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Recovery

Recovery & Rehabilitation

The first purpose of this forum is to make it possible for those who are going through the recovery process to be able to write about their experience so that those who have already weathered the storm can offer help and encouragement along the way.

The other equally important purpose of this forum is to serve and develop our collective understanding of the nature of the recovery itself and reveal the value of taking personal authority over understanding and making good use of this time.

Everything is different now

Dear John,

Everything is different now as compared to the time when I started looking at myself. Thank you. God bless you.

Djole - Serbia

January 23, 2013

My healing

When I came back from Vietnam

I was afraid of everything

I really don't know why this was

Cause no danger did it bring

To me, my stay in that country

But the poisons that they used

Convinces me that they stuffed my mind

Those powers, our heads abused.

That fear in me was so intense

My mind was filled with dread

I was afraid of being alive

I was afraid of being dead

Sometime I'd freeze so totally

Like I was paralyzed.

I went to so much counseling

So many tears I cried.

And then one day I searched the net

And I found this little site

The site they call it 'just one look'

And they did do me right

It took four years, but now I'm sane

I have no fear at all

And I have no anxiety

I'm no more a crazy fool.

Peter - Australia

September 4, 2013

My husband is healed

Dear John and Carla,

I am the wife of one of your listeners and I am writing this small letter to thank you so much what you have done for my husband. His name is Peter and he is from Perth, Western Australia and he tries to keep in touch with you very often. Before Peter found you he was so unsure of himself, used to get quite angry as he has PTSD, very domineering etc. In fact he was a very hard man to live with and my children and I put up with him like that for years. Now it is a complete turn around, since he has been looking with you he is a changed man, lovely to live with, takes everything in his stride, absolutely wonderful, our lives are so much better thanks to you. He is now getting or trying to get other people involved. He has a cousin who has Parkinson's and she is doing so well so far, as she lives in the UK and her emails seem much more happier than they were when we started writing to each other. So I would honestly like to say a big, big thank you John, you have done wonders. Keep up the good work as it actually works. Once again thank you so much and both of you have a wonderful life.

Vera - Australia

April 13, 2013

No razzle-dazzle

This act of looking inward works"”and it's been extraordinary in my life.

What's beautiful about it is that it doesn't require a spiritual overlay. No need for guru worship, altered states, counting chakras, sacred books & places, and all the rest of it...

This perspective is available in other places but John is one of the people who puts it out most clearly, most simply. Others do the same thing but without his immediacy and lack of pretensions.

In my situation, turning to a simple awareness that I am has led to serenity, more joy, and overall, a sense that all is well.

There's little drama in my life, and while to some that may sound dreadfully dull, I'm quite content with the lack of razzle-dazzle!

Best of luck to you.

John - United States

November 15, 2013

From Anxiety to Joy

When I was a child I was not happy because I had very strict parents who robbed me of all my freedom. I was a very freedom-loving boy and I felt so totally restricted in a family that never could and never would understand me. There was a lot of psychological cruelty handed out to me by my father and a hell of a lot of bullying I was subjected to by the other kids. I came from a very rough part of London called Peckham, and I was an extremely sensitive young lad.

When I grew up, I married a beautiful Australian girl named Vera, who is still my beloved wife after fifty years. We emigrated to Australia, and after about three months, I decided to join the army, and I volunteered to go to Vietnam, so I could pay back the kindness that the Australians had shown me by receiving me in their beautiful country.

I served in Vietnam for about nine and a half months, then they decided to ship me back to Australia because of injuries and illness. When I came back, my troubles all started, and I developed PTSD, even though I had not really been in much danger during my days of war. I was filled with a terrible anxiety, and was absolutely terrified of both life and death. I had these periods of deep, deep dread that completely ruled my life. I was angry most of the time, and I detested everybody I ever met, with a vengeance so hard to understand.

This got worse and worse as the years proceeded, and I tried everything to control it, from counseling to reading every kind of self-help books, and I read every religion, and all the stuff by so many different spiritual teachers, until I had a bookcase brim-filled with all the books I had read. I tried every kind of meditation, plus yoga, tai chi, and many other things. However, nothing worked. They helped a bit but not enough to stop the ugly terror I felt.

Then, one day, I came across a man named John Sherman on the net, who has helped so many people, and thousands of people now practice what he advocates with much success.

John told me that all I had to do was close my eyes and look at the me-ness of me, it was as simple as that. At first I laughed at him, with his simplistic approach to gaining back one's sanity. But I was desperate; I had walked out on my wife for a year and given everything I had away. My anger was getting worse and worse, and when I finally came back to my family, I really wasn't worth being with. My wife tolerated me because she loved me so totally, but I could tell that I was leading her into psychological, physical illness.

So I gave John's method a try. I meditated every day using my me-ness as a meditation point. I don't mean my thoughts or sensations, emotions or such. I mean the 'me', the part of me that actually runs the show. The 'me' that always seems hidden but is always there in the background. I noticed some changes in me very quickly, but then the progress became slower, but very steady. Now I have been doing this for nearly five years, and the difference in me is phenomenal. I am so happy now, that I could almost scream with joy. I have no more anxiety, and the dread that once debilitated me is totally gone.

My neurotic fear of death has faded. And although I don't want to die, when it comes, I will be totally ready for it. My life is so beautiful these days and everything seems so beautiful, and crystal clear. These days I walk on feather feet, and I am so grateful to John and his wife Carla for what they gave to me. I really want to share this with anyone who cares to listen.

You would not believe how beautiful my life is these days. Thank you for reading, all you who reached the end of this story. I hope it helps you as it most certainly helped me...

Peter - Perth, Australia

December 23, 2013

Dramatic Change

Hi everybody,

My name is Vera, as some of you already know, and I am the wife of Peter Duggan. I came on this site to cheer Peter on, and also to read some poetry which I do enjoy at times. I have made a few friends on this site and correspond with some, and a few of them have asked me to write something. Now I have never done anything like this before, but I decided to humor these friends any way.

