Mindfulness and Counseling: Tipping Sacred Cows

  

If only letting go of harmful ideas and bad habits that masquerade as virtue was easy. When you’re the one in the frame it’s hard to see the picture. From unnecessarily holding onto childhood imperatives that continue to govern our lives to superstitions that disempower us – we often live our adult lives in the shadows of unconscious and largely unintentional choices made long ago for us by family or cultural conditioning.

I hear familiar themes in sessions that under examination make little or no rational sense and often cause tremendous suffering. A familiar unconscious sequence is: “Have to keep busy,” “Time is money,” “Money is security,” “Money will make me happy.” 

So many unconscious rules of the universe that each of us carry as matter-of-facts and the way things ought to and should be – these are our sacred cows. There would be no problem except that they are often the primary culprits that cause so much friction and damage in our relationships as well serving to emotionally disturb ourselves.

 It’s tricky to push back on people’s sacred cows, to question and to challenge them. This is sensitive psychological territory and it’s easy for people to become defensive around areas where they’ve invested a lot of time, emotion and to some degree – the sacred cows have worked for them.

Religious beliefs, paranormal beliefs, all the way to fairness in sports to political affiliation and of course – racial do’s and dont’s. It wouldn’t be difficult to conclude that each of us to some degree or another is walking around as a head full of unconscious preferences and demands insistent that others and the world would be better off just acting in accordance with our truths. 

Much of mindful counseling involves discovering these patterns, the pain they have brought us and finding a way to both recognize and step out of these patterns before causing further harm. The only prerequisites I have found thus far are these: inquisitiveness, a desire for peace and an ability to laugh at oneself.

Wise Speech 

 

Our Words. Telephone conversations. Emails. Letters. Texts. Social media. 

To bring people together or to pull them apart? Healing and Division. Gossip, backstabbing, malicious talk and slanderous speech. Loving and sweet, straightforward and to the point.

What exactly are you speaking of when you speak of others, circumstances and the world? Unconscious speech. To not know that the words that fall from your tongue are merely expressions of your own mind and nothing more, is what we refer to as unwise speech. 

Wise or mindful speech, is when you realize that speech is not a reflection of the world outside your mind but merely a mirrored caricature of it. Our words become bridges or our words become walls. Our words become poison or they become the medicine itself. Our speech is in accordance with this reflective recognition; that the people in the world, and the world that we perceive are not out there – independent of our minds. 

May your speech be used to heal, soothe, bridge and unite. 

What You Think About and Taking Responsibility for Your Thinking Matters

  

    No one is making you think anything, and yes – you may have been heavily conditioned up until now, but in this moment – just exactly who is responsible for recognizing and letting go of destructive thoughts and emotions? In this moment who exactly is responsible for wise, skillful and liberating thinking? 

    The way you think matters. Let’s rethink the way we’ve been coming about the psychopharmacological model. Does your thinking change your neuro-chemistry? Or does your neuro-chemistry change your thinking? In other words do people really have a chemical imbalance (whatever that means?) or do you have an repetitive irrational destructive thinking imbalance? (Such as I’m hopeless).The supposed easy way out is to always say that people have a “chemical imbalance.” Where does responsibility for your thinking lie with this model?

     Read below. What you think about matters a great deal for your biology and neuro chemistry and your overall well-being.

    Thinking and Molecular Gene Change

    I recently had dinner with a pharmaceutical representative from Pfizer. The representative stated, “that we know the chemicals in the anti-depressants don’t work, but people believe that they do and they think that they get better so what’s the big deal?”

    Besides being completely unethical here’s a few reasons: Loss of libido. Weight gain. Suicidal ideation when trying to come off of these medications. Forgetting the last one – ask anyone what loss of libido does to your relationships and self-confidence. Anti-depressants are far from innocuous. What’s the point anyway when for free you can change your thinking habits and feel great about yourself? In more than 95% of all diagnosed cases (mild to moderate depression) there is no statistical relationship in any seratonin change. Only in cases of severe depression is there any noticeable difference. 

    Why not learn how to change your thinking? Why not learn how to let thoughts and emotions come and go instead of suffering for them incessantly and unnecessarily? And as you will read below – it’s simply more intelligent and healthier to empower yourself to do so.
    Stimulant effects can include:

    • Hypomania/mania /Insomnia
    • Nervousness Anxiety
    • Agitation Central nervous system stimulation
    • Frequent emotional changes Tremor
    • Sweating Palpitation
    • Paranoia Psychosis
    • Hostility Euphoria


    No one is making you think anything, and yes – you may have been heavily conditioned up until now, but in this moment – just exactly who is responsible for recognizing and letting go of destructive thoughts and emotions? In this moment who exactly is responsible for wise, skillful and liberating thinking? 

