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Discussion in 'START HERE: Registration & Introductions' started by phunkodelic, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. phunkodelic

    phunkodelic Member

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    New to LIfeflow and new to Meditation. Over the past few years I have seemed to have lost my focus at work due to events that have happened in my life. I lost my wife to Frontal Temporal Dementia a few months back. I truly lost her a few years ago as the dementia destroyed her mind a while back. I have a beautiful three year old son I am raising on my own and am trying to be the best I can be.

    That being said I am trying to make some really big life changes. Going back to church, finding my self, become more effective at home and at work, and finding my focus. I like to compare my self to Lance Armstrong in the fact that before his tragic fight with cancer he was a good cyclist but would have never won the Tour De France. After he beat cancer, that molded his body and mind into something better and he has won the tour multiple times. I hope to do the same but my "Tour de France" is my life.

    I came to life flow very skeptical. I have searched the web high and low for positive and negative comments and reviews on it. Could not find much. I went ahead and bought the whole system and have been on life flow for about two weeks. I like what is happening so far but am struggling with the over active mind of a newbie. I hope this calms down as it drives me crazy. It seems that meditation (for now) is a way for my mind to try and work though all the days or week issues and all I want it to do is to shut up while I meditate. :D I am hoping in the coming weeks I can start to quite my mind. How long does that take for a newbie who is working steadily on it? I have come up with using the mantra "focus". My last session I started counting every time I said it. Like "focus 1", "focus 2"..... figured I could keep better count of how many times I can mentally say it before I "loose it" and my over active mind takes over.

    Thanks guys and I look forward to a new me.
     
  2. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    Hi there phunkodelic and welcome to the community. I am both sorry for your tragic loss and inspired with your determination to make the best of the lives of yourself and your beautiful little son (I'm sure your wife will be very proud watching over you and cheering you on from another realm)

    I think the first part of succeeding with meditation, is becoming aware of the busy mind. You will experience moments of quiet, just as you can learn, with time and practice to control the non stop chattering.

    This is only my perspective, so please don't take any offence - focus as a mantra, would imply trying for me and therefore if I chose a meaningful word I would probably choose something like peace.

    A simple, meaningless sound you could use is Om (sounding it like Ooooooooommmmmmm) Try not to expect anything, just accept the allotted time for LF meditation and trust that it is working in the depths for you even if you are not aware of any results.

    This is what I did in the beginning, I just treated it as a well earned rest initially. Sooner or later, you will notice incremental changes that build up over time to make a huge difference to your life. The gratitude exercise is really helpful (You can find it on CD2 of Discover Meditation. I set my mental tone for the day with this when I take a shower :) ) I wish you an abundance of peace and joy on your journey :) :) :)

    P.S. Lance Armstong is a wonderful story about triumph of the human spirit - have you read his biography? If not, because you relate to him, I think this would be very inspiring for you to read it.
     
  3. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Phunk

    All of us have active, thinking minds, but some people have hyperactive thinking minds, at least at first. Perhaps this is your case.

    Working with racing thoughts is a bit like working with young children. They're full of energy to the point they find it difficult to contain themselves. If you try to force young children to be quiet and subdued that conflict fuels their energetic outbursts. The same is true of thoughts. If you "struggle" against them, they feed off the energy of your struggle and only race faster.

    To successfully work with hyperactive young children you have to learn to channel their energy, not suppress it. An engaged child is a child no longer out of control. Thoughts properly engaged are equally under control, which is the first step towards getting them to quiet down.

    Quiet moments between thoughts will eventually arise, but in the beginning, if your thoughts are "hyperactive", you'll need to alter your technique of meditation a bit in order to train the mind to slow down. You'll find struggling against the thoughts is completely counter-productive to your goals, so begin altering your idea towards thinking. Get rid of the conflict paradigm and adopt a new one in which you view your thoughts as the quintessential key to peace rather than as an obstacle to it.

    There is a story that might be of use about Wendigo and the Raven's Feather.

    A long time ago there lived a tribe of Hidatsa. It was a relatively small tribe, living in a corner of forest land, taking only what they needed from the land, which supplied more than enough for the tribe. They were led by a chief named One Who Dreams.

