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Meditation, For The Love Of It. For Life.


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Almost one year ago now I started practicing sitting meditation. The changes in my life over the course of this period are to say the least, absolutely transforming. Nothing is the same. My entire being has taken on a new depth, clarity, awareness, centeredness, and calmness, with richer, more compassionate appreciation for life within myself and through this all others. My mind is transforming. Who I am as a person, as a human is moving into its fulfillment; which is itself poised at the door of the infinite potentials in all of us. I am awakening, and it is only the beginning. In all, I have begun where I began.

 

Thirty years ago I had what can be understood as an NDE. The entire universe cleft open to my mind and soul which sent me on an insatiable quest to reunite this within myself, to find that again, to touch again that Face of the Infinite in all, and myself. I diverted off into fundamentalist religion seeking external Answers with a capital A to what is a deep internal, eternal desire. I did not know how to look within, to trust that. Those I met had such confidence in their external authority they called God. I joined them, seeking for the answers outside myself in the promises as they understood them in their religion's holy book.

 

In some measure there was a degree of reconnection to that Infinite through their various ecstatic practices, but it was distorted and obscured and suffocated by their literalistic, exclusionary dogma. Their mindsets were counter to and contrary to what my exposure to that Infinite was. In my experience there was no place for judgement of others, no hell, no elusive belief necessary. It was only infinite love, infinite knowledge, infinite peace, infinite power, infinite grace.

 

In my practice of meditation now, all that is opened to me. It is all that and more. It is an uncovering of the hidden parts of myself, bringing them to light to where I embrace and integrate them, and move beyond them using their power to strengthen and support me in my opening to that living fully inside me. It is only in the inner journey this is found. It is not found in learning through teachers telling you these things. It is not found in some external source, some authoritative 'word of God' to tell you 'the truth'. You are that Truth inside. And the practice of meditation allows us to see that, and to know that, and to become that.

 

I'm starting this topic as an opportunity to talk about some of the practices I have found for myself that are helpful to me, as well as for others to share their own experiences and practices in order for those who are interested in meditation to perhaps learn some things for themselves to get them started, or for others to enhance their current practices. There is a book I recently learned about that I bought and am currently reading that is something I can recommend to those who ask me "what do I do"? So far, it very much sounds like everything I have discovered on my own and I recommend it for beginners and experienced mediators alike. The book is called "Meditation for the Love of It", by Sally Kempton. It very much resonates with me in my own self-guided approach.

 

One recommendation I have for those wishing to start a meditation practice is some simple, easy to follow and effective basic guidelines RevR from this site has written up and shared on his blog here: http://www.ex-christ...ditation-guide/

 

What practices do you do? What has it done for you? What do you hope to find for yourself? How little, or how much?

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Guest Babylonian Dream

Though for me its more about keeping myself calm and centered (with bipolar, I'd otherwise be all over the place, meditation does the opposite of what bipolar does to the brain). Meditation helps me to counter the effects of bipolar. Meditation helps the parts of the brain that are associated with selfcontrol, while bipolar makes selfcontrol worse. It does seem like a spiritual practice for me sometimes, but I don't quite believe in the supernatural anymore.

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I'm in a bad place right now. I'm grieving two deaths that came way too close together and all the family drama that has gone along with them, including one relationship (ok, well, I guess it counts as many more than that, considering how many people got hurt by this person's actions) between close and extended family that will probably never be mended.

 

I tried to meditate today but couldn't get very far with it. I realized shortly after starting that I had been attempting to reach a "one-pointed" state of mind as a way to go numb and block out all the pain. That doesn't work. Meditation opens you up to yourself, and I already had an overwhelming cascade of thoughts that I can't cope with right now. Too many changes too fast. I just wanted the quiet.

 

Some forms of mindfulness meditation, like walking meditation, can work really well for getting your mind off something you're obsessing over unnecessarily. Then again, sitting meditation is also pretty good about deconstructing unhealthy thought patterns. In fact, i expect that my pitiful attempts at having a meditation practice are why it was so easily pinpoint why it wasn't working for me today.

 

When I've got something on my mind that I really need to work through and have been avoiding, meditation is great for that. It forces me to be honest with myself and to deal with things. I often end up feeling much better afterwards.

 

But this grief? I dunno what to do with it. I'm a little upset that it's there at all, but I keep reminding myself that yes, I ought to be grieving now and that's ok. I'm much better at dealing with worries where I can face my fears head on and make an action plan. But death? Nothing to do. I would say no hope, but hope of what? I'm just hurting, that's all. Healing takes time. I wish I could meditate and do some special internal magic that makes the grieving process painless and fast. But I'm pretty sure that meditation was never intended to work like that, and that anyone honestly trying to sell me on meditation wouldn't claim that it could.

 

I guess... sometimes when I meditate because I'm upset, I think about it for a little bit and realize that what I really ought to be doing is acting. Then I get up and get things done! But I don't think meditation is really supposed to be used for when you're upset. It's something you should do when you're ok, like exercising. You exercise to get healthy and fit, you don't just exercise when you've got an injury, and in fact injured things need rest. It's certainly still good to keep up with meditation when things aren't going well, and you can be motivated to meditate by how it helps when you when you're down, but it's really more of a preventative measure than a treatment.

 

I was hoping that writing this out would help me figure out what to do with myself. I suppose what happened was that I tried to meditate while upset and discovered that instead of meditating, I really needed to go grieve. I suppose that counts as an action.

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Though for me its more about keeping myself calm and centered (with bipolar, I'd otherwise be all over the place, meditation does the opposite of what bipolar does to the brain). Meditation helps me to counter the effects of bipolar. Meditation helps the parts of the brain that are associated with selfcontrol, while bipolar makes selfcontrol worse. It does seem like a spiritual practice for me sometimes, but I don't quite believe in the supernatural anymore.

Do you practice a concentrative meditation or an awareness meditation? When you say it seems like a spiritual practice for you, do you mean in the ritual experience itself, or that within meditation you experience a certain 'higher' self, a certain connection or presence of something beyond just your ordinary mind?