I could not really think of anything to write about, but then I thought of a subject dear to both myself and Peter; the transformation that he has gone through in the last five years. This might be of interest, and indeed some help to others who are having problems within their relationships with others.

When he came back to Australia, this was when it all went pear shaped. Peter started to change; he become very aggressive and psychologically cruel to myself and our three children and was like a keg of dynamite just waiting to explode. He would argue about everything and anything, and got involved in many very nasty fights. No one could tolerate him for very long, and myself and the children often felt like we were walking on eggshells whenever he was around. He turned to alcohol, and cannabis, and he was always off his head on any one of those drugs. Having said all this, Peter was never physically aggressive to me or the children.

Anyhow, this all came to a climax when he suddenly walked out on us all and decided he wanted to live like a bum. Said he wanted his freedom. This was the last time I saw him for a year, when, because I loved him so very much, I asked him to come back to us again. He came back, but nothing really changed. In fact, I told him he would never change, and I honestly thought our marriage was beyond repair. He had done so much counseling, read every book on self-help, and tried religion (all the major ones), but nothing really helped

Then one day, about five years ago, Peter was perusing through the net, desperate to find someone to help him get rid of this evil that lurked within him. He came across a man named John Sherman, who claimed that he could help people with this simple little action that he gave Peter to do. In his desperation, Peter put his whole life into this simple act.

He never strayed from this path, and after a month or two things started dropping away. Each day he seemed to get more and more happy, so happy in fact that he seemed to bubble with happiness. His anger started to drop away gradually until it diminished completely. He still loves to argue, but he never has to be right all the time and treats it all as a game. How anyone can change so dramatically is completely beyond me, but the miracle happened; the evidence is before me.

If I ever won the lottery, I would donate half of it to the Shermans and the RiverGanga Foundation, and would be totally happy to do this. But the only thing that we can do is spread the Shermans' work any chance we can get. We both owe them so much.

Anyhow, this is my first write, and I hope that many people might gain something from it. Peter and I are now the happiest couple that ever walked the face of the Earth. I thank all of you that chose to read this. Whether I'll ever make a second attempt one never knows. But I surely enjoyed writing this.

Vera Duggan - Perth, Australia

April 17, 2014

An update

Hi John,

It has been 7 years since I first contacted you and you replied with your simple yet powerful message. I am happy to report that the ensuing time has seen a gradual but undeniable reversal (for lack of a better word) of identification with my story to being me. I write to you this time because of a moment that was so simple that it blew me away. While driving to work I was feeling the joy of simply being here when my mind jumped up as if to say "don't lose this!" when at the same time the "knowledge" appeared that it can't be lost cause "I" have always been here!

To experience this rather than just understand it intellectually from watching your talk was so freeing. I seem to be a tough nut to crack, being more more of the gradual type, but cracking so I am. For even the relative reduction in suffering that I have experienced I am so enormously grateful.

Thank you so very much for being here with me.

Glen M. - Canada

April 26, 2014

Enjoying my life more and more

After decades of searching the meaning of life, my life and reading dozens of books if not hundreds, attending seminars, watching videos, going for psychotherapy etc. to get some satisfactory kind of answer, stop mental anguish and enjoy the ride, I finally found John and Carla Sherman who are devoting their lives through the RiverGanga Foundation to help us all in getting rid of the fear of life by this very simple act of looking.

I am now enjoying my life more and more in spite of difficulties that keep arising, as before, but they certainly don't have the same impact. True peace is at hand and I will always be thankful to John and Carla who are truly supportive in our endeavour. They more than certainly deserve your support.

Elizabeth - Canada

July 1, 2014

Joy and Contentment

I discovered within just a few months with John Sherman what I had been yearning for my entire life--and I had spent years searching for it elsewhere. John's work freed me from any context for my life except myself, my own true knowledge of "me." I am attracted to spiritual practices but now see that what John offers is independent of any religion or spiritual practice, yet is inclusive of all. He has worked hard to keep his language free from terminology that excludes anyone, including spirit-speak, and talks directly to the matter at hand: shifting your focus to a palpable sense of what you call "me" and soon, any other delusions we may have of who we think we are vanishes, never to return. It is the ultimate intimacy and love, to fall into yourself and discover all that you already are and have always been. Life becomes a daily adventure of how to live a more skillful human life, with joy and contentment.

Jenine LaCette - Sedona, Arizona

June 26, 2014

Now I don't fear

I am totally convinced of your message being both right and working. I totally agree how difficult it is to try to look at emptiness and try to create images and beliefs of the infinite awareness and try to believe or recall that I am that. I know I am that, but since it is not enough to know intellectually, I was left with mere frustration. Also with fear, not only for living this life, but fear for such a great and magnificent beingness that is there but seems to flee all your attempts to reach it and especially all your attempts to be effortless about it and still wanting to get more to touch with that, your real self.

What a genius way you introduce. I get to look at myself a lot now. Previously, I mean before I learnt about you, I had some so called experiences. Some of them made me want to keep them or return to them (love and softness), others were so powerful (everything stopping and life running like a film, or just the sense of a lot of "power") that I was afraid even to remember them.

Now I don't fear. I see myself most of the time. I am just calm and curious about every moment. I am relieved of many things, many stupid and destructive feelings. They either don't come any more or they appear weaker, me seeing them, a bit dreamlike and being able to choose to leave those thoughts. I am also a bit confused. What am I up to?\

I am very very grateful.

Thank you so much. My deep respect and appreciation.

