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Insight and Wisdom

Map-Obsession: Hindrances in sheep's clothing


A new essay on a very common problem.



RE: Map-Obsession: Hindrances in sheep's clothing
9/11/18 1:49 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Interesting, thank you.

Here's where my mind often goes:

I notice craving for progress, and I notice aversion to practicing certain techniques that make me feel I'm making slower progress (a methodical Goenka body-scan, for example). I can have a conversation with myself about whether or not it is a useful technique for me right now, but the fact is that when I try it, I do indeed experience sensations of aversion.

Now, I can approach it in one of two ways:

1. Do the technique anyway, and explore the sensations of aversion.
2. Do a technique that I find more pleasant, and explore whatever sensations come up while doing that technique.

If I choose option 1, the consequence will probably be that I will start craving the sensations of the more pleasant technique. I could observe that craving, of course. If I choose option 2, then I now have the sensations of doubt to deal with.

Then, I think: it doesn't really matter what I do, because any option just gives me more to investigate anyway. And so on...

Is there any way out of this hole?
Is it even worth trying to get out?
What does it matter which sensations I am rejecting or cutting myself off from, as long as there are new sensations still being discovered? It doesn't seem possible to just flip a switch and suddenly make myself open to absolutely everything.

(As I write this, I notice many sensations arising... Seems like progress, even if I never meditate again!)

RE: Map-Obsession: Hindrances in sheep's clothing
9/11/18 2:15 PM as a reply to spatial.
As you hint at in your last line and other places, the way out of the hole it to make each and every sensation of every moment the basis of the path.

RE: Map-Obsession: Hindrances in sheep's clothing
9/12/18 5:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Very helpful. I like the way you've brought the hindrances in. Clarifying. 

RE: Map-Obsession: Hindrances in sheep's clothing
9/13/18 8:50 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
(Edit, not a reply to Tashi, just another comment in this thread...)

I know this is really obvious, but something I think is worth saying...

Map-obsessions can be fine during free-reading time, but they really are a hindrance during sitting practice or retreat. If you are thinking, you aren't collecting new data about the current moment. Even strategizing about practice is largely unhelpful. This is where noting practice can really short circuit and contextualize the whole obsession. Simply note/label "mapping thoughts", "judging thoughts", "comparing thoughts", "strategizing thoughts", etc. as these big blocks of thoughts come up. So, if find yourself coming out of a trance where you had spent the last 2 minutes thinking about where you are on the map, note "mapping thoughts" and then return to whatever your meditation object/anchor like the sensations of breathing in the nose or belly, or body scanning, or whatever. 

If your mindfulness is strong, you may not need to label it, but just notice oh, look at the mind doing those mapping thoughts, judging thoughts, comparing thoughts again. You can even take those thoughts as objects --- obviously this is only possible with strong EQ/mindfulness. To further objectify discursive thinking and use a slightly "inquiry" based approach, you can even take the orientation or internally say "oh, I wonder what my next thought will be?" These last two approaches shouldn't be rushed, they aren't any better than simply noting what occured with a label and returning to the meditation object.

RE: Map-Obsession: Hindrances in sheep's clothing
9/16/18 6:59 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I'm a ultra mappy guy, but not on the cushion. 

I'm a firm believer in -
A clear goal
A clear recipe
Clear expected results

I'm a project manager at heart, if you tried to run business without minimal standards of some sort,  you'd be fired. If your job is coding,  don't spend all your coding time worrying about project management, but know it well enough to get your job done.
Good luck, 

RE: Map-Obsession: Hindrances in sheep's clothing
9/20/18 5:34 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
This mapping thing is pretty interesting.
Although i practice shikantaza, i got thru the dukka nanas quite in the prescribed fashion.

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