    Mental Mirages: The Suffering Cost of Believing Your Thinking

      

    There are countless benefits to meditation retreat, but today I’d like to focus on one in particular: The benefit of learning how to let go of destructive and unintentional thinking. Why learn this? Because each of us has paid and continues to pay an enormous toll in suffering – there is a huge cost in believing and attaching to what we think is true and factual. Consider these words:

    The price of anything is the amount of life you’d be willing to exchange for it. – Thoreau

    How much of your life do you think has been spent believing your thoughts about others, yourself and the world as being true and factual? How much has this cost you?

    While I’m not arguing that thinking is bad, because it isn’t – I would encourage you to realize that when we experience the stress and suffering of destructive emotions such as anger, guilt and anxiety it is indeed because we are attached to our thinking. That anger is always based on the thought-demand that reality be different than it is. That anxiety is always based on thought-worrying about the future. Ruminating – thoughts on spin cycle – is a clear cut case of not knowing how to let go of our own thoughts and unintentionally driving ourselves mad.

    A major aspect of mindfulness meditation in particular is training and discovering how to let certain thoughts come and go without judgment or attachment; Consequently we learn how not to experience the anguish of destructive emotions that come part and parcel with these disturbing thoughts. In essence, through mindfulness meditation we discover how to reclaim or even discover how to create peace and sanity in our lives through not attaching to destructive and stressful forms of thinking. 

    There is no question that much of our stress is perpetuated by our own thinking in time contexts that are no longer happening or may never happen: the past and future. Ask yourself, what percentage of your life’s thinking is actually about what’s taking place in the present? It’s a simple question designed for you to realize how much of your life is spent in pure fantasy, fictional bubble worlds that come laden with destructive emotions such as sadness and depression. We train in mindfulness meditation to free ourselves from the suffering of these fabricated non-present realities. Why suffer for things that aren’t happening?

    Finally I would ask you to question what exactly are you suffering for when you suffer for thinking? Forgetting the content of your thinking for a moment and focus on what exactly is the nature of a thought? Remembering that you’d be willing to suffer for this – what is it exactly? A brief electrical firing of worrying for the future? A synaptic flash of memory of past events? Where exactly is this thing that you’d be so unconsciously willing to suffer for? Try finding it or finding any intrinsic quality that it may have before living your life unnecessarily disturbing yourself silly over what may be much to do about nothing. Does it have a color, a shape – any essence at all? Can you even find its location? And if you say that it’s all in your head, isn’t that all you really need to know?

    If you say that sitting still and being silent for ten days or thirty days would drive you crazy are you listening to yourself? What exactly would drive you crazy? Your own mind? Thoughts of the past and future? But it’s this very mind that you walk around with, drive with, raise a family with…but you don’t know how to let go of thoughts about the past and future? But it’s these very things that dominate your day to day life and bring enormous stress. What we’re dealing with in this training is a matter of compassion for yourself and others – to no longer unnecessarily subject yourself to the pain of non-volitional thinking.

     And I would finally ask you to ask yourself – what percentage of your thoughts each day did you intend on having? It’s about as relevant and practical of a question as one could hope for. 
    Imagine this: imagine being in a relationship with someone like this – who has largely unintentional flights of fancy with emotions attached. Now imagine two people like that. Now imagine you’re one of them. Or imagine that you’re an employer who’s employees are paid $100k a year – and most of their time is spent thinking about anything other than their work..how much does that cost you, the business? Just how much incessant and unnecessary stress and suffering is enough before we decide to reclaim our sanity?

    In conclusion, think differently for a moment. Imagine that you did sit silently still for a month and you discovered the peace of letting unintentional and destructive thoughts come and go without attachment. Would you ever want to return to the previous mode and way of being? Believing everything you think? And that’s all you need to know. 

    May you be happy, well, safe, peaceful and at ease🌷

    The Three Scopes 

      

    The Lowest Scope Person is someone who believes that this life is all that there is. This type of person believes that reality is coming at their awareness and they are merely experiencing and trying to make sense of it. They believe that when the physical body ceases functioning that their non-material awareness/consciousness discontinues. 

    The lowest scope person is generally a hedonist nihilist – meaning that they will say things like, “you only live once,” to justify focusing their lives on immediate sense faculty urges and temptations. Their ethics and morality will largely consist of doing what is legal so long as they don’t get caught – which may extend all the way to a sometimes empathetic, “I will do onto others as I would have them do unto me.” Most importantly this type of person marginally accepts the causality of thoughts, speech, and actions. 

    The lowest scope person does not believe that they will experience the results of ALL of their behaviors – curiously – only some. The lowest scope person believes (and I would add without evidence) that with the material death of the body – the game is over – and consequently the way that they conduct themselves in this life is substantially different from the middling scope practitioner. Even worse this type of person may believe that there could be something beyond this life but simply doesn’t prepare for what they might find.

    The Middling Scope Person prepares for the hereafter believing that when the material body dies that there is a next life and that an aspect of themselves, typically referred to as a Soul or Atman (Higher Self) continues.This person believes that their ethical actions in this life will result in their immaterial Soul being redirected to another destination (often an eternal destination with no chance of effecting a different outcome) typically referred to as Heaven or Hell. 

