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New and Musing
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7/5/15 4:27 PM
I have posted this in another thread, but just wanted to touch base with people really, as i'm new. Maybe this kinda stuff belongs in a journal, dunno, i'll see what people say, if anything.

I'm finding at the moment i'm residing in and watching some quite re-occurring and ever-present negative states-only negative in the sense that that is what i've labelled them. This is a change as i think all my life i've just tried to find ways of getting rid of these states. Irritability is with me constantly, restlesness and discontent. Its my default state, i wake up like it. I'm hoping if i hang out with this enough and just keep feeling and watching it that eventually it will dissolve. I mean, of course i have experience of it dissolving. There is respite, i'm not feeling irritable all the time, but it's there a lot. Mostly activity makes it go away, but occasionally, activity will precipitate it eg at work. Right now, for example, i am focused on getting this post out so it is out of awareness.  
The other place i'm at a lot and have been all my life is lust masquerading as something else. I call it 'The Princess Complex'. You know, that story we build around our sexual drives that all i'm missing in life is my perfect princess and that when i find her, everything will slot into place. It has haunted me all my life, even within happy relationships. It really is an extremely powerful delusion for me that is the pinnacle of looking externally for a route to happiness and a fix that requires no work on myself at all. But its a delusion. I've got sadder and sadder over the past five years since my marriage break up because the illusion is getting weaker the more practice i do. It scares me, the possibility of that dissolving. Even after my marriage break up i had a five month fling then straight after got into a three year relationship which has just ended. So i'm just now resigned to a period of celibacy and watching my mind as it fights with the loss of this story. The strange thing is, i'm experiencing more feelings of jealousy now than i ever did in the relationship. It's like, 'i don't get this'. I'm trying to objectify it but its difficult.
I find that the Reichian breath work and exercises on the body break up these apparently 'stuck' or 'trapped' energy states. But boy, do they come back with avengeance after the work. 
I have an overwhelming feeling that i am no fun anymore. I feel it most when i'm with my nine year old daughter, because, well she is full of life and fun. I find it hard to step up to the mark. I feel like i'm letting her down. I also feel like i'm constantly on the verge of something big, a major breakthrough, or that i'm on the verge of total collapse and obliteration. Seeing my therapist helps but i think i've peaked with the positive transfer. 
Done 1.5 hrs meditation today and really enjoyed surfing through this site and investigating the books bandied around-especially the Kenneth Frost book-i agree that there's hundreds of thousands of sources of fluff all around but not much that feels like a manual. Just being here makes me feel like i'm getting closer. 

RE: New and Musing
Answer
7/7/15 12:46 PM as a reply to Steve Fitz Williams.
Hey Steve

Just thought I'd say hi, Gareth here from RD on Facebook. I'll leave my comment at that and let other, better informed, folk share their wisdom!

RE: New and Musing
Answer
7/7/15 5:07 PM as a reply to Steve Fitz Williams.
Sounds like me sometimes. There's a long list of thing that people use in their mind to think they could be happy 'if only blah blah happens.'  Significant other is a classic one.  But no other person can complete a person.  You've figured that out, now you just have to realize that you can work to do it in yourself.  You can feel that same feeling of completeness you seek but without needing the other person for it.  You can feel just as happy but actually more so without the need for that other person.  Probably a good idea to spend some time letting that sink in.  It could take the edge off the other story that you now realize won't work. 

Another classic prob is being chronically disassitisfied with current activity.  It's the grass is always greener syndrome.  There is a nagging feeling that if you race hard enough, you will get to the point where you will feel happy, but that doesn't work either.  It's actually the reverse, calming down the thoughts, that will work for peace.  With a lot of activity, that takes your mind off of it, so it seems like it is less, but it's still there ready to get you the minute you stop the activity unless you work so hard your mind is toast (workaholics do this).  IMO, it's a combo of unresolved issues and habit that brings this about. Meditation helps to show you the way a calm mind works, but IMO sometimes the habits are so ingrained that it's faster if you try to work on it during nonmeditation times too, observe thoughts and mental scripts, etc.  Why the fear you are no fun?  If you are not the funnest Dad in town, does that make you no good?  Why such all or nothing thinking?  For this part, "So i'm just now resigned to a period of celibacy and watching my mind as it fights with the loss of this story. " see how you've sort of couched this in such a negative way of thinking?  Another way of thinking is now you finally realize why things you have been trying all your life did not work and isn't that great that you won't be repeating those mistakes anymore?  (You might notice I am a big fan of cognitive behavioral therapy style thinking..)  If you spend time observing how your mental scripts are functioning through the day and how your mind races often with no benefit to you, I think you might find out a lot of habits that are not helping you.
-Eva 

RE: New and Musing
Answer
7/9/15 11:36 PM as a reply to Steve Fitz Williams.
Hi Steve,

Welcome to the DhO forum. 

