Posts Tagged ‘Mark Epstein

20
Mar
09

get over it already

van-renselar-abstract-art-abstract-art

There is a quote I came across from Mark Epstein, while I was scanning over his book “Thoughts Without A Thinker” again (btw – I recommend any of his books).
For me,  this thought is not only central to any type of spiritual practice or discipline, it is also central to achieving psychological health.  While psychology is a fairy new discipline and Buddhism is over 2,000 years old – isn’t it funny how relevant this idea of over-identification is to the human experience and how certain schools of thought keep bringing it up?
I can’t even begin to blog how often I over-identify with my thoughts or feelings (let alone how easy it is for me to see it in other people before I notice it in myself). Or how I try to find some damn “meaning” in a feeling or thought so I can make sense of it or understand it.
(this is truly the dilemma for anyone suffering from a  Bipolar disorder or the general narcissism found in society – it’s what marketing firms and advertisers count on yeah?)

It’s just a feeling.
It’s just a thought.
They arise and they pass . . .
Why do we try to so hard make them permanent and concrete?
Why is it so difficult to just observe them?
(Again, this is why I practice sitting.  Or at least one of many reasons I practice)

Enjoy Mark’s perspective on this:

“Because of our craving, the Buddha is saying, we want things to be understandable.

We reduce, concretize, or substantialize experiences or feelings, which are, in their very nature, fleeting or evanescent. In so doing, we define ourselves by our moods and by our thoughts.

We do not just let ourselves be happy or sad, for instance; we must become a happy person or a sad one.

This is the chronic tendency of the ignorant or deluded mind, to make ‘things’ out of that which is no thing.

Seeing craving shatters this predisposition; it becomes preposterous to try to see substance where there is none.”

28
Jan
09

Of course I am out of my mind, it’s dark and scary in there


With my background as a therapist there are times when I am struck by the similarities between Buddhist Thought and Certain Schools of Psychotherapy.  Several authors have made a living integrating the two (two reputable and favorite authors are: Mark Epstein – author of  “Mind Without a Thinker” and “Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart” and John Welwood – author of  “Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation“).

Outside of the fact that certain Zen practices such as sitting and paying attention to the breath, can decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure and relax tense muscles – it can also have a concentrated effect on one’s ability to be with the “uncomfortable” – both during the sitting and afterwards with life in general.

For me, sitting and watching shit reveal itself as though I am watching actors on a stage – engrossed but not over-identified – has allowed me to be mindful in other areas of my life. This way of meditating enables me to be more equipped at being with the shit I step into during the times I’m not meditating.  And trust me, my shoes can get pretty messy.

This making friends with  my own shadow, outside of being a  philosophical or spiritual practice,  is also a psychologically therapeutic development  –  An evolution in my relationship with myself and with others.
A willingness to engage in this observation is perhaps one of the greatest acts of compassion you can give to yourself and therefore, all sentient beings.
The first time you sit with shit as it is thrown in your mind’s face, can be rather frightening.  But sticking with the process has remarkable consequences in your personal development and evolution.
John Welwood puts it rather well in this succinct quote below:

If there is one thing I’ve learned in thirty years as a psychotherapist, it is this:
If you can let your experience happen, it will release its knots and unfold, leading to a deeper, more grounded experience of yourself.  No matter how painful or scary your feelings appear to be, your willingness to engage with them draws forth your essential strength, leading in a more life-positive direction.

John Welwood
Source: Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart, Page: 106




Live'n Aloha on Maui.
Lately just posting pics, artwork, vids, & music with just a headline (less seems to be more).
Into Wilber, Beck, Zen Stuffs, Spiritual Concepts, Philosophy and Humor (kinda geeky humor).
Currently attempting to strengthen my meditation skills (this has been a 20 yr process).
Thanks for stopp'n by and please leave a comment. Poz or Neg, all comments welcome.
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