Monthly Archives: September 2010

Just Sitting

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Just sitting in meditation is a liberating experience.

Its being naked, honest, stripped of any pretension of being anyone special.

Liberated from the false perfections of yoga, or the mind-numbing repetition of mantra, or the hopes and fears of prayer.

Just sitting, observing, feeling, being our breath as it rolls in and out, like the waves on a sea’s shore. Diving joyously into the infinite pause between breaths.

Very unhuman, if you’re caught doing this in the park the authorities will probably cart you away and put you on medication. You must be somebody, you must be doing something and for God sake keep on talking (if not out loud, then in your head).

Just sitting, just sitting, just being.

© David R. Durham

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FRA Obs

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Observations From Frankfurt.

The Germans here is Frankfurt are a very warm and generous people.

They live in high-quality 2.2 lander** environment, located at a major European financial centre and all the jobs and wealth which that creates, they live in a moderate European climate, have modern housing, transport and work-spaces, beautiful countryside just outside their small city for living and recreation, an international airport on their doorstep and so on.

Of course there are one or two anomalies which I observe whilst I sit in one of the many cafes, sipping my frischer minz tee.

The first observation is the high proportion of young Germans who smoke cigarettes. This wicked destroyer of health from within seems to be somehow at odds with their radiant complexions, fit lean bodies, exquisite dentistry, intelligent demeanour and designer clothes. And runs against all the effort and resources dedicated to their healthy upbringing.

The second group who appear slightly out of sync. amongst these affluent modern European professionals, are harder to place. I imagine them to be intellectuals, with probably 2 or 3 PhDs, a collection of early edition Goeth writings and are able to play the violin to concert standards. They have longish, un-styled hair, have a slightly quirky dress sense, and go about by bicycle.

As the season changes into Autumn, I shall see how their plumage changes.

© David R. Durham

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** By 2.2 lander I mean the average family size, which is allegedly 2.2 children.

Gateways

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In the core nature of our being, as living consciousness, there is no space and time as we understand it. For time and space are attributes of this world, and as such, they only exist for us while we are in this physical universe.

This is why, when people talk about experiencing some future heaven or enlightenment or nirvana or whatever label their culture attaches to this state of bliss, it is only true in the limited context of the human experience. And then only during the energy release, when the illusion of separateness is penetrated.

It is also as incorrect to suggest that there is some other place where we are whole, or happy, or one. For ‘where’ is a concept of space, which again, is limited to this world.

And, perhaps more importantly, imagined future ideal states or another place where we are happy are avoiding who, what and where we are right now. An acceptance of our current conditions is the first pause, the first gateway.

When we try to use our minds to understand this, or to work it out, we end up getting confused. This is simply because our mind is another one of our creations as we project into this physical existence. And as such, it is designed to help us to function in this world. It is not designed to comprehend the whole potential of our vast eternal being.

And whilst we can play endlessly in this universe, making brilliant discoveries, inventing cool toys and enjoying all the pleasures and drama of being human. When it comes to our eternal consciousness, stop trying to work it out, there’s nothing for our human mind to work out. We may get glimpses of other dimensions of consciousness and our human minds can be informed by insights from our wider consciousness; not the other way round.

Since these words are creations of this mind, in this culture and location in space and time, they are perfect for describing this world, but hopelessly inadequate in describing the fuller nature of our being. These words only serve to create a pause in your thinking process. And, in that pause, the potential for awakening to other dimensions of your vast being exists. This is the same pause which repeated meditation aims to bring you to.

The gateway to wider consciousness is in the pause.

© David R. Durham

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Monkey Mind

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Jabber, Jabber Jabber, Jabber.
He Jabbers, She Jabbers, We Jabber, They Jabber.

Welcome to the world of the monkey mind, where it never stops jabbering ’till the end of time. To fill our void the news man jabbers, the weather girl jabbers and the DJ jabbers and jabbers and jabbers.

Jabber, Jabber Jabber, Jabber.
He Jabbers, She Jabbers, We Jabber, They Jabber.