 

One thing I see about the beauty of meditation is just this, that it isn't tied to any belief systems. One doesn't have to believe in God or the supernatural to experience that higher state. In fact it transcends all beliefs, and you find the beliefs are just simply vehicles to get you beyond them into a higher internal realization. Questions about the existence of God or not really become moot. Certainly there is a higher state of realization, but it is really more a matter of how do we describe it or talk about it. It surpasses any literal definitions, such as in the mythologies as facts mentality of the "true believer". Such literalness lessens or even blocks the experience of that and what that opens to us in ourselves, IMO. It externalizes it and reduces it to just a belief, changing the nature of it to a mere mental question and thus gutting it of any insights it opens to us through the experience of it.

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I tried to meditate today but couldn't get very far with it. I realized shortly after starting that I had been attempting to reach a "one-pointed" state of mind as a way to go numb and block out all the pain. That doesn't work. Meditation opens you up to yourself, and I already had an overwhelming cascade of thoughts that I can't cope with right now. Too many changes too fast. I just wanted the quiet.

I'm sorry for your losses and the grief you are experiencing. I haven't gone through loss in my life since integrating a meditation practice into it, so I can't speak from experience to that directly at this point. But I agree with you that meditation is an opening to yourself, and to use it to block things out isn't really going to work at all. Where I do see it being useful is in trying to clear unnecessary and excessive, or unproductive thoughts in that situation. It's not going to make the pain go away, but to find our center and that place of ground in ourselves would help to stabilize us through a time of upset. I would approach it that for that period of time in practicing meditation, for however long you are able to, even for a few minutes, it would be to simply set aside the grief temporarily to embrace Peace to gain its focus for yourself.

 

All the rest you say I agree with that meditation should be practiced regularly as a preventive measure, as well as for personal growth. People with anxiety issues enormously benefit from meditation, but to say try to meditation to stop an anxiety attack is really almost too late! Yes, it can help, but you're already in it. To meditate regularly helps prevent them from even happening, and if they do they are more manageable.

 

Some forms of mindfulness meditation, like walking meditation, can work really well for getting your mind off something you're obsessing over unnecessarily. Then again, sitting meditation is also pretty good about deconstructing unhealthy thought patterns. In fact, i expect that my pitiful attempts at having a meditation practice are why it was so easily pinpoint why it wasn't working for me today.

Yes, walking meditation is very good, and I practice that in addition to my sitting meditation. I do about an hour of sitting meditation each day first thing in the morning after a cup of green tea, before my day has begun and flooded my mind with the demands of the day. It offers a true clarity and center from which everything I encounter in the day is approached from. Then after lunch, I walk for 30 minutes (about a 2 mile walk), and practice mindfulness meditation, although many times even then I enter into meditative states where everything opens to you.

 

I think a key point to meditation to understand is that we have to 'exit ourselves'. What that means is that if we are looking to it to give us something like taking a pill, it eludes us. It eludes us because the focus in on ourselves. Meditation is to open you beyond yourself, to something you don't fully yet realize in yourself. So when you turn to it while looking at yourself as the focus, in who you already are in your self-image, then you are self-facing to what you already have and will just get more of that. It is the opposite of what we normally do in seeking to gain something for ourselves. We don't seek to grasp and take hold of it. That will not work. It boils down to one thing: release. We release ourselves into it, fully, and in so doing we in fact do find it - overwhelmingly oft times.

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Guest Babylonian Dream
Do you practice a concentrative meditation or an awareness meditation? When you say it seems like a spiritual practice for you, do you mean in the ritual experience itself, or that within meditation you experience a certain 'higher' self, a certain connection or presence of something beyond just your ordinary mind?

I don't know the difference between the two. I just do long deep breaths sitting in an upright posture with my eyes closed. Hard to explain, but I'm not sure about "higher selves" nor anything like that. Sometimes I get chills down my spine. Not all the time. I'd get that in church when we'd sing about God. Never felt a presence outside of trying to ride my bike in the middle of the night down backroads, and that was only the first time. I intepreted that presence as coy dogs and it ended up just my paranoia as there were no coydogs near me. That never happened afterward. Perhaps it was a guardian angel? Who knows? I have no way to know this. I don't believe it was anything but my brain though.

 

One thing I see about the beauty of meditation is just this, that it isn't tied to any belief systems. One doesn't have to believe in God or the supernatural to experience that higher state. In fact it transcends all beliefs, and you find the beliefs are just simply vehicles to get you beyond them into a higher internal realization. Questions about the existence of God or not really become moot. Certainly there is a higher state of realization, but it is really more a matter of how do we describe it or talk about it. It surpasses any literal definitions, such as in the mythologies as facts mentality of the "true believer". Such literalness lessens or even blocks the experience of that and what that opens to us in ourselves, IMO. It externalizes it and reduces it to just a belief, changing the nature of it to a mere mental question and thus gutting it of any insights it opens to us through the experience of it.

My brain isn't like everyone else's. Guess I just never was able to have that level of spiritual experience.

 

I did however once have a strange OBE. It was when they had me on Abilify. I felt a hand tickling my hand, it was a darktan skinned lady wearing a veil who called herself Ninmesara. She looked middle eastern. There is a goddess in Sumer named Ninmesarra. Her name was lady of power. The weird thing was, I had no way to know this, as I hadn't yet studied those mythologies. I was 15/16, and trying out Jewish and Islamic religions before I got to the nonabrahamic faiths. I still find the ninmesarra part just crazy and hard to explain. Outside that, no religious experiences. Though I do wonder if I could call that it either, as it was an effect of the Abilify, which I was reacting horribly to. I was passing out, seeing walls falling. I thought every building I was in was about to collapse.

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Do you practice a concentrative meditation or an awareness meditation? When you say it seems like a spiritual practice for you, do you mean in the ritual experience itself, or that within meditation you experience a certain 'higher' self, a certain connection or presence of something beyond just your ordinary mind?

I don't know the difference between the two. I just do long deep breaths sitting in an upright posture with my eyes closed. Hard to explain, but I'm not sure about "higher selves" nor anything like that.

