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RE: A New Path sidebar
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2/6/16 7:56 PM
Noah:
2.6

-I think it is officially time to declare that I have "cured bipolar disorder."
You do notice that you declare that every two months, only to retract it some weeks after that, right?

 What I mean by this is that the remaining traits and behaviors which I consider to be flaws in myself are basically things that everyone struggles with, [...]  These are things like: [...] wanting to watch a lot of TV.  I no longer worry about basic financial management or being able to hold a job.
I recognize that this post isn't even remotely helpful in any way, but I just had to inform you how that actually made me laugh out loud.
Who even does TV in 2016?

RE: RE: A New Path sidebar
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2/6/16 8:26 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
@Bernd:

Regardless of your disdain for my writing style and general approach, I am making real, hard progress, verified by qualified meditation teachers.  Six months ago I was not the same person, and a year ago, there was even more difference.  I hope your metta experiment is reaping the same results.  

RE: A New Path
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2/7/16 10:32 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah, to be fair -- Bernd is pointing to a pattern that you aren't seeing or that you're avoiding. You do claim victory with some frequency, then back away from it. It's not bad to do that. Each time you're enthusiastic about your new practice and you're in a honeymoon period. There is then at some future time an inevitable decline in your enthusiasm. If I were you I'd ve very interested in examinging the pattern. I think it's meaningful.

EDIT: another comment that is meant as food for thought -- there is no qualification process for dharma teachers. There is no formal training, there are no standards that can be applied, no degrees hanging on walls, no certification process overseen by objective and qualified third parties. Dharma teachers are a mixed bag, mostly good, some not so good, others not good at all, maybe even harmful. And even the best can make mistakes.

Please feel free to ignore or attend as you see fit.

RE: A New Path
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2/7/16 3:17 PM as a reply to Noah.
[quote=
]I have not seen anything Noah said sounding anything like bipolar since i've come onto this board maybe about a year ago or more.  I've known bipolar people so have at least some familiarity with it.  Thing I've heard him disatisfied with have been IMO, typical human issues that lots of people I know also struggle with.  So I am not surprised he is saying he doesn't have it anymore.  I guess there is always a danger of making a proclamation too soon in that you might get a false sense of security but on the flip side, there are IMO downsides to retaining a negative sounding label for yourself that no longer applies.  

As for the pattern of being impatient and often jumping from what method to another, he has written of that himself in the past and has already acknowledged it as something he has noticed.  But I've noticed the claws do tend to come out a bit more in response to his posts whenever he asserts or insinuations that meditation or Buddhism or anything related might actually be able to cure bipolar even if only rarely and even if he is good evidence of it, no longer needs meds, and is now living a normal life (with normal problems).  Perhaps such assertions are stepping on the world views of a few people.  And certainly whenever you have a desparate or vulnerable population that leaves an opening for some to promote false hope and use that to fool people.  But on the flip side, big pharma makes its money by developing and promoting sickness for life and medications and treatments for life.  Such is job security for them and cures and solutions are anything but. I read some stats where the average US citizen in on an average of 3 prescription drugs and that does not count the over the counter drugs.  I would like to see society move more towards a mindset over reasoned and open minded searches for actual solutions to problems and illnesses.  

Scientists are starting to see that the brain is very plastic and alterable even in adults.  For instance, recent research showed that 9 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder delivered over the internet was able to actually physically change the brain volume of the amygdala of human test subjects to a significant degree (mathematically significant) and that improvement in the disorder correlated with amount of volume change.  So even brain volume can change in just 9 weeks!  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160202185552.htm

Another study I read a while back found that drugs used for depression actually drastically increased neuron connections in certain areas of the brain and the change took about 3 months, the same amount of time it typically takes to see if a depression drug is going to work.  Previously it was not well known how these drugs worked and why they took a long time to kick in, but the study showed a plausable mechanism as well as indicated a surprising amount of physical alteration in the brain and its connections.  

So the physical layout of the brain can actually be rather quickly altered by both drugs and therapy without drugs which is very interesting and IMO points to the ability to change and improve they physical layout of the brain even in adulthood.  That probably won't happen often though if there is a pervading attitude that it can't be done and big pharma continues to reap maximum profits from it not getting done.   
-Eva  
[quote=
Noah]@Bernd:

Regardless of your disdain for my writing style and general approach, I am making real, hard progress, verified by qualified meditation teachers.  Six months ago I was not the same person, and a year ago, there was even more difference.  I hope your metta experiment is reaping the same results.  

RE: RE: A New Path sidebar
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2/7/16 4:41 PM as a reply to Noah.
My preference for brevity seems to be the source of quite some misunderstanding. Let's clarify.
Noah:
@Bernd:
Regardless of your disdain for my writing style

I'm not sure where you got that idea. If that assumption was true, rest assured that I would have stopped reading your reflections long ago.

and general approach
Again, I don't see where this is coming from. Well, apart from loa-stuff, but I usually try to not spend too much words hating on that...

, I am making real, hard progress, verified by qualified meditation teachers.  Six months ago I was not the same person, and a year ago, there was even more difference.
I don't doubt that. What Christ Marti said.
Also: my understanding of bipolar is very limited (i.e. comes from reading parts of its wikipedia page), so this is pure speculation:
From what I read, I got the impression that it shares a very basic property of 'normal' depression: there's times when it's really bad and you're suffering, but at other times the depression lifts, and you feel rather normal. Two possibilities come to my mind:
1) Everytime depression/mania lifts, you declare freedom from bipolar. => You've been fooled, just as the eternal A&P junkie, who needs years to understand that A&P bliss is just a recurring condition, which will never change. (lol I've been there)
2) Meditation actually prolongs/increases the frequency of the no-suffering phases. => This is really good, but totally not the same as 'cured from bipolar'.

