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A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)

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A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/21/14 8:01 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Richard Zen 11/21/14 8:27 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/21/14 9:13 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Richard Zen 11/21/14 11:56 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/22/14 10:58 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) C P M 11/22/14 12:02 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/22/14 12:58 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Pål 11/22/14 4:17 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/22/14 11:49 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Daniel - san 11/23/14 10:13 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Daniel - san 11/23/14 10:28 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/23/14 11:19 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Bill F. 11/23/14 1:36 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/23/14 10:13 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Bill F. 11/24/14 1:55 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/24/14 5:19 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/25/14 11:00 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/25/14 11:20 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Bill F. 11/25/14 11:37 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/26/14 10:50 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) lama carrot top 11/26/14 11:18 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 11/27/14 11:59 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Alexander Entelechy 11/28/14 7:53 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) b man 8/12/15 4:33 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 8/13/15 5:45 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Eva Nie 8/16/15 12:21 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 8/20/15 2:00 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) This Good Self 8/22/15 7:44 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) This Good Self 8/22/15 8:07 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Noah 8/22/15 8:05 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) This Good Self 8/22/15 8:18 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) This Good Self 8/22/15 9:01 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 8/23/15 12:35 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) This Good Self 8/23/15 10:05 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Not Tao 8/23/15 11:19 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) This Good Self 8/23/15 10:19 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Noah 8/23/15 7:30 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) This Good Self 8/23/15 7:47 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Noah 8/23/15 8:28 PM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Psi 11/23/14 12:03 AM
RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity) Jehanne S Peacock 11/24/14 1:47 AM
I think I've figured it out.  This is a very very simple and direct way to disable emotional conditioning.

I've noticed that, whenever a passionate feeling arises, there is a clutching sensation that happens in the chest. This clutching is directly under my control. It's something I can stop instantly when I notice it - and it is something I do to myself. It happens like this - first there is a thought or observation, maybe something like I notice I've forgotten to do something, and then there is a lunging/clutching/squeezing that I inflict on myself, almost like a self-punisment or a goad to action. This clutching is my reaction to the thought or observation.

Now, that clutching, itself, is the manifestation of the ego/identity. It is the cause of all emotional reactions. I've spent a little time just watching for it and stopping it when it happens, and I've noticed a direct effect on my feeling about things - that sense of urgency or importance given to certain opinions is completely gone. If you watch for it and catch it in action, the difference is really startling. It's almost as if one moment you cared very deeply about something, and the next, there is just nothing, no opinion at all.

Just to be clear, this is a very physical phenomena - like a fist in the chest that squeezes the heart - that happens when the identity is challenged or insulted, and it is directly under control. There is a negative afterglow that remains, like a bruise, that needs to heal on its own, and I don't think that is under control as much. When there hasn't been any squeezing for a while, the chest area feels very nice.

A good way to see this thing in action is to try to change how you feel, or to think about something that upsets you usually. If you do the latter, see what hapens if you stop squeezing and re-think the thought a few times.

EDIT: Wooow...  Try doing this with a very gentle awareness, like while breathing deeply.  Something that will move your attention away from the emotional center.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/21/14 8:27 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
For those sensations in the middle of the chest I like to welcome them. It seems to really work especially if you keep doing it all day, every day.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/21/14 9:13 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Try to understand, this is not pointing to all sensations that manifest there. This is pointing to a very specific reaction that is completely self-inflicted (i.e. under our control). It is a clenching, specifically, that starts right when we begin to feel a negative or passionate emotion (right when we encounted something undesirable), and it renews itself whenever the cause is revisited. Observe unwanted stimulus/thought/situation -> Clench the emotional center -> Experience physical pain. It is a self flagelation that causes the body to manifest the ego/identity as an emotion.  It is the ego - which is formless and meaningless on its own - giving itself form and control (and, thus, meaning).  We might as well be kicking ourselves or punching ourselves.

The emotions are a result of this clenching action, like the feeling of a burn or a cut from a whip, those sensations dissipate most quickly by allowing them to heal, so leaving them be is good advice - like saying, "don't pick at your wounds." However, we don't have to whip ourselves or beat ourselves in the first place. Those actions taken against the physical body shouldn't be welcomed, especially because we are in direct control of them!  We can stop them just by wanting to.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/21/14 11:56 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Try to understand, this is not pointing to all sensations that manifest there. This is pointing to a very specific reaction that is completely self-inflicted (i.e. under our control). It is a clenching, specifically, that starts right when we begin to feel a negative or passionate emotion (right when we encounted something undesirable), and it renews itself whenever the cause is revisited. Observe unwanted stimulus/thought/situation -> Clench the emotional center -> Experience physical pain. It is a self flagelation that causes the body to manifest the ego/identity as an emotion.  It is the ego - which is formless and meaningless on its own - giving itself form and control (and, thus, meaning).  We might as well be kicking ourselves or punching ourselves.

The emotions are a result of this clenching action, like the feeling of a burn or a cut from a whip, those sensations dissipate most quickly by allowing them to heal, so leaving them be is good advice - like saying, "don't pick at your wounds." However, we don't have to whip ourselves or beat ourselves in the first place. Those actions taken against the physical body shouldn't be welcomed, especially because we are in direct control of them!  We can stop them just by wanting to.
I'm glad you found something that works for you.

I know this might be early days but I would like to see how this practice plays out over time. Does the conditioned negative beliefs go away for good or is it something that has to be renewed? How consistent does the mindfulness have to be?

