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Unread July 28th, 2006, 06:49 AM
Chate Sivasomboon Chate Sivasomboon is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Default 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.

Last edited by Chate Sivasomboon; July 28th, 2006 at 08:09 AM.
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