Monthly Archives: August 2010

Meditation Tip No. 3

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Meditation Tips No. 3: Thoughts

Some meditation books give the impression that one of the purposes of meditation is to stop thinking. And this can lead some people who try meditation to feel as if they have failed, because there is always one (or several dozen) more thoughts appearing in their mind, when they meditate.

The thing to bear in mind is that your mind is where your thoughts manifest, and its perfectly normal to find them there.

The real aim of meditation, as far as thoughts are concerned, is to observe their arising and passing away without getting caught up in them. And through this process, you can come to be aware that ‘you’, the observer, are not your thoughts.

If you were to take the trouble to count the number of thoughts you have in a week, and I’m not suggesting you do, it would come to several thousand.

So here I am, sitting in meditation, and thought 7,209 of this week appears. What do I do? Run after it like a puppy, like its the most important, amazing thought that I’ve had this year? Like these thoughts control me?

No. I observe it arise and pass away, like I would a cloud in the sky, or the sound of a passing car. I don’t run after the cloud or the car, like some idiot.

And, in time, in dawns on me. Thoughts are just an endless stream transient inner impressions, largely based on what happened at work today, or what I saw on the TV, or what a friend said, etc., etc.

And when in time my thoughts die down, from a lack of attention, the question then arises: Who am I?

© David R. Durham

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Meditation Tip No. 2

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Meditation Tip No. 2: Time & Habits

When meditation was imported to the West, the myth of the 20 minute meditation was borne. It made meditation an easier sell and formed a part of the packaging which encouraged people to try it.

In fact, there is no prescribed ‘time’ for meditation, just the simple common sense view that like anything else, the more you practice the greater the benefits. As a rule of thumb, anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour will be very beneficial. Much beyond an hour and you probably belong on a retreat.

A key objective, is to form the habit of meditating on a daily basis. That way the benefits can accrue regularly through time, and you carry on meditating through thick and thin.

The best time of day for meditation is very much up to you and your life-style and other commitments. Some people find early in a morning ideal while the day is fresh and their mind’s are relatively quiet. For others, the end of the day suits them most and relaxes them for a good nights sleep.

© David R. Durham

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Meditation Tip No. 1

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Meditation Tips: No. 1 Sort That Seating Out

The majority of people meditate while seated, so its important to get it right.

Why? Well not only will you be able to relax into a deeper and more rewarding meditation practice, you will also avoid injuring your body, through repetitively sitting in an unhealthy posture.

Whether you chose to sit cross legged, use a meditation bench or sit in a chair, doesn’t matter. The principles are the same.

  • Your hips are raised slightly above the level of the knees. When sitting in a chair, or cross legged on the floor, this may mean using one of more cushions to support you.
  • The back is upright, and it follows the natural curvature of your spine.
  • Your head ‘floats’ naturally on the top of your neck, eyes in a level position
  • The arms hang vertically down from the shoulder, bending softly at the elbows to allow your hands to rest comfortably on your lap.

If you are sitting cross legged on the floor, your knees should touch the floor to avoid straining the joints. If they don’t then put a support (such as a blanket) under them, or raise the height of your sitting cushion.

Unfortunately, some of the photographs of people in meditative posture you see in yoga magazines and books overlook these key points. I.e. people have their knees stuck up in the air, and their elbows held at an angle, which both strain the joints.

© David R. Durham

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Left Brain

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Every so often I feature a blog on the topic of diets, since our diet is intimately connected with the health of our body, mind and spirit.

For instance, a few weeks ago I featured the Okinawa Diet, and its health and longevity benefits. And one of my first blogs was on the contrasting benefits between the essential fats Omega-3 and Omega-6.

Well, I recently came across a diet book which shakes the very foundation of what it means to be human, and it offers some astounding insights into our current human condition. As you may have guessed, this diet is not about loosing weight so you can look cute in your bikini.

The book Left In The Dark, tackles the massive impact of diet change on the evolution of our human brains, no less.

A brief synopsis of this fascinating book is as follows:

• Powerful plant chemicals once abundant in ancestral forest diet modified the action of our own sex hormones
• This affected brain development and evolution, increasing brain size, changing its structure and enhancing its function
• These interconnected factors occasionally led to runaway brain expansion (a feedback loop)
• Leave the forest or lose connection with the fruit chemicals and the brain expansion stops
• In place of accelerating expansion a slow degeneration takes place, this affects one side of the brain more than the other
• Paradoxically the most damaged side driven by increasing fear slowly assumes control
• This created a complex neurological condition that has resulted in a number of serious psychological symptoms and left us virtually blind to its existence.

