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Cesar Bujosa April 23rd, 2006 09:25 PM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
Healer: Thanks so much for your response. I was hoping you would comment. Perhaps I anticipated what you stated: There was life altering change. Samadhi would form a schema of the experience. I am happy for you.

I have the sense that normalizing samadhi is important. I can see samadhi happening somewhat unpredictably. Like you said--you got lucky. Or, perhaps you are disposed. Samadhi chooses its vessel. I imagine that ongoing meditation is critical, without it preoccupation seems inevitable. Fixation is attachment and ironically suffering.

Thanks again

Healer July 22nd, 2006 09:32 AM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
I'm glad you appreciated my response. It is my experience, and accurate for me. I can't speak for everyone. I do not practice the Buddhist technique. I actually find it emotionally painful, and not because of its exposure element.

I'm wondering, if you are still reading, if you would be interested in responding to a question I posted about schema therapy on the Cognitive Therapy Forum.

Chate Sivasomboon July 23rd, 2006 11:05 PM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
Hi Healer and all

Practicing of Samadhi into a deep state, and experiencing separation of awareness from an object of awareness, like fear, pain or seeing our body as if it is another object equal to the surrounding objects, is definitely taught in Buddhism, especially in the Forest monk tradition of Thailand. One monk says “as if there are two minds or two cittas”, while the other says “see our own feelings with a sense of separation like that of oil and water.”

When I first experienced separation of awareness from fear, I didn’t know what it was until I read a book by one of the masters of the Forest tradition. But I didn’t continue practicing deep Samadhi, since I am not endowed with this ability. I got it serendipitously. Like you say, this special ability is endowed to some people only, like that of a great violinist or a champion tennis player. The Buddhist commentary texts written a thousand years ago acknowledged this point. That is why there must be the other way for people who can’t cultivate deep Samadhi, that is the way of direct Mindfulness.

“ I do not practice the Buddhist technique. I actually find it emotionally painful, and not because of its exposure element.” : I think you mean that you do not practice the direct mindfulness method of Buddhism. “I actually find it emotionally painful.”: Well this direct mindfulness method is usually mentioned as a parched and dry method, especially by Samadhi-first schools. The main problem of this direct Mindfulness method is that the real mindfulness state is difficult to establish, making practitioners fixedly entangle into various emotional states, absorbing into emotional states and struggling against them. This is a wrong practice. Those with Samadhi power can rise above an emotional state much more easily. Mindfulness when practice well, generates a sense of well-being.

But in reverse, Mindfulness, when practice well can also lead into a deep Samadhi. Usually most cultivate Samadhi in a forward fashion. The mindfulness-led Samadhi is a kind of backward method. In Buddhism, Samadhi can be sustained when its various opposing mind states do not appear. Mindfulness can make you discern or identify a mind state which is a Samadhi nemesis, and drop it away, then the mind will enter Samadhi by itself.

A moment of separation can also occur to those who practice direct Mindfulness. I have attested to this. Many years after my first separation, I experienced another separation when I was talking to someone and I recognized that I felt uneasy, suddenly the mind separated into stillness, and amazingly, all the spoken words flowed through me without attached meanings. They were just only sounds and I could choose to comprehend them or not. A monk whom I heard of recently, after practicing mindfulness, his mind is always flipped into stillness, brightness and well-being all the time when mindfulness occurs, (but this is considered a hindrance in Vipassana.)

In Buddhism, who will do which method of meditation, depends on one's own predilection which was described in the ancient commentary texts but I don’t know if it was accurate. Not every one can do Samadhi, and not every one can do direct Mindfulness. I hope one day, Psychology of Spirituality can elucidate these individual differences and can prescribe a particular method of practice or treatment for each person, like that of gene therapy in Medicine.

Healer, I like you comments; you are a great practioner and a great obeserver. You hit at the right point when questioning about the Mindfulness practice earlier in you posts. I try to explain to others what it is and how it works, since many will go this way. I hope one day you will reach the state of sustained mental separation in dalily life, with a free-floating and bright awareness, detached from all perceptions.

