Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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mikenz66
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:32 pm

Justsit wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:19 pm
Very interesting article with a number of very specific useful suggestions. ...
I thought so. Clearly she's coming from a fairly secular mindfulness background, but I do find it helpful to discuss/read some of these issues from people who have been struggling with such issues in their lives.

In another post she writes:
There is a common misconception that mindfulness meditation is done with the goal of blissing out or being transported to place in which your mind is empty and you are devoid of feelings. That is some bullshit right there. Mindfulness meditation is learning how to be with yourself no matter how you are feeling. It is being very aware of the state you are in right then and there, no matter how lousy, disempowered, or painful it is. ...
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Mike

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Kim OHara
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:04 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:32 pm
Justsit wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:19 pm
Very interesting article with a number of very specific useful suggestions. ...
I thought so. Clearly she's coming from a fairly secular mindfulness background, but I do find it helpful to discuss/read some of these issues from people who have been struggling with such issues in their lives.
I'm glad you both see it my way. :smile:

When I read it, it reminded me very strongly of specific people who came along to an "Introduction to Meditation" course which ran regularly in my city. As I imagine many such courses do, it attracted a number of people with quite severe problems, and I could see that their problems often made it almost impossible for them to follow the normal instructions.
Result? The course - as presented - could not always help the very people who needed most help. They crashed out of the course and often were worse off than when they came along, since they had made a sincere effort to help themselves and (not for the first time) failed or been rejected by 'normal' people.
While we could claim that those people should be directed elsewhere for the help they needed, modifying the techniques seemed to me to be more helpful and compassionate - so long as it could be done intelligently, of course.
And that's what this author is doing.

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Kim

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rightviewftw
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:31 am

Actually after reading it again, i like most of it and it is just the crying part that threw me off but i guess if people cry because of thinking about some bad things and it is naturally conditioned. I think all the advice she gives is legitimate.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:57 am, edited 2 times in total.

binocular
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by binocular » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:39 am

Justsit wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:19 pm
Very interesting article with a number of very specific useful suggestions. Those with PTSD or anxiety issues often have trouble concentrating, and will undoubtedly find the information helpful.
I didn't find it helpful at all. In fact, I find such advice extremely frustrating. It's like telling oneself, "I need to get myself to like this. I need to get myself to be helped by this. Even though I totally resent this and don't find it helpful, I need to get myself to like it, to submit to it."

But, people like that abound, and every now and then I have to listen to them and subject myself to them, because they happen to be in the position of some institutional power over me. Doctors, bosses, leaders of compulsory seminars in "wellbeing".

Kim OHara wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:04 am
While we could claim that those people should be directed elsewhere for the help they needed, modifying the techniques seemed to me to be more helpful and compassionate - so long as it could be done intelligently, of course.
And that's what this author is doing.
She is not doing that at all.
She's calling for an OCD-like submission to one type of "mindfulness" meditation.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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mikenz66
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:36 pm

binocular wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:39 am
She's calling for an OCD-like submission to one type of "mindfulness" meditation.
Are we reading the same passage? I don't see that at all. Much of the article seems to me to be encouraging people to not just mindlessly follow a particular approach, but to figure out what works for them.

As she says at the start:
I cannot measure how much time I have spent staring at my meditation cushion, crying on my meditation cushion, crying on other meditation cushions while in public, feeling completely misunderstood by meditation teachers, and having an overall misperception of myself as a “bad meditator.” ...
And she goes on talk about getting over that by ignoring this or that the specific meditation advice that wasn't working for her...

Of course, one could argue that the teachers she had come across were unnecessarily rigid, but that's what people can face, from Secular or Buddhist teachers...

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binocular
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by binocular » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:59 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:36 pm
Are we reading the same passage? I don't see that at all. Much of the article seems to me to be encouraging people to not just mindlessly follow a particular approach, but to figure out what works for them.
That is "figure out what works for them within the framework of goals and values as specified by someone else, some person is some position of power who doesn't care about their underlings".

