Thursday, March 27, 2014

The mind and the world are one in the same thing

Now, this is quite a bold statement and is probably meaningless to most of the people on the planet, but this is something that is quite liberating if you are able to see it for yourself. So, how do you see it for yourself? Here's the theory: just as a rock is shaped by the wind or the action of the ocean, so too are our minds shaped by the world. Can you separate a pebble on the beach from the ocean that made it? - (you can take it home and put it on your table, but that's not quite the point) - they are bound together by conditions - the rock expresses the ocean, the ocean is expressed in the rock. Likewise, the way we think and make thoughts is an inevitable consequence of the world we live in.

Still with me, probably not. Best not to try and explain these things. Instead, try and experience it for yourself. Get the mind very quiet and listen to the birds (or cars, or trees) - at a certain point there is no you and bird, there is just what is out there - no mind, no bird, just ...

I nearly lost my mind writing this, I hope to recover soon.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Unify mind, body and breath

Knowing what this means involves trying to do it. One day you will get there, like riding a bike. Then, once you can ride your bike, you ride your bike like crazy; no hands, feet on the handle bars - you become highly accomplished at it.

So then, enough chatty chit. How do you it?

- take a seat
- drop your attention into the body
- become aware of the feet, legs, body, arms and head. Hold the living sense of them in your mind.
- then maintain this awareness as a breath comes in
- if it helps, imagine the breath travelling through the body as you breathe in, down into the toes. Then imagine the breath flowing through the body as you breathe out.
- remember to include your head in your breathing
- breathe in, breathe out - keep awareness of your body
- this feels pretty good and is good progress for a busy mind, spend time enjoying this sense of awareness
- to go further, feel the pleasure of whole body awareness and relax into it. You could imagine the breath massaging the body and mind to help with this
- hold your awareness open, but keep relaxing
- at some point, the mind will switch into an open, relaxed state - nothing but the breath in the body
- spend some time here, and when you are finished acknowledge that you've been there - this helps build a new perception in your mind that you can refer back to.

That's it. Once you have learned this technique reliably, you can begin to examine your thoughts and really blow the lid off the thing you call me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Live life on your terms

It's easy to be hijacked by other people and live life on their terms - we are quite competitive, judgemental people after all. So when we see our friends in new cars with their new houses and interesting careers, it's easy to be sucked into their frame of reference, i.e. It's good to have all these things. This is even more compelling when it backed up by the consensus view of society.

However, do not despair! These things only have meaning if you believe in them. If, like me, you have been forced down a different path then these things are meaningless and inconsequential. From where I've been, seeing my children grow up and having a pleasant day are far more compelling achievements. 

You might not see this because the way you see the world has been shaped a certain way. If you can, strip things back to what is important and live life through your own frame of reference. Avoid the other way, and start to enjoy what has real meaning to you. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

A meditation process roadmap

Meditation means different things to different people - most of us start out thinking that it is about getting blissful and relaxed, which is perfectly reasonable. Then after we've been doing it for a while we realise that pleasure and contentment do arise, but there's also a lot of other things that happen that seem to get in the way - these are commonly known as the five hindrances in certain circles. We work with these for a bit and then we start exploring the mind a little more - pleasant things still happen, but there's also a lot of other things to see too. We see things coming and going, we see how the mind contracts around experience, and we start to see that nothing is personal - life just happens. Once these ideas sink in, we continue the process of letting go of our preconceptions about who and what we are - this letting go brings with it more bliss and happiness. As we let go, the mind becomes less reactionary and we start to experience the freedom of a mind that is balanced and calm. By now we realise that we have come a long way from our original idea of meditation - a simple relaxation technique - and that we are beginning to face life as it really is. Good things happen, bad things happen, we experience them fully. This is not a fun time - but we begin to own our own life as it happens and this brings with it a deep shift towards self reliance. All the while, a sense of calm builds within us - this drops us deeper into letting go, and the pleasure of deep relaxation.

That's probably enough for now. The meditation process changes the meditator profoundly, but that's no bad thing. We all have within us this drive to understand this thing we are born into and a meditation path helps us to figure these things out in no small way. If, for some reason, we cannot fulfill our life in the normal way, then this at least gives us an opportunity to explore something that can bring a different kind of fulfillment.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Overcoming cognitive bias

Cognitive bias is where our behaviour appears to be irrational and not following correct logical reasoning - a Buddhist might describe this as delusion. A huge amount of what we do is based on illogical assumptions because life is easier that way - it takes a lot of effort to analyse things rationally. So, we are flawed.

The good news is that it does not really matter and this perhaps is how we should  live with it. We will make bad decisions, things will go wrong, we will lose out to other people - it does not really matter at the end of the day. Everything has already gone wrong. The river keeps on flowing. All we need to do is adjust how we see the world and then everything seems ok.

This then is the overwhelming truth to feeling good: if we change the way our mind perceives things then happiness is sure to follow. Everything is governed by the mind and by understanding the mind we can give ourselves all the happiness we want.

Obviously, easier said than done ... well kind of.