I'll post a quote from an interview I often refer to that talks about the basic types of meditation, and the various stages within them to answer that question:

 

"It is common among scholars to divide meditation into two broad categories, called “concentration” and “awareness” (or “insight”) meditation. Or, “opened” and “closed”. For example, let’s say you are looking at a wall that has hundreds of dots painted on it. In concentration meditation, you look at just one dot, and you look at it so fiercely that you don’t even see the other dots. This develops your powers of concentration. In awareness training, or insight meditation, you try to be as aware of all the dots as you can be. This increases your sensitivity, awareness, and wisdom, in that sense."

 

He goes on to describe the types of experiences one may have in the various stages of meditation. The whole interview on the topic is found here: Link

 

When you practice what you describe, what is going on with your thoughts in your mind? Are you blocking them out, or relaxing out of them, so to speak, where even though they still arise you aren't sucked into them actively thinking about them, where you become more a witness to them instead? In what you practice, what is effect of it afterwards in your day as you go on, and how long does that last?

 

Sometimes I get chills down my spine. Not all the time. I'd get that in church when we'd sing about God.

Would you describe it as a sort of 'what's that?' experience? Does it catch you off guard and you pull back from it?

 

That that happened in church doesn't surprise me, anymore. I find that where I've gone to now I became quite amazed how that I was already doing much the same things in my church experience, but it was messed up with all their literalism and stuff. My analogy I use is they were like a bunch of kids who found a car with the keys in it, figured out how to start it up and push the gas peddle making it rev and roar, showing all the other kids how to do it, climbing in and out of it getting all excited, but never understanding what the stick shift on the floor was for. The sad thing is that those who played around with it were warned by the leaders of the kid gangs to 'don't touch that!'. I have this mental image of the 'grumps' from that early Star Trek episode.

 

Perhaps it was a guardian angel? Who knows? I have no way to know this. I don't believe it was anything but my brain though.

Even what I experience is my brain, which doesn't change anything of course. smile.png I can elaborate on this but will save it for later.

 

One thing I see about the beauty of meditation is just this, that it isn't tied to any belief systems. One doesn't have to believe in God or the supernatural to experience that higher state. In fact it transcends all beliefs, and you find the beliefs are just simply vehicles to get you beyond them into a higher internal realization. Questions about the existence of God or not really become moot. Certainly there is a higher state of realization, but it is really more a matter of how do we describe it or talk about it. It surpasses any literal definitions, such as in the mythologies as facts mentality of the "true believer". Such literalness lessens or even blocks the experience of that and what that opens to us in ourselves, IMO. It externalizes it and reduces it to just a belief, changing the nature of it to a mere mental question and thus gutting it of any insights it opens to us through the experience of it.

My brain isn't like everyone else's. Guess I just never was able to have that level of spiritual experience.

 

I did however once have a strange OBE. It was when they had me on Abilify. I felt a hand tickling my hand, it was a darktan skinned lady wearing a veil who called herself Ninmesara. She looked middle eastern. There is a goddess in Sumer named Ninmesarra. Her name was lady of power. The weird thing was, I had no way to know this, as I hadn't yet studied those mythologies. I was 15/16, and trying out Jewish and Islamic religions before I got to the nonabrahamic faiths. I still find the ninmesarra part just crazy and hard to explain. Outside that, no religious experiences. Though I do wonder if I could call that it either, as it was an effect of the Abilify, which I was reacting horribly to. I was passing out, seeing walls falling. I thought every building I was in was about to collapse.

We have a whole topic here on the use of psychedelics in spiritual experience: Link What you describe above doesn't surprise me really. Many times in meditation I feel that hand touching my hand sensation. I go with it in where it takes me. (Now that's hard to describe). That you might have put the face of some ancient deity upon that, even though not having directly known of that, also isn't a surprise. Carl Jung explored such phenomena in his works in the unconscious. He spoke of it as the collective unconscious through which these 'archetypal' forms in our myths are all part of us.

 

In technical terms, I would describe these as subtle-level experiences. Read that link to the stages of meditation I included in this post. I spend most of my time in this area, exploring that hidden Self manifest in forms like this, the gods, subtle light, etc. I recognize them as manifestations of the brain, of course. But they are much more than that, much more than "just the brain". They are expressions of that of ourselves which is tied to all things and all time. We are not simply isolated minds in our individual bodies, but we are emerged from the same 'stuff' as everything in the universe - which I see as consciousness itself. We have our individuality defined in dualistic terms of "me/not-me", or subject and object. But there is also that nondual Self, that is 'not this, not that'.

 

Entering the mind into those spaces of realization breaks down the 'clear' distinctions we normally make of 'reality', and becomes a new understanding, a new perspective, a new vantage point to filter though the world of experience into our brains. On that path into these higher levels of awareness, the brain using its inherited use of symbols, puts faces on these experiences of the mind into what lays beyond the symbols themselves. These are the true archetypal forms, the gods, angels, etc. Are they supernatural beings in some real plane? It cannot be understood in terms like that, or looked at in terms like that. They are real inasmuch as they are the clothes we put upon what we experience that cannot be defined in ourselves.

 

Beyond this, beyond the gods, so to speak, is an even higher level of awareness. That casual level. Emptiness. And there is nonduality beyond that. I do not see the subtle level as the highest state of awareness or the stage of conscious development. But I see it as important in that path of development. From my understanding, Zen tends to downplay it as 'inferior', but I would disagree with that as it is a process of learning it, and then transcending it and learning to integrate it at the next stage above it. I relate much more to the Tantric practices of Tibetan Buddhism because of that.

 

What happens in meditation can mimic what happens in psychotic episodes such as schizophrenia, but it is controlled. You are always aware of yourself, as opposed to being unaware that reality has shifted and you assume that dog is really telling you to go kill that cat over there. In fact, were I or any other mystic to go to a Western Psychiatrist and describe these sorts of experiences within meditation, they would put you on pills seeing it as a mental disorder. The issue is they largely do not understand the nature and history of these practices as a spiritual discipline. There is no dysfunction associated with them. On the contrary, they are healing experiences.

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Guest Babylonian Dream
I don't know the difference between the two. I just do long deep breaths sitting in an upright posture with my eyes closed. Hard to explain, but I'm not sure about "higher selves" nor anything like that.

