Some truths never change indeed.
However, practicing meditation the way our ancestors did
would mean to ignore two things:
The new scientific insights into reality we have been able to accumulate since,
and the old embodied insights into reality we have lost since.
It is impossible to subjectively experience
the same internal world of mind and emptiness our ancestors did,
because
science has opened previously unimaginable realms of knowledge,
democracy has brought previously unfathomable tastes of freedom, and
technology has created previously unforeseeable degrees of disembodiment.
In other words,
find out for yourself what the heart and science of meditation is,
today,
and modify tradition.

   



The Mindfulness Lectures presents:

LONELINESS: 
THE LOST CAPACITY TO BE ALONE     

Saturday, March 1st, 2014
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Loneliness is rampant in today's society, and it takes a huge toll in the form of depression, physical breakdown and early death. It is a huge and largely unacknowledged failure of our culture. Through electronic media we are more plugged into each other than ever before, yet also more disconnected from each other and lonelier than ever before. Solutions offered to combat loneliness often invoke 'community'. Have you ever been part of a 'community', yet felt lonelier than if you were alone in the desert?

 

Loneliness and community cannot be understood without understanding aloneness. Loneliness is a form of suffering, and dependent on the structure of community, community will not soothe the lonely heart. In order to connect so deeply that we can feel the soothing embrace of 'we-ness', we need to explore what aloneness is, an inescapable and fundamental aspect of reality. To not feel lonely we have to have the capacity to be alone. What is that capacity? What is the difference between loneliness and aloneness? How does our capacity to be alone get compromised? How do we learn to be alone so that we will never feel lonely again?

FROM THE MEDITATION LAB

When we meditate and after a certain stretch of time we realize that our attention got hijacked away from the intended focus to other mind contents, we quietly congratulate ourselves for waking up from autopilot, name the force that caught our attention and redirect attention back to the originally intended focus.

A student asked:
"I have come up against an apparent contradiction in my practice. If mindfulness is supposed to be non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, then why do we congratulate ourselves on noticing that our attention has drifted. Is congratulating not judging?"
  

We need to be clear on the definition of judgment. Generally, judging is the act of forming an opinion after careful thought. From this perspective, mindfulness is the art of good judgment, for which we could also use the word discernment. In everyday language, we add a negative connotation to the word, which would include a self-righteous validation of oneself to the exclusion of and at the expense of somebody else. This is invariably experienced as an attack or a put-down. It is this kind of loaded judgment we try to avoid in mindfulness.

 

Congratulating yourself means that  

1. You make a good (skillful) judgment that being awake is better than being on autopilot, and  

2. You notice that you have moved from an unskillful state to a skillful one, and you don't attack or blame yourself for having been unskillful.

THE STORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS   

The story of consciousness has to be rewritten from its implausible beginnings.

Space and energy arise from a mysterious pure potential of infinite possibilities.

Energy moves through time in waves of  emerging swirls we call phenomena or 'stuff', only to eventually disappear again into the background of pure potential. These swirls take on many different forms on many dimensional scales, from the tiniest subatomic events to the largest galactic appearances. Through positive and negative electrical charges and other forces, two fundamental  trends cause lifeless stuff to move - attraction and repulsion. In this way, miniscule swirls that have come to exist begin their dance of push and pull before their time has come to once again disappear back into infinite potential. As they dance like that, they combine, sometimes destructively, sometimes constructively, to form ever larger and more complex wholes, all the way to human beings.

These basic physical processes that govern the interaction of particles
and molecules and their assembly into ever larger wholes eventually lead to the formation of cells as complexity increases through natural selection. They are indeed the origin of homeostasis and homeostatically competent living organisms. Homeostasis is simply the process by which these complex wholes (such as a cell) engage in good housekeeping and external relations to stay alive.

This is what may seem so implausible:  
These processes that are relevant to maintaining life are not conscious and can exist without their conscious counterparts. Efficient and adaptive behaviors combined with basic life-management know-how do not require consciousness.

These basic physical processes that govern the interaction of particles and molecules, and their assembly into ever larger wholes I spoke about above, seem to give the single cell an attitude: It 'wants' to live out its prescribed genetic allowance, and this want precedes explicit knowledge and deliberation. The covert and non-conscious knowledge of sophisticated life management is already fully there in each and every cell.  
 
The assembly of cells into more complex wholes, all the way to human beings, transforms the cell's life-affirming attitude through a succession of metamorphoses. With every step towards more complexity a new, more sophisticated version of the same cellular primordial 'will' to last for a period of time comes into being. Like butterflies and their chrysalis, new costumes, new and more complex forms cannot completely hide their origins in the bare-bones simplicity of the humble molecule.

And so it happens that homeostasis, the non-conscious knowledge of sophisticated life management found in every cell, eventually finds its form as emotions, and further 'up' the ladder of complexity as consciousness. All consciousness really does is
merely make this basic life-management know-how knowable, providing us with choices.

T
his is a reversal of the traditional account of consciousness: The essence and power of consciousness lies hidden in its non-conscious roots.  
PLEASE SHARE THIS NEWSLETTER WITH FRIENDS,
STUDENTS AND COLLEAGUES


Do you know someone who could benefit from this information?  
Please forward this newsletter - they'll appreciate it!

With kind regards,

Dr. T.


Ongoing
  
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programs 

Mindsight Intensives to make mindfulness a way of life.

The meetings of the
are ongoing on Wednesday nights.
Copyright � 2014 by Dr. St�phane Treyvaud. All rights reserved.