    One day a new tribe moved into the lands of the Hidatsa people, whom the Hidatsa simply called, "The Others". The Hidatsa knew there was more than enough for both tribes to live there together, and were perfectly satisfied to share this territory. But The Others were greedy, consuming more than they needed. Worse yet, they often killed and destroyed and then left the spoils to rot on the ground without even using them. They grew fat and lazy.

    In time they no longer wanted to expend the energy even to take care of themselves. So they would catch members of the Hidatsa tribe and enslave them, forcing them to work and to hunt game for them. One Who Dreams cried out to Tunkashila for help, but heard only silence for an answer. As time passed the situation became worse and worse.

    In desperation, One Who Dreams went into the forest to seek out a sorcerer known to deal in the black arts. He asked the sorcerer for help in ridding the land of The Others and in getting his people out of slavery. The sorcerer agreed to conjure up a Wendigo for One Who Dreams. As with all such deals, this one came at a price.

    "The Wendigo is the Eater of Man," the sorcerer told him. "It can accomplish anything you set it to. Each time you give it a task it will need to feed on human flesh afterwards. With each feeding it will grow more powerful and its appetite for flesh will be multiplied ten fold."

    One Who Dreams said he understood, and he accepted the deal. The Wendigo appeared before him, wraith-like and gaunt. "My daughter has been enslaved by The Others," he told the Wendigo. "Go and free her and return her to me." Immediately the Wendigo disappeared, traveling to the camp of The Others. It found the daughter of One Who Dreams by the fire of The Others' chief. Quickly it carried her away and back to her father. Then it returned to the camp of The Others and devoured their chief.

    Then Wendigo returned to One Who Dreams looking stronger, larger, and hungrier. "Command me," it said to him. Filled now with confidence that the Wendigo was up to the task, One Who Dreams ordered it to return to the camp of The Others and free the remainder of his people. In a flash, Wendigo vanished, and soon to returned with all the rest of the enslaved Hidatsa people. Almost immediately it vanished once again, returning to the camp of The Others where it devoured the family of their dead chief.

    Once more it came to One Who Dreams. Now it looked filled, strong, with a hunger of madness in its eyes. "Command me," it said to him, drawing closer to One Who Dreams than he cared for. Its presence made him more than a little nervous now.

    "Alright," said One Who Dreams, "The Others have taken more from the land than they needed. This place can no longer support both my tribe and theirs. Remove them from this forest," he ordered the Wendigo. It once again vanished, returning to the camp of The Others. In fulfilling the command the Wendigo "removed" The Others by simply devouring them all. And now its power and the ferocity of its hunger had grown almost limitless. In its insatiable rage the Wendigo roared, shaking the trees of the forest with the power of its voice.

    Far distant, One Who Dreams realized his folly. By devouring the last of The Others there was no one left for it to devour but One Who Dreams' own people. In despair he fell to the earth and wept, "What have I done, my daughter? I have brought this monster into the world and now it will consume us all! Who can stand against the Wendigo and prevail?"

    High above, in a cedar tree, Raven watched One Who Dreams. Wisest and oldest of all the birds, Raven flew down and landed on his shoulder. He whispered something into the ear of One Who Dreams, then quickly plucked a feather from his wing and gave it to him. One Who Dreams looked in despair at Raven. "How can this possibly help?" he cried. "Wendigo is more powerful and more hungry than all the warriors that have ever lived. How can a feather help us?" But Raven simply whispered into his ear once more, then flew back up into the cedar to observe.

    Wendigo appeared again, grown huge, filled with power and thirsting after the flesh of Man. It approached One Who Dreams, knowing the moment to devour him had come, and stood drooling over his small human frame. "Command me," it said.

    One Who Dreams slowly held up the feather. "Blow this feather with your breath into the air, and with your breath alone keep it from ever again touching the earth." Knowing it had won, Wendigo smiled a wicked smile then took the feather from One Who Dreams. Lightly it blew the feather upwards, turning once again to One Who Dreams.