I'll post a quote from an interview I often refer to that talks about the basic types of meditation, and the various stages within them to answer that question:

 

"It is common among scholars to divide meditation into two broad categories, called “concentration” and “awareness” (or “insight”) meditation. Or, “opened” and “closed”. For example, let’s say you are looking at a wall that has hundreds of dots painted on it. In concentration meditation, you look at just one dot, and you look at it so fiercely that you don’t even see the other dots. This develops your powers of concentration. In awareness training, or insight meditation, you try to be as aware of all the dots as you can be. This increases your sensitivity, awareness, and wisdom, in that sense."

 

He goes on to describe the types of experiences one may have in the various stages of meditation. The whole interview on the topic is found here: Link

 

 

When you practice what you describe, what is going on with your thoughts in your mind? Are you blocking them out, or relaxing out of them, so to speak, where even though they still arise you aren't sucked into them actively thinking about them, where you become more a witness to them instead? In what you practice, what is effect of it afterwards in your day as you go on, and how long does that last?

Definitely the closed form of it. Since though my eyes are closed, I focus my eyes towards my nose and focus intensely on my breath.

 

When thoughts arise, I "look" at them and acknowledge them, then continue on relaxing away from them back into focusing on my breathing.

 

Would you describe it as a sort of 'what's that?' experience? Does it catch you off guard and you pull back from it?

It was the kind you get when you make a profound realization, or perhaps how you feel when you stand in front of a waterfall or on top of a mountain. It's like that energy.

 

I'll digest the rest when I get back, I have to go somewhere.

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Guest Babylonian Dream
We have a whole topic here on the use of psychedelics in spiritual experience: Link What you describe above doesn't surprise me really. Many times in meditation I feel that hand touching my hand sensation. I go with it in where it takes me. (Now that's hard to describe).

I know that from the OBE I described lol. Won't have to do much describing. I felt the above described waterfall sensation when I looked into her eyes. She spoke in a language I couldn't understand, which sounded like a garbled from of spanish I didn't understand. That I can explain, I was learning spanish. What it meant, I wasn't sure, but I had a sense that it had meaning. I think it meant for me that I needed to save myself from the mess I was in, and get myself off the shit they had me on to be honest. I knew it subconsciously, and didn't act on my own behalf to change it because I felt powerless, and finally I made sure I was put in a psych ward and got my meds changed. They put me on seroquel, my doc was mad they changed my meds for some reason (he had abilify stuff all over his office walls, he probably got kickbacks), and the insanity went away. That stuff made me depressed though the seroquel did.

 

That you might have put the face of some ancient deity upon that, even though not having directly known of that, also isn't a surprise. Carl Jung explored such phenomena in his works in the unconscious. He spoke of it as the collective unconscious through which these 'archetypal' forms in our myths are all part of us.

This is an interesting little theory that I keep seeing and never quite getting to exploring. The whole thing about collective consciousness that makes it weird, is that since all matter would be interconnected, that means so too could our consciousness.

In technical terms, I would describe these as subtle-level experiences. Read that link to the stages of meditation I included in this post. I spend most of my time in this area, exploring that hidden Self manifest in forms like this, the gods, subtle light, etc. I recognize them as manifestations of the brain, of course. But they are much more than that, much more than "just the brain". They are expressions of that of ourselves which is tied to all things and all time. We are not simply isolated minds in our individual bodies, but we are emerged from the same 'stuff' as everything in the universe - which I see as consciousness itself. We have our individuality defined in dualistic terms of "me/not-me", or subject and object. But there is also that nondual Self, that is 'not this, not that'.

 

Entering the mind into those spaces of realization breaks down the 'clear' distinctions we normally make of 'reality', and becomes a new understanding, a new perspective, a new vantage point to filter though the world of experience into our brains. On that path into these higher levels of awareness, the brain using its inherited use of symbols, puts faces on these experiences of the mind into what lays beyond the symbols themselves. These are the true archetypal forms, the gods, angels, etc. Are they supernatural beings in some real plane? It cannot be understood in terms like that, or looked at in terms like that. They are real inasmuch as they are the clothes we put upon what we experience that cannot be defined in ourselves.

 

Beyond this, beyond the gods, so to speak, is an even higher level of awareness. That casual level. Emptiness. And there is nonduality beyond that. I do not see the subtle level as the highest state of awareness or the stage of conscious development. But I see it as important in that path of development. From my understanding, Zen tends to downplay it as 'inferior', but I would disagree with that as it is a process of learning it, and then transcending it and learning to integrate it at the next stage above it. I relate much more to the Tantric practices of Tibetan Buddhism because of that.

I've got to explore more into this.

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I tried to meditate today but couldn't get very far with it. I realized shortly after starting that I had been attempting to reach a "one-pointed" state of mind as a way to go numb and block out all the pain. That doesn't work. Meditation opens you up to yourself, and I already had an overwhelming cascade of thoughts that I can't cope with right now. Too many changes too fast. I just wanted the quiet.

I'm sorry for your losses and the grief you are experiencing. I haven't gone through loss in my life since integrating a meditation practice into it, so I can't speak from experience to that directly at this point. But I agree with you that meditation is an opening to yourself, and to use it to block things out isn't really going to work at all. Where I do see it being useful is in trying to clear unnecessary and excessive, or unproductive thoughts in that situation. It's not going to make the pain go away, but to find our center and that place of ground in ourselves would help to stabilize us through a time of upset. I would approach it that for that period of time in practicing meditation, for however long you are able to, even for a few minutes, it would be to simply set aside the grief temporarily to embrace Peace to gain its focus for yourself.

 

I can't always get the the point of feeling peace. In day to day life, I'm very good at repressing my emotions. When I meditate, that's always the first thing to go. All the pain I've been pushing away and trying to ignore as just background noise becomes a whole lot more real. There's certainly peace to be found on the other side of that, if I can either deal with the emotions or set them aside (the conscious willing to set them aside after acknowledging them is completely different from repressing them). But sometimes it just hurts too much and I can't push through and get to anything beyond. Oh well. At least it's a break from repressing everything and does help me be a little more honest with myself.