Outi - Finland

July 14, 2014

Just another success story

I found John Sherman's name while reading commentaries on another person's YouTube video. I checked out John's videos to learn a bit more about him, and I gave it a whirl. I never expected it to work so well. Right from the beginning, I noticed less agitation upon thinking, and less anger and resentment when things didn't go my way. I don't do the looking a lot, because it worked the first time. I wanted it to work, so I guess I was pretty motivated to look for myself. My husband noticed the difference right away, but wasn't convinced it was permanent. It's been awhile now, and it's staying, so he decided to try it. So far so good. What I like is that we laugh more. We see our silly problems, and work on solutions, but there's very little skin in the game. So if something doesn't work, we can just move on, no shaming, no guilting, no suffering. Don't get me wrong, things still bother me, but I don't suffer over them or build them up out of proportion. I wish I had had this method years ago, before spending a fortune in therapy, plus the expense of making bad décisions based on emotional reactions, but you can't change the past. My present is pretty good.

"‹Haven't been here in ages, two years or more.

Haven't been here in ages, two years or more. This body touched myself, as you said, and with great thanks to your slow and persistent determination to communicate the move properly. I don't really know what to say - but yeah - I'm sweet. I can't find a difference between my body and the world any longer, and I am always there, behind and within the experience. I left a testimonial ages ago. I really don't feel like I'm 'done'- but as John said - that wasn't the point. The point was that now I just know who I am and I am myself... Everything else is the same, just more pleasurable... And I wanted to say, because I have thought about you saying it, the thing about the learning. I just love learning things more now - there's a natural fascination with life and learning things. I mention it because I have noticed it and it's kind of nice and simple. Right.. Thought I'd publish this here because I believe you helped point me in the right direction, me, and my writing this here may be of some benefit for you and Carla to share through your website for others who are attracted to you. Good luck man.

Tyson

After a few years....

So what happened to me? The separation between myself and my body went away. I am more alive than ever! Sometimes i just watch myself and am amazed!

What the dude said was true for me- getting THIS body in contact with me made all the difference. I would go to silent retreats and just try to look at myself again and again and again until other shit happened and just go with it. It's true that when I see myself it is unmistakable... And that the only guidance is that I am tryin to feel ME. Most people just don't get it. They have ideas about what they are. So I try to trik them by doing the 'memory of you as a child' trick. Who knows if any of it has been helpful to those people.

Anyway thought I would post this up.

Life is a gem. It is very alive.

Thank you

X

Thanks, Tyson. I really like your posts. They are fresh and real.

Arigato gozaimusu my friend

Meditation retreat after looking

First of thank you John, you are a genius! I don't know exactly why or how but after listening to you my whole outlook on life has changed dramatically. I've been struggling to understand myself for a long time and it has been pretty exhausting, and completely crazy at times. Some days ago now "everything" just clicked for me. It dawned on me that I am myself like I've always been, like everybody's always been. I saw the "blank paper behind the print" and self confidence has been building ever since. I feel much more content with my path, with my relationships and my job than ever, and when I look to the future I see opportunity and promise. I've just had a GREAT week, and here's to hoping much of it is here to stay and that the looking and your (John's) explanations is what finally "pushed me over the cliff". It's so funny how my life has actually been right in front of my eyes all along and somehow I missed it! Unbelievable really :D

Okay so that's all good, but the way I see it I'm actually just at the beginning and I want to learn more and become better at seeing reality for what it is. So i want to ask what a good way to practice is? I look daily and try my hardest to abide with the feeling of me for as long periods of time as possible. I feels good and helps me let go of tensions. Do you think this is a good practice to understand the nature of reality?

Furthermore, I have a planned Vipassana 10-day silent retreat coming up. But in the last few days I'm experiencing doubt in those spiritual practices, I feel a little disillusioned. But I still want to go and meditate and I think meditation practice is worth while (just like anything is ;) ). So my question here is whether you have any advice on how to approach this retreat with my new outlook. I feel resistant to do the practices they will teach and rather just want to sit and be silent and look at myself. But this feels untrue too. I don't know, just a little confused at the moment.

Thank you again, powerful stuff you teach man smily

It's good to hear from you Roed, you are on the right track now.

There are two things you need to keep in mind. First is that the looking and its power to transform the experience of life is more like medicine than anything else. The medicine that is brought with the act of looking cures the underlying disease that causes us to fear life itself. The other is that the initial period of peace and freedom and clarity often falls apart and leaves us feeling even crazier that we were before the looking. This has been the case for many, including Carla and me, but not for all. We call this the period of recovery, and you can find reports about it in the testimonials and a number of postings in the forums. Exploring the forums is the best way to get a sense of what to expect, and using the experience of those who are active in the forums is of great help.

The good news is that even if this happens to you, and even if you do nothing but fall into neurotic suffering, it will pass, and when it's gone the relationship you have with your life will be satisfying in ways that you would never expect. You will go sane.

The best treatment we have found is the exercise we call the practice of focused attention, which is a mindfulness practice, shorn of all the spiritual and religious framework that comes with most such practices. The practice of focused attention is an exercise that will strengthen and clarify your control and authority over what your attention attends to. I would advise you to read the article, "Focused Attention" at www.justonelook.org/look/attention. Also, browse the forums for discussions of this practice and its effectiveness.

I have some personal experience with Vipassana, and I do not think it would be useful to join in a Vipassana retreat at this time. Vipassana is an extremely strenuous form of mindfulness meditation that would most likely prolong the recovery period for you.

Please feel free to respond to this here in the forums so that all can benefit from our conversation.

John

John,

Thanks so much for this wonderful message. Even though I have read your description of focused attention before (several times in fact!), I went ahead and clicked through the link and read it again and I'm very glad I did. I hadn't before understood your instruction that we are to single-mindedly focus on the breath to the exclusion of all else. My meditation background is more in open awareness training, and so when I've done the focused attention practice in the past, I guess I've defaulted to that.

I will start training my mind THIS way, but I did have a question for you. In the article, you say that the development of open awareness can be profoundly useful-- in your view, what is it useful for? And would you recommend that we also do exercises to cultivate this skill as well?

Thank you as always for all that you and Carla do. I hope 2015 is a wonderful one for you both, and for the RiverGanga Foundation.