    "The feather;" said One Who Dreams to Wendigo, "it falls to the ground again." Quickly Wendigo ducked beneath the falling feather and blew lightly on it once more, sending it back up into the air. He was still a terrible sight, but he had lost some of his menacing nature. Just as he prepared to devour One Who Dreams, Wendigo realized the feather was falling again to the ground. He moved beneath it and blew a third time, and as he did he looked even smaller and less terrifying than before. After several minutes the Wendigo had returned to being a frail, gaunt figure, blowing the feather over and over again. One Who Dreams thanked Raven and together with his daughter and the other Hidatsa he returned in peace to their village.


    There are other variations of this story, but for obvious reasons this is my favorite. Thoughts are like Wendigo. They become powerful and more prevailant if used only in the ordinary way. Notice that in the story, Wendigo was asked only to do finite, ordinary things by One Who Dreams. Each task had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Like a muscle that is exercised, with each completed task, Wendigo's power grew. But when asked to do that which had no finite resolution, Wendigo's power was diminished.

    The trick then, is not to beat thoughts down by force. We aren't strong enough for that. We also can't simply think whatever we want and call it good because that is the way ordinary mind works, and allowing it to do as it pleases only makes it hungrier for more. What we need to do is give our minds one of these endlessly recursive loop tasks; something that fits in with its natural abilities, but which has no finite end. Without the satisfaction of saying, "See, I've completed this task," thought habits are not strengthened.

    One of the simplest methods is to use mind to observe mind. Since the mind seemingly has no end to its chatter, there is no end to observing it. Let it chatter on in the background as you watch. Don't engage in the internal dialogue, just pay attention to what is there. At some point this technique can become a little bit frightening if done properly because you begin to wonder if you're developing a multi-personality disorder or something. You will observe thoughts that seem to come as if from some other mind and you say to yourself, "I wasn't thinking that. How did that get in there?" It really feels like you're eavesdropping on a conversation someone else is having. Sometimes you'll "hear" a snippet of a conversation and realize you didn't quite catch all that was said and you may wonder what the words were that you missed. It's a little disconcerting at first, but normal.

    One method I've personally used with great success is to imagine my thoughts as being leaves floating gently down a river. Each thought is a leaf, and as I mentally note it is there I assign it an image of a leaf drifting gently down my favorite river until is passes out of sight.

    In using a technique like this, don't worry about a mantra. Your observation of thoughts takes the place of a mantra. You actually want thoughts to come so that you have something to observe. In the beginning, if you run out of thoughts to observe, give yourself a thought such as, "I think I've run out of thoughts to watch," or something like that. Then you can turn the thought of not having any thoughts into a leaf. After a week or two of doing this, should you run out of thoughts to watch, just observe the slowly moving water of the river without leaves and rest in that peaceful flow.

    Using a technique like this is very effective for working with hyperactive minds, and should bring you to the same place that using a mantra is intended to take you. There are many variations on this technique, and you can use whichever you feel an affinity for. Just keep in mind the idea is to give your mind a non-finite, recursive loop task. That ought to help you along your path.
     
  4. phunkodelic

    phunkodelic Member

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    Great story and analogy Ta-tsu-wa, thank you! I will use that technique from now on as I was kind of using it before the mantra, but figured a mantra would be the key to my success. It looks like time and practice will be the key and going with the flow instead of using force.

    pollyanna, yes I have read his book "Its not about the bike". Excellent book. I have given it away to a few folks I know with cancer and helped them as it too is helping me.

    Thanks for the wisdom presented in this forum. Its wonderful.
     
  5. ambler

    ambler Member

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    Ta-Tsu-Wa, when you use the observing technique you mentioned do you do that after you've done Lifeflow with the mantra, or do you use Lifeflow and observe simultaneously? Sounds like mindfulness meditation, but I'm just a little confused how you choose to employ it with Lifeflow.

    Thanks.
     
  6. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Ambler

    All meditation is mindfulness of one sort or another. You're mindful of your mantra, or of the silences between repetitions of your mantra. You're mindful of your thinking processes; of a philosophical concept or koan. You're mindful of the flickering of a candle flame or your breath. You're mindful of the flow/sensation of moving energy; of bodily sensations in one or another form...

    In all cases meditation is a matter of being mindful. The difference is in what you're mindful of, but it all comes down to being mindful of something. Should you ever discover that you have no recall whatsoever of a period of meditation, then you weren't really in meditation, you were in a state of sleep, non-awareness or non-consciousness; the antithesis of meditation.

