So while in Thailand, I did a lot of self-reflection; went through a lot of experiences that tested my endurance, both physically and mentally; and also spent a lot of time traveling in the car. Combined, these things lead to a lot of brain-dumps which – thanks to my Uncle Frank for his graduation-gifted iPad – I was able to write down. I think they might interest some people, plus I’d like to refine their grammar and structure, as well store the ideas somewhere more persistent than the iPad’s local hard drive. So, plan-to-be: I’m going to go through each of these notes one by one and post them on this blog.
Part 1 - Untitled
You begin to realize that it’s your mind which makes things persist. Bad feelings, urges, and cravings on the experiential level are more often than not momentary pangs of vibration. Our mind takes these pangs as signals to start thinking about something, which then usually leads to an obsessive cycle of want.
For example, I want to leave, I want a beer, I want a burger, I want this turbulence to stop. If you take the time to observe the mind this becomes more and more apparent, and it’s this realization that allows one’s self to be liberated from said cycles (and thus their painful side effects). Note, I’m talking from a practical perspective; in other words, you’re not going to be able to lift a 10 ton boulder by noting and not reacting to the persistent pain in your arms and body as you try, but you may be able to stop that wrenching fear of “x”, etc.
As you develop this skill to recognize true sensation without reacting to it, suffering dissipates. But, at some point you might think you’ve eradicated all of it and then happen to go through a rought day. This is NOT significant of a failure in you or the practice, but merely a sensation you have not yet come accross and therefore have not reconditioned yourself to. The same can happen in the opposite direction as well: an unexpected happiness is always going to be short lived and ultimately distracting if you don’t pay attention to the sensations that are supposedly generating (or more realistically, are associated with) that happiness.
Once it’s gone, unless you’re honest with yourself about what you were actually feeling, it’s very easy to become sad at the idea that you can’t get that feeling back or frustrated in an effort trying to.
Consistency in practice is also important because it ensures conditionings don’t reform to sensations that have already been noticed, redefined, or eradicated.
The brain tends to implement this predictive caching scheme, assuming if a sensation has been felt at one point in time, unless it is responded to, the sensation will probably still be there in the next moment, so it’s safe to assume you don’t have to observe for it again. This is what was once normal for me. However, if you make an effort to actively and continuously query for sensation, you get a more precise (and often more accurate) view of what’s actually going on – a finer self-resolution, if you will – which in the long run gives you a clearer view of truth and thus the way out of suffering via the above practice.
This has been especially practical for me when dealing with fear. Turbulence hits, my heart jumps, but I immediately reevaluate myself afterword, with an effort only to keep my mind still, and I go back to normal, neutral, receptive me. Before being observant I would’ve played through many different scenarios of how the plane would crash soon and I would die in a horrifying fall, in the end making myself extremely stressed and anxious for no reason. Now I circumvent that infinite (and pointless) escalation cycle and just continue on with my life. Or at least, I try to.