Warm regards,

Ansley

Thanks John, I appreciate it truly. Since my first post I have watched many hours of your videos and read a bunch on the forums which have all been very useful to me. Your response in this thread also resonates very well with what I've learned so far from these activities. Your rigor and consistency in keeping everything simple, to the point and using a language anyone with basic English skills and no previous experience with "spiritual lingo" can understand is remarkable in my opinion, so good job on that!

Yeah, I'm fairly convinced that I should cancel my Vipassana course. I can't say that I understand exactly how it can prolong the recovery, all I know it sort of feels intrusive to where I'm currently headed. Focused attention training should really be enough. This week has not been as brilliantly lit as last week. It's been good and I see changes in my personality and how I relate to people, both friends and strangers. My patience and interest in them is just much higher and I feel that my interactions are somehow more significant.. rather strange but pleasant. I've been feeling a little wobbly the last few days, but I don't know how much I can blame other circumstances, it being this special time of the year and all. The future is not as shiny and undeniably awesome like it felt last week, so I try not to think too much about it. So yeah, a little bit shaky but still feeling OK. I loved what you said in one talk about finding pockets of ignorance. The last two weeks have been nothing but finding pockets of ignorance. Fun but also a little tiring. Things are happening really fast and I'm doing my best to keep up by slowing down, it feels like a natural approach for me.

It's my intention to use this thread as a blog over what I'm experiencing over my course of recovery. I want to contribute to the body of knowledge around this whole thing with all I got. If this fear of life is real and if the looking is the cure, it would be such a shame if it somehow were forgotten or lost!

So! Because I will post updates on my experience from here and forward for all of you, I thought it would be a good idea to share my path up until finding the looking. Yeah, take it for what it is; it's just a story and I'm writing it mostly for myself as an account of my own history of though. But I personally like to hear other people's stories, so if you're anything like me feel free to read mine and let me know how it's similar or differs from your story!


I am a 27 year old from Scandinavia who has been quite invested in finding some underlying... something... about life for the last three-four years. I've always been an eager traveler, almost neurotic for adventure and new experiences - a craving which has dominated much of my life since my teens. Work, travel, work, travel year around. Although I now reflect on this as a "search" for something meaningful in life, I can't say it had much depth to it until I had a special experience with psychedelic mushrooms. During that trip I could see clearly that all my preferences and goals in life weren't so important (at least not to the extent I thought at the time). If I preferred Marlboro's before Camel's it was just because of some made up story, or if I liked one type of music more than another it wasn't because of the music but because of me, or if I liked a person more than some other (including myself) it was only because I had thunk it so. I could see my persona for what it was and for the first time in my life I just knew that there was more to me than my adventures or specific tastes in music, relationships and cigarettes. Yes I'm underrating my then-self quite a bit now, I've been pretty open, I'm just trying to convey that this experience felt very significant and it was my first mystical encounter. It led me to look at life beyond the material level.

The following year or so I experimented more with psychoactive drugs, I learned a ton about physics, discussed philosophy at length whenever I could. Trying to get closer to and understand that underlying... something... which I had discovered inside me. I was seeing how I (and everyone essentially) wasn't living up to my full potential and now my opinions and values were developing quickly. I was surprised about this situation although it probably is totally normal for 25-year-olds to go through this.. Only that I had already gone through some major changes in my early twenties so kind of I thought I was done cooking. But nope.. and this time around it all took a completely different turn. My development the previous three-four years had been around things like politics and ethics. Now I saw myself starting to question life itself. During this time I was confiding in the sciences to answer my questions. Tons of highly intelligent people must have thought about this long and hard before me, surely they must have some answers! I followed this trail as far as it went, but after some time a pattern emerged; more stories, fantastical theories and literally piles of facts and numbers, none which answered anything my heart was pondering. Philosophy led me to the Greeks, Descartes and ultimately nihilism where the exact same pattern emerged.

Then Buddhism. Very convincing at first glance but it was a little too spectacular for me to fully buy into it. I had about a year of dabbing on the surface of it until I got down to actually reading about the truths, the path and the practices. This much coincided with a tragic and traumatic event in which my best friend at the time took his own life. Over the last few years we had spent so many nights gobbling wine and debating philosophy and now suddenly I was left alone with huge sorrow and a million questions. When the trauma of it all had settled a bit I started seeing that I was indeed suffering so I started looking for a way out. Having Buddhism right there in front of me, which I really thought held a lot of promise was convenient enough for me to just dive in, now I was ready. I spend a long long time reading about the different traditions and their practices, their promises and teachings. I was heart brokenly hesitant to take on one particular path and follow it rigorously because I found within me an underlying mistrust to all the traditions, I'm not sure why, something just didn't feel exactly right and this annoyed me. However there were of course a few things they all had in common, like meditation which I gladly took on, which happened to be quite fruitful actually. Meditation certainly made me a better version of myself and helped me understand, at least to a higher degree than before, some of the reasons I was suffering. Eventually everything strictly Buddhist led me on to the same annoying pattern as I had seen in the sciences and philosophies. So many words and constructs but no real way of seeing what it is.

In the spring this year when I was working abroad for a month. With plenty of free time in my hotel I was just randomly youtubing and googling different Buddhist themes. I came across a forum thread in which one poster claimed to be enlightened. He wasn't saying it that directly but I could read through the lines and I became totally convinced that this person was realized, whatever it meant. I got slightly obsessed by it and asked him a plethora of questions about different teachers and traditions (which actually was the topic of the thread in the first place). He said Dzogchen to be "the most direct path", but that was actually irrelevant. I had become a believer in enlightenment. That's when I started listening to hours and hours of talks by people like Adyashanti, Eckhart Tolle, different "non-dual" groups and meetings. It was so refreshing to hear about this concept outside of strict Buddhism and especially since many of them said that attainment is easy, not hard. Finally I managed to condense their babbling to one core thing: Awareness is aware of itself, and that within this truth lies some form of liberation. This filled my head for a few months and I noticed that every time I would try to think it really hard, my body would relax and I would feel good. For the first time since I took those mushrooms thought I was on to something. This was a breakthrough because this approach didn't end up in the same bin as the other approaches.

