nd last year. So now I feel like I might actually know a bit about what I'm talking about.

Whenever I run into a darknight yogi I usually plead ignorance and direct them to the "dharma diagnostic clinic" and to your book as I've not had the confidence to offer direct advice. Nobody ever appears to take this direction, so recently, I've started to actually speak from my own experience. It turns out to be extremely difficult and I'm starting to realize how delicate the human ego is. I go to a couple of meditation groups and in the discussion space after I often say things that I think are fairly straight forward but are often followed by a deafening silence. I find that the most simple of insights are actually fairly controversial, such as "its possible to be angry with no proximate cause."

Just recently a MBSR student posted up a case history on a chat room I frequent. This person is in real and possibly lifestyle threatening difficulties. It was classic A&P, Dissolution, Dukka nyanas progression, I said as much in the gentlest terms I could find. Silence.

Is there any point trying to share what I think I know? Will anybody ever listen? Is this just my own ego going in circles? Is this just one of the 3rd path challenges i.e. nobody cares anyway, deal with it?

Anyway its great to hear that things are changing in the MBSR world, however slowly and sorry for the rant, but I feel better now.

Peace

RE: McMindfullness
Answer
10/18/14 12:28 PM as a reply to Howard Maxwell Clegg.
Maybe a good way to do it, since you can speak from experience, is to leave the terminology out and only speak from experience.  That way, you can be genuine and personal - no one will feel you're trying to explain their own practice to them or make assumptions about what they're doing.

For example, if someone is in the dark night, you can say, "Ah, I went through a similar experience like that, and a few people I've talked to also had that problem.  I think it's caused by X, Y, and Z and I was able to make progress through it with this technique of labeling sensations."  That just sounds like someone trying to help, you know?  If you go in with, "Aha, you're following the progress of insight!  Right now you're in the dark night, which happens to everyone, and soon you'll be here," etc and so on, an egotistical or vain person will hear, "you're just like everyone else, and I'm more experienced than you," and a person having a hard time will hear, "your suffering isn't anything special," and a fluffy bunny will hear, "your idea of buddhism is all wrong, and I know better than you," and someone who isn't a buddhist will hear, "all meditation follows buddhist maps, and buddhism is the only real solution/ultimate truth/thing you should practice."

A good question to ask yourself is, where is my intention to help coming from?  Am I weaving my aversion towards other people into my advice for this person?  Am I trying to be helpful with their specific trouble, or am I preaching the gosple?  People are very receptive to emotional tone, even in text, and mental development is a very personal thing for most people.  Giving advice or telling people about themselves from our personal viewpoint and context usually sounds egotistical or evangelical, even if that isn't our intention.

RE: McMindfullness
Answer
10/18/14 4:58 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
It is a frequent topic of conversation here, a major rant in my book, and you should definitely check out the work of Willough Britton, who talks about that all the time..
Daniel, I presume you've seen Willoughby's conversation with the Dalai Lama that was videod at Mind and Life XXIV? Any comments on what was, as far as I could make out, a reaction of mild confusion on the part of HHDL when Willoughby talked about dark night issues. It was as if he'd never heard of them. Before he spoke, I half expected his reaction to be one of "Ahh, so you guys are finally taking this seriously and are seeing results." But as I say, at best he seemed to be reacting as if to say "What? That sounds weird!" If I'm right in that interpretation then various explanations come to mind. For example:

1. We western types aren't  "doing it right" and so should figure that out. For example, maybe we're not placing enough emphasis on morality training?

2. We're seeing stuff that the Tibetans aren't, because *they* aren't doing it right.

That's a far from exhaustive list, and I'm using "doing it right" in a completely vague way. But I'd be interested in your thoughts.

.

RE: McMindfullness
Answer
12/9/14 1:57 PM as a reply to Tee P Kay.
Daniel, I presume you've seen Willoughby's conversation with the Dalai Lama that was videod at Mind and Life XXIV? Any comments on what was, as far as I could make out, a reaction of mild confusion on the part of HHDL when Willoughby talked about dark night issues. It was as if he'd never heard of them. Before he spoke, I half expected his reaction to be one of "Ahh, so you guys are finally taking this seriously and are seeing results." But as I say, at best he seemed to be reacting as if to say "What? That sounds weird!" If I'm right in that interpretation then various explanations come to mind. For example:

1. We western types aren't  "doing it right" and so should figure that out. For example, maybe we're not placing enough emphasis on morality training?

2. We're seeing stuff that the Tibetans aren't, because *they* aren't doing it right.

I happened to watch that video just last night, and, yes, it was weird--with mutual looks of confusion between HHDL and Willoughby. My understanding of what HHDL was saying was that, "Hey, if people are freaking out, then it is their fault." Specifically, he referred to the Three Trainings and emphasized that a solid foundation of moral training must be laid down, then concentration training, and only then insight. He spoke also of the need for a lot of conceptual (ie, "book" learning) before engaging in insight practices. He heads the Gelugpa tradition, which I followed for a while simply because it was the only local place I could find. Anyway, this tradition is heavily into the scholarship and conventional-understanding side of preparation, very monastic, very hierarchial, very methodical, very secretive, and very slow. And maybe better able to handle DN . . . if a student lives long enough to get to insight training under that scheme.

I do also think that there is a cultural disconnect here. I remember hearing about another conference HHDL attended at which he was shocked to learn that Westerners suffer from low self-esteem. He didn't even seem to quite comprehend what that malady could be. His translator went to lengths to explain what this affliction was. Culturally, we probably suffer from a deficit of faith on the energy-faith continuum. Just my guess. 

RE: McMindfullness
Answer
12/9/14 1:54 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
We gets lots of MBRS graduates here who are now caught in insights they never were told could happen who are freaking out without any good conceptual frameworks or things to help normalize that. It is a true tragedy. I do hope that within a few decades these basic useful maps will make their way into that extremely naive and very new tradition.

I was actually just up at their headquarters in Massachusettes a few months ago and talking about this with some of the people there, and they did say that they are starting to very slowly, delicately and gently try to introduce these things in some way. We'll see what comes of all of that, but I hope it will be something good.

Wife of one of my meditation group buddies at work is a director of the Duke MBSR center. I should talk with him about this and send him videos. Maybe he can talk to his wife, unless she already knows about this topic.