    There is some general degree of confusion about what role entrainment and brainwaves play in meditation in general as evidenced by many posts. Some equate meditation with being a specific set of brainwaves while others have the idea that listening to an entrainment track is meditation all by itself. Perhaps it would be good to touch on, and clarify these points. To the degree we correctly understand the role each plays we will be able to avail ourselves of these tools to their greatest potential. Then let's look at your question in light of a more clear understanding.

    Brainwaves first. Let's play like the television show, Myth Busters. Some are under the impression that just having certain brainwaves IS meditation or at least that if you have a preponderance of certain brainwaves that means you are in meditation. This simply isn't true.

    Brainwaves are a by-product of meditation, not its genesis. Each of us goes in and out of various states of Alpha brainwaves every day as a normal part of daily life, but clearly these periods of spontaneous Alpha are not (in most cases) incidents of meditation. We may listen to an entrainment track and it may help us reach a state of Alpha brainwaves. But this no more means we're in meditation than do any of those spontaneous periods of Alpha we reach throughout the day independent of any entrainment track. Meditation is a state of consciousness, not a state of brainwaves.

    You might wonder what the point of entrainment is then, if being in Alpha (or any of the other brainwave states) doesn't mean we're in meditation. This has to do with the difference between "causation" and "correlation". Brainwaves do not "cause" meditation. Many, many activities result in increased Alpha brainwaves, for instance, but most of these activities have nothing at all to do with meditation. If brainwaves "caused" meditation then every time you engaged in any activity that resulted in Alpha brainwaves, for example, you would automatically be in meditation.

    While there is no "causal" relationship in the direction of your brainwaves towards meditation, there is a "correlation" or "associative" relationship between the two. In other words, whenever you are in a state of meditation there is a tendency (notice this is a "tendency", and not an absolute one-to-one correspondence) for the brain to produce Alpha, Theta, and sometimes even more Delta brainwaves. This is maybe best illustrated by looking at a different activity.

    Consider when you're deep into study of something. Most of the time, when a student is studying hard, they do so in a quiet, peaceful environment. You would not, for instance, go to the front row of a Grateful Dead concert if your intention was to deeply study for an upcoming final exam. You would seek out someplace with relative quiet, where you will not be unnecessarily disturbed, such as a library or your bedroom, etc. Given this quiet, secluded environment your chances for successful study are optimized.

    Does this mean that a quiet environment "causes" effective study? Not at all. Many times you seek out a quiet place for purposes unrelated to study. There is no "causal" relationship between the quiet and study. Quiet does not "produce" successful study. But if you analyzed all the times you studied successfully you might find it most often occurred in a peaceful, quiet setting, so there is a "correlation" between successful study and a quiet environment. Therefore, if you're faced with having to study, and you want to maximize your chances for making your study time successful, you will do well to seek out a quiet, peaceful place to study in.

    This is exactly analogous to the way brainwaves and their manipulation are used for purposes of meditation. An Alpha state does not always mean you are in meditation, but when you are in meditation you are usually in an Alpha state. So if you want to maximize the chances for successfully reaching a state of meditation you deliberately invoke that Alpha state up front. It doesn't guarantee or "cause" meditation, but since there is a "correlation" between the two it creates the environment in which meditation is more likely to occur.

    To be in meditation you have to be in meditation. Alpha brainwaves during any other activity is something entirely different. They may have their benefits, but they will not be the benefits of meditation.

    So then on to the next myth; if you are listening to an entrainment track you are automatically getting the benefits of meditation. False, false, and false again.

    All any entrainment track can do is promote certain brainwave states. That's its entire purpose. And as noted, even if the track does just that, simply having a particular brainwave state does not equal being in meditation because there is no "causal" relationship there. If you listen to LF-10, for instance, and it promotes a high output of Alpha brainwaves at or close to 10Hz in frequency, it's done its job. Being in that Alpha brainwave state MAY help you achieve meditation if that is your purpose and you are pursuing some technique for attaining meditation. But it isn't a guarantee and it isn't going to "cause" you to meditate or to accumulate the benefits that meditation can bring.

