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.

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