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How do I fix myself with mindfulness

This appears to be a common pattern. We do our mindfulness course expecting to be transformed, we feel a bit better on the course, a week after the course we find that nothing has changed. There's also the case of people who have been doing meditation for ages and yet they still feel as depressed and angry as they did when they started.

So then, what is going on?

The mind is a tricky beast. It is used to taking action and seeing immediate results. Mindfulness is more subtle than this. It is about seeing the relationship between body, feelings, mind and thoughts and how they come and go. There is no explicit result to be found, just an on going relationship with the thing that is us. However, the longer we observe ourselves the more likely we are to see wisdom arising. That is to say, we begin to see what is beneficial and what is harmful to us. We begin to take responsibility for ourselves and our own happiness - we are no longer simply victims of circumstance. We know what we nee…

Seven factors of awakening

A mental factor is psycho physical state that we can recognise - e.g anger, anxiety, doubt, bliss. There are wholesome ones and unwholesome ones. We meditate to cultivate the wholesome ones. After a while we arrive at the seven factors of awakening - these are the factors that underpin a truly wholesome mind. They can appear in any order at any time, but there is a causal sequence that we can follow.

- Mindfulness - we establish bare attention and clear comprehension of our experience. If you have mindfulness established it is difficult to behave badly.
- Investigation - we use mindfulness to see how things change in the mind. We see emptiness, thinking, joy and many other things.
- Energy - with mindfulness and investigation, the unwholesome states of mind of reduced. This allows energy to manifest. This feeds into further investigation.
- Joy, rapture - after bouncing around mindfulness, investigation and energy for a while there is an intensification of physical pleasantness. Even…

Exploring Beethoven string quartet no.7 Opus 59 no.1

I like listening to Beethoven's string quartets - it took me a while to appreciate them but I think I'm getting there now. Here's the one they call number 7.

First movement - the days of afternoon tea are behind us. It starts off quite nicely - there is a strong promenading feeling of enjoyment, a jolly man walking down an Edwardian street. We are soon lost in moments of introspection that take us on a little voyage into somewhere more thoughtful. These moments of inward reflection continue but they are slowly injected with a sense of anxiety - the pleasant beginning is being eroded. Our afternoon stroll gradually transforms into a psychological, paranoid, edgy episode. We are left realising that life is not a basket of flowers. Bad things happen to good people. Beethoven has broken down the good mood.

Second movement - the sense of disquiet continues as we are plagued by sharp, stabbing notes and a feeling of not being quite right. Beethoven takes us to the brink of a gl…

Do you find yourself having an opinion about things you know nothing about?

Well, this is quite an interesting phenomena that I see quite a lot on the news. The journalist finds a hapless member of the public and asks them about Brexit, or political policies or world events and the poor hapless person responds with an opinion that is clearly just a rehash of something they've heard on the news already. Then, I find myself having an opinion that is equally without any first hand knowledge of the situation and ask myself where did that come from? I am talking out of my arse.

Then it becomes clear that no-one knows what they are talking about, especially politicians, and all we have are these opinions that are founded on media junk that we've been fed over the last few months. Then you see people getting all bent out of shape because of these opinions and it becomes clear that something is not really right. It's this flow of information that is shaping the world we live in, not the actual world we live in.

Does anyone know what they are doing? I thi…

Moorland stream

A relatively empty contemplation

Exploring the six sense bases

I'm going to be jumping about a bit with this blog as I randomly accumulate written material for various projects. However, stick with it and you'll be transformed in no time. I've been mastering Buddhist techniques for a while so that's what you're going to get this time.

Deep down in the fourth foundation of mindfulness, we find the six sense bases. Here we are asked to contemplate the five physical senses and the mind as the sixth sense. The contemplation goes something like this:

- We get very still and calm
- We place our attention on one of the six senses - I like sound best, or sight if I am doing staring meditation
- We observe contact with an object, e.g. sound - It all happens very fast and at the same time, but we observe contact, consciousness, feeling, perception, initial thoughts and then mental proliferation (thoughts on thoughts). Now this is a continuous process so stick with it.
- We also are asked to observe fetters that arise with sense contact.…

Exploring Beethoven's string quartet no 1 opus 18

I've had a lot of free time over the years - quite a lot where all I can do was listen to music. Now, if you listen to a lot of music you begin to realise that, by in large, there's not a lot going on in modern music that will keep you interested for long. So you begin to explore all kinds of music and you find that Beethoven has produced some particularly interesting works of art. If you take the time to combine Beethoven with meditation, you then begin to realise that his music is a profound expression of mood and/or mental states the likes of which you never thought possible - it's like he has written his mind into music.

Anyway, let's start at the beginning with his first string quartet. I know very little about Beethoven or his life or why he wrote the music he wrote - I just listen to the music and see what comes up. I also dislike sleeve notes that get too technical. So what you're getting here is just raw interpretation of the music through my rather stubby…