That said, I would very highly doubt any great meditation teacher's competence on verifying your progress concerning bipolar. In my experience, there are lots of fine teachers, who are simply lousy when trying to coach someone with problems they're not (personally) familiar with. I don't blame them, but being aware of that subtle detail might just save one's life.
 I hope your metta experiment is reaping the same results.  
Maybe I ought to clarify why I thought the TV-thing was so funny; in Europe we have that idea that Americans are basically addicted to TV, supported by articles such as this:
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/average-american-watches-5-hours-tv-day-article-1.1711954
So when someone says "wanting to watch a lot of TV is a problem that almost everybody has" this strikes me as an example of someone trying to really fulfill that cliche of an American who thinks they're the standard for the rest of the world (: which of course they aren't:
http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2010/10/western-educated-industrialized-rich-and-democratic/181667/
Really, I've met plenty of people with all kinds of weird problems. I'm still waiting to meet someone who tells me they suffer from wanting to watch too much TV.

RE: A New Path
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2/7/16 4:52 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
Noah, to be fair -- Bernd is pointing to a pattern that you aren't seeing or that you're avoiding. You do claim victory with some frequency, then back away from it. It's not bad to do that. Each time you're enthusiastic about your new practice and you're in a honeymoon period. There is then at some future time an inevitable decline in your enthusiasm. If I were you I'd ve very interested in examinging the pattern. I think it's meaningful.
I think these are fair points that Chris and Bernd are making as I've noticed this pattern in your writing also. I do like your enthusiasm and verve though, and I hope you are able to maintain it. I feel it's a more important factor in practice than whatever result one feels like one is attaining or has "verified" by "qualified dharma teachers" (tm) ;)

Keep up the good practice, no matter what.

RE: A New Path sidebar
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2/7/16 5:53 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
@Bernd:  I'm sorry for lashing out.  Now I feel bad about it.  I see the truth of what you are pointing out, and I don't know what to do about it, other than just not engage further conceptualization.

@Chris: I see what you guys are saying.  All of this thinking is a burden that I wish to release, so I will stop at that.

@Pawel: I agree that it will take awhile for me to declare anything regarding mental illness with certainty.

@Eva:  Wow!  You know me better than I know myself.  Thank you for your understanding.  Interesting perspective on neuroplasticity.  I'd like to think it presents a hopeful prognosis for those with mental illness.  I can see how certain statements I make might be 'stepping on the toes' of the views of others.

@Small Steps:  I agree, the most important factor in my practice has been the immediate benefits I have reaped.  

RE: A New Path sidebar
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2/7/16 9:26 PM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:


@Eva:  Wow!  You know me better than I know myself.  Thank you for your understanding.  Interesting perspective on neuroplasticity.  I'd like to think it presents a hopeful prognosis for those with mental illness.  I can see how certain statements I make might be 'stepping on the toes' of the views of others.

From what I've seen, only some really kind Bodhisatva types manage to not step on toes.  (whereas some of the zen guys seem to make toe stepping into an art!)  Basically, most people have lots of sensitive spots, so if you say much of anything and have an audience of a few hundred, you are likely going to step on a toe someplace, the more assertion you put in the statement the harder the stomp.  I try to be more careful knowing that but on the flip side, at some point I have decided also that it is always people's OWN choice to get upset or not about something I say and I can hopefully manage to not let their upsetness upset me. We see the sensitivity issue in so many threads, one person says something and then a few will tee off on one aspect of it, kind of read a bit more into than was really there, respond accordingly and then a chain reaction is set off.  I think you are right the only solution is to not cling too tightly to views, then if someon steps on one of your views, if you have only a light grip, it won't bother you much, you'll just shrug shoulders and continue on.  We have been discussing on some other threads how there are many quotes to such in pali canon attributed to Gautama (ie to not cling tightly to views) so this fits in well with Buddhism, IMO. 

ANyway your new trainer, so far I have found much value in the advice he is giving you, I hope you will continue to give many specifics on his suggestions in the other thread. 
-Eva

RE: RE: A New Path sidebar
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2/7/16 9:40 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
bernd the broter:
Maybe I ought to clarify why I thought the TV-thing was so funny; in Europe we have that idea that Americans are basically addicted to TV, supported by articles such as this:
http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/average-american-watches-5-hours-tv-day-article-1.1711954
So when someone says "wanting to watch a lot of TV is a problem that almost everybody has" this strikes me as an example of someone trying to really fulfill that cliche of an American who thinks they're the standard for the rest of the world (: which of course they aren't:
http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2010/10/western-educated-industrialized-rich-and-democratic/181667/
Really, I've met plenty of people with all kinds of weird problems. I'm still waiting to meet someone who tells me they suffer from wanting to watch too much TV.
The 5 hours sounds totally reasonable to me from what I've seen.  I used to do contract work and spent a lot of time working in other people's homes, in almost all homes, if someone was home, the tv was on most of the time.  But Nielsen ratings only tell how long a tv is on, some people may not be watching it the whole time, sometimes they may not be really paying attention but did not bother to turn it off either.    As for addiction?  I think yes, there are many that woudl suffer if they did not have it.  And in all honesty, probably a big reason I personally do not watch tons of tv is because I like the internet better.  ;-P

RE: A New Path sidebar
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2/8/16 5:11 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
@Bernd:  I'm sorry for lashing out.  Now I feel bad about it. [...]
No need to worry. I suspect the blame lies with my avatar. The bread's perpetual bad mood is inevitably contagious.