Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Right Brain Approach to Getting Yourself Through "Upsets". H-m-m-m-m again.

As those of you who follow intelligentwomenonly.com know, I've been recovering from the unexpected loss of a good friend. And you also know that I'm a realistic thinker — not doing any negative self-talk. I'm sad, but no guilt, regrets, should haves in regard to my relationship with Lucy and her family. I 've always seen myself as a left-brain person, but I'm finding more frequently that right-brain approaches are most helpful to me in dealing with upsets of any kind.

A friend recently sent me this Zen article which I quote part of below. It's a means to detachment or as the author says, floating. For readers for whom this is new stuff, I'm sure it will seem weird at best, impossibly unlikely and undesirable at worst. Some of you will find this interesting and even helpful. Others will probably think I've gone off the deep end!

I can't and don't do these ten steps listed below, but I am learning the beginning "ability to float". It helps to decrease the intensity of emotion when needed or wanted. Here's the link to the total article:

        The best advice I can give is to do what works for you based on your own experience.  When we were toddlers and learning how to walk, no one could teach us how to do it; only through painful experimentation did we finally learn how to put one foot in front of the other and keep our balance.  The same is true for learning how to keep afloat in the midst of a raging sea of conflicted confusion.
        When we drown in our own mental turmoil we slowly learn what doesn't work.  It doesn't work to fight or push the waves of mental disquiet into being quiet or still.  This kind of effort to stop or push away mental activity only makes things worse, and quickly exhausts our energy.  There are still sits even today when I drown more than I float.  But on the whole, through years of practice, I am slowly gaining the ability to artfully float in even the roughest seas.
        I have found that there are ten steps or challenges that usually must be met before our limited sense of mind can consciously merge with limitless, unrestricted,  "Blue Sky" Mind (a.k.a. No-Mind, or Mu-shin).  At any point along the way we can lose our balance, or our ability to float, and drown in a morass of our own confusion.  The ten challenges are as follows:
            1) Finding a good posture and physical balance while sitting, standing, walking or working; without it
            we will not float at all.
            2) Developing exquisitely slow, gentle, deep breathing, without which we will drown quickly.   We
            can demonstrate accomplishing this step by repeatedly counting off ten slow gentle exhalations without
            much distraction or effort.
            3) Listening to the five primary senses that report the environment around our physical form.  If we
            can't remain aware of at least this much input from the here and now then we have already sunk.
            4) Listening to the interior senses that report the breath rising and falling, the heart beating, the blood
            circulating, and the interior comfort and discomfort zones.  If our mind can not remain aware of these
            more subtle forms of information then it is time to back down these steps and gently work forward
            again.  While doing zazen we all eventually feel chased by the pain in our legs; when we fight it or try
            and run away from it then we are demonstrating our lack of capacity to sit and listen to physical
            5) Listen for, or becoming aware of, our own interior balance point, or center of gravity.  If we can
            get this far then we have started to float, i.e., enter the initial realms of conscious samadhi.

            6) Dropping our mind's eye to our interior center point we become capable of listening to our own
            thoughts, feelings, ideas, hopes, desires, wishes etc....  This is a more difficult challenge and is often
            where we get lost by following our mental activity rather than just observing it.  Drowning in this
            realm of mental activity can produce great boredom, cyclic thinking, or just a more subtle sense of
            being lost in confusion.
            7) Beneath our surface mental activity there are the many voices of our personal and collective
            unconscious.  These include the critical, judgmental voices of our parental and ancestral introjects
            (interior reflections), along with the archetypical voices inherent to the human condition.  Some of
            these voices will be wise, others will be foolish or delusional, all of them will be subtle and not easy
            to distinguish.  Learning to listen and not be distracted by this level of mental activity can take years
            of practice.  Drowning in this level of mental activity can produce symptoms of unintentional sleep,
            daydreams, fantasies, and occasionally Makyo (mysterious visions, deep dreams occurring in or
            associated with zazen).
            8) Listening to Nature, i.e., becoming aware of sun, moon, star, bird, tree, rock, passing cloud, the
            ten directions (eight compass points and up and down), and the ten thousand things as they are of
            single essence.  This is really a rather easy step, hardly a challenge at all, more like a reward for
            staying afloat.
            9) Listening to the Silence that Speaks, the still, subtle voice of the Universe, the Quiet Power, the
            thunderous tranquillity of NOW, the Tao of no name, Mu...  Sometimes when our life is already
            manifesting a lot of harmony, and we are not under much internal or external stress we can start with
            this step.
            10) Listening to Who is listening.  Fully becoming the listener and the listened to.  Accomplishing this
            challenge requires dropping the mental boundaries between self and other, host and guest, subject and
            object.  Here all things move about and intermingle without distinction or separation.  Realizing this
            step means that we are empty, empty completely empty, yet here now in physical form fully awake.
            Master Rinzai refers to accomplishing this challenge as the condition of no rank and no post
            (uninhibited, free, spontaneous, naturally creative and fully compassionate).  This step is a kind of
            death, and often our existential anxiety and fear of annihilation prevents us from even briefly
            breaking through, or letting go, to this ultimate finality.
        As always, these separations are arbitrary and not necessarily linear or exhaustive; yet, they speak deeply of my own experience.  I share them as a way to help focus my own understanding.  None of these challenges are particularly difficult; glimpses of harmony, awareness, and wakefulness are not that hard to come by, but consciously manifesting harmony most of the time will, with practice and great patience, take most of a lifetime.

A Right Brain Approach to Getting Yourself Through "Upsets". H-m-m-m-m again.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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