Needless to say, if you are curious about the human condition, this book is a highly recommended read.

Left In The Dark:
by Graham Gynn & Tony Wright

Okinawa Diet Plan

US Amazon UK Amazon Canada Amazon

© David R. Durham

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Where Is The Beginning?

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Where does our mind end and our body begin?

Where does spirit end and the physical world begin?

There are not really any satisfactory answers to these questions.

For the sake of understanding and communication, we label somethings mind and other things physical. But, you don’t have to go very far into the experience of life to know the situation is not necessarily so simple.

In the healing work of cranio-sacral therapy, for example, the intimate integration of mind, body and spirit quickly becomes palpable. A self-evident truth which becomes so obvious, that in time it hardly seems to need mentioning. It is as if we ‘knew’ it all along.

Perhaps, this phenomena is a feature of where and how we use our conscious awareness. What we focus our attention upon becomes real; it is noticed and is acknowledged. Rather like the Observer Effect from the world of physics, where an electron only has a position in space and time when it is consciously observed.

© David R. Durham

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Unhappiness By Default

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When I was a young lad, I was given a useful piece of advice. And it went something along the lines of … “You made your bed lad – you sleep in it.”

It contains two pragmatic insights: One is that we are responsible for our conditions, and secondly one of acceptance of our situation (at least for now).

Our modern world, it seems, often emphasises an endless process of not accepting our conditions, of constantly striving to change them, which leads to a state of unhappiness by default. This results in a restlessess of mind and spirit which wears us out mentally and emotionally. We never have enough, we can never rest fully at the end of the day, as there’s always one more shopping trip to heaven to perform tomorrow.

On a more broader time frame, our life conditions or circumstances are, according to Eastern traditions such as buddhism, determined by our karma. And, the acknowledgement of that insight forms the basis, the starting point for our work in this life-time. We are encouraged to allow these conditions to become our guide and mentor. And the transformational alchemy which liberates us from the negative side of our karmic conditions is loving kindness. Together with the wisdom-insight of not to react or struggle against our circumstances, but to embrace them as our dearest teachers. In short, what is my life experience, here and now, teaching me?

This acceptance of conditions, does not mean we are to accept any old shit. We have rights. It means the starting point for us, for now is, we made this bed, we sleep in it. This is far from being a subservient giving up, it is in fact a highly empowering frame of mind, because of the second factor mentioned above, i.e., we are taking responsibility. And, if we are responsible, we have the power to work towards a change or not to work towards a change. We learn to live and flow freely within our boundaries, or we change our boundaries.

Of course, the very unhappiness by default western society we are born into is our karmic foundation. And it is then up to us, with the aid of our teachers, to develop loving kindness in the midst of a ceaseless, almost mindless culture, of always wanting more.

Change, expansion and growth are natural phenomena in this world, and in this universe. Where there is no change we find stagnation and death. Where we have mindless consumption for the sake of more consumption, we have deep seated social tensions, mental unhappiness and physical ill-health.

So where is the balance? Where is the middle way between accepting things the way they are, and going for something different?

To attempt to prescribe where this balance is, is tempting, but it is often futile. It seems that each generation, many social groups and sometimes each individual has to find their own boundaries and balance. Unfortunately, this sometimes means going hopelessly out-of-balance, with the resulting pain, trauma and confusion as to what the hell happened (it all seemed to be going so well), to know when we’ve gone too far.

© David R. Durham

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Hypnosis Misconceptions 10

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Ten Mis-conceptions About Hypnosis:

10. Whilst in an hypnosic trance, a person can be made to tell the truth. Or alternatively, a person is unable to lie while in a hypnotic trance.

Nope. People in hypnotic trances are fully aware of what’s going on, and as capable of being truthful or lying as when they are ‘awake’.

Acknowledgement
With thanks to the source of this hypnosis misconceptions series:
They Call It Hypnosis. Contributors: Robert A. Baker – author. Publisher: Prometheus Books. Place of Publication: Amherst, NY. Publication Year: 1990.

© David R. Durham

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Hypnosis Misconceptions 9

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Ten Mis-conceptions About Hypnosis:

9. It is possible to hypnotise anyone at anytime, anywhere and under any circumstances, even if they don’t want to be hypnotised.

No. All genuine hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The hypnotist is simply a facilitator in a process the person wants to experience.

© David R. Durham

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