Richard

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/22/14 10:58 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
I will definately keep you updated! This really seems to be the key to me. Definately woth giving it a few months of effort. emoticon

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/22/14 12:02 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Try to understand, this is not pointing to all sensations that manifest there. This is pointing to a very specific reaction that is completely self-inflicted (i.e. under our control). It is a clenching, specifically, that starts right when we begin to feel a negative or passionate emotion (right when we encounted something undesirable),

I experience this as well. Not necessarily in the heart area though, I can feel muscular contraction in various parts of the body.  It can happen when a memory of an awkward, or socially uncomfortable situation pops into my head.  The reaction to the thought seems almost instantaneous, so I don't know if I can control it.  I'm interested it giving it a go though.

Yes, I think I'm a very anxious person, so the contractions I feel are mostly in the heart.  I have noticed some facial tension as well, though, related to anger and impatience.

At first it's instant when you start paying attention to it, but even that is fine because letting go of it is instant as well.  I've found repeating the triggering thought a few times, and releasing the physical tension each time will remove it completely, though.  Then the thought can continue on without the tension.

There seems to be a point when the mechanism itself just stops firing.  I've only been trying this for two days and it's a whole world of difference.  I actually feel like nothing can bother me.

Something that seems helpful: it isn't the thought or opinion that is troublesome.  You don't have to change "who you are" in any fundimental way with this - you just stop the process of expressing those things as physical feelings.  This changes the whole nature of the thought process and makes it much more objective, but the thought continues on so you don't have to be afraid of losing yourself or forgetting things you think are important.  This actually makes it very easy to embrace as a practice, at least for me.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/22/14 4:17 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Bhante Vimalaramsi also talks about contractions arising along with clinging that we are in control of, but in the head mainly.

I actually gave that a bit of thought, Pal.  Is this thing clinging?  Is it even related to Buddhism?

I don't think so.  Clinging is the desire for things to stay the same (and aversion is the desire for things to change), and the idea behind the buddhist "clinging" is that we are trying to control something out of our control - like, everything is happening on its own and we can't stop or change things, so we need to learn equanimity and acceptance of what is.  This doesn't seem to apply to these tensions.  The whole process is rather different.  The way I would describe it is that it seems more like I am intentionaly causing my own stress by imposing my mental reactions onto the physical body, and by simply paying atention I can stop being the cause of the problem.  I am, literally, completely in control of how I feel, and I use that control to cause my own stress.  The reason for this is, if I don't FEEL these opinions, then they don't actually mean much to me.

It's interesting to watch what happens when I use this method - relaxing the inner tension - on an emotion that I feel is justified.  I seem to hit a patch of cognitive dissonance where I really don't want to let it stop, even though I know it hurts, and I know I'm causing it.  When I've cleared this blip, the urgency is gone.  You might say the emotional weight is gone.

The reason it's working so well now is because, before, I thought I had to let go of my belief, or the weight behind the thought, for the emotional tension to go away.  This often took a lot of self exploration and working through the thought process behind things.  But it's actually the other way around.  By releasing the cringing tension, the belief itself evaporates, and I'm left only with the intellectual understanding and no emotional weight.  I don't even need to understand why I feel a certain way for this to work.  Once the tension is gone, the emotion starts to dissipate immediately.

I notice my opinions mostly stay the same before and after this shift.  For example, if I am really offended by something someone says to me, I might think to myself, "this person is a total ass..."  Then, let's say I notice the tension that suddenly appeared and I drop the tension.  I will still think they're an ass, but it simply doesn't matter anymore - like it's just a logical deduction.  Since it doesn't matter, I'm not offended in any way.

Pål:
Bhante Vimalaramsi also talks about contractions arising along with clinging that we are in control of, but in the head mainly.


Agreed,first is the sense contact,  but then  it's Craving that causes the tension, which then leads to Clinging if the tension is not noticed/released, but he has a whole practical method worked out, and from my experience it is valid. It works to reduce and eliminate Craving.  Having discovered this phenomenon on my own, as it seems also has Not Tao, it was indeed interesting to read and learn more from Bhante V.  When practiced, it will eventually become second nature and a new automatic response.  I call it a Positive Habitual Tendency.  And it is indeed Physical, but, so are mental formations, I mean really everything has a physical aspect to it, whether it is neurons, nerves or muscle fibers....  So, thoughts are really also physical, thoughts have three dimensions, they are as real as anything else.  Everything is made of something.

Good,
May all come to know this insight
May we all grow together
Metta

Psi

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/23/14 10:13 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Goenka calls those manifesting sensations sankharas and has a whole teaching about how awareness and equanimity (the two wings of the bird) dispells 'negative' habit patterns through non-reactive sensate clarity
This is working directly with the energy centers, though a hardcore Goenka disciple never says things like 'energy' - that's on the long list of banned words at one of the assistant-teacher led retreat centers
I think you've discovered Vipassana Not Tao : )

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/23/14 10:28 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Over a period of years I have found that this sensation-based type of practice is coupled very nicely with a more psychological/content-based practice such as Byron Katie's work, psychotherapy, or any of the work done in regards to dealing with actual thought content, so don't necessarily throw that out
All of the practices are of course very individual and personal, so the right balance between content and sensate will vary person to person, but one can become too estranged from real emotions (sensations and thoughts) if only the senate world is attended to over long periods of time
Another trap, for less seasoned practitioners, is that the method is treated more like Qigong, or a healing technique, and a subtle efforting gets employed. This would veer us away from the pristine state of perfection, which is here regardless of thoughts and sensations. Unless of course it's all incorporated into awareness and equanimity - it needs to all be made conscious and it all needs to be ok

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/23/14 11:19 AM as a reply to Daniel - san.
I don't think this is vipassana because it is not about developing equanimity. I have been trying to develop equanimity by allowing this cringing to continue. Consider the instructions for vipassana - you are supposed to note every sensation and let it be as it is - see it as not under control, always changing, and unsatisfying. If I were to practice vipassana, I woud note "cringing" or "lunging" and just wait for it to change on its own.  I would just sit there and note, "cringing, clenching, lunging..." on and on into the dark night.

