Saturday, July 29, 2017


Meditation - Passive/Active can help alleviate pain and grief with the power of surrender 
with Awareness, also Manage Self-Recrimination more Skillfully. 

When we grew up many of us were under the impression the way we were taught at school and at home that the more we were critizised about unskillful behavior, the better we would perform next time. 
The opposite was true for many growing up during the self-esteem movement especially in California where kids were overpraised enthusiastically for doing things not deserving of much praise. Criticism was avoided if at all possible. The self-esteem movement proved to be a dismal failure and Martin Seligman the founder of Positive Psychology has described it as one of the major causes of depression in those who grew up under its influence. 
Growing up in South Africa we were exposed to the opposite - an attempt to shame and even then cane in order to achieve better performance. Both of these methods are debatable. 
Self-condemnation or severe criticism from others has a negative affect and far from encouraging us to preform better actually can put the brain in a shut down mode. This is somewhat like the other aspects of the flight or fight reaction 
viz. freezing or feigning death 
which can cause brain lock down. Unlike animals who suffer a flight or fight reaction when confronted with death - or in our case severe stress - we often cannot just "shake" it off and carry on as normal. Animals, however, do not get P.T.S.D. They avoid any post traumatic psychic effects if they survive.
Shame, guilt, remorse, debilitating self-criticism have no place in self-actualization or spiritual transformation. 
We cannot, however, enable ourselves or others by endorsing bad behavior. We should treat ourselves (and others) as if we (or they) were a close friend and practice U.S.A. - Universal Self Acceptance. Meditation can promote self love.
Nevertheless we need to acknowledge the wrong and promise ourselves to do better next time. No one is perfect. Concerning the harming of another we should correct the damage done if possible and if necessary ask forgiveness.

Meditation also helps to dilute judgment of others.

The Ancestors teach
 Some of us take on what is not ours to take on, possibly from the self criticizing conditioning that we are used to.
Also guilt has no place in the healing dynamic. Some patients feel for whatever reason that they deserve not to be well and this is their punishment. 
The Inner Healer cannot function properly when there is shame or guilt.

Research has shown that pushing away pain is usually not as effective as surrendering and going into the pain. In other words being mindful of what is going on and experiencing the pain.  Vipassana meditation is a powerful tool for handling this. 
Experiments with two groups placing their hand in a bucket of iced water showed that those who tried to deny the pain did not persevere with the cold as long as those who were told to experience and go into the pain. Meditators were even better in tolerating the pain. F.M.R.I. studies showed activity in the pain centers of the brain in the experiencing group.
Possibly this can be compared to a TENS unit used for patients with severe pain where the spinal cord is bombarded with electrical stimuli sufficiently to alleviate the pain stimuli going to the brain. The current from the unit travels through electrodes to the skin producing a tingling sensation that reduces the perception of pain. The Gate theory suggests that the spinal cord acts as a "Gate" shutting down or opening the flow of signals from the periphery to the brain. The TENS frequencies interfere with the pain messages and help block their transmission to the brain. 
Possibly "experiencing" the pain helps "fill the receptors" in the brain's pain centers thus raising the pain threshold. 

The same can be said for grief.
The ability to surrender is a profound spiritual concept praised by all the sages. Surrender is about hope, trust, belief, faith and is fearless. It allows us to be more flexible and surrender to something much bigger that ourselves than our suffering. When we acknowledge a higher force and source it allows us to open to the Field, the Creator and our guides for love, healing and support. It allows us to stop grasping and to be non-attached. 
Surrender is not detachment it is non attachment. Detachment implies resignation and hopelessness. 
Meditation enables us to surrender and trust in hope which is,
"the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen."

The Ancestors

Click to highlight then play

Sunday, July 23, 2017


"Being in the present moment" has become a cliche these days but nevertheless a vital one. The Ancestors teach...