Thanks for writing about your experience. I particularly appreciate when parents post. I am not a parent and I tend to admire the efforts parents make in addition to work, family and-or school life.

I want to say that deliberately cultivating ompassion for one's self is useful.  Compassion is relaxing tensions of body that "want this now" and "want not this now". Like sitting on a sunlit porch with a silent friend unloading one's burden, then laying down in the sun, nothing solved, just releasing the tension: okaaay.

The other part of this self-compassion is not only getting a little energy back (and the wits to nap or other self-care a bit more) is  knowing one's own suffering is the basis for other-compassion. So this is where great bosses and neighbors and parents come from. =] When your kids grows up and perhaps enters an unrequited deep desire phase, you have the basis to understand her mind and heart there and have compassion for actions she make take trying to find a reliable whole-ness or reliable quality of being.

Compassion is a big softening, not at all disempowering. There's a lot of collected energy that eventually comes back when energy is not spent on bracing, on want-tension, want-not 'dreading' tension.

Compassion is a bit like tai chi in martial arts: develops a heavy relaxed sinking and grows a lot of actual energy as a by-product.

One can't start off thinking that way (as wanting compassion for a source of strength and energy and collected mind would be cultivating wanting, yearning, versus actually being compassion) --- rather, again, compassion is just like being on a porch unloading in the sunlight, seeing things as they are (not easy) with an understanding all-ears friend.

Does this make sense? 

RE: New and Musing
Answer
7/10/15 9:27 AM as a reply to Steve Fitz Williams.
Further, I feel that the meditative development of suffusive sukkha (so-called third jhana) is closely akin to the cultivation of whole compassion. Neither are restless, rather heavy/grounded/without tension and attention on what is.

RE: New and Musing
Answer
7/10/15 4:23 PM as a reply to Steve Fitz Williams.
Thanks everyone for the input. Yes, it does make sense. I have been told repeatedly the past few years that I should do metta practices but I have an aversion and resistance to this so never do. Maybe I need to start looking at that and work out how I can get into that sort of practice. Any ideas why such strong feelings of contempt might be arising? It's like I feel it's a waste of time. Somehow insincere. Faking it to make it. There is probably an underlying fear underpinning all that

RE: New and Musing
Answer
7/10/15 4:47 PM as a reply to Steve Fitz Williams.
I've just tried to do 15 mins of metta practice and it was horrible. Agitation and a feeling of pointlessness. I use the phrases May _ be at peace, may _ be at ease, may _ be free from suffering. Also, I pray for your good health and safety.  I started visualising myself as a child and repeating the phrases, which was ok, but then my mind got flooded with images of other people, mostly people from work who I resent, so I dealt with them. It just felt mechanical and ultimately agitating. I found I couldn't form the phrases properly, as if I can't speak properly in my head. This always happens, like I don't know English. It's why I don't perservere

RE: New and Musing
Answer
7/10/15 5:39 PM as a reply to Steve Fitz Williams.
Hi Steve, 

From my perspective, this is completely normal, a) the feeling that one is faking friendliness meditation (metta) and-or compassion meditiation (karuna) --- I had such an aversion and sense of insincerity as well --- and b) first tries that were anything but helpful.

And I would say that ill-will can be very gratifying, so I think it's natural that the mind perseverates sometimes on arguments from work/family/public/self and mind generates clever come-backs, one-upmanship, or defeats. There's gratification in it, even in depression iterations.

Like, empathy, karuna and metta are skills. I would say they are ultimately deeply relaxing and very revealing: One wants to live in a peaceful friendly world, but "Damn it, do I really have to give up these negative patterns in my head (which gratify)??"