What I'm saying is to modify and change something specifically. I'm saying that, when you notice the cringing, stop doing it as soon as you see it. Actively release it. Don't note it or be passive about it, don't worry about the thought that caused it, just stop the clenching. This is not equanimity, it's stopping something that is under your control.

Let's use an analogy. Let's say you are making a fist. With vipassana, you would observe the fist happening and try to see the fist without modifying it or being a part of it or controlling it. You would note, "fist" and let the fist continue squeezing. What I'm saying to do is, as soon as you see the fist, stop making a fist. I'm saying that fist is completely under your control.

As a side note, this thread is completely opposite from my "pointing out" thread, haha. Fun timing - I finally understood vipassana meditation, only to reject it days later when I finally understand the real solution to stress. I was practicing this exact method before and was led astray by bad advice like "allow everything" and "try to see everything clearly." Seeing clearly has nothing to do with ending stress, you just have to stop that clenching - it's very easy.

EDIT: What I'm pointing to here sidesteps any need to modify or change thoughts or beliefs (a la psychotherapy) as well. Let the thought continue, it's not the problem. The only problem is the emotional clenching feeling that happens at the moment you encounter something unpleasant. By releasing the clenching, there is no stress, and the thought is processed as any other normal thought. Just watch for the clenching, that's it! emoticon

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/23/14 1:36 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hey Not Tao: Is the "clenching" emotional or physical or some combination of both,  or both and something extra? My own experience is that the clenching is the result of being dissasociated from the directness of experience. I do not know that it's entirely black and white for me. Are you reporting that in looking at the emotional clenching directly it would not change at all on the physical/emotional front, and that you believe the practices here of looking directly at phenomena do not at all change the experienco of that phenomena from when we are not bringing direct attention to it? 
You said this one is directly opposite your "pointing out" thread: How will you know when you've found the correct way? Or do you believe that there is more than one correct way, some combination? How do you put these things into practice pragmatically if new and different ways are quickly presenting themselves and suddenly seeming to be the solution to the problem?

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/23/14 10:13 PM as a reply to Bill F..
The clenching is a "guts" or "heart" type feeling in the same way other emotional feelings are - so probably both and neither.  I'd say don't try to look for anythting specific but rather look for the instant reaction that happens when an emotion begins.  The reaction is very obvious.

Accepting things as they are does not work instantly to stop an emotion - at least in my experience.  The emotion would keep going, and I'd have to accept (or bring neutral awareness to) my negative feelings about the emotion, my desire to escape the feelings, my frustration with the method, and all the other things that manifest in the face of being powerless to stop something.  Almost like the stages of greiving.  Sometimes this worked, and I was able to enter a flowing acceptance that had the flavor of "no-self" - like being out of control and watching things happen on their own.  This is probably "the watcher" which is a kind of insight practice.  I've been trying this for a number of months.

Actually, the ideas outlined in this thread are a kind of rediscovery for me.  I was practicing this before, but lost the method because I didn't understand it completely.  What I was doing before was releasing the clenching by accepting the thoughts themselves and their negative outcomes.  The clenching was let go when I would suddenly understand the thought didn't have to be a problem.  Because I didn't understand completely, I lost the concept and ended up misunderstanding my own journal entries that were encouraging me to "just accept everything!"  Because this idea of acceptance lined up so well with Buddhist ideas, I kind of lost my way for a while trying to accept this cringing clenching feeling along with everything else.  I haven't had much success recently.

If you just try this out you'll understand why I'm excited about it.  It's perfectly effective, completely under control, and instant.  It really seems like the root of the problem.  Acceptance is a bad joke in comparison.  Why try to accept a negative mind state, or try to bring equanimity or awareness to it, when all you have to do is stop it?  There is no reason to endure negativity - you can just stop the clenching and the negativity goes away.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/24/14 1:47 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hi Not Tao,
I wanted to point out chapters from this book I think you already are familirar with, as it was pointed to in another thread, http://www.gianfrancobertagni.it/materiali/gurdjieff/nicoll_commentari3.pdf , starting from page 806 "A note on relaxation" (the next chapter, "Work on the emotional centre" is also highly recommended, although I don't cite that chapter here).  They seem to be pointing to the same discovery you report here.

Now we have to speak to-night about posture, about muscles—
in short, about Moving Centre. I suppose you know that each centre
hypnotizes the other centres. Supposing a man in his Moving Centre
invariably adopts a depressed muscular posture and the small muscles
of the face express gloom of some kind—do you think that such a
man will be able to have pleasant emotions or interesting thoughts?
Certainly not. He is chained by his muscular posture. You all know
that depressed states make us look depressed in posture. If one is
intelligent enough in the Work one will alter one's posture if one is
trying to separate from the negative emotion that has got hold of
one, because each negative emotion will produce its own muscular
posture.

....