    In a sense, using entrainment is a bit like the tail wagging the dog, but it seems to work.

    I'll bet now you wish you hadn't asked the question, eh? :) But it's important to really understand the roles and purposes of entrainment and brainwaves in the meditation process so that their benefits can be maximized. Now, back to your question...

    My recommendation was for Phunk to use the observation of thoughts AS a technique of meditation, in lieu of using a mantra. So one could do this while listening to a LF track. Mantra techniques tend to be good for people with very active thought-minds, but sometimes a person's thoughts are so absolutely hyperactive that even a mantra technique isn't enough to cut through the chatter wall. In such cases, rather than struggling against all that thinking, it's best to turn the whole situation around and use those hyperactive thoughts as tools for entering meditation. In this way they naturally decrease over time and eventually one will be able to successfully employ other techniques like mantra. It's just a matter of slowly training the mind rather than of trying to eradicate it. Any facet of the mind, such as thoughts, will struggle to the death to survive if we assume an adversarial relationship towards it. The harder we struggle, the more energy they draw in an effort to resist our efforts to destroy them.

    When I was a young man I lived on a farm. Part of my chores included breaking horses for riding. "Breaking", is a poor choice of words. If it was possible to actually "break" the horse it would lose all spirit and be useless, not to mention miserable in its life. What really happens is that the horse is gradually persuaded to work in cooperative fashion with riders, allowing the rider to utilize the strength, speed and stamina of the horse. One thing you learn very quickly when "breaking" horses is that we mere humans are no physical match for the horse. Here's the equation: 180lbs. man vs. 1250lbs. horse = No Contest. Opposing the strength of the horse with your own strength is futile and pointless. You have to use the strength of the horse and lead it to follow in the way you want it to go. After enough repetition the horse will do what you want with just the simple touch of a rein on it's neck or a squeeze of the knee or foot on its side. So it is with the mind and the thoughts of the mind.

    The moment one adopts the attitude that all those thoughts are in fact a valuable tool rather than an obstacle, the energy feeding the thought process begins to wane. Then you lead the thoughts into working for you and soon enough they are trained in this way leaving you free to explore other techniques without their incessant disobedience.

    Personally, I like the observation of thoughts as a technique, perhaps even more than I like mantra. It feels more natural to me so I'm likely one of those whose thoughts are somewhat hyperactive by nature.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
  7. ambler

    ambler Member

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    Thanks for the fascinating, well-written post. I was already aware of the interesting and complex relationship between brainwaves and meditation-proper, but rarely has it been expressed so simply and elegantly.

    However, idiot that I am, I'm still confused how you employ your mindfulness meditation (if you don't mind that term) with Lifeflow. Do you start by following your breath, a la vipassana? And doesn't the soundtrack distract you in that instance? Also, since you clearly use both mantra and mindfulness, how do you know which one to use, and when? I guess what I'm struggling with--besides my dire insomnia--is in locking onto a technique that works for me and learning to make it a habit. To use your analogy, I am a horse that still very much needs to be broken.

    All the best.

    A.
     
  8. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    Ambler

    Part of your question is best answered in the context of what you personally see as the object of your meditation. Different people have different reasons and (I don't care for this word but I'll use it anyway,) different expectations when they begin the practice of meditation. For example, maybe you have health issues and meditation is a tool for promoting physical healing. Or perhaps you meditate for general stress reduction, or as a part of overcoming a particular mental health issue like depression or anxiety. Or you might see meditation as a spiritual process that either enhances your sense of the presence of Deity, or brings you to feel more at one with the Divine. I know some atheists who maintain "The Divine" is just a figment of deluded imaginations and yet they practice meditation specifically for the health aspects. Others see the sole purpose of meditation as being spiritual with any non-spiritual benefits being largely irrelevent. I think most of us are probably somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. But the fact is, the purpose you assert for meditation has a great deal to do with how you will personally approach it.

    Maybe the first rule of thumb to keep in mind is that it isn't generally advised to switch back and forth between meditation techniques. Pick one that "feels right" for you and stick with that one exclusively, at least for several months, if not longer. What you wrote about making it "a habit" is spot on. Your chosen technique becomes an extension of yourself. From a physical/mental perspective, it takes time and repetition before our bodies and minds feel totally acclimated towards a practice like meditation. If we engage in a shotgun approach of adopting multiple practices we do not give our bodies or minds sufficient consistent exposure for the new practice to sink in and become part of us.