 

To mention the other topics in this thread about types of meditation, there's two kinds I've been trying to work on. One is mindfulness of breathing with the goal that the breath is focus point to use for concentration to help you set things aside and reach... elsewhere, I guess. Or peace, or your true self, or emptiness. I don't think I arrive there very often but the silence inside my head when all the chatter shuts up is nice. The mundane side effects of that are useful when I have a project I'm working on and want to focus on it for a while.

 

The other is lovingkindess meditation. That was a form of meditation I used to avoid because I'm an empath and I'm already really bad about letting people walk all over me. But then I found a description of it that said that Westerners are rather confused about what lovingkindness is all about, and you should always start with lovingkindess towards yourself, then let that expand to others; denying yourself for the sake of others leaves you burnt out and unhappy. So with that idea in mind, I have started doing more of the lovingkindess meditation. Elsewhere on the internet, on a site about empaths, I read about how empaths who forget to have empathy for themselves will often end up resentful when other people aren't as giving as the empath, because the empath thinks they're owed that from others because they're so busy giving of themselves. It's kinda funny watching myself go through the love-for-self part; my first thoughts are things like "no no no, I can't care about myself because it'll make me be mean to other people!". Then I start asking myself what I really want, and the answer often is "I wanna make that other person happy, because happy people rub off on me and make me feel better". It's nice to see that taking care of my own needs and being nice to other people aren't always conflicting goals.

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What practices do you do? What has it done for you? What do you hope to find for yourself? How little, or how much?

 

observing the body and the sensations of the body, the mind and the sensations of the mind

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The other is lovingkindess meditation. That was a form of meditation I used to avoid because I'm an empath and I'm already really bad about letting people walk all over me. But then I found a description of it that said that Westerners are rather confused about what lovingkindness is all about, and you should always start with lovingkindess towards yourself, then let that expand to others; denying yourself for the sake of others leaves you burnt out and unhappy. So with that idea in mind, I have started doing more of the lovingkindess meditation. Elsewhere on the internet, on a site about empaths, I read about how empaths who forget to have empathy for themselves will often end up resentful when other people aren't as giving as the empath, because the empath thinks they're owed that from others because they're so busy giving of themselves. It's kinda funny watching myself go through the love-for-self part; my first thoughts are things like "no no no, I can't care about myself because it'll make me be mean to other people!". Then I start asking myself what I really want, and the answer often is "I wanna make that other person happy, because happy people rub off on me and make me feel better". It's nice to see that taking care of my own needs and being nice to other people aren't always conflicting goals.

I want to respond to other points later but this one thing really leapt out since it follows a discussion I just had with a friend right before reading this. We were talking about the Bodhisattva vow, and how he said he could never really bring himself to being able to give that much of himself to others. My take on it is what I want to share here as well.

 

In an airplane you are always instructed to put the oxygen mask on your face first, before trying to help others. The reason is that if you don't have life in you, you're not any good to others and you both die. To go to that Well first for you, to fill and replenish your soul, allows you to give to others. The difference is the goal is not about you filling your ego, making you feel good for the sake of self. It is about emptying yourself into that well, opening that door for it to fill you, and then becoming a conduit to others of that Source inside you. You have to first have that in you in order to give it to others. And when you do, it is effortless. It is a natural out-flowing of what is in you. You become that Well yourself.

 

Now that is how I see the Bodhisattva vow fulfilled.

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Thanks for this post, Antlerman.

 

From your link:

 

When you practice meditation, one of the first things you realize is that your mind—and your life, for that matter—is dominated by largely subconscious verbal chatter. You are always talking to yourself. And so, as they start to meditate, many people are stunned by how much junk starts running through their awareness. They find that thoughts, images, fantasies, notions, ideas, concepts virtually dominate their awareness. They realize that these notions have had a much more profound influence on their lives than they ever thought.

 

In any case, initial meditation experiences are like being at the movies. You sit and watch all these fantasies and concepts parade by, in front of your awareness. But the whole point is that you are finally becoming aware of them. You are looking at them impartially and without judgment. You just watch them go by, the same as you watch clouds float by in the sky.

 

I haven't stuck to meditation long enough to get past this point. I think I keep trying to shut these things down and they just won't shut down. Perhaps I should just enjoy the movie. :)

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Thanks for this post, Antlerman.

 

From your link:

 

When you practice meditation, one of the first things you realize is that your mind—and your life, for that matter—is dominated by largely subconscious verbal chatter. You are always talking to yourself. And so, as they start to meditate, many people are stunned by how much junk starts running through their awareness. They find that thoughts, images, fantasies, notions, ideas, concepts virtually dominate their awareness. They realize that these notions have had a much more profound influence on their lives than they ever thought.

 

In any case, initial meditation experiences are like being at the movies. You sit and watch all these fantasies and concepts parade by, in front of your awareness. But the whole point is that you are finally becoming aware of them. You are looking at them impartially and without judgment. You just watch them go by, the same as you watch clouds float by in the sky.

 

I haven't stuck to meditation long enough to get past this point. I think I keep trying to shut these things down and they just won't shut down. Perhaps I should just enjoy the movie. smile.png

Well, yes. That's a good way to put it. The key is that if you're practicing awareness meditation you do in fact have thoughts that arise. But it's not about stopping them, gripping them and controlling them. "Arrgh! I can't stop these damn thoughts!!". That alone will rip you straight out of meditation for a host of bad reasons. The focus turns back on you trying to control things through the force of will and your abilities to control things as you do in your everyday life.

 

The point of meditation is to move beyond that. It is learning to not be swept up in chatter. It is to move beyond being embedded in the ego. So for me, and others, what happens is those thoughts arise from within us, but instead of actively engaging in them and start thinking of all those things you need to do today, that you have to call your mom later, deal with your sister, that person at work, etc, etc, you calmly move back and simply witness them. Let them come up, and fall down. You begin to see that thoughts like these are really just like processes of the body. It's what your brain just does. It's what you need it to do to help you function in the activities of life. But what happens in this moment is you begin to see you are not those thoughts! Who you are is not defined by the content of those processes!

