Sunday, June 23, 2013

Experiment Update: My Life Without Meditation

If you read posts from a while ago, you know that I have been an avid practitioner of yoga and meditation since the 70's.  Recently I have taken a hiatus from regular practice, as an experiment and due to a bout of laziness.  Lately this has meant 1. yoga practice - only when teaching, and 2. meditation once every other week or so.  In addition I have taken on a mildly stressful 1/2 time job unrelated to these pursuits.  The stress is self imposed by my Virgo need for doing things well and right and the inability to control the situation to provide me with the resources needed to do things efficiently, and my childish need to be right.  It does infiltrate my non working hours and even my meditations.  I am also eating less alive food, less variety and occasional coffee binges, and much more sugar.

The result is:  more stress, less joyfulness, less relaxed feeling, pain in my body - aka less fun.  In meditation, my mind is filled with thought, I rarely get to that spacious place where there is no thought, whereas I used to be able to do that at anytime in the past.  However, in present times of meditation, I am content even with this active mind as it is.  In life, I am more reactive, less able to pull myself out of the "shenpa" or hook of life.  I still maintain a stillness in perspective of being the non-doer of any of this, this has not changed.  I can still step back and be the observer of my life experiences.  The awareness of Self/observer/that which is beyond the experience has been maintained.  ( don't really know how to describe This, which is beyond words)

2nd result: this body hurts every morning when it wakes up

Latest Conclusion:   The practice of yoga and meditation truly change how my brain is wired and functions. For one, as has been reported in studies on Tibetan monks, I believe meditation strengthened the cingulate that allows "space" around all situations, giving time to consider, and not react.  No reaction was necessary with a constant state of mind that allowed all things to be as they are.

  I have experienced the rewiring of my brain over 30 years of practice.  I have also experience the initial stages of rewiring of the brain in the opposite direction in the past three years of less to no practice.

2nd conclusion:  I do not prefer this new/old state of being so much that I am returning to practice.

Actions Considered:  Daily meditation, more home practice of yoga, eating better, less sugar, no coffee - ah the old days


Friday, May 10, 2013

Speak, dont type whats important

I am reminded that the typed word, via text, email, and blog does not transmit the full content of an experience or thought.  The emotion and intent can be lost or exaggerated.    It is fine for data/information transmission.  On several occasions I have found my purpose misinterpreted, only to have it appear to bite me in the .... well you know.  I must remember to not type when there is strong concern or emotion behind a situation.  For me it is much better worked out in person or on the phone.

Face to face we receive so much more information in body language and facial expression.  In text we get nada and the recipient is left to their own imagination.  Often going to the worst case senario when that was unnecessary and unfounded. 

We humans are an interesting lot!  All is fine.

Just breathe........ 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why I am a fatalist (in a good way)

Humans seem to have this crazy idea that they are in control of things.  When life goes the way we want, we say we created this, when it doesn't, we say it was bad luck.  Some of us are obsessed with keeping things in our control and others seem to float through life, control freaks would call them spacy. Anyway, I have come to believe that we are in control of nothing, though personally I still act as if I think I am in control sometimes.

So much thought has gone into the workings of my mind.  I have observed that every action and therefore every decision is based on the related events that have happened before in my experience.  Should I touch the hot pot or not?  The decision depends on whether I have touched a hot surface before, or if someone instructed me before.   All decisions come from past experience which influences the next experience. All actions in any given moment are determined by the past.  One could go so far as to say, some actions are determined by our constitution and genetics - which some would say are the fruits of past karma in past lives (if you believe that sort of thing.  And therefore, all actions and thoughts are predetermined.

So that's my simple mental explanation for this conclusion.  There were also several experiences that lead me to this as well and I welcome your comments on any part of this.

I was living for a time after my 2nd marriage had ended in a quite town with one son.  I spent a lot of time when not working, doing yoga and meditation.  I took up the practice of "doing nothing".  I describe it as simply sitting, wherever and whenever I decide to do this, with my eyes open and notice whatever is the experience.

The first time I did this practice I sat for about 20 minutes and noticed breathing, the couch beneath me, random thoughts that didn't last too long, spaces of mental quiet, a spate  of very interesting thoughts which died down, and probably things about the visual surroundings.  I practiced not labeling or identifying with the experiences, just witnessing.  After 20 minutes my body stood up and walked to my desk - with no thought and picked up my checkbook and statement and sat down to balance my check book.  And then my "doing nothing" was over.  This task was not on my list of things to do, nor did I have a previous thought or debate about whether to do this, it just happened - I reflect after the fact that it was simply because it was time to do it.

Many of these experiments led to varying results which in reflection seem to indicate that my life will happen regardless of my mental directing of it.  One time in one of these "not doings" it was a Saturday when Amma was offering her blessings to the public in Marlboro, MA.  I had considered going, but "decided" that I didn't want to rush to get out the door and by the time I would get there, I would have to wait a really long time to even get on line to receive her hug.  So I sat on the couch to "do nothing".  While doing nothing, I picked up the TV clicker and put on the tour de france.  Done doing nothing I was content to watch the race and stay at home.  About an hour later (home alone) I heard clear as day, "It's time to go", Startled, I stood up and looked around and there was no one around.  It wasn't the usual voice in my head (I don't typically hear voices, just my usual mental chatter).  With little thought, I picked up my car keys and drove to Marlboro, wondering why I had to go right then.  I was never going to stay long enough to get a hug/blessing.