    Consider this in terms of a more mundane activity; shooting free throws with a basketball. If you had never played basketball before and were just learning how to shoot, you could very quickly devise any number of ways to throw that ball into the hoop. You could shoot it like you see most of the pros shoot on television. Or you could try the old underhand (we used to call it the "Granny Throw") toss. You could get experimental and try shooting free throws with some kind of hook shot toss. You might try shooting using only your left hand, or only your right hand. You might even try turning away from the hoop and tossing the ball straight back over your head. With a little thought you can no doubt think of several other possible ways to toss a ball towards the hoop.

    Now, considering all these possible ways, let's say you only have a limited few minutes each day to practice making free throws, and you want to become the best, most consistent free throw shooter on the planet. Probably the worst thing you could do for your practice is to toss the ball one way for a few trys, then toss it a completely different way for another few tries, then a third different way for a couple more tries, etc. In so doing you would never develop any consistency or skill. The smart thing would be to try a couple of the ways that looked most promising; pick the one that felt the most natural to you and stick with that one, spending all your practice time using just that one type of shot.

    The same is true of meditation techniques. In the beginning you do a little research to discover what techniques are generally available and which of those feel most natural to you at first glance. Sometimes one or another will just reach out and grab you, but most of us have to actually try a few of them out for a session or two to see how they feel. Then pick the one that you're most comfortable with and make a committment to stick with it. Give it a reasonable amount of time to take hold of you, and by that I mean, you might need to try it for a month or two before you can fairly assess whether or not it's really the one you want to use for the long haul. The temptation to be avoided is the one in which you experiment with several likely techniques. Then, as you sit down to meditate, if one doesn't appear to be "working" for you that day, you simply rotate on to the next one in your repetoire. This would be just like switching free throw styles. It won't get you satisfactory results.

    I'm also absolutely convinced that this business about there being "secret" or "deeper" techniques for meditation that you need to progressively advance to over the years is pure hogwash. Use what feels natural to you. The one that feels most in keeping with your own unique qualities is the one that will advance you as far as you choose to go, whether your objectives are physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or some combination of any of these. If you've used TM and it feels right for you down in the depths of your Being, then you don't need to learn a Kriya technique later. If Vipassana is the one you resonate with there's need to graduate to Taoist Golden Thread meditation later. There is no innately "best" technique. The best technique is the one that you resonate with most deeply, and that's probably the only one you'll ever need. Remember, any meditation technique is just a tool to help you reach a state of meditation. In time, with regular practice of entering meditation you should get to the point at which you can enter that state more or less at will, independent of any technique.

    Now, I say that and it sounds as though I'm contradicting what I wrote earlier about using the thought-watching method and then later being able to use mantra. What I meant is that because of your heavily active mind you might need to use watching the thoughts as a preliminary way to train the mind to slow down some. There are some people whose thoughts race more than is typical for the average person. If you are one of those people you might need to train your thoughts a bit in order to be able to use another technique such as mantra, if mantra is the one that feels most natural to you. But as a rule the vast majority of folks don't need to go to that sort of extreme to initially calm the mind. Most will be able to pick a technique and begin working with it right away. You could be one of those rare types who needs that little extra conditioning in order to be able to begin using the technique you really feel drawn to. Then again, you might feel drawn to observing thoughts and decide that is the technique for you and you'll stay with it for a long, long time.

    But let's be pragmatic and admit that most of us, no matter what we're told, are going to experiment over time with more than one meditation technique. I certainly have. And while I've experienced a number of different meditation techniques, I find there really is one in particular that seems to resonate with me most deeply. This is usually my technique of choice. This is after spending decades building a solid meditational foundation, learning what it feels like to be in the meditative state. If I was just starting out today, learning meditation from the ground up I would be sticking exclusively to one technique and not switching or mixing them. You can take that for what it's worth.