 

This has a tremendously calming effect. You're not swept up in the stream of thoughts, but you move back into being that Witness. Who is that doing the observing? If you are seeing the thoughts, who is seeing? The key is that the seat of your self-identity begins to move away from being embedded in the ego, which is really a defined. self-constructed mental image out of all the various content of those thoughts. When we are embedded in the ego, that mental construct, we have much to fear in losing that sense of self. Other people threaten the stability of it, ideas can threaten it, approvals of others threaten it. Things we tell ourselves threaten it. Death threatens it. We live in that mental construct defending it, trying to shape it, improve it, mold it, make it easier to integrate.

 

But once you see it from outside it.... well something entirely different begins to happen. You begin to see it as a feature of who you are, rather than defining who you are. It's like my arms and legs don't define me, but they are part of me. They are uniquely my arms, my hands, my fingers. And so is my personality, my intelligence, my job, my family, my likes, my dislikes, my hopes, my fears, my dreams, etc. But they do not define me. And as such, seeing that, you release trying to protect them as much out of fearing of 'losing yourself', and what results is Peace. You become more effective dealing with these areas of your life, nurturing your mental needs as you would your body's needs. It's like you steer it from outside it, rather than wrapped up in it as it. It's like that movie, except you as the audience are the director of it.

 

And that's just the beginning.....

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The point of meditation is to move beyond that. It is learning to not be swept up in chatter. It is to move beyond being embedded in the ego. So for me, and others, what happens is those thoughts arise from within us, but instead of actively engaging in them and start thinking of all those things you need to do today, that you have to call your mom later, deal with your sister, that person at work, etc, etc, you calmly move back and simply witness them. Let them come up, and fall down. You begin to see that thoughts like these are really just like processes of the body. It's what your brain just does. It's what you need it to do to help you function in the activities of life. But what happens in this moment is you begin to see you are not those thoughts! Who you are is not defined by the content of those processes!

 

This has a tremendously calming effect. You're not swept up in the stream of thoughts, but you move back into being that Witness. Who is that doing the observing? If you are seeing the thoughts, who is seeing? ...

 

The other reason that I find it calming is that I realize that since my brain just does that stuff, I don't have to be afraid that if I stop trying it'll stop working. It's not a conscious effort that I (erm, narrow-I, just the active tip of the conscious mind) have to keep working at all the time. A lot of times when I start meditating and back of, I can see that not only are thoughts arising, but they're organizing and sorting. While I just sit back and watch and don't engage. Occasionally if my thoughts are running crazy and I'm feeling lost and disoriented I'll just stay at that point for a while and give my brain a chance to clean up without new input coming in. Sometimes it feels like such cleanup time is supposed to happen while I sleep, and if I'm not sleeping well or there's too much going on there's a giant backlog and my brain is clogged and terrified of anything new coming in. Then I'll think of that stage of meditation as awake dreaming, as a way to let my brain get in more sleep time than my body needs.

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Guest Babylonian Dream

It has given me the skill when angry to step back out of my anger and just breath and think to myself and tell myself "this is not worth it, let it go!"

 

 

I love meditation. I can imagine its good for your health, the stress it helps you to reduce.

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Thanks for this post, Antlerman.

 

From your link:

 

When you practice meditation, one of the first things you realize is that your mind—and your life, for that matter—is dominated by largely subconscious verbal chatter. You are always talking to yourself. And so, as they start to meditate, many people are stunned by how much junk starts running through their awareness. They find that thoughts, images, fantasies, notions, ideas, concepts virtually dominate their awareness. They realize that these notions have had a much more profound influence on their lives than they ever thought.

 

In any case, initial meditation experiences are like being at the movies. You sit and watch all these fantasies and concepts parade by, in front of your awareness. But the whole point is that you are finally becoming aware of them. You are looking at them impartially and without judgment. You just watch them go by, the same as you watch clouds float by in the sky.

 

I haven't stuck to meditation long enough to get past this point. I think I keep trying to shut these things down and they just won't shut down. Perhaps I should just enjoy the movie. smile.png

Well, yes. That's a good way to put it. The key is that if you're practicing awareness meditation you do in fact have thoughts that arise. But it's not about stopping them, gripping them and controlling them. "Arrgh! I can't stop these damn thoughts!!". That alone will rip you straight out of meditation for a host of bad reasons. The focus turns back on you trying to control things through the force of will and your abilities to control things as you do in your everyday life.

 

The point of meditation is to move beyond that. It is learning to not be swept up in chatter. It is to move beyond being embedded in the ego. So for me, and others, what happens is those thoughts arise from within us, but instead of actively engaging in them and start thinking of all those things you need to do today, that you have to call your mom later, deal with your sister, that person at work, etc, etc, you calmly move back and simply witness them. Let them come up, and fall down. You begin to see that thoughts like these are really just like processes of the body. It's what your brain just does. It's what you need it to do to help you function in the activities of life. But what happens in this moment is you begin to see you are not those thoughts! Who you are is not defined by the content of those processes!

 

This has a tremendously calming effect. You're not swept up in the stream of thoughts, but you move back into being that Witness. Who is that doing the observing? If you are seeing the thoughts, who is seeing? The key is that the seat of your self-identity begins to move away from being embedded in the ego, which is really a defined. self-constructed mental image out of all the various content of those thoughts. When we are embedded in the ego, that mental construct, we have much to fear in losing that sense of self. Other people threaten the stability of it, ideas can threaten it, approvals of others threaten it. Things we tell ourselves threaten it. Death threatens it. We live in that mental construct defending it, trying to shape it, improve it, mold it, make it easier to integrate.

 

But once you see it from outside it.... well something entirely different begins to happen. You begin to see it as a feature of who you are, rather than defining who you are. It's like my arms and legs don't define me, but they are part of me. They are uniquely my arms, my hands, my fingers. And so is my personality, my intelligence, my job, my family, my likes, my dislikes, my hopes, my fears, my dreams, etc. But they do not define me. And as such, seeing that, you release trying to protect them as much out of fearing of 'losing yourself', and what results is Peace. You become more effective dealing with these areas of your life, nurturing your mental needs as you would your body's needs. It's like you steer it from outside it, rather than wrapped up in it as it. It's like that movie, except you as the audience are the director of it.

 

And that's just the beginning.....

 

"Arrgh! I can't stop these damn thoughts!!".

Yep. Exactly my problem. I think I've spent too many years bouncing from one energy to the next trying to piece it all together and my attention span is very short! :) And yes, ripping me out of meditation is usually just what happens and I move on to something else.