Love talks, money talks, street talks, pep talks, ain’t it time we had a talk. The lyrics are sweet, the lyrics are sad, the lyrics remind us of good times we once had.

Jabber, Jabber Jabber, Jabber.
He Jabbers, She Jabbers, We Jabber, They Jabber.

Even in our silent moments our mind goes on, and on, and on – jabber, jabber, jabber. Even in our sleep our dreams jabber on, jabber on, jabber on, jabber on.

Jabber, Jabber Jabber, Jabber.
He Jabbers, She Jabbers, We Jabber, They Jabber.

‘Till we jabber on down to the end of the line; jabbering; jabbering; jabbering on.
At the end of our time do we still jabber on, jabber on, jabber on, jabber on?

© David R. Durham

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Pain & Healing

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There is quite a complex relationship between pain and healing.

Pain is the usual motivator for our seeking healing, hence we normally define successful healing in terms of the removal of pain. Which is why pain killing drugs are so popular, they get rid of the pain, and hence they can become the benchmark for all healing scenarios.

So the acid test for healing becomes: My pain is reducing therefore this healing approach is working – Or – My pain is not reducing, therefore this healing approach is failing me.

Unfortunately, this simple black and white test does not always work out in real life. And, sometimes, all that pain killers are doing are temporarily reducing the pain, or they are acting as a mask and hiding the symptoms.

So what, you might say, if the symptoms are hidden and the pain is reduced or gone, isn’t that a good thing?

Maybe, maybe not.

People can live for years with repressed symptoms. Their drug prescription changes periodically to keep the mask in place. The patient feels better, the doctor looks like a professional doing his job (as we define it) and the drug company get to make more profits. If we ignore the collateral damage of long term drug use, its a true win-win situation you could argue.

But, is this healing?

What if we changed our definition of healing from the removal of pain, to the removal of the causes of symptoms? Would this change our outlook?

Healing may then become an altogether more complex scenario. For in this approach, our guiding compass, the reduction of pain, is not necessarily very helpful. As sometimes, when tackled head-on, symptoms can become worse before they get better. Or sometimes, one symptom will disappear only to be swiftly replaced by a different one.

This presents the patient with quite a dilemma. Do they trust the course they are on is correct, or do they try a different tack?

As you may have guessed, there’s no simple answer to this dilemma. To some extent, you have to trust the practitioner you’re working with, and they will be able to guide you as to how well the process is going, how you are making progress and whether to carry on or not. Jumping from practitioner to practitioner in short succession is probably not the best answer as it only confuses the matter more.

Whilst it is only normal to want to be rid of pain, healing symptoms takes as long as it takes, and your problem (which is often completely unique to you) may well not have a simple short-term solution. If you’ve had migraines on and off for 20 years, is it realistic or helpful to expect them to be ‘cured’ in one or two therapy sessions?

As a broad guideline, when nothing is changing, then look for a different solution. And if your symptoms get dramatically worse, then you may need the support of multiple healing approaches. This is when having the concept of complimentary therapies is a useful one to have, as opposed to the rather limiting idea of alternative therapies.

Having said all of that, and now looking on the bright side, symptoms’ causes do very regularly get healed.

Ironically, it is not usually the practitioner that does the healing, its the body/mind itself which accomplishes this task. The practitioner is simply a facilitator of this magical healing process.

© David R. Durham

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Meditation Tips No. 7

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Meditation Tips No. 7: Paradox

A paradox can be defined as any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.

Paradox runs through meditation, like the name through a stick of rock (candy).

  • We learn the skills and diligently practice meditation, in order to ultimately let go of all practice.
  • We’re trying to discover or attain some state of being we’re are already in.
  • And whatever we do ‘attain’ or ‘realise’ along the way, becomes just something else that have to let go of.
  • We’re trying to experience ‘an altered state of consciousness’, when all along the one we’re in is perfect.
  • We think its all in our mind, when it turns out to be down to our heart.
  • And in the end, the only true, pure meditation practice, is when you know you no longer need it.
  • We search out our dearest love in the rarest of places, only to find it was right here all along under our noses, in the most ordinary of things.