So I guess it's useful to ask what outcome around you would like to see and experience? Our intentions can be reasonably noble and balanced ("I want peace and harmony, a reliably just world, so I put my foot forward to build it stepwise") and it's also okay if the mind is also screaming very natural impulses, like "I want power!" or "to win!" One hears that and asks oneself, "What do I actually want to create?" Is this motivation going to support and benefit from a meditation practice and karuna/metta practices? What is worthwhile in a life?


Best wishes and thanks for you candor, 
Katy

RE: New and Musing
Answer
7/10/15 6:53 PM as a reply to Steve Fitz Williams.
Steve Fitz Williams:
I've just tried to do 15 mins of metta practice and it was horrible. Agitation and a feeling of pointlessness. I use the phrases May _ be at peace, may _ be at ease, may _ be free from suffering. Also, I pray for your good health and safety.  I started visualising myself as a child and repeating the phrases, which was ok, but then my mind got flooded with images of other people, mostly people from work who I resent, so I dealt with them. It just felt mechanical and ultimately agitating. I found I couldn't form the phrases properly, as if I can't speak properly in my head. This always happens, like I don't know English. It's why I don't perservere

Keep practicing. The way to look at it with people you don't like at work, is to "wish they weren't insane" or to "wish they found a better form of happiness". It's also not usually good to start with people you dislike right off the bat. First you would say "may this body be happy, may this body be safe, may this body be at peace" and then you would leave it alone and welcome all the sensations in your body including welcoming negative sensations related to negative thoughts. The trick is to let the impulses that are negative arise and not resist them. That's what conditions most stress is the resistance. Like Carl Jung said "what you resist persists." 

Keep relaxing the body and welcoming your dislike of "so and so" because resisting that is just more stress. There's nothing wrong with disliking certain people. The brain just needs to learn that when you are pissed off at these people it doesn't actually change those people but they get to live in your mind rent free. Evict them from your mind. You can do this simply by asking "why?" to interrupt the thought stream and then continue on with your metta practice. This is a good way to disidentify from the habitual thought as being "me". You can ask "why?" and interrupt as many times as you need to. If you are doing something with your actions that is unskillful you can actually stop in the middle of the action and go do something else.

The following talks might help you how to prep yourself before and during metta practice:

http://www.audiodharma.org/talks/audio_player/5792.html
Conflict, No Conflict

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/210/talk/9813/
Welcoming

Ultimately I'm good at these practices because I've been meditating since 2007. The brain shifts and lets go mainly because of the amount of time I did quality practice (especially during the day and even with people around). Wrestling with difficult situations is actually what makes you more skillful. Meditators that only meditate when things are good aren't going to deal with aversion very effectively.

Everytime you steer your brain to skillful emotions (even if it's dry and fake feeling because you haven't developed the skill yet) you are practicing Right Effort:

1. Relinquish what is unskillful.
2. Prevent unskillfulness from arising.
3. Cultivate skillfulness.
4. Sustain skillfulness.

It's hard work but it yields so many benefits over time. It's a bit like weightlifting. At first it sucks but if you keep at it then it gets better.

Good luck! I had lots of ruminations over shitheads at work and it's very possible to weaken their hold on you mentally.

RE: New and Musing
Answer
7/10/15 9:39 PM as a reply to Steve Fitz Williams.
I'm going to suggest something a little different. First imagine that you have the ability to cultivate whatever mindstate possible. As if you were a bonafide magician and could invocate whatever positive mindstate your heart desired.

If you were an uber powerful meditator and could at will cultivate whatever state of mind your heart wished, what would you wish for? Overwhelming sense of heavenly love? Radiant joy for life? Surely, if you just suppose you had the skill, there are desirable qualities you long for? What I'm getting at is there is something your heart craves for that is pleasant, and I'm trying to get around prescribing your heart in advance without knowing anything about you. Something you look forward to doing and because you look forward to meditating the practice can get some concentration because of this.

Ultimately, what I am suggesting to you is cultivate your heart and suggesting you think very big, as if you were your own artist and could choose a meditation on the heart. No need to send any particular group any particular feeling. No need to impose a morality upon yourself that is overly forceful or perhaps not quite the fit given your particular circumstances. I'm not suggesting pure effortlessness, but I am suggesting maybe you need to search for something that resonates with your heart enough that you wouldn't mind doing it too much.