Happiness to all.

Healer July 27th, 2006 09:32 AM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
No, I really don't practice Buddhist meditation. I learned meditation from a New Age healer who uses imagery, sound, movement, moving energy and a focus on chakras. Recently, I have been meditating with a guru, Hindu, very much a mystic, who uses only chanting. (And yes sound can effect meditation, responding to a previous thread.) I've tried and read about Buddhist meditation. I think I understand, and of course, all meditation essentially has a similar element--focus. However, I don't fully understand direct and indirect meditation from your text. I intuit that you mean that indirect meditation is an attempt to remain focused on what's running through the mind--"I feel anxious, my knees hurt, I miss my cat, I can't pay my bills." And in so do, one eventually strips away the pain, and becomes aware of peace. While direct meditation starts at peace or well being, and when something disturbing comes up one pulls himself back into peace, or is direct meditation, meditation on one thing, like a color?

That being said, I had some thoughts about exposure therapy and meditation. Surely, awareness of pain is exposure, but as Chate points out, you can become terribly tangled up in the emotion. I think that there is another element to meditation that heals. That is what is often called direct knowing. This applies well to what I have been reading about healing traumatic loss.

Just to note, from what I understand, there are two things that are hard to meditate away, loss and physical pain. That being said, I've been reading recent work on healing traumatic loss. Robert Neimeyer particularly has cited three tasks involved in that healing, and I hope that I paraphrase him correctly. (1) Gathering and knowing the fragmented parts of the event, those dissociated, making the event coherent. (2) Becoming aware of the emotional response that the event/s have created. (3) Inserting this into the life the life story so that somehow it fits.

When you say exposure, I assume you refer to trauma. With trauma, thoughts and emotions are shattered/scattered, although they are known, for some reason the pieces of the events along with the emotions just don't fit together. They are there, but they aren't there. Life becomes an act of living through the trauma first, and not living life. It's very hard to live in true self, seamlessly. That's my sense anyway.

Meditation can cultivate an event/skill of direct knowing. That which is confused, or cut off, or known but yet unknow just shows up. I think of the scientist who gets the answer in a dream. But it's more than that. There's an answer, but that which is scatter, shattered, known but unknown joins ordered healthy ego/consciousness. And then the emotional mind is so thrilled to have that order, in a flash there's peace. Healthy self/ego knows what to do, how to fit the shattered, now ordered pieces in life. The solution the mind offers up usually has little to do with what an outside observer would suggest as step to healing. Often those suggestions are more detrimental and confusing than doing nothing. What seems obvious on the outside isn't what's happened on the inside. I hope that I have explained this well.

Is there an element in schema therapy that taps into this? Imagery, I think, resembles exposure therapy. Does it work on the mind at this level? This direct knowing seems to resemble EMDR to me.

Chate Sivasomboon July 28th, 2006 06:49 AM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
Dear Healer

Meditation: Focusing vs Non-focusing

Sorry, there are many terms and many traditions of meditation, so it may be confusing when using these terms and I do not refer to psychology terms since I am not a psychologist. My focus is on the mental separation experience that you described, when you encountered you own fear in an elevator. The separation experience is actually at the heart of Vipassana. In this separation experience, it is as if there are two layers of mind, one that perceives fear and one that is calmly aware, isn’t it. Vipassana means wisdom or insight and wisdom or insight cannot definitely occur if we become tangled up in emotions all the times, even in meditation. How to build up or cultivate this separation quality of the mind? Two methods in Buddhism. One is built up on focusing first, while the other depends on a “non-focusing” technique. The latter technique is like when you are looking at a dim light source in the dark. If you focus on this dim light source you won’t see it, but if you use your peripheral vision, you can see it.