A month ago now my girlfriend and I sat up late and had couple of beers. We started fighting over nothing, but stopped abruptly. I saw something happening in her that night made me extremely envious: It was obvious to me that she was experiencing Kenshó, even if she would kill me if I dared label it like that. She isn't a practitioner of any path or anything like that, but she just came at me with these profound insights about emptiness and awareness. Something that "just happens" to her sometimes with alcohol she says. Calls herself Jim Morrison she says. I always thought of her as very wise for her age, but this shocked me. She was telling me how I needn't worry about anything, how the world is all perfect and everything that happens happens with perfect timing according to everything else. It's hard for me to describe as I can't really do it any sort of justice. We had a really fun night with lots of jokes and word games, but I couldn't help burning up inside with envy of her ability to see so clearly what I had been searching for so long, which of course made me disappointed with myself; that I couldn't let it go and just be happy with who I am. This was sort of a high-point and a low-point at the same time, but now I was more determined than ever to go all the way, no matter what it takes. I made a drawing on my hand so that whenever I saw it I would try to "see my own awareness" as often and for as long as possible.

Lookin' good son! A mere week after our night and my sincerest wish for an ultimate truth had penetrated every waking hour I was youtubing on my phone, which I rarely do. The interface on the phone is different and I think i get different recommendations. Somehow a video with John Sherman came on. Didn't think much of it at first, well I though "oh well just another Adyashanti or something...". Left it on, went for a bath and found myself quite interested after the first fifteen minutes. It sounded old, but in a way no one else had said it. I finished the video, the next day I watched another one and in this one I noticed the regular referencing to "the looking", whatever that was. I finished that too, then searched for some actual instruction. I found the fifteen minute clip, went through with it, I did the looking. Didn't feel very special at the time but the next day I couldn't stop doing it, and it felt good! Fast forward a few days of looking and I'm home alone watching John's interview with Rick in "Buddha at the gas pump", and right in the middle of it, something just happened. I experientially understood, just simply understood, that I had been here all along and that I had been chasing a dream almost. My experience of life is perfect the way it is, just like it's always been. This was the "awareness" I had tried to focus on, but hadn't managed to because I had just come at it at the wrong angle. I don't need any enlightenment! What is that anyway? I don't need to understand everything about life and death or reality or my place in the world or anything like that. I've got me! And me is all I've got and all I want. It's all here! Life's here!

Thanks for reading!

-Roed

Thanks for the back story, Roed. I think it's a really good idea to use this forum is a blog and to keep track of your changes. I look forward to future contributions.

About a month has passed and just as previously pointed out; things are getting p crazy. I'm having a hard time putting together a coherent picture of what's been going on and don't really know what to say here. Creativity is also running a little dry and has been for a while.

It's like I'm torn between two versions of myself and I sort of jump between them in a very unpredictable manner. I can have the worst day ever but still feel totally content and at ease, but other days will run really smooth but yet anxiety will arise and I feel completely deflated and bored with life.

I follow the advice to focus attention on something neutral like breath when my minds wanders or when I feel dissatisfied or anxious. It sometimes work and sometimes not. The more I do it in a day, the greater the chance of success. Success in this case refers to me being able to swing back to a state of openness and acceptance rather than the uncomfortable "get me me out of here" or "oh god why does this happen to me" or just the simple yet not so nice "I don't want to do this".

My tendency to say yes to things rather than no is on a steady increase which is really enjoyable. I end up in situations where I hadn't otherwise. I'd like to share two examples from the past month. They may sound harmful or dangerous but in fact I just see them as great learning opportunities and I wouldn't do anything differently even if I got the chance.

1) I went with this random sketchy drug dealer who invited me to his hotel room where about a dozen other dealers turned out to be residing. They were very suspicious of me (only white guy, obviously not one of them). Normally I would have stayed controlled on the outside but completely panicked on the inside, not being able to go with it just wanting to get out of there. Actually, normally I would never had followed him anywhere (or even spoken to him in the first place!). But I stayed calm and focused the entire time and ended up having a great time, even making friends in this for me normally really threatening situation.

2) I have been thinking about homeless people for a while and came to the conclusion that every homeless person is such a tragedy and failure for all of us. How come we don't stop and ask "what the hell is going on here" as soon as we see someone in the street? They can't be just lying there! Honestly.. What the fuck? So with that going around in my head for a few days, I finally invited a homeless person to my home to sleep in a comfy bed. We had a great night chatting, he got to use some facebook and relax. He said many times how grateful he was and I could see it in his eye. The next morning he ended up snatching a laptop, a camera and a jacket before leaving which was such a bummer. I was very disappointed at first; my roomies were furious. But since that first day I have only felt compassion towards him. The poor guy was obviously just a druggie who did anything for a fix and I know it wasn't personal. I was even glad when I noticed he also took the jacket because I haven't used it for years and I swear it's waaay warmer than the one he had before. Better off on him than in my closet.

Not the only crazy things that's been going on.. I could tell you about last weekend in Istanbul and my risk-taking behavior there but I'll save it for another time smily

I know to just hang in there. I'm trying to enjoy this ride as much as possible by laughing at it all. It is quite silly sometimes. I just hope I don't get hurt. I don't think I can. Which is a crazy thing to say. Gosh.. I dunno. I'm a little upside down right now.

EDIT: I just read my previous post and saw this "Things are happening really fast and I'm doing my best to keep up by slowing down, it feels like a natural approach for me.".... not so much anymore. I can't hold it back at all, nor do I want to. I am still accelerating.

Roed, I dont you mean to give advice, but it sounds like you are in a transition period and somewhat vulnerable. Even though it seems you realize that your essential nature cannot be harmed, and your fear is greatly diminished, harm can come to your body and there can be long lasting consequences to your risk taking.