In these pop mindfulness settings, one is indeed free to figure out "what works for one", but the goals and values that one has to follow are prescribed by someone else.
Just try telling your mindfulness-friendly doctor that your goal is complete cessation of suffering, for example. He or she will do things to make it clear to you that you are not supposed to have this as a goal. Or try telling some mindfulness seminar facilitator that you like the Pali Canon, when asked about your favorite book. Not a good idea.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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aflatun
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by aflatun » Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:53 pm

binocular wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:59 am
Just try telling your mindfulness-friendly doctor that your goal is complete cessation of suffering, for example. He or she will do things to make it clear to you that you are not supposed to have this as a goal.
Are you sure about that? :spy:
"People often get too quick to say 'there's no self. There's no self...no self...no self.' There is self, there is focal point, its not yours. That's what not self is."

Ninoslav Ñāṇamoli
Senses and the Thought-1, 42:53

"Those who create constructs about the Buddha,
Who is beyond construction and without exhaustion,
Are thereby damaged by their constructs;
They fail to see the Thus-Gone.

That which is the nature of the Thus-Gone
Is also the nature of this world.
There is no nature of the Thus-Gone.
There is no nature of the world."

Nagarjuna
MMK XXII.15-16

Justsit
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by Justsit » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:36 pm

aflatun wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:53 pm
binocular wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:59 am
Just try telling your mindfulness-friendly doctor that your goal is complete cessation of suffering, for example. He or she will do things to make it clear to you that you are not supposed to have this as a goal.
Are you sure about that? :spy:
Perhaps there was some misunderstanding in the discussion. There is a difference between pain and suffering, they are not interchangeable terms. Pain is an experience we have; suffering is how we relate to the experience. In medical terms, doctors are called upon to treat pain, not suffering per se, so a family doctor would likely not have much to offer about "complete cessation of suffering." They do treat pain, but even then, sometimes pain can be managed but not completely eliminated, as in the case of some chronic illnesses; complete absence of pain may be an unrealistic goal.

Most medical doctors I know would refer questions about "suffering" to a psychologist or spiritual/religious advisor. "Complete cessation of suffering" may be an appropriate goal, just not in the context of the medical profession.

binocular
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:15 pm

aflatun wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 5:53 pm
binocular wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:59 am
Just try telling your mindfulness-friendly doctor that your goal is complete cessation of suffering, for example. He or she will do things to make it clear to you that you are not supposed to have this as a goal.
Are you sure about that? :spy:
Yes.
Justsit wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:36 pm
Perhaps there was some misunderstanding in the discussion. There is a difference between pain and suffering, they are not interchangeable terms. Pain is an experience we have; suffering is how we relate to the experience. In medical terms, doctors are called upon to treat pain, not suffering per se, so a family doctor would likely not have much to offer about "complete cessation of suffering." They do treat pain, but even then, sometimes pain can be managed but not completely eliminated, as in the case of some chronic illnesses; complete absence of pain may be an unrealistic goal.

Most medical doctors I know would refer questions about "suffering" to a psychologist or spiritual/religious advisor. "Complete cessation of suffering" may be an appropriate goal, just not in the context of the medical profession.
There was no misunderstanding of this kind.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by binocular » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:19 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:36 pm
Are we reading the same passage? I don't see that at all. Much of the article seems to me to be encouraging people to not just mindlessly follow a particular approach, but to figure out what works for them.
What is this "what works"??

This or that works only in regard to a particular goal. In the case of the lady from the OP, what was her goal?

As far as can be inferred from her writing, her goal seemed to be something along the lines of "meditate for the specified amount of time", "persist with this type of meditation and never question why you're doing it". Her goal apparently wasn't to overcome her PTSD or not to suffer.
The things she described as "what works" are consistent with the goals "meditate for the specified amount of time" or "persist with this type of meditation and never question why you're doing it".
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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mikenz66
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Re: Creating a Practice When Life is Hard

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:43 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:19 pm
Her goal apparently wasn't to overcome her PTSD or not to suffer.
OK, so technically it is not "overcoming", but "coping". Is that what you are objecting to, that her practice (in common with the practice of most/all here), did not completely eliminate the problem?
I shared how sticking with a mindfulness practice as part of my own trauma healing created space for me to learn how to cope with triggers and chronic stress.
This sounds like a positive outcome, though it falls short of nibbana...

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MIke

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