Now, since the Moving Centre can hypnotize the Emotional and
Intellectual Centres, it is a good thing to notice your posture and your
facial expression, your face-posture, at times, and to study through
internal attention how to alter these postures. The reason is that if
you relax the muscles, especially the small muscles, you will get into a
different state of emotion and of thought. Have you ever noticed
that they begin to assume certain postures, certain facial expressions?
Now supposing that just at that moment either this man or this woman
observes himself (or herself) and starts by relaxing the muscles, both
large and small, would it be possible for the state of rage to continue
and grow? Certainly not. Unfortunately we never work on ourselves
just at the moment when we should, because we much prefer to fall
into typical mechanical reactions to the ordinary affairs of life rather
than to take them more consciously with some degree of Self-Remembering.
In fact, a man flying into a rage, if he could observe the
tensions in his muscles, would really be a man who could remember
himself at the critical moment and this would entirely change his
behaviour.

If you will
start with the small muscles of your face and do this exercise quite
sincerely you will be very surprised to find out how very often rather
difficult and worrying thoughts completely cease. For example, stop
frowning for a short time. I mean, don't just stop frowning because
you are told not to frown but through internal attention really
go into the muscles that are frowning, and lo and behold, all your
frowning thoughts will disappear
. This means that they are kept going
by the posture of your face
. Again, people who stick out their jaws and
clench their fists find that it is quite remarkable if they can cease to do
this—they feel quite alien from themselves. But, since we all wish
to remain mechanical and do not wish to change at all, I fancy that
these people will very soon stick out their jaws and clench their fists
and make chests as before.
I've found these ideas to be tremendously useful, although also veeery hard to apply in a severe situation, as the author mentions.

 Cheers, and keep up the good work emoticon

 Jehanne

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/24/14 1:55 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Cool. Thank you for your response/s.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/24/14 5:19 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hi Pawel,

Are you referring to one of those threads where I was sugesting negative visualization?  This is essentially what I was suggesting there, though not so clearly as I didn't see the mechanic well enough at that time.  I remember you said there was no reason to dwell on negative experiences, I believe - which makes sense in retrospect but I think we misunderstood eachother.  I am still using negative visualization with this technique.  It's even more useful now that I understand it perfectly.  The negative judgement can go on without the emotion, and this is direct practice in diffusing the mechanism.

EDIT: BTW, my pointing-out thread was the whole answer to Mu (and all zen koans, for that matter).  The only koan in Zen is, "If I am already enlightened, what do I need to do to get enlightened?"  The answer, of course, is that you have to do not-doing.  This is the heartwood of modern Buddhism.  I actually understand Buddhism rather well at this point.  This thread has nothing to do with Buddhism.  My opinion, of course.

EDIT 2: I'm referring to modern Buddhism mainly, here - these ideas of vipassana and no-self.  If you read the suttas your own way, then this will not be relevant.

@Jehanne: That does sound similar. emoticon  I'm sure this isn't anyhting new to humanity, but I've never seen it described very well which is suprising to me considering how essential it is!

Where he says, "since we all wish to remain mechanical..." at the end is very relevant.  Even though I feel like I have the golden ticket out of suffering, I still catch myself questioning whether I want to use it sometimes.  I think this points to the fact that we really are "doing" the emotional pains to ourselves because we've learned to trust them.  It can be difficult to imagine being in a car accident or witnessing a slaughter and still feeling good.  I've been very methodical about it the last few days, though, taking on a "no matter what" mentality in modifying emotional tensions, and once I'm free from the feeling I always decide that it's a better way of being.  I'm starting to feel much more trusting of my calm and neutral self than my emotional self.  There's really no reason to continue suffering.

EDIT: I'm reading through this chapter on the emotional center, and I'm really enjoying these ideas.  Relaing the small muscles in the face did something instantly for me. emoticon

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/25/14 11:00 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/library/topics/instincts.htm

I think this article is especially relevant for this thread. I'm betting Richard Zen will find it interesting (being the brain chemical man emoticon).

EDIT: Also this http://www.effective-mind-control.com/amygdala.html

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/25/14 11:20 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
With negative visualization, I intentionally recall events or thoughts that have habitual cringing reactions tied to them and remove these reactions in real time as they come up.  For example, in the past I used to have lots of thoughts that would repeat in my head at night about embarrasing situations or things I said that might have hurt people's feelings.  So when I started practicing negative visualization, I sat down and started thinking about these situations.  I'd notice that little jump of embarrasment or guilt start to happen and I would stop that feeling.  Then I'd start again and think about the situation.  After 3 or 4 times the little jump just didn't happen, and I carried the thought through into wilder and wilder fantasies of things that could have gone wrong.  It's actually pretty fun to do because not only did the events themselves lose all seriousness, the way in which I became embarrased became less seious as well.  I don't have problems with laying awake at night anymore.  I used the same technique for my fear of spiders - and anything else that comes up, really.  I just bring up the thoughts that seem to be unwanted and remove the reactions from them as I think about them.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/25/14 11:37 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Is that the same as or different from cognitive behavioral therapy, or exposure training? 

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/26/14 10:50 AM as a reply to Bill F..
Probably the same, though I don't know much about either.  If you treat even mild irritation, slight uneasiness, etc as a problem to be cured by the method, you can take it all the way through.

From what I'm seeing with this, all negativity uses the same mechanism - that reactionary clenching.  As I'm practicing, even the things I haven't spent time with specifically are clearing up.  It isn't like every negative thing has to be dealt with individually - more like the mechanism just needs to be disabled.  There seems to be a cascade effect at some point and the thing just turns off completely.  Then I can think about anything at all with no reactions.  The feeling tone when that happens is difficult to describe.  It's like perfect contentment, or the complete lack of inhibitions.  There is no trace left of any kind of fear or anger or aversion.  Both the reactions and their afterglow are whiped out.

EDIT: I've done some preliminary reading on CBT and I haven't seen any mention of this mechanism.  It's all very focused on changing thoughts and the relationship with thoughts.  What I'm pointing to is stopping the emotional acceleration directly.  The thought is allowed to continue however it is, and each time a reaction to it comes up, I just remove the reaction.