 

The point of meditation is to move beyond that. It is learning to not be swept up in chatter. It is to move beyond being embedded in the ego.

 

Well, I guess I thought I was just failing at meditation. A hopeless case!

 

I'm going to give it another whirl. We have a Buddhist meetup group here that does a weekly meditation. Actually 3 times a week it looks like now. I tried going once but there was a little more "god" talk that I was expecting and didn't go back. I may go give it another try. Maybe I've gotten to the point I can let that stuff go.

 

I have lots to learn. I've ordered the book asanerman posted. :) I've also just started listening to "Awakening Kundalini: The Path to Radical Freedom" by Lawrence Edwards.

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The point of meditation is to move beyond that. It is learning to not be swept up in chatter. It is to move beyond being embedded in the ego.

 

Well, I guess I thought I was just failing at meditation. A hopeless case!

 

I'm going to give it another whirl. We have a Buddhist meetup group here that does a weekly meditation. Actually 3 times a week it looks like now. I tried going once but there was a little more "god" talk that I was expecting and didn't go back. I may go give it another try. Maybe I've gotten to the point I can let that stuff go.

As far as the talk of God, I use it quite a lot myself but I'm beyond tying that to any literal anthropomorphic deity. It's a little tricky to explain the role of deity forms in meditation practice, but I'll share a quote from Ken Wilber that I feel explains it well. When you hear your Buddhist group speak of God, try to understand it in this light:

 

"But this is not God as an ontological other, set apart from the cosmos, from humans, and from creation at large. Rather, it is God as an archetypal summit of one's own Consciousness. ... By visualizing that identification 'we actually do become the deity. The subject is identified with the object of faith. The worship, the worshiper, and the worshiped, those three are not separate'. At its peak, the soul becomes one, literally one, with the deity-form, with the dhyani-buddha, with (choose whatever term one prefers) God. One dissolves into Deity, as Deity - that Deity which, from the beginning, has been one's own Self or highest Archetype."

 

~Ken Wilber, Eye to Eye, pg. 85

 

You can see within this how you move beyond egoic identification into higher Self realization. An interesting thing for me in when I first moved into those deeper spaces is that verse "Seek and you shall find", in a spiritual context suddenly really made sense. It is true, but when understood in reverse. You do not seek to own, grasp, possess, or even experience it. You seek it for its own sake. You seek love for love's sake, not your own. You abandon yourself into it. And in so doing you find yourself.

 

The reason for this is because it is currently beyond your conscious understanding, and if you are looking to grab it and bring in to you, you are looking to yourself where you are already at. You put yourself at the center, not looking beyond your current position. But when you abandon yourself to it, then you are emptying yourself, moving beyond what you want and desire for yourself; in other words you are dying to yourself. You willfully lay down everything to it in an act of trust.

 

In that book both Asanerman and I linked to (the book I named this topic after), the author has a marvelous way of unraveling this paradox of seeking, yet not seeking. She says in effect that we should not have expectations, but rather move with intention. That's a great way to put this! We desire to know love, as love, for love's sake. We desire Truth, not for our sake but Truth's sake. It is our intention to move into that, but since it is in fact beyond our knowledge and understanding, we need to abandon all expectations and simply fall into it. What we find, is our true Self. All that we already are, before and beyond who we limit ourselves to as.

 

Another quote I just read from Sri Aurobindo perfectly expresses this for me and ties into the Wilber quote above (again, understanding the understanding of the Divine, is beyond some externalized god you have been familiar with from Sunday school/Christianity.

 

"Trust the divine power, and she will free the godlike elements in you and shape all into an expression of divine nature."

 

It is through such types of visualizations in whatever form works for you, the experience of that in ourselves, the abandonment to that out of our small self into the true Self, that we move beyond the ego, its anxieties, its separateness, its fears, its limitations. The ultimate realization is that we are That already, in ourselves and live as That; a marriage of body, mind, and spirit.

 

I have lots to learn. I've ordered the book asanerman posted. smile.png I've also just started listening to "Awakening Kundalini: The Path to Radical Freedom" by Lawrence Edwards.

I'm glad he posted that link, since it appears to have gotten missed buried within my OP! Yes, that's the book I'm recommending people read! smile.png Meditation for the Love of It

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to interject a bit.

 

http://library.truthloveenergy.com/Michael-Teachings/meditation-followup/

 

This is probably the most concise "guide" that the Micheal's have about meditation.

 

Two quotes:

 

 

The point of meditation, in general, is to bring about a full functioning of all of the lower Centers, so it will always be most effective to focus first on that Centering that is most neglected. However, if one wants to just feel good and bring some awareness to one’s natural, habitual processes, one can focus on a meditation that is resonant to the Primary Centering.

 

 

and (line breaks are mine)

 

 

Moving-Centered Meditations can include anything that involves the Body, from taking a simple walk, to Tai Chi and Yoga to dancing the night away.

 

Intellectually-Centered Meditations can include anything from cross-word puzzles and brain teasers to such focused meditations as Transcendental Meditation, to good night of hilarity and comedy.

 

Emotionally-Centered Meditations can include anything from a good listen to music that resonates with you, to cathartic expressions such as can be found in Primal Therapies, to night of tears and intensity at the movies.

 

 

The main point to me posting this is as a reminder that we are all individuals, and the meditation that works for one is not going to always have the same effect on someone else.

 

Using Vacuum Flux as an example. You stated in a previous post that you normally suppress your emotions. With all of the loss recently in your life, it would seem that this normal technique has become difficult. Perhaps then you might be better served with a more emotionally based meditation. One suggestion might be to watch a movie like What Dreams May Come, which is filled with emotion. Keeping the tissues handy, as you watch bring an awareness to the process.

 

So consciencly tell yourself the purpose of this is to bring Awareness to your emotions. It may not be a pleasant experience. However, it could have the effect of clearing out the junk that is hampering your normal meditation now.

 

I have often had the best meditation, as I have said before, with movement. Sometimes even starting from an aggravated state just moving helps. When I really become aware of my body, things calm. Feeling the muscles as they move. Understanding how loose or tight to grip the tool. Relaxing into the routine of the task at hand. As the focus shifts, I can feel balance return inside. Sadly this has been lacking in my life due to <insert excuse here>.