    As for how you proceed observing thoughts, you won't need to begin with a mantra then transition over into watching your thoughts, then move into something else a bit later. Make your practice as simple as possible. If you're going to watch your thoughts, just begin watching your thoughts. If you use the imagery I suggested of the leaves on the river, then start by imagining a slow moving river, deep and clear. You can think of this river metaphorically as your consciousness if you like. As thoughts appear, and from what you've said they always appear in great quanity, then give each thought the image of a leaf floating on that river. Observe the leaves as they slowly move by and drift out of sight.

    Entrainment, remember, just primes the pump by helping to put your brainwaves into a particular range. This should not in any way interfere with your experience of meditation. If it does attract your attention, that's terrific! You will not be able to feel "distracted" without having some kind of thought that recognizes the distraction. When you have that thought, there's another leaf you can envision drifting on down your river. Use that point of distraction to take you deeper into the peace of meditation. That's part of the beauty of thought observation as a meditation technique. All those things that would be considered distractions when using other meditation techniques, become tools for going deeper using the thought-observation technique. With each thought you're blowing the feather like the Wendigo. So distractions are useful to your practice, not detrimental. If you would rather not deal with the entrainment track this way, then turn the volume on it down until the whole thing is more like white noise than like an audio track.

    Above all, keep in mind that meditation should always be a release from excessive effort. If you find you're having to try very hard, it's time to re-examine your methods because there's probably something you need to make an adjustment on.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
  9. Grey

    Grey Member

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    are there other ways to practise thought watching and is it acceptable to work with more than one of these as long as they are all thought watching based?
     
  10. Ta-tsu-wa

    Ta-tsu-wa Member

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    There are lots of ways to use observing the thoughts as a meditation technique. You're really only limited by your imagination. I used the example of the leaves on the river because I happen to be someone who is very visually oriented. But you could just as easily substitute clouds in the sky floating away or something else and get equally effective results.

    Some people are more auditory and less visual, so they might want to observe the thoughts using some kind of audio imagery. For example, you could imagine being at a secluded lake in the forest where even the slightest sounds result in those beautiful, haunting echoes back and forth across the water. Each time a thought intrudes on the peace of that lake, rather than imagining it as a leaf or some other visible object, you imagine it as a sound that echoes back and forth across the still lake water. Maybe you have a thought that says you have to run to the store and pick up a gallon of milk today, so you represent that thought by "hearing" the word "milk" in your mind. The word milk is spoken in your thoughts softly, then it echoes out over the lake and comes back to to you again, and again, and again, each time becoming fainter and fainter. You would listen for that echo until it has become so faint that it fades away into silence. In that way someone who is more auditory oriented could apply the technique of observing the thoughts.

    With a little imagination you can probably come up with a number of variations on this idea that would suit just about anyone's preferences.

    I don't recommend switching among these variations on the technique on a regular basis for the reasons I outlined in an earlier post. You need to give your body and mind time to acclimate themselves to a technique, and making even minor adjustments on a regular basis tends to thwart whole process. So pick one and stick with it. If you find it just isn't for you then try another variation, but give it time to work with it before pulling the plug or else you'll just end up hopping from one to the next to the next, ad nauseum.
     
  11. fabriziobortolussi

    fabriziobortolussi Member

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    Advices on Meditation and Techniques