Exposure therapy is similar to negative visualization, but again, without understanding how to directly control the emotional reaction, a person will just have to bear the pain of their reaction until it stops on its own.  This does work, but it doesn't offer any control over the mind and is a very painful and difficult way to deal with a problem.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/26/14 11:18 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
This sounds a lot like Dianetics (implemented via auditing in Scientology).

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
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11/27/14 11:59 AM as a reply to lama carrot top.
That's interesting, actually!  I didn't know anything about dianetics, so I did some reading.  It does seem similar, but I think that's because dianetics is basically a kind of therapy. The theory about a "reactive mind" struck a chord, but I didn't see any explanation of it. To me, this isn't something very complicated. It's just a mechanism that can be disabled.

I won't write it off as completely unrelated, but there seems to be a lot of junk attached to it, so I don't know how useful it'd be to delve into it.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
11/28/14 7:53 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Hey Not Tao
 
You might find this interesting.
 
(When I discovered Alexander’s experiments with the head, neck and back relationship, this gave me a new possibility for relieving my own muscle tension. What if I just concentrated on relaxing the head, neck and back muscles? This can take some time to learn how to do, because the muscles in the head and neck in particular are not always easy to perceive. But I got there eventually, and lo and behold once I could keep these muscles from tensing while doing things, my entire body was free from effort and tension. There was no need to focus separately on breathing, shoulders, stomach — they all “fell into line” dutifully the moment the tension was removed from my head and neck region. And my head felt more free, less held to the rest of me, and it seemed to just float upwards on its own, with my body following — I didn’t need to be ‘held’ up.

Not to lose track of Alexander’s psycho-physical unity, there are varying degrees of mental tension as well, which you can just as easily monitor and release by control of the head, neck and back region. For example, repetitive or obsessive thoughts are ‘tense’ thoughts, because they’re attempting to solve some issue or focus on some thing with a redundancy that is equivalent to the physical straining which produces muscle tension. I noticed that such thoughts produced noticeable muscle tension, often in the forehead, and by releasing this tension the thoughts lost their power and went away.)

The full essay is here:

http://www.learningmethods.com/confessions.htm

Not Tao:

What I'm saying is to modify and change something specifically. I'm saying that, when you notice the cringing, stop doing it as soon as you see it. Actively release it. Don't note it or be passive about it, don't worry about the thought that caused it, just stop the clenching. This is not equanimity, it's stopping something that is under your control.
.....
Ive always done this intuitively, whilst doing vipassana. I think it was something I learned to do on my first 10 day goenka retreat. I found that sometimes just by looking at things clearly, these releases would kind of just happen within the body without me even realising I was carrying any tension. Thats when I started to realise just how tightly I was wound up. 

Since then its always been about seeing, and releasing where tension lies. The quieter my mind, the clearer I see this. Then when it really wont release, thats when I remember to be equanimous about the tension. And then when I can really just let it be, it sometimes releases again. 

Since this topic has reappeared, I think I can explain this a little further.  What I identified as a "clenching" in the OP could be called a "pessimistic attitude" or a tendancy to assume something bad is going to happen.  In order to let go of this clenching, you can change your orientation towards assuming something good will happen instead.  This mechanism isn't necessarily verbal or conceptual, it's just a general feeling or attitude.  It is affected by whatever is currently occupying the attention, definately, but it is also affecting the judgements made about the current object of attention.  So it's a two-way street.

As an example, if you think about something difficult you have to do - say, writing a long paper, or doing a big project at work - and you have a pessimistic attitude towards it, this causes a whole set of reactions that could be called "clenching" that are an actual, physical attempt to escape.  If you consciously change your attitude about the object to a positive orientation, this clenching goes away.  This polar reaction between bad and good is a cumulative thing.  The more you see as bad, the deeper into that side of the emotional landscape you go.  The more time you spend with an optimistic outlook, the deeper you go into positive emotional territory.  So if you approach this project after a long refreshing weekend and a few complements from your co-workers, you're going to see it in a very different light than if it's friday and you are convinced you hate your job.  This is obvious, I'm sure, but there's something important hidden in that obviousness - the project itself is completely neutral.  You can feel however you want about it.  This is true about everything.

It can be helpful to focus on specific events - like if you are worried about something specific, imagining positive outcomes can cause a change - but the mechanism itself is actually somewhat independant of objects and is just a general quality of the mind.  You can tell which direction the mind is pointed by where your thoughts are moving and how strained you are physically.  If you feel cynical, depressed, anxious, tense, or sad, its like the mind is facing pessimism with it's back to optimism.  This is something that can actually be changed simply by willing it.  This doesn't mean "trying to feel better" - you can't will your feeligs to be a certain way - it means willing the mind to focus on good things (or just goodness/positivity/optimism in general), and this is what changes the mood.  Positive affermations can help with this, but only if you believe them.  Saying, "everything is okay," while maintaining a cynical state of mind is completely useless.  Instead, the solution is to allow the mind to settle on closure, solutions, acceptance, and open-endedness.  Optimism is the best word for this - you don't have to be optimistic about anything in particular, just embodying a state of positive expectation is enough to change the mood and sustain it.

EDIT:
Then when it really wont release, thats when I remember to be equanimous about the tension. And then when I can really just let it be, it sometimes releases again.