This period is probably temporary for you, and it might be a time to lie low and adjust to new perceptions. I have had times of impulsivity and strange inclinations to do things I don't normally do since the looking, but this has passed and a more reflective sense now surrounds these impulses. Just my thoughts and I hope you stay well.

Report after 3 & 1/2 Years

I have talked about my first few years after the looking elsewhere, but to summarize, because it's important to where I am now: after 30 years, I was finished with the spiritual search, frustrated, angry and anxious. I gave up changing myself. In this state I happened on John and Carla's website. It looked like more of the same, perhaps more banal and simplistic than all the other spiritual appeals, but I must have made a go of the looking, actually followed John's instructions, and then forgot about it.

About four or five months later I went through a very bad patch. I was angry and anxious. I couldn't sleep, and thought I was going crazy. I somehow stumbled back onto John's site and read with amazement about the recovery period and gradually realized that this was happening to me. I had looked once, and with very little focus or hope, and started this powerful chain reaction of events and shifts in the ground I was standing on. It was difficult, but there was some comfort in knowing what was going on, even though I was still skeptical of all things 'transformative'. Somehow I hunkered down and decided to see where this thing goes.

Gradually things settled down and optimism returned, perhaps too much optimism at first because the road was still very rough and I still had the tendency to jump on the latest bandwagon and infuse things with magical thinking and meaning that was not supported by reality.....a strategy based in fear. In the intervening 3 1/2 years a lot has happened. I'll try to be measured and honest, although it's difficult to remember how things were.....in some ways not much different than now (same life) in other ways, worlds apart.

This incredible anger that sprang out of nowhere was the first to go. It must have been suppressed, latent anger from a long life of passivity and it broke out strongly in the recovery period. But it went fairly quickly, like a summer storm. I still had anger flare ups, but honestly, these days, I'm rarely angry, at least that long, smoldering type of anger that bursts out of nowhere into important relationships and strafs everything in sight. Now, when angry, it's a focused burst, that is quickly managed and burnt through and usually energizes rational action.

Anxiety was the next to go. During the recovery period my life long anxiety reached a fever pitch. I slept poorly and awoke in the middle of the night convinced that something terrible would happen ( terrible things were about to happen, but more on that later). I was choking on my anxiety, breathing was difficult, eating, sleeping were difficult. It was hard to focus on anything. In the middle of this, I remember having an odd thought, something along the lines of; well I've experienced this before (earlier in my life I had panic attacks, etc) and somehow survived.....this will probably pass soon. And it did. After several months the anxiety began to diminish. It has diminished to the point now, where things that used to put me into a literal hyperventilating panic, like public speaking and certain crowded social situations are only mildly anxiety provoking. Now I enjoy public speaking, tolerate crowded social situations much better, and don't obsess on things like every little physical ache and pain. There's still anxiety that swoops in for a visit, it's never far away, but I can breathe and manage that in most cases. The difference is that when anxiety sets off the alarm system to warn me of impending doom and danger, I do a quick evaluation of the situation and make a call. No danger here, things are okay, shut off the alarm.

Depression. Ah, my old black dog (to use William Styron's description). I think I was depressed and guilty in the womb. I can remember being surprised when my second grade teacher called on me by name in class. I thought I was invisible and she couldn't possibly remember my name from day to day. Depression was the last thing to go, and it is still going. It leaves, then comes back for its keys. Six months ago my mother died, then my wife's mother died, then both my daughters left home for college and living abroad. Before this I was on a roll, feeling the positive effects of the looking, dealing with my dying mother as well as could be expected, thinking that I had turned a corner with grace and maturity. Then the above happened, within three weeks, and depression and grief were back in the house. Through all this, despite feeling bad, there was equanimity. A sense that I couldn't really be touched by the suffering, although it was very real and the effects painful.

Since then my pleasure in life has slowly returned and anxiety and depression have not. I always thought that an end to the huge ball of anxiety would be pure bliss and calm. It's not. It's simply ordinary. It's just life coming at me in a straightforward manner and much less distorted than before. I have found that with the anxiety gone many things I did, in a rather ritualistic manner, are no longer necessary and stop due to lack of momentum. Most recently I stopped a 30-year coffee habit. Coffee somehow seemed to reinforce and amplify the fear, anger, and irritability. It also helped me focus and probably warded off the depression to a certain extent. I simply no longer need these effects. Other bad habits fell away and healthy habits replaced them. I enjoy Qi Gong in the mornings where I practice mindful movements and directed attention on my breathing and movements.

Life without the context of fear is a little hard to get used to. I have to be somewhat careful, as fear was an inhibitor, therefore I can be a little more uninhibited in my language, etc. The great thing is that less fear means more energy to engage with life. There is more focus and less time spent on irrelevant rumination. I get things done for the most part. There is a greater degree of what the positive psychologist call 'flow'. Flow is to become immersed in one's actions with an intense focus and with a diminished awareness of the passage of time. It is not necessarily a blissful state, but rather a state of absorption in life and in one's activity. Flow happens more and more. I am in the moment, present, aware, calm and ready to respond to life. Anxiety, fear, depression stop flow and distance one from the stream of life.

Surprisingly, I still have some skepticism about the looking. Sometimes I think all the changes are just maturation, growing older and wiser. Then I think for a moment of how utterly miserable I was for much of my life and I see the beauty and the quiet unfolding of the looking. I sometimes think I should be 'enlightened', which was a goal for most of my life. Surprisingly, and as John predicted, I have lost interest in spiritual attainment and the constant thinking about--forum perusing obsession with all things spiritual. It seems it was a by product of my fear, this constant looking for an ideal state... being better. I'm mostly satisfied with the present these days. There is no 'better' or ideal, in fact wishing for it, looking for it, takes one further from life as it flows through us.

The transformation resulting from the looking has been real in my life. It has unfolded slowly and has been difficult. But at some point, the slow, steady changes have become beautiful and surprising rather than excruciating. Hang in there. The momentum of fear takes awhile to change and shift in a positive direction. But it did for me and I look forward to the ever evolving, quiet transformation of the fear-free life.