    Hello to everybody :) My name is Fabrizio and it's the first time I post here in this forum.
    I would like to ask some questions regarding Meditation but before I'll talk a bit about what happened in my life during these last 2 - 3 years.
    Stress and lack of sleep have been the two biggest problems in my life since quite some time ago.
    During this long period I didn’t really live in a peaceful environment at all. I remember working all night from like 9 pm to 1 pm of the next day in workshops smoking cigs and drinking bilions of coffees.
    I would crumble asleep at 1-2 pm and wake up at like 7-8 pm feeling exhausted. This lifestyle eventually drove my mind into a state of confusion that led me to depression, anger and anxiety.
    The amount of stress gathered during this long period has been evil. So evil that it made my head explode into an eruption of frightening symptoms. Some of which…are still here since nearly 3 months ago.
    All this, plus a psycho insane girlfriend with morbid and menthally disturbing behaviours who put me under pressure EVERY day. So stress and stress and stress.
    Crysis exploded and I have been suffering from serious vertigo rollercoasters, nasty dizzy spells and a weird state of non-lucidity/brain fog. Like being “drunk” and “stoned” all day. Feeling a weird kind of mental void…mental blackness. Basically…hell.
    I remember even dreaming of being dizzy since these symptoms would hunt me even in dreams.
    Sometimes even just listening to someone talking to me would toss my lucidity to oblivion and make me feel dizzy or like in a state of mental chaos.
    At the beginning I thought I even had some brain damage and did a shitload of medical tests and visits. Ear check for the vestibular organ, eye check, brain scan (lol I know) and blood exam.
    Results where: you are fine.
    I remember then going to the family doctor who is not only a doctor but a friend of my parents since more than 30 years ago. And that means a lot. He did some weird yet fundamental tests and told me “you’re fine man…you are just overstressed, your pressure is a bit high and you really need to change your lifestyle”.
    Though, those symptoms didn’t want to go away. Eventually they got milder but they would raise up all of a sudden making me feel really uneasy and scared.
    So I had the terrible idea of going into the forums on the internet and started to read of people having who knows what etc. This has been my most stupid action cause it drove my brain into a vicious circle of hypochondria and state of “how dizzy will I be today? and what if I have a nervous system damage?” etc.
    Or even "Will this ever end?"..."I don't remember how I was before this started".
    I visited a psychologist two times and this old woman just told me that I had to stop being stressed and that life is much easier than all this. Easy to say, hard to do since my brain programmed itself everyday creating dizziness.
    At the end…I just came up with a conclusion. And it’s pretty simple.
    And doctors were right.
    All of that stress, anxiety and crazy life rythms are the ONLY reason behind these symptoms.
    So I started to ask myself "is there a way to heal quickly?" and couldn't find any answers.
    I tried to get a lot of vitamins and, in a way, it helped me to gain more energy but didn't put me back in focus and my mind was still in a terrible state of confusion/void.
    So I tried some hyper expensive products bought over the net (based on aminoacids, vitamins and polysaccarid-peptides). They kept boosting up my energy but the state of confusion and stress didn't want to go away.
    So eventually I met a teacher of something called Trascendental Meditation.
    I brought there a friend of mine who's suffering from stress related dizziness since 3 years ago (I know, it's crazy) and we listened to this man talking about TM.
    I am very skeptical so I didn't really believe him but whatever.
    Fact is that after one week my friend called me and tell me "it's over...dizziness is gone...and once for all...this TM is the key dude".
    And he was not lying...he was really feeling good. Actually so good I couldn't even believe his words.
    So I started to think about doing this TM thing but before doing it I came into this website and read this LifeFlow 2.0 program. I also tried the Discover Meditation free course and...after 20 mins of meditation using an easy to pronounce mantra (aima)...I felt some massive improvement already.
    Dizziness got much milder and mind started to get more in focus. Vertigo also got milder too. Now it's basically 10 days I'm meditating with this mantra, sitting comfortably on a chair with some pillows behind me to keep my shoulders straight and, even though during the day I still feel some slight vertigo (especially when sitting in front of a screen I feel like floating on water) and dizziness but this goes COMPLETELY away after dinner when I go out with friends. This explains that's just a psychological problem and that Meditation is helping me a LOT to kill it.
    Though I noticed that these last 2-3 days of meditation (I meditate 20 mins at around 2 pm and 20 mins at around 8 pm) I couldn't focus on the mantra because an insane quantity of thoughts would pop in my mind...some positive and some negative. A mixed bag.
    Occasionally the mantra would just pop up back but it wouldn't last long before another wave of thoughts would break through.
    The TM teacher told me that this is because I didn't do the ceremony of initiation and because the mantra is a fundamental part and that it cannot be casual.
    As a matter of fact...my friend felt great even just after the first TM session.
    So if you guys are kind enough to explain me some of the differences between TM and classical Meditation I would really be happy and I hope I'm not asking too much :)
    Also I'd love to hear some advices on how to meditate properly (maybe I'm not doing it in the right way), how to sit down etc.
    I saw so many different types of meditation that I got confused.
    Anyway! I look forward to hear from you guys and I really want to get this dizziness away once for all and get back to my old self :D
    Have a nice day!

    Fabrizio
     

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