Another way to interpret this is that, by becoming equanimous towards tension, you are adopting a positive outlook about it.  Like, if you were to verbalize it in your mind, you'd be saying, "It's okay to have a little tension.  This isn't bad or wrong.  Soon it will go away on it's own."  This optimistic outlook releases the tension because the tension is caused by your opinions about the tension itself.  This is a symptom of any practice that watches the emotional states or other automatic psychophysical processes.  It's like trying to stop a headache while paying lots of attention to the headache - it's just likely to get worse.  The positive outlook is, I think, why practices revoling around acceptance work.  Acceptance is, essentially, adopting a positive attitude toward something.  I think the whole thign is a bit easier than acceptance, though.  You can simply change the general approach you're currently feeling to positive rather than negative, and the whole "mood system" will follow.

EDIT 2: Earlier in the thread I say the mechanism can be disabled or turned off, but I think it's more of a polar thing where it's either positive or negative.  When it's fully focused on the positive pole, the mind goes very quickly to solutions for problems and it doesn't run into walls or fear clenches - this is a very serene, flowing, easy state of being.  When it's fully focused on the negative end, it seems like everything is difficult and raw and grating.  It's quite possible to spend most of the time in the positive end, even with very little effort.  Moving into the positive from the negative can take a little effort, but just seeing that it's under control can be very inspiring and make the whole thing seem a lot easier compared to other habitual reactions.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/16/15 12:21 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Yeah, I've spent some time thinking on these subjects, especially in recent months.  I realized that most things in life are fairly neutral really by themselves.  Doing the work project, watching tv, etc, all get assigned various negatives or positives according to your mind.  If it's something you think you want to do, then you give it a positive assignment, or if it's something you think you were forced into, were taught it bad, or whatever, then it gets a neg assignment.  One person my love doing something another person hates and vice versa.  It's interesting to delve into how you choose your assignments and to play around with altering them.  Seems to be a strong tendency in humans to take some kind of basic task and make a big drama story about how horrible it is, when almost all of it is just not really a big deal at all if you really think about it.  For myself, I found that most of my criteria for assigning pos and neg feelings to things were flimsy at best, and often even downright ridiculous. 

And while this may sound a lot like various programs touted in the past to just 'think positive,' I think it has to go a lot deeper than just a simple mantra.  I have seen people listing to 'positive thinking' type tapes where there are to repeat various positive statements and are told to think 'anything is possible,' etc.  I think why such programs don't work for many people is that in order for it to work, you really have to drill down deep inside and look at ALL those day to day assumptions, and thought processes that happen minute by minute.  It's a huge project of learning to see jillions of little things about self that previously were operating under the radar.  You have to 'wake up' to so many aspects of self.   If those jillions of things are not seen and understood better, then just repeating some positive sounding mantras are not going to be able to have a deep effect for very many people as long as the bulk of day to day and minute to minute thinking is still operating the same as before.  I also think that what happens is that some positive thinkers have figured out that it works for them, so they come up with these systems and programs to sell what they've learned, but there is a big gap between self realization itself and knowledge of how to get others to the same place.  Just because you have knowledge does not mean you know how or are good at teaching it to others.  If your system does not work, it could mean your self realization is not true, or it could mean that your system for teaching it just sucks.  
-Eva 

Yeah, exactly.  If you say, "today is going to be a good day," while feeling contempt about the whole thing, then the mantra doesn't really mean anything and it won't do anything.  If you wake up, feel negative, and actually challenge the assumption itself as a feeling, there's a very real change that can happen.

I don't think it has to become about zillions of things in every moment though.  I think challenging assumptions all day and trying to keep a watch out for negative thoughts would be kind of exhausting.  There's something else you can look for - a kind of general pessimism or optimism.  The pessimism or optimism of the thought stream isn't related to the thoughts themselves, but rather to the feeling of anticipation behind each thought.  Like, as an example, if I am thinking, "I'm going to die someday," this could be a very pessimistic thought, accompanied by dread and fear, or it could be an optimistic thought, accompanied by feelings of peace and security.  There's no particular reason for any thought to be positive or negative, so the problem is actually more related to the mechanism itself, or the switch in the mind that makes something clenched vs. open.  I like to think of it as a singular thing in the mind affecting the pleathora of thoughts that go through the mind, rather than the other way around.  Certain thoughts have patterns of pessimistic thinking associated with them, which can definately be seen as a 1:1 ration of cause and effect, but these are fairly easy to spot and challenge - like phobias.  The rest of it is more affected by the mechanism and its current general mood rather than the other way around.  Consider how being grumpy can make cheerful people insufferable compared to when you feel good and grumpy people are insufferable.  Or how a co-worker being rude can make you snap at your friend's complement.  This isn't really logical unless we see the mood mechanism as being mostly independent from context.

I like to say, "feelings are lies."  It doesn't matter if something feels good or bad, it's not the truth of the situation.  The truth is that nothing has a feeling assigned to it.  There is no goodness or badness attached to things like an invisible ether we pick up on telepathically.  Good and bad feelings are just a subjective interpretation.  Since our logical mind is much more adept at making a good/bad judgement, it makes sense to remove the feeling element in most circumstances.  The best way to remove the feeling element is to make everything seem non-dire, or not-so-serious, in order to give the logical mind time to do its thing.  The best wat to do this (remove seriousness) is to become optimistic - to feel positively about our ability to solve a situation, avoid problems, or deal with problems that come up in the future.

Like, there seems to be a general assumption in the back of our minds at all times.  It can be, "things are going badly," or, "things are doing well."  Whenever the assumption is, "things are going badly," this narrows the mind and causes stressful reactions.  Whenever this happens, I just change the general assumption to, "things are going well," and the stressful aspect of the situation is removed.  It can be helpful to recontextualize the situation by thinking of it in a more positive way - like changing, "oh god, I have a flat tire, this is horrible," to, "I've never changed a flat tire before, this should be and interesting learning experience" - but even this isn't completely necessary.  Once you can see the mechanism itself, you can just change it without using props.  This is, I think, what I was originally referring to as letting go of the clenching.