Thanks, Jack. I resonate with much of your post, particularly your notes on "enlightenment," a quest that, happily, no longer torments me. It's like no longer hearing an inner voice on a loop, accompanied by New Age Jazz, with the guise of utility. It certainly served its purpose, like Ramana's analogy of using a thorn to remove a thorn.

I'm thankful that John clarified that which is necessary to extricate oneself from unnecessary suffering. That he designated the exact spot to apply the thorn. In my case, I had to look at myself thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of times. Or, at least, that's what I did. Daily, for hours, for years, on top of years of meditation, prior to finding John. Maybe looking just once would have done the trick for me.

I'm very happy about John's new emphasis on attention practice. A version of that certainly made the recovery period relatively painless. Anyway, thanks again for your post.

Wow thanks Jack... What a wonderful support this report offers. You have a gift for detailing the progression of the recovery and your words are very loving and compassionate.

Today I am struggling with old feelings of guilt, remorse, shame related to my daughter and not being there for her during her adolescence. (She's writing a book about her life and I support her 100 % but she's pretty rough on me... Gulp!) At the time I was sitting in an ashram in India totally self-absorbed and desperate to 'find myself' or find enlightenment or eternal peace etc. and as David says, perhaps looking just once may have done the trick. Certainly the fallout would not have been so devastating as it was in my case.

Now I too feel, as you say, "a sense that I couldn't really be touched by the suffering, although it was very real and the effects painful." It feels now like a gentle compassion for that person I was and for us all really.

Maureen

You're welcome David and Maureen. I enjoyed your response as well. David, I looked quite a lot after that first look, I'm rather compulsive that way. When I was in my Christian phase, early in life, I was 'saved' over and over, just to make sure.....I also meditated for hours a day for years. It still puzzles me how I tried almost everything spiritual, yet did not stumble upon self inquiry similar to John's method. The simplicity is stunning and elegant.

Surprisingly, Maureen, I was never one for regrets, despite all the neurotic craziness going on in other areas. I now regret not looking earlier in my life, although that would not have been possible. I find it hard to stick with negativity these day, my mind just doesn't stay there. I certainly have negative and anxious thoughts and feelings, but I can't sustain them for very long. In the past my anxiety about everything was laser like in its intensity, duration, and focus. Once in awhile something will grab me, like the situation you describe and I can't let it go. I know this when I wake up in the middle and can't sleep for hours. This still happens on occasion, but usually I can reactive constructively. It sounds like you are able to be constructive in your responses to the guilt and shame.

I think under everything was this desire to be perfect. I still have this desire, call it enlightenment or whatever, but now see myself as very imperfect. And I'm more comfortable with my imperfections. There's the relief.....I no longer beat myself up for not attaining a high standard, which is ridiculous if you think about it for very long.

Thanks for your responses.

Please read this before doing anything here.

Recovery from the fear of life can be intense and deeply confusing if you don't understand what's happening. Most of the psychological mechanisms that were born in the fear have now lost their purpose, and the context into which they were born has evaporated in the act of looking at yourself. Your mind now is in the process of developing a new relationship with life based on intelligent self-reliance rather than blind fear, and that process can be extremely painful and confusing to navigate on your own.

The first purpose of this forum is to make it possible for those who are going through the recovery process to be able to write about their experience so that those who have already weathered the storm can offer help and encouragement along the way.

The other equally important purpose of this forum is to serve and develop our collective understanding of the nature of the recovery itself and reveal the value of taking personal authority over understanding and making good use of this time.

All postings are moderated except for those made by forum members in the Self Moderated group.

John and Carla read each message that is posted in the forums and approve all postings unless they are offensive or not relevant to our purpose here.

If you're not self-moderated, your posting may take a few days to appear. Please be patient. And do not make the same posting more than once.

Please do not post links to other websites as they will not be published.

"The period of recovery" is an optimistic term

Thank you for adding this section to the forum! I can now share some of my experience during the past 3 years. Hopefully some people can relate to this and reply.

It all started about 6 months after I started to look with serious intent back in October 2011. There was a period of happiness, light-heartedness and even a feeling of being "done." Everything was simple and I was happy. Nothing was lacking. But there was a nagging doubt in the back of my mind that this would not last... and of course this was the case. After a few months of bliss, worry started to come in. It came because I found myself in a situation I didn't want to be in. I was hoping I could go through it without any major discomfort, but things turned out worse than I could imagine. I was involved in a project that put me way out of my comfort zone to say the least. I was involved in something that was totally and completely outside of my natural boundaries, and I couldn't get out of it because my partner, who I later discovered to be a psychopath/sociopath, did not let me go. He used mind control techniques that I had no idea about at the time. I tried to explain several times that I didn't want to be involved, but his persuasion skills and persistence (and black magic techniques?) made me stay even though I felt the need to escape with every cell of my body! It was the voice of intuition telling me to get out, but I wasn't able to. So in the end I went against myself. It created such a conflict, suffering and pain I had never known before! Imagine going against your intuition in a big way, in a massive way. I was there. Never before have I experienced so much misery and pain! After he had gotten what he wanted from me, I was left devastated, spiritless, full of pain and despair, with no energy, no optimism and very little hope. I didn't think I'd survive. I didn't think it would be so bad!

I felt physical pain all over my body from the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until I fell asleep at night. The pain and suffering never left and I cried every day. The pain was so deep I couldn't cry it out, so I cried a bit every day, but didn't experience any relief.. this would continue for days, weeks, months... and well, years! So from August 2012 until the winter of 2015 I cried almost every day. It was deep, black despair accompanied by the feeling of being abandoned by God. I had never experienced it before - there has always been a feeling of being taken care of by a force bigger than myself. But after going against my own self, my own truth, this force was gone, and everything turned out in a bad way, without the experience of softness of being taken care of, all the sharp edges were felt. I was without protection, full of pain and hopelessness, and all of the accumulated pain in my mind started to be felt. It was just so horrible! I didn't know what was happening because it was not just the recovery period, but also the experience I just went through, so I was confused what it was. There was no way of making sure. So I just lived my life day by day.