Perhaps something less wordy, maybe utilize just a mantra, utilize particular imagery that you already love, it could be metaphorical imagery, literal imagery, and just keep it less mechanical. Any potential things you positively long for in a reasonably wholesome sense? (When I say wholesome it doesn't need to be neurotically saintly as if being selfish is 100% always a bad thing. It could be something about visualizing success in your life, like being a better guitar player, maybe 5 things like that you want to see in your life and you can cycle through visualizing them, maybe with or without a mantra, etc.)

.

Furthermore, you realize you've been programmed a lie as far as dating/relationships/sex goes. Neither is it the grand-daddy of happiness nor is it something you should renounce. Consider these mental programs programmed badly via the broader culture. Consider the possibility that information you ingest via reading mutates these programs inside you very slowly. I suggest ingesting new programs (That is, ideas) that are less foolish. Here is an example of a blog post about how Disney movies fucked us up with respect to dating. Perhaps it can help further dissolve the idea of finding the perfect radiant princess program that really has no basis in reality: http://markmanson.net/disney

Here's an excerpt: "So, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s this guy. He’s like a prince, or an orphan, or kind of a loser — like an orphan-prince-loser-type guy. And then there’s this girl. And she’s hot. And then usually there’s a bad guy too. And he’s bad.

So, logically, our orphan-prince-loser-type guy has to save the hot girl, and usually does it by beating up the bad guy. He solves the super secret conspiracy to overthrow the government, or destroys the evil space ship, or has a sword fight to the death where his ear gets hacked off and he barely lives. Shit blows up. People die. The bad guy ultimately loses.

The crowd goes wild. And our former orphan-prince-loser guy is now a capital-H Hero. And what do heroes get as their reward for saving the universe? Duh. The hot girl.

What I just described to you is loosely the plot of practically every story you’ve ever been told — from Star Wars to Iron Man to Good Will Hunting to Super Mario Bros.

And, of course, every Disney movie ever made.

Sometimes there will be a wrinkle in the story too, making it “tragic.” Like the hero will even die for the hot girl (Terminator, Titanic) or the hot girl dies and the hero decides to go on a murderous rampage to for love and righteousness (Braveheart, Gladiator), or the girl turns out to be batshit insane and the hero realizes he threw away his entire life for nothing (Gone with the Wind, Vertigo). And in rare instances, the hero cannot be with the hot girl for legitimate capital-H Heroic reasons and must live a life of solemn “what if?” misery (Casablanca, Shawshank Redemption, etc.).

Yes, this is practically every movie you’ve ever watched, every comic book you’ve ever read, every video game you’ve ever beaten, every story book that your parents read to your drooling face.

And it’s fucking up your sex life."

And,

"Years ago, sex writer Clarisse Thorn introduced me to the idea of sex as performance versus sex as transaction. The idea was originally put forth by Thomas MacAulay Millar1 in Yes Means Yes (a book that, I won’t lie, made me cringe a little the first time I read it). The idea is also backed up and expanded upon in books such as Sex at Dawn and Marriage: A History.

The idea goes something like this:

Anthropological evidence suggests that in pre-history, hunter/gatherer societies were, umm, rather “loose” with their sexual morals.2 The idea of marriage or sexual possession was (and still is) largely anathema to most of these groups. But with the rise of agriculture, humans, for the first time in our species’ existence, had surpluses of resources. And not only did we have surpluses of resources, but men, due to their size and strength, gained a large competitive advantage at acquiring them over women. Men began to compete against one another economically, hoarding surplus resources and then using those resources to dominate the others around them. Economic hierarchies were born. City/states followed. Monarchs and lords and the feudal system followed from that, as did organized warfare and the first empires.

(Famous scientist and author Jared Diamond went as far as to call agriculture “The biggest mistake in human history,” — I’m not sure I would go that far.)3

The problem with this new social structure was that men, for the first time ever, had two major concerns: 1) they needed to guarantee paternity of their own children and 2) they needed to manage their political competition through marriages, alliances and familial bonds.

Thus female chastity began to matter. Fidelity began to matter. Fertility began to matter. Sex became an economic and political transaction, and women — who were now useless for war and physical labor — became pro-creating assets for men. Women provided sex and procreation. In return, their families were given resources, dowries, political alliances, land, etc.

Men now had to win the vagina."