 

So, how could this be used. If you spend alot of time thinking and dealing with emotions, then get out and move. If you move and feel, then do something to think. If you move and think but ignore feelings, then express yourself. Just be aware while you are doing it.

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I think we should clarify that just getting in touch with your emotions, though therapeutic and important, is not really meditation. Watching a good movie, dancing the night away, going to a comedy club, or whatnot, is basically exploring the range of our normal-state consciousness. These are good, but are not meditation. Meditation moves you into altered states of consciousness.

 

Funny thing it reminds me of. I read this in I read in a presentation given by Charles T. Tart, one of the pioneers of Transpersonal Psychology. He said in the opening of his presentation,

 

"As an example of loose usage of the terms, when I first became interested in meditation I looked it up in a psychological dictionary, and I found it was defined as "serious thinking." In one way I was pleased with this, since, having done a lot of thinking in my life, I must be a good "meditator!" On the other hand, it's ridiculously general to define meditation as simply serious thinking, although it's formally done that way in some systems. So, the moral of this first problem is that anything I say about meditation and hypnosis can be contradicted from people's experience in the way these terms are used or the literature! But, the general picture I give today should, I hope, be useful for scientific research and application."

 

I recommend anyone wanting to understand more what qualifies as meditation, especially in the context of historical traditions, should read his entire presentation which lays out the differences between hypnosis and meditation (see pgs 13-21 in particular). http://www.paradigm-...ds/2001HAPA.pdf

 

Yes, we can use various means and methods, such as dance, music, etc to enter into meditative states, which are really defined as altered states of consciousness, but simply relaxing, or going loose in thought, going to a movie, experiencing tears, etc., is not the same thing. No offense, but I don't accept the Michael teachings as knowledgeable in this area.

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From the above link.

 

 

The difference between an experience being just another experience and its being a meditation is AWARENESS. When you are dancing, listening, or laughing, for example, bringing your awareness to the moment can instantly turn it into a kind of meditation.

 

Just watching a movie can be just watching a movie. The difference being awareness.

 

In this link it is spoken to in a more personal nature. Specifically in the last paragraph, it is mentioned that to the more consciousnesses brought toward what you are trying to implement, the greater the effect. So the more serious thought you put into the more you will get out of it.

 

So if you are just watching a movie for the entertainment of watching a movie then you are just watching a movie. If you find yourself emotionally moved by the movie and choose to examine your emotions in this regard, then if you choose, the movie becomes a medium for meditation on an area you may need balance in. Taking cues from the emotion expressed in a movie has led to hours of thought on my emotions before.

 

The mundane in life to many is just that mundane. A movie is just a movie to many. To those that choose to bring more to it, a movie can be a profound experience that helps to balance emotions that may have been neglected for too long.

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The mundane in life to many is just that mundane. A movie is just a movie to many. To those that choose to bring more to it, a movie can be a profound experience that helps to balance emotions that may have been neglected for too long.

Again yes, you can do some interior work through deeply pondering something, though opening yourself to emotional experiences, to doing self-reflection. All good. You can call these meditations, but I make a distinction between this and meditative states where you enter into altered states of consciousness. If someone wishes to call meditation this they may, just as some call serious thinking meditation. That's not what the traditions practice or teach as meditation, nor do they have the same degree of effect. I would say these are good as extensions of meditation, to be mindful and present, to be open and aware, but the practice of meditation is much more than these.

 

I experience both, and there is a marked difference between them. For years I listen to music to transport the soul. I'm a musician, I compose music spontaneously from the depths of this Well. Good stuff, no doubt. I relish in these places. But a good comparison is to see it as the difference between a kitty cat and a panther, or the difference between the burning flame of a candle and that of a solar flare.

 

And my point is that if the Micheal teachings are defining it as you cited, I'd say there is a lack of direct understanding on their part. I don't view this 'entity' as any sort of external transcendent source of specific knowledge. My knowledge of omniscience has nothing to do with a data warehouse we go to like some Godipedia (they way Christians understand omniscience). I don't see the need to approach knowledge that way, and I think it defeats the purpose of transcendence itself. We don't look for answers outside us, but within us. It comes from within, not from without. When we look into that Source directly, through meditation, specific knowledge isn't the point at all. It's an externalized substitute for Realization. I see some shortcomings here, no offense.

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From the second link:

[Michael Entity] From our perspective, “meditation” is a word to describe the work through a triad that leads to adaptable balancing among all centers. This triad could be described as: EXAMINATION, IMPLEMENTATION, REALIZATION. We will describe this in detail now.

 

 

They then go on to describe it personally for the questioner.

 

The bolded is my emphasis.

 

If it takes daily intense concentrative sitting meditation for you, then that is fine and your choice. As has been pointed out by others on here, that is not always possible for some. The reason being that type of meditation is focusing more on the intellect. Others many need help in the moving or emotional centers.

 

As I stated in my previous post, Movement helps me more then anything else. It really doesn't matter the movement. When kicking a ball around with my 4yr old, I can focus on the movement in the few seconds it takes to swing my leg. Being aware of the physics behind the movement. Knowing when my foot hits the ball how accurate or not the kick was. Then there is the relishing of the pure joy at the movement.

 

Even doing something as mundane as spreading mulch. Focusing on the work and the movement of the body. Feeling how the legs and stomach help to support the lower back.

 

This has often led to being in the moment in such a way that nothing else exists. All thought are on the body and how it moves.

 

The same thing I imagine that happens to you durning the sitting meditation.

 

The same can occur to with someone who needs emotional center balancing through watching a movie or simply allowing the emotions to occur.

 

I can appreciate that you have spent many years reaching this point. I never intended this as anything but offering up a different view. My point remains the same as it was. There are different ways to meditate that will work for what the individual needs. All the Micheal Teachings did for me in this regard was to point out something I was already doing anyway. Many times that is all that is needed to then take explorations further.

 

As an aside, I take no offence. For there is none to be taken. I offer the information; do or don't do with it what you will. But if it helps someone out who may be following this thread. Great. if it doesn't, so be it.

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