The first one is to practice meditation by focusing on something first, concentrating on one object of the mind until sustained stillness and peace occur, which I think, is similar in all traditions. This will produce mind stillness and mind power, and I call it Samadhi. Now in the deep state of concentration, there will be no disturbances, just stillness only, so we cannot study our own mind at this stage. But when we get rising up from this deep meditative state, all perceptions begin to flow and mental projections arise. Usually we just submerge ourselves back into these projections on our mind screen and return to a normal wake up state. But for some people, the power of Samadhi makes them continuingly aware of the retained stillness while perceptions and mental projections begin to flow through the mind. Separation can occur at this stage; one layer perceives an undisturbed stillness, while the other layer perceives various mental objects or emotional states. So we can feel an agitated emotional state without agitation. Wisdom arise that a perceived mental object or a percieved emotional state is not a part of I or Mine, and it is just only an object of perception. Some may have this separation after walking out from their meditation session to do something else, or even after a few days afterward. This technique is called Mindfulness after calming meditation.

The second method is to directly expose to emotional states without priming with focusing and calming meditation as described above. I call it direct Mindfulness. This method is difficult since we usually become tangled up in an emotion, because we always get used to focusing on our emotional perceptions. To practice this method, we must keep practicing the technique of just simply knowing without sustained focusing into a particular mental object; being aware without focusing or staring into our mind screen, to counter our tendency to being tangled up in an emotion. By using what is like peripheral vision of the mind, we can keep afloat from an emotional state. The practice will convey the sense of spacious, open, panoramic-like perception, with flowing through of mental phenomena, and without fixation to a particular emotional state. This experience will be a reference point that makes us aware if we are being caught up in any emotional state or not. When we recognize that we become tangled up in an emotion, the mind can be automatically reverted back into the open non-focusing mode by itself, with also spontaneous dissolution of the emotional state at that moment, (but not permanently, not a permanent healing.) This mind state can last very shortly and I call it the real Mindfulness. There will be a fast alternation between Mindfulness and various emotional states. Wisdom arises from seeing that various emotional states are always dissolved and are not a part of awareness or a part of I or Mine; they belong to the part of the perceived. This technique is a kind of rapid, brief and repeated mini-separation from emotional states, which occurs throughout daily life or in a meditation session. It is like making a dotted line of which each dot on the line can be compared to a short moment of mindfulness. Beginners will have a sparse dotted line. Those who are skillful will have a dense dotted line almost resembling a continuous line. Or it could be compared to clasping of the hands; touch-separate,…..,touch-separate,….. This is how the direct mindfulness method works. Emotional states always keep arising in our mind but with Mindfulness, the mind can be detached from them repeatedly for all day. Mindfulness practitioners will have more and more abundant moments of mindfulness in daily life and being less occupied by emotional states, and a sense of well being will be gradually built up. It is a technique that enables us to know an emotional state, without being overwhelmed by it.

So the word meditation is confusing. I hope you understand my meaning; one that uses focusing first and the other that uses a “non-focusing” technique.

Healer July 31st, 2006 06:49 PM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
Thank you for your explanation, it is very clear to me now. Since I do not come from your tradition, I did not understand completely what you were writing about. It fascinates me that without using Mindfulness techniques, but focusing on senses essentially, I developed both abilities. I don't really have to meditate to do it; I can just choose to do it. I never received instruction on how to do it, nor did I learn the language that you apply. It just came by an act of grace one day, in the way that you explain your experience. It was rather dramatic.

This sort of demonstrates to me what I suspect. All forms of meditation lead to the same place. However, the experiences among individuals vary despite the form or tradition.

wilderness artist November 22nd, 2009 08:51 PM

Re: Isn't mindfulness meditation exposure therapy
I have just joined this forum so it is all new to me, even things posted in 2006.

I would like to add a bit about mindfulness meditation. I was at the American Holistic Medical Association's Conference in Cleveland this month, and one of the keynote addresses was by HeartMath. HeartMath has done extensive research on the heart-brain, the gut-brain, and the brain we all think of as the brain. It turns out that the heart brain has stronger electrical energy, and breathing into the heart while feeling appreciation calms stress through coherence, or balance in the autonomic nervous system. (I am a lay person, so may not be stating it perfectly correctly.) Athletes call this state being in "the zone". Breathing into the heart while feeling appreciation sounds very much like mindfulness meditation to me! Meditation comes in many forms.

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