This is a funny thread.  Good in its simplicity though. 

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/22/15 8:07 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Guys, out in the non-dharma world, not every person has anxiety/depression!  It's maybe 1 in 5 people, I think.  If an ordinary person in the non-dharma world feels upset, someone might remind him, "hey man, just relax".

And um...yeh...that's the discovery.  Relax the body?  Ground breaking!

Still, I have to agree, relaxing the body and reframing negative thoughts is good for creating happiness.

Sometimes we revisit old ideas with a fresh mind.  Relax!  Relax the body!  At some point we realize 1) it's under our control  and 2) it feels more comfortable to let stuff go  3) it can feel very counter-intuitive to let go...it can actually feel wrong.

Deepak Chopra wrote a good article a few decades ago.  It was about this stuff.  So basic!  But many here would reject anything written by him because he's a mainstream spiritual teacher.  Too simple. Not sophisticated enough!  Where are your detailed maps Deepak?!

The ultimate understanding is this:  If you feel bad, you're actively creating this bad feeling.  So stop.  Fearful and desirous thoughts are hurting you, and you're doing them. 

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/22/15 8:05 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Guys, out in the non-dharma world, not every person has anxiety/depression!  It's maybe 1 in 5 people, I think.  If an ordinary person in the non-dharma world feels upset, someone might remind him, "hey man, just relax".

And um...yeh...that's the discovery.  Relax the body?  Ground breaking!

Still, I have to agree, relaxing the body and reframing negative thoughts is good for creating happiness.

Sometimes we revisit old ideas with a fresh mind.  Relax!  Relax the body!  At some point we realize 1) it's under our control  and 2) it feels more comfortable to let stuff go  3) it can feel very counter-intuitive to let go...it can actually feel wrong.

Deepak Chopra wrote a good article a few decades ago.  It was about this stuff.  So basic!  And yet we can come back to it with new levels of understanding.  The ultimate understanding is this:  if you feel bad, you're actively doing that to yourself.  So stop. 


I agree that this level of meticulous examination is unnecessary for most.  But desperate times really do call for desperate measures.  Ppl have been telling me to "hey man just relax" for years but it hasnt helped much.

I know exactly what you're saying Noah, because they have been saying the same to me too!  They have been saying 'relax and stop being so negative', seeing that I was so severely depressed and anxious for so long.  And for so long I couldn't do it.  Those words somehow didn't register for me.

Just recently I realized it wasn't that I couldn't do it, but that I wouldn't do it.  It's a choice.  And it feels very wrong when you first decide to let go.  That's one of the main things to realize - it feels counterintuitive.

The other thing to know before deciding to let go is this:  By letting go and feeling better, all the things you want will come to you.  We are mistaken when we think that being desirous will result in fulfilment of desire.  The opposite is true.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/22/15 9:01 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Complexity provides comfort.  Sophistication provides comfort.  Using ancient Pali words satisfies the ego.  These things are crutches.  They are used to make us feel safe, just like alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping, TV, intellectual escapism, internet addiction, workaholism, etc etc.

The safety and 'flow' we seek in life comes in letting go of the crutches...usually the last place we look! 

Something I realized recently is that the Path to peace and happiness must appear wrong in some very fundamental way.  The Path must appear as something we'd not naturally choose.  It must trigger fear and it must make us say "no...that's not the way" when we approach it.  If the true Path looked right, we'd all be on it, walking it right now with ease.  Large sections of humanity would be arriving, 'done', at peace, Truth-realized.  This is clearly not the case. 

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/23/15 12:35 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
When people used to tell me to relax I usually wanted to punch them - so I just want to be clear that's not what I'm saying, lol.  You don't have to relax for this to work, you just have to think about closure.  If you're anxious about something, think about it in a way that solves it and you'll stop being anxious about it.  Super simple and it doesn't require any attempt to change how you feel.  If you're not sure why you feel bad, just think about good things and then when bad things come up you'll realize what's bothering you.

Maybe this sounds too simple to work, but it certainly isnt difficult to try and it's fixed all my problems (which were legion before).

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/23/15 10:05 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
......you just have to think about closure.  If you're anxious about something, think about it in a way that solves it and you'll stop being anxious about it. 


What's an example of this?

Is this it? -   I'm worried about not having enough money.  I think instead 'I have enough money'.  Positive thinking?  Re-framing negatives?

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/23/15 10:19 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
When people used to tell me to relax I usually wanted to punch them - so I just want to be clear that's not what I'm saying, lol.  You don't have to relax for this to work

Your first few posts on this thread were all about relaxing the clenching in your chest.  How important it was to stop the clenching (ie. relax the tension).

The whole thread could be summarized as follows:  Relax and think positively.  I agree with this, but the way!  Relax the body (clenching feels automatic but it can be controlled) and reframe negatives into positives.  Women's and health-related magazines do a re-hash of this every other week with a new attention-grabbing headline "How to Beat Stress!" or "How to Relax and be Healthy!"...whatever it might be that week.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/23/15 7:30 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I know exactly what you're saying Noah, because they have been saying the same to me too!  They have been saying 'relax and stop being so negative', seeing that I was so severely depressed and anxious for so long.  And for so long I couldn't do it.  Those words somehow didn't register for me.

Just recently I realized it wasn't that I couldn't do it, but that I wouldn't do it.  It's a choice.  And it feels very wrong when you first decide to let go.  That's one of the main things to realize - it feels counterintuitive.