I arrived and had to park at the very very back of the lot.  I walked from my car past the front of the hotel towards the convention hall where they had the event.  There was Amma sitting outside alone, waiting for her ride to the hall.  I looked at her and bowed a quick pranam and walked on.  "Well that was unexpected" I thought and immediately broke into sobbing tears - these spiritual teachers can have quite the effect.  Anyway, I had got my hug.  As I continued to the hall, I received my ticket which indicated when I could get in line for blessings.  My ticket number was something like XY45.  They start at A1.  My time was going to be around 8am the next morning.  I laughed, enjoyed the chanting and went home, having already received my blessing.

So... long story, my experiments also indicated that I had no control, no mental participation in these events.  I found that when I surrender to the moment, life just happens.  I don't have to worry about anything (though I still sometimes worry about my children over whom I really cant even have the appearance of control).  I gave up lists.  I still get everything done, even though I don't keep them all in my mind.  The next thing is always there.  The next moment always comes with an experience - positive, neutral, or unpleasant.  I have stopped trying to avoid the unpleasant and boring and stopped trying to create the pleasant, and just enjoy the fun when it's there and be present for the not fun.

It doesn't mean that I don't plan.  Sometimes the moment requires planning.  Like trips, classes, schedules.  But then it's over.

There is so much less suffering without the worry about the future, the obsessing about getting things right (I'm a virgo - perfection was everything), getting everyone elses things right.  When I trust that the moments are just as they need to be, everything flows.  And what else could possibly be besides the Tao.

I think the human mind has just developed to the point, that it thinks it is the director and superimposes itself on the experience of life, which would go on exactly the same without this superimposition.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wall Street Tax

I t seems lacking to me that there isn't already a tax on financial transactions.  We have taxed everything else.  As Europe passes legislation imposing such taxes, the markets threaten that trading will move elsewhere and their markets will suffer.  However, if Britain, the US, and other savy governments follow suit to help their own struggling economies, their would not be a significant migration to other markets.  This way the only market left will be in some small middle eastern town, and they can't all go there.  Anyway, I do think it is time to support our expenditures with a few more $$s from the rich getting richer.

Once the budget is balanced, then for every $ revenue raise above and beyond, a matching program should be re-funded, it's only fair (if only).  We have cut cut cut, we need to build build build.

Austerity is not the way.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Doing Nothing

I keep telling my yoga students to try to do nothing - even just for 5 minutes.  Here is a great TED video, telling us the same thing  Meditation is a much simpler thing than we all make it out to be.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hot Flashes

Yeah, really about Hot Flashes.  So I have them, but not in the debilitating way.  I don't sweat unless I am in tip top condition, you know aerobic workout 3X per week plus all the other exercise that I do, so right now I don't sweat.  Even when I get a hot flash.

When I get a hot flash, my skin does not get hot.  I want to rip clothing off or open a window, but when I check or have someone else check my heat level, there is none.  How could that be?  I have seen many women drenched in sweat when this occurs to them and we all feel hot and want to feel cooler.

Here's my theory.  Since these apparent flashes are caused by changing hormone levels, I don't think there is anything going on at the skin/nerve level until after a response happens in the brain to whatever is amiss with hormones or the byproduct of reactions going on inside.  Our brain registers a response similar to feeling hot.  In normal women that  sweat, they follow with that reaction which brings the heat to the surface so that it can be sweated (evaporated) away.  The heat/sweat comes after the perceived "warmth"..

Our natural reaction is to try to cool ourselves.  In my body, as I try to cool down, my cool sensing nerves do respond, but it does not change the "warmth" that I feel.  So I am feeling cool and "warmth" at the same time.  And I note that the warmth that I feel, is not the same as feeling warm when I am in a sauna, or in the sun on a hot day.  There is definitely two different things going on.  Someone should figure this out.  What is happening in the brain?

Does anyone really care?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Well, I have been running an experiment.  I always run them on myself.  I did yoga daily for 25 years, (except when I was having kids - my body did not cooperate). And in the first 2000 decade I started meditating everyday.  Although I didnt live in a cave and devote all of my time to sacred scripture reading, practicing yamas and niyamas, but rather lived a life with kids, relationships and much material success, I found my consciousness quite expansive, my awareness very present, mindfulness always there.  The sense of ego was diminishing and I experienced life as if the "I" was just part of the "one".  As I surrendered more and more to what was, my ego (sense of individual self) had less and less to do with what manifested in my life, and yet life manifested quite a lot.

At some point a decision was made to not continue so strong a practice, perhaps mind won a small battle, and I lessened the meditation practice and lessened the yoga practice.  I even stopped the practice altogether for many months.  Although there was still the sense of less I and more one, the change in awareness and expansive consciousness had been quite extreme.  In other words,
No Meditation = No Awareness.  Over time the state of presence and mindfulness decreased more and more.

All of that led me to consider that this really is a function of neurons in the brain, .and not some potential spiritually induced enlightenment.  The more I practice(meditation/yoga), the more the neurons in my brain become wired in a spacious, unreactive, surrender leaning way.  The less I practice, the more stressed I react and less open and spacious I feel.

It take 7 years to replace all the neurons in our brains.  In this 2nd phase of the experiment I hope to locate the happy medium range of awareness and functioning on this plane(t).