    The middling scope person often, but does not always believe that a higher power will assess their conduct in this life and make the decision about where their Soul will eternally reside in the hereafter; Subsequently the middling scope person often moderates their ethical behavior in this in hopes/fears of this eternal outcome.

    The Highest Scope Person understands awareness to be timeless. This person accepts that the reality (the world and others) that they are experiencing is being manifested from their own awareness in the form of sense faculty arising and thinking. 

    The highest scope person realizes that awareness-consciousness is not material, but instead interacts (not separate from) with materiality through mental labeling or imputation. They believe that reality itself in all of its varied forms is an expression of mind. Consequently the highest scope practitioner focuses their energy in this life on living a life of ethical integrity knowing that they will experience the result of their thoughts, speech, and actions. This type of person does not blame others or the world for their troubles, instead they accept full responsibility for their lives. 

    Ultimately the highest scope person with dedicated focus begins through their restrained conduct to purposefully create a life and a world of their own making – and then resides in that world. This type of practitioner realizes that even their own physical body is not separate from awareness. Consequently the highest scope practitioner believes (with good reason and direct experience) that awareness is timeless, imprintable and is and will always manifest the result of their conduct perfectly. This being’s raison d’être is one of compassion: to help others to stop suffering, and show them the path to enlightenment. This type of being is an Awakened One – awakened to the experience of ultimate reality and acts with generosity and compassionately in accordance with this Highest Scope.

    The Middle Way – An Experiment With Reality: Emptiness, Compassion, and Quantum Physics.

    Reality Doesn’t Exist Until We Measure It

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    The highest philosophy of wisdom in the Buddhist tradition is known as The Middle Way. The Middle Way refers to the nature of all phenomena: that no thing exists inherently, but that isn’t to say that things don’t exist at all. Practically stated: that in any given moment things neither exist, nor do not exist, but existence itself depends on an apprehending consciousness. The middle way is the nature of all phenomena and is how all phenomena actually are in any given moment: resting on the razor’s edge between existence and nonexistence.

    This supposedly difficult to realize philosophy is actually extremely pragmatic in nature and is deeply interwoven and imbued with compassion. A realized being experiences this reality directly – which is known as seeing emptiness directly.

    Let’s use a practical example in hopes of better understanding and appreciating the philosophy of the Middle Way: Your car (although this same procedure could be applied to any apparent phenomena such as the appearance of your own body, house, job, illness..any apparent phenomena really).

    1.) Does your car have prior causes and conditions? Of course. That demonstrates that it doesn’t have any inherent existence – it is empty of inherently being a car. Simply: it hasn’t always existed as the appearance of a car.

    2.) Although you can’t see it with your eyes, you would agree that the solid appearance of the car under analytical examination is false – it’s not solid – the appearance is undergoing constant change. The appearance of solidity is an illusion; again demonstrating the emptiness – or lack of inherent existence.

    3.) Could the car be subdivided into parts, and could those parts be further subdivided into parts, and so on? Exactly just how far could you take a part apart? That demonstrates again that the car does not have any inherent car-ness. So where does the car that you experience right now come from?

    4.) The car – without you or others labeling it as a car, what is it really? Beyond mere words, labels, or imputations what is that appearance in the driveway really? Take away your labels and rest your gaze, rest in the awareness that whatever that appearance is in the empty driveway that functions as a car – isn’t intrinsically a car, i.e. it’s empty or lacks any car-ness.
    To believe that things exist inherently is a mistaken view, the implication or consequence is that things exist upon a perceiving or apprehending consciousness labeling or imputing its reality. Simply put: without your conditioning to call things the way that you do – what are they really? They are definitely not really what you say they are, even though they may appear to function as you say.

    The car does seem to get you from A to B. The thing is – you and A to B are also empty (lacking intrinsic reality) – and so is the mind fabricating these very word structures as well as the device you’re reading from now.

    You may wonder where does the compassion piece fit into all of this? That’s easy actually. Think of the last time you suffered. What did you suffer for? I suspect that you suffered for something that was conceived to have had inherent existence. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or didn’t exist – that’s too extreme. We are only describing how it is you’ve suffered and that if you wanted to stop suffering where exactly you would have to look.

    I am clearly suggesting that you are creating the reality of your experience with your own thinking. It would be false to conclude that nothing matters, because the opposite is what you would want to infer: it’s very important what we think, because how we think creates the very world of our subjective experience and hence our happiness and our suffering.

    The sub-atomic philosophy of quantum mechanics in many ways is very helpful in describing what we experience in or near deep states of meditative absorption: the middle way between existence and non-existence. For a quick study of quantum reality read the article below on the now famous John Wheeler experiment (supplied by my partner Davita Moodley).

    May you be happy, well, safe, peaceful and at ease