The other thing to know before deciding to let go is this:  By letting go and feeling better, all the things you want will come to you.  We are mistaken when we think that being desirous will result in fulfilment of desire.  The opposite is true.

I agree with all of this.  I would also add that it goes a lot deeper than this embodied choice to 'let go.'  There is a lot more 'stuff' beneath the surface of even the everyday identity making its way around.  There is animal stuff, libido, primal fear and aggression, tribal identity, etc.  There are all these ways the brain operates beneath the surface through the devious strategies of survival.  These things will continue to operate intact even after one has successfully scratched the surface.  So, the way I see it, 'letting go' is like step 2 or 3 (after whatever initial efforts it takes to get there), but there are still another 7 or 8 deepening steps to do.

Noah S:
So, the way I see it, 'letting go' is like step 2 or 3 (after whatever initial efforts it takes to get there), but there are still another 7 or 8 deepening steps to do.

One of my 'teachers' once said that spirtual opening is just about letting go (surrending) all the way through these layers. Same simple process through to the end.

Noah, just lately, my letting go has go to the point where I am waking in panic every night as I drift off (not normal for me, but the last time I had it was when I practised vipassana).  Too much letting go, I guess.  Too much for me, anyway.  Have you ever had this?  Some refer to it as relaxation-induced anxiety.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/23/15 8:28 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Same simple process through to the end.


I felt that vipassana was a simple, unilateral effort through and through.  However, actualism has been panning out for me as very complex, involving differing realizations and efforts.


Noah, just lately, my letting go has go to the point where I am waking in panic every night as I drift off (not normal for me, but the last time I had it was when I practised vipassana).  Too much letting go, I guess.  Too much for me, anyway.  Have you ever had this?  Some refer to it as relaxation-induced anxiety.


I have been having apocalyptic dreams lately.  I also seem to have a somewhat unusual, variegated response to alcohol.  I interpret these as signals of subconscious change.  But I don't recall an instance of relaxation-induced anxiety as a result of conteplative development.

RE: A silver bullet for Actualist practice (or, how to disable negatvity)
Answer
8/23/15 11:19 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Not Tao:
......you just have to think about closure.  If you're anxious about something, think about it in a way that solves it and you'll stop being anxious about it. 


What's an example of this?

Is this it? -   I'm worried about not having enough money.  I think instead 'I have enough money'.  Positive thinking?  Re-framing negatives?



I guess it depends. If you have enough money and just want more, then changing your thoughts to, "I have enough money," is fine. If you don't have enough money and this is creating fear, then thinking, "I have enough money," is just a lie that you won't believe anyway. It would be better to think about your ability to find a job and downsize your life instead. The point is to solve the problem. "I don't have enough money," is a problem, and the mind is going to dwell on it until it's solved. Cycles of fear come from thinking about a problem and refusing to let yourself solve it. "Letting go" is either forgetting about something, accepting it as it is, or solving it. Forgetting isn't the best because the negative emotions will just come back when you remember it. Acceptance works, but it's difficult to do reliably as the mind is trained to relax. Solving problems is the fastest solution, and it results in the same thing as truely accepting something - you're just giving yourself a reason to accept, or a pathway to acceptance.

When I originally made this thread, I wasn't completely clear about what was hapening when I "released the clenching." Actually, I've been struggling to understand this thing for a while - which Bill F. so rudely pointed out in my "Everyone is Wrong" thread, haha. I saw this thread come up so I thought I'd leave a better explanation. I would say physically relaxing is an effect of releasing the ckenching rather than the cause. The clenching is just the backgound mood of the mind - it's willingness to look for good things rather than bad things in any given situation.

Or, maybe a better way to frame it - the clenching happens when the mind shuts down solutions. You might catch yourself thinkinf of a problem, and then the mind keeps jolting away from fixing itself. This is definately related to a physical feeling - kind of like flinching each time a thought comes up. I think this is because the first instinct to deal with these negative thoughts is to try to forget them. To stop this process doesn't require confrontation or as much willpower as I might have originally suggested. You just need to close the problem and let it be okay. The examples I gave for "thinking positive" are just cruches for this - there's a mechanism behind the scenes that castes the mind in a positive or negative mood. After you alter thoughts a few times you can see it and just flip the switch without changing the thoughtsream. "OMG, I lost my job!" becomes "oh, okay, I lost my job." - same thought, completely different feeling.


It's interesting to watch what happens when I use this method - relaxing the inner tension - on an emotion that I feel is justified. I seem to hit a patch of cognitive dissonance where I really don't want to let it stop, even though I know it hurts, and I know I'm causing it. When I've cleared this blip, the urgency is gone. You might say the emotional weight is gone.


Considering this quote, you can see I didn't understand this completely before. The bump I was hitting was trying to make the thought seem unjustified or unimportant. Things can still be important - they just need to be important in a good way to feel a positive mood rather than a negative one. The thoughts themselves do't matter at all. As an example, I've spent the last month or so thinkin about hiw life is meaningless, and this has been both a very freeing and lovely thought at some points, and a terrifying wall to confront at others. It's the same exact though, and the feeling ranges between two poles. Both of them "feel" completely real and justified - which means they're both fabrications. It feels much better to enjoy meaninglessness than rail against it, so if I feel negative I just make the decision to flip the switch. Sometimes this just means seeing that I'm being negative and making the decision to stop, other times it means thinking about the freedom and goodness inherent in the situation. Whatever the moment needs. It's just a simple set of tools that work consistently, and now I'm spending more and more time on the positive end of the spectrum.