When we practice we can better learn and feel how to do things for their own sake and not for any agenda or ulterior motive. Our dream consciousness will also deepen to help us on the tricky path of conscious living. We need to find the practice that suits EACH INDIVIDUAL best and this may not be the more commonly accepted passive meditation. It can be self created and not necessarily Eastern based or exotic. For some rock climbing can be an inward experience where they connect with Self.
Through meditation we come to realize the oneness rather than the duality of human existence and how to embrace the differences.
The Zohar tells us that Narrow or Monkey mind is connected to the 1% world of our reality, Spacious   
mind to the other 99% of what we may not know or not be aware. Spacious mind resides in the frontal lobe regions of the brain -confirmed in functional M.R.I. studies (F.M.R.I.) It is responsible for our goals, aspirations, ideals, concepts, discrimination and beliefs. 
Monkey or Narrow mind resides in the more primitive areas of the brain and is responsible for our survival as well as our impulses, desires, compulsions, habits and addictions. It has its rightful place.
Narrow mind, Ego, Spacious mind and our Evil Inclination (or Shadow) are always in flux with Spacious mind. To the extent that we have a regular, enjoyable, sustainable spiritual practice that brings us joy and equanimity we can shift consciousness away from the default mode of Monkey mind towards Spacious mind and higher consciousness. In this way we can control the shadow aspects of ourselves and subordinate ego to the Higher Self.
The process is spiritually experiential and unrelated to intellect
We cannot THINK OUR WAY OUT of this default mode! 
However, awareness and the truths of the laws of spirit can help us get there.
The Ancestors

Spacious mind helps us govern our dysfunctions including our dysfunctional "procedural" memory which gets turned on with stress e.g. the memory that finds the alcoholic unconsciously driving to the closest bar when times are tough (hence the need to have a sponsor to avert a crisis of procedural memory.) Meditation can help us govern negative procedural memory by alleviating stress and making it a challenge rather than a problem. Procedural memory can also be time and energy effective for instance driving home and having no conscious recollection of managing the route.

Feelings lead to emotions which can be constructive if governed by love and Spacious mind but destructive if governed by fear and Monkey mind. 
Spiritual practice allows us to be in touch with our feelings without them turning into harmful emotions. 

 Monkey mind is fear based, criticizes and judges, is egocentric and selfish, likes to separate and control and is infatuated with persona and appearances. Rather than being in the moment it projects into the past and future. If not in its rightful "survival based" place it switches off Spacious mind and becomes a recipe for suffering.
Because its basic function is associated with the flight or fight reaction it can respond to stress as if it might be a life threatening situation.  Modern day living is a template for stress. Our sympathetic nervous system responds to stress just as if we were being attacked by a lion raising our blood pressure, releasing adrenal hormones including adrenalin and cortisone which suppresses our immune response and increases our blood sugar to help give us the energy to escape the threat. This is ok on a short term but not on a long term basis. If stress is not modulated it can cause hypertension, diabetes and even autoimmune disease.  Stress busting is well and good and is an important reason for the popularity of yoga in the West today. However we need to make our spiritual practice go deeper than just surviving through the day and if necessary practice more that one method of going inward.
There are two kinds of stress - stress and eustress. Eustress is good stress and there are those who thrive on stress. Spiritual practice can help turn distress into eustress, can make a problem become a challenge - can morph the daily "shit" into manure. My personal experience is that when spiritual practice is embodied as in yoga, tai chi, chi gong, drumming, dancing and hiking or even walking on the beach or in a park it is more stress busting. 

Fascinating F.M.R.I. research has been done on Vipassana or mindfulness meditation with advanced  practitioners. Although not fully embodied and more passive in nature Vipassana involves  experiencing and feeling. It is especially helpful in certain circumstances and conditions.

Vipassana meditation or "experiencing in the present moment" has been scientifically proven to help stress as well as alleviate obsessive compulsive disorder, P.T.S.D., depression and anxiety. The U.S, armed forces have used it successfully for P.T.S.D. 
It also helps practitioners recognize and avoid falling into "procedural memory" - another example apart from the alcohol syndrome being eating disorders. It allows those who practice to "surf the urge" rather than falling prey to it, to recognize the dynamic and avert it.
In summary, spiritual practice shifts activity into the frontal lobe of the brain. It enables creative problem solving, modulates Monkey mind, creates equanimity and inner peace and allows us to cope with stress. There is also medical evidence that it lengthens the telomeres of our genes delaying aging and is healthful. 
Very experienced meditators default easily to the frontal lobe under stressful situations and have more frontal lobe activity even under normal conditions. They seem to have more neurons and neuronal connections. This allows them to manage stress, process procedural memory in a positive way and surf any dysfunctional urges rather than succumbing to them.

Research has also shown us the paradox that self condemnation far from helping us perform better is counterproductive and that experiencing pain or grief in most cases is better that pushing it away. Vipassana is ideal for this.
We will deal with this next week.