Does this mean meditation is a waste of time? Hardly. For it is only by going through the transformational process of meditation, that we arrive at the simplicity of our being, which is closer to us than our breath.

© David R. Durham

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Meditation Tip No. 6

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Meditation Tips No. 6: Being Present.

Whilst our minds and attention may wander, the body has a wonderful quality of always being in present time. And, as such, it can provide an important grounding quality to our being.

So while we (as conscious awareness) may still be indulging ourselves in an argument which finished 2 hours ago, fortunately our heart is beating, our lungs are pumping and all our other myriad of bodily functions are all still happening in real time.

This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to include our breath in our meditation practice. There’s no actual need to try and alter it, simply observing it whilst it rolls in and out, or matching a mantra with the breath cycle works fine.

And if our mental attention wanders off, mesmerised by some new thought, we can simply and effortlessly bring it back to now, by re-focusing on our breath.

So, by using our breath in this way, our body gradually grounds our mind in the present (without having to tie itself in mental knots trying to be ‘here and now’).

© David R. Durham

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Meditation Tip No. 5

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Meditation Tips No. 5: Instant Enlightenment

Good teachers are incredibly useful to us, especially when starting out with our meditation. Thereafter, they become guides who help to keep you on track, and help to point out options we may not have thought of on our own.

The ‘gurus’ to avoid are the instant or guaranteed enlightenment characters. In our age of instant food, love, entertainment, communication etc., we have become conditioned to expect and even to demand, instant service and gratification. So why not ‘instant enlightenment’?

There are at least 3 serious flaws with this type of thinking:

1. Demanding Ego
Instant enlightenment smacks of the ego’s endless ‘I want’ dramatisation, which the marketing boys and girls are only to happy to gratify, but which isn’t going to be given the time of day by a genuine meditation guide.

Through meditation, we are looking to broaden, deepen and develop our ego, so it becomes strong enough and mature enough, to be transcended.

2. Maturation Process
Enlightenment is more of an expression of being, rather than an event. Sure, we can have awakenings, big and small, but these events themselves are left behind sooner or later, as the stream of consciousness which we are expressions of, moves on and evolves more.

3. Already Enlightened
The fundamental flaw in any approach to meditation and the spiritual life where a ‘guru’ or a teaching promises some future enlightenment, is that we are already enlightened beings. So all striving, all searching and all effort towards enlightenment are in plain denial of the truth of our being.

As one of the great Zen teachers, Shunryu Suzuki, kindly pointed out: “Strictly speaking, there are no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity.”

© David R. Durham

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Meditation Tip No. 4

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Meditation Tips No. 4: Conscious Experience

Meditation is a very natural activity for consciously aware beings such as ourselves. And meditation techniques are very straightforward for us to learn and apply.

However, there are a few common difficulties we can encounter in our practice of meditation.

The first of these is fear, of what might happen, or could happen. Or, perhaps, the meditation process does begin to transform us and we’re afraid of losing friends because we’ve changed.

Another one are our expectations of what we should be experiencing. Maybe we’ve read stories of yogis, or other accounts of altered states of consciousness etc. And we expect to achieve them easily.

Or it could be that we over analyse our experiences and become over critical of how we are doing, compared to some imagined ideal.

All of these are false-hoods we are laying on ourselves, and in the process making meditation way more difficult and challenging than it should be.

The ‘knack’ to meditation, if there is such a thing, is to lay to oneside one’s fears, expectations and analysis, and to simply enjoy the experience.

Since ultimately that is what mediation is all about, conscious experience of being. And within that simplicity, is the elegant beauty of our unfolding nature.

© David R. Durham

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Time

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Living with a past which is fixed and a future that is unknown, makes our present a secure place to be.

But what if you could travel backwards and forwards through space/time – would you take the opportunity?

Time isn’t all that it seems to our everyday common experience and our sense of regular time. It is much more flexible, and at a sub-atomic level it even behaves chaotically.

And if time, in this universe had a beginning, will it also have an end?

A fascinating BBC Four series explores these questions about time and it is available now on YouTube: Cosmic Time

© David R. Durham

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