The Seeker of Peace

Meditative Focus
July 16, 2009, 2:45 pm
Filed under: spirituality | Tags: , , , , ,

I am currently reading Winifred Gallagher’s recent book, Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. It’s a well-researched discussion of how we change our subjective reality by what we choose to focus on. There’s no spiritualism or Law of Attraction here; Gallagher is drawing on research about how the brain operates to explain why, for example, a higher emotional state can result in a better life.

One section on meditation struck me as particularly interesting. Here’s an excerpt:

Not only how you focus, but also what you focus on can have important neurophysiological and behavioral consequences. Just as one-pointed concentration on a neutral target, such as your breath, particularly strengthens certain of the brain’s attentional systems, meditation on a specific emotion – unconditional love – seems to tune up certain of its affective networks.

This runs counter to the claims of many self-proclaimed self-help gurus, who say that any type of meditation will give you the same benefits. I have seen many recommendations to do whatever type of meditation you feel most comfortable with. However, if Gallagher is correct, different meditative focuses will produce dramatically different results.

If I meditate on a point of focus, I’ll have better attention and be less distracted. If I meditate on emotions such as love, joy, and gratitude, I’ll become more empathetic and less prone to fear and anxiety. Frankly, I could do with improvement in both areas.

The funny thing here is that I don’t recall anyone ever recommending meditating on an emotion. As part of my Sedona Method practice, I’ve summoned particular emotions, although not for long enough to qualify as meditation. Larry Crane often recommends “loving yourself,” although that’s hardly the same thing as meditating on love.

I have been terrible with my meditation practice to date. This is largely because I’ve been sucked into trying for the Zen ideal of a blank mind. It would be much easier to focus on something specific, or on an emotion. Perhaps it’s time to redouble my efforts at meditation. And, this time, I’ll make sure to choose my focus carefully.


Keeping Up with the Joneses
April 14, 2009, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, spirituality | Tags: , , , ,

I recently did A Course in Miracles Lesson 149, which includes a review of the thought, “When I am healed I am not healed alone.” When I first covered this thought back in Lesson 137, it didn’t affect me much. This time, however, I found it much more profound.

I have always had a tendency to compare myself to others. In many ways, relative status was more important than absolute achievement. As you can imagine, this caused a lot of unhappiness: there are always people with more money, faster promotions, more authority, etc.

I realized this weekend that I’ve carried the same competitiveness into spiritual work. That may sound silly, but I now realize it as something very insidious. At a subconscious level, I would actually dismiss or denigrate the spiritual progress of others. That person is still too wrapped up in the world. This other person claims to be happy, but has some huge series of misfortunes. No one can prove that the Law of Attraction works. Etc., etc., etc.

Why should I expect to have abundance in my life if I wish something different for other people? Why should I expect to be healed if I’m doing it to be more advanced than others? It’s a concept that seems obvious when stated, but was strangely hard for me to realize.

I’ve been doing some work with the Sedona Method on allowing myself to enjoy the abundance of others. I can tell that I have some resistance to this idea, but it’s settling better with me after doing some releasing. Ultimately, others’ abundance is part of my experience, and thus mine too.

So, on that note, I sincerely wish for your success and happiness!

Getting What I Want
December 11, 2008, 9:28 am
Filed under: Suffering, World | Tags: , , , , ,

Lester Levenson said that we always demonstrating (i.e. manifesting reality). To grow, we must take full responsibility for what we demonstrate. This week, I got a clear example of that.

On Tuesday, I went to an infusion center for some iron to treat my anemia. Normally, I’m in and out within about 90 minutes. This time, for a variety of reasons, I was there for several hours. That gave me a lot of time to think.

Since this was primarily a cancer center, most of the other patients were there for chemotherapy. Many of them were visibly much sicker than I. As I spent time sitting among them, I found myself feeling jealous. Unbidden, I kept having the thought “They’re lucky – they have an excuse not to work.”

As I explored this more, I found myself wanting to get sicker so that I’d have a good excuse to leave my job. At some level, I’m sure I’ve been harboring this desire for some time. And, of late, I’ve been getting what I want. My health has been deteriorating consistently. It’s already very difficult to do my job.

The good news is that this thought instantly became absurd once brought to light. I don’t have to get any sicker to leave my job. That very night, I sent a note to all of my clients informing them that I was wrapping up my business and would help them transition their accounts within the next few months.

As I wrote a month ago, I thought I had reached “hootlessness” about my health goal. But it only took me a day after that to realize how much my health goal and my job situation were closely linked. My experience in the infusion center made it clear that I’d slipped far from hootlessness: I wanted to be ill, and severely so, to let me leave my job while still seeking approval.

So, I understand much better now what Lester meant by responsibility. How could I expect to become healthy, when I really wanted to be sick?

I guess it’s time to go back to doing the Sedona Method‘s advantages and disadvantages technique, to see if there are any other reasons I want to be sick. And maybe, if I let go of wanting approval, control, and security, I can allow myself to have what I want without being sick. It certainly worked for leaving my job.

The Dilemma of Goals
October 17, 2008, 7:47 am
Filed under: God, World | Tags: , , , , , ,

I look for wisdom from an eclectic variety of sources. Usually, the non-dualistic ones are compatible in their teachings. Lately, I’ve been struggling with a case where two of my favorite sources go in very different directions.

The Sedona Method has specific techniques for working on goals. Most of the examples from the course are worldly goals, such as getting money, losing weight, etc. Hale Dwoskin even promotes his role in The Secret. The idea is that once you let go of your emotions involving a goal, it will just manifest in your lap.

By contrast, A Course in Miracles has as one of its early workbook lessons the idea that “I do not perceive my own best interests.” That makes a lot of sense – if my ego is the source of my unhappiness, as the Sedona Method teaches, why should I trust it to set goals for me? If my ego tells me I want a new Ferrari, why should I believe it?

Indeed, the goal technique of the Sedona Method, like The Secret and The Law of Attraction, seems to feed the ego by giving it what it thinks it wants. At least the Sedona approach has you work on your ego’s attachment to the goal first, but it’s still putting the ego in the driver’s seat.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I’ve never successfully manifested anything. (If you have, I’d love for you to post a comment!) I’ve succeeded in accomplishing goals, but it was through work and effort, not by having something drop into my lap. Perhaps I’m simply justifying my failure by rationalizing that I’m better off not manifesting anything.

However, I don’t think that’s the case. As I mentioned a few days ago in my post about Job, unexpected things can help along the spiritual path. Assuming that manifestation works, isn’t that just another egocentric way to avoid our lessons?

Nouk Sanchez and Tomas Vieira, in Take Me to Truth: Undoing the Ego, present the idea that as you undo your ego, your wants and needs come into alignment. In this context, your “wants” are exactly what they sound like, while your “needs” are whatever you need to get closer to God. And, the great thing about this alignment is that it you then get what you want with no effort.

So far, the goals I’ve achieved in life have been a mixed bag in terms of bringing me happiness. For now, I’m going to stick to spiritual goals only. I figure there are a few goals, like better perceiving the voice of God, that don’t risk feeding my ego further.