Click to highlight the link and then play


Sunday, July 16, 2017


The Ancestors

Last week's blog touched on nature as an ideal sensory environment for active meditation for those of us that are so inclined. This does not have to be rely on going primitive or on seeking out wild places and "Wilderness Rapture." One can find it walking silently on a beach or in a park especially around sunrise, sunset or at night on a full moon.  It is true, however, that for some of us - the more profound the beauty - the deeper the experience.
and the Ancestors say...

But we can also find it in the "Magic of the Ordinary."

Luther Standing Bear admonishes us ...
"It was only when the white man came that wilderness existed."
For aboriginal peoples wilderness was their home and no elaborate preparation or high technology was needed to feel comfortable in Her womb. They also knew and some still know how to communicate with all "beings"besides the talking ones.

We cannot go into nature making a noise and chattering incessantly and not missing all that it has to offer. Many have left nature behind them and psychologists now have a term called the "Nature Deprivation Syndrome" which they are discovering in children where the awe, adventure and fun of nature has been substitute for by an I Pad or video game. We have forgotten who we are or where we came from and can no longer understand these words of Van der Post. Rather we go into nature as a high tech experience or exercise to keep fit, bag peaks or run rivers and take selfies while doing so rather than to connect with Self.

Van der Post was endorsing these words of the Ancestors

But we need to go in alone (or together) but in silence.

We are also still able to hear the "soft, still, silent voice" of the Creator if we pay attention. Kabbalah tells us that God is playing hide and seek with us but no-one wants to play - God loves to be loved and nature is one way to engage. 

Click to highlight the link then play the two songs

Sunday, July 9, 2017


The Ancestors teach;

(Small wonder that a good massage can also lead to a feeling of oneness)

Guided imagery and Jung's active imagination may achieve equanimity as well but the concept of linking it to the Creator or "the Spirit that moves in all things" is missing.

We have to find our own spiritual practice and for some of us passive meditation is difficult and not always fruitful. The Ancestors say;
"The way to God is through the senses."
The best expression of a sensory form of experience can be found in David's psalms and the Sufi poets.

And they stress that ...

We should look for the clues that can lead us to the most satisfactory form of sensory meditation. 

Active sensory meditation should lead to a sense of wonder and oneness, an appreciation that;
Rather than immersing in the senses the yogi's goal of Samadhi or the Oneness experience or Unity Consciousness is 
sensory withdrawal rather than sensory immersion 
while in a state of deep, passive meditation where ...

"The Knower, the Known and the process of Knowing" fuse into one thing."

This, however, can also occur with sensory active meditation for instance; 
in nature
 with dancing
 listening to music, drumming or playing an instrument
 where one becomes the dance or the music.

When the first white settlers entered Yosemite valley Bunnell had this "oneness" nature experience that when I experience it in wild places I call "wilderness rapture." 

Nature is the Creator's masterpiece and for those of us that are so disposed can be a vehicle for profound sensory meditation. No doubt the psalms of David arose out of nature - from a king who was originally a shepherd.

Music with the right vibration for you can achieve the same feeling especially when combined with sensory imagination.
Africans say
and there is a Chassidic saying that, 

"With song one can open the gates of heaven"

For some this can occur with the sexual experience but for most of us Tantric sex is difficult to manage and also requires a "soul mate" type of connection for the deepest authenticity. 
Childbirth is a common catalyst for the oneness experience.

Click to highlight the link then download and play

Saturday, July 1, 2017


Last week we talked about the measure of one's spiritual practice which included:

However, first and foremost, to achieve these we require a regular, enjoyable, sustainable way of going inward done for its own sake e.g. if its yoga the practice is not done to achieve  perfect postures but to connect within. This is the path to the Middle Way described by Buddha i.e. to balance the opposites and as the Ancestors teach...

In addition they recommend that just as we all have a  unique destiny, so too do we have to find the practice best for us. We should not persevere with a meditation unless it is causing equanimity and balance.

And a lack of time is no excuse

and also
“Do not say: "When I have leisure I shall

study  (pray or meditate) - perhaps you will

 never have leisure.”  Hillel

Most of us are familiar with Eastern, Passive  forms of meditation which have become popular in the West but there is also an Active form of meditation which the Ancestors endorse. Next week we will talk about those. Whatever the form and technique we will not be able to subordinate Ego/Monkey/Narrow Mind to Big/Spacious mind (intellectual sheath of Patanjali) without some method of going inward to reach our higher Self. Intellectual pursuits may help guide as to what suits us best but at the end of the day it has to be experiential.

One cannot think it - to be so. We have to practice.

Click on the link to highlight and then play
Hishtavut means Equanimity