I felt the need to isolate myself more and more. Luckily, I found a way to make a living, so at least I didn't have to get a job (that would have been VERY difficult). I was also able to isolate myself to some extent to be able to just feel whatever I was feeling and try to find a way out. Well, thank God I guess! In this misery and feeling of being abandoned, I at least had an income and was not forced into social situations I didn't feel I needed. But the suffering continued. For a year or more straight it was almost unbearable. Then, VERY SLOWLY, it started to lessen. Now, in April of 2015 it has lessened considerably, but I'm not yet back where I was or where I want to be.

I would describe my experience of suffering with the following points:

1. The feeling of being abandoned by God

2. Everything painful in my mind (the past experiences) started to be felt in a big way

3. Things I had tried to forget and hide were no longer possible to suppress

4. All of the painful memories and feelings started to resurface

5. I lost interest in life and became very pessimistic

6. I felt that something had gone wrong in a big way, I had lost my way, and there was no hope

7. It felt impossible to make things right, things were beyond repair, my life had gone wrong irrevocably

It was an experience of being lost completely, without the light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing helped and no one could help. I tried to explain my situation to several people, including the most insightful ones, but nothing helped, until I went to see a mystic-priest who was actually able to help me somewhat. He said it was probably the dark night of the soul, and that means that "you are growing." He offered me a chance to do voice dialogue therapy, and so we did it. I must admit it has helped. Before I went to see him, 4 months ago, I was still in the thick of it. Now I am much better. I am starting to be optimistic again and hope is coming back. But it's not through. Some things have changed though - I find myself relying more and more on my own judgment and not looking for approval every step of the way. I feel I can live my life on my own terms more than before. I will write about those things when I write a report of recovery (hopefully it will come!).

So, the "period of recovery" or "the dark night of the soul" (it really deserves to be called that) can be a horrifying experience. It was worse I could imagine. But even before embarking on the journey, I told myself "I'm ready for it." So in a way I got what I wanted. There are probably many hidden blessings in this experience and I am going to write about those in a future post, too.

Thanks for reading. I don't feel like I said everything, but you got the idea.

I would be grateful if some of you would share your experience of this period as well.

Be well,

LeeHarry

Jack, thank you very much for your report.

It's well articulated and I recognize myself in much of it. When comparing with my experiences, I see many similarities.

It's also about 3 and half years for me now, and I was depressed, too. I still get depressed on occasion, especially on holidays and weekends, when a feeling of loneliness and disconnection strikes. I'm not worried about that as much anymore, though. I get very angry occasionally, and I often can't tell why exactly.

The feeling of being invisible you describe was striking. It's exactly what I felt. And I still do. I'm sometimes startled when someone addresses me. Like I wasn't there. I don't seem to be able to take my person as a real being, as imagine others are. There's a feeling of not really being much of a person.

Then there's this another feeling of not being a person and I don't see how these are related. I saw personality as something substantial and solid before, as being me. Not so now. Now it seems to be a collection of traits drawing from genetics and environment and cause and effect, and is kind of outside of me. My operating system in this world. I don't feel like a person in essence. I'm more the feeling of me, solid but insubstantial. There's more of disconnection between the two now.

When comparing the looking, I never looked very much. I lost my interest in it fairly soon. I was never obsessed about it. I still get the urge to look sometimes, but it doesn't happen often. I was a little bit worried about getting it right at first, but that soon passed.

I'm encoureaged to read that you lost your coffee habit.

My lifelong habit is sugary foods which pacify me. It flares up occasionally and still has a strong hold on me. It might have lessened a little bit but it worries me some. I've been learning about health hazards of sugar recently and watched the new documentary Fed Up yesterday, which is about the obesity epidemic and sugar's role in it especially. I have no weight issues, but it slowly poisons your body in other ways. It's a quite scary substance, and I think it affects some people's brains easier than others. But if the recovery eventually weans oneself off from reliance on pacifying drugs, then I have hope. I think it has been the case with alcohol, too, in some report earlier? I'm thinking about how much of effort I should devote to detox myself from it, or should I just wait for it to go by itself? At times I sort of trust that it will go, but with how much effort from my part...

The other day I tried to paint again after many years. I've just realized now that the feeling of disappointment and frustration at my clumsy efforts was quite absent afterwards. Or much weaker at least. It used to be paralyzing. Perfection or nothing was (is) my motto, in just about everything. Perhaps I will be able to paint again...Imperfection, everything being a project under construction, developing, messy, partly unfocused, ever somewhat incomplete seems to be how things are. I see that could be my subject in painting, too, among other things. But perfectionism seems to be deeply embedded in me.

I don't observe much pleasure coming back yet. No bliss. Things dropping off, sure, and that peculiar feeling I can sometimes sense, of standing on solid ground now. Like that proverbial wheel in the cart was no longer off center. But it's still a cart ride. I often feel I'd prefer a Bentley with all the bells and whistles and a smooth tarmac (some version of enlightenment and ideal state) but according to John and many others here this apparently loses it's appeal over the actual.

What's the deal with skepticism? It's still there for me, too. I wonder if it's natural and healthy? Will I find myself completely convinced at some future point, I don't know. Somehow skepticism and conviction seem to co-exist.

Jack, thank you for writing this report. I feel almost that it is my mind you are talking about smily. I recognize this healing process you are describing very well. It is really interesting and confirming to see that no matter our individual life's and minds, the recovery process has an underlying mechanical structure that is the same for all of us. Great news for you Jack and for all of us smily.

I have also thought about summarizing the years of recovery. And now with the inspiration from you and others who have done the same I think I will start working on that. I think it is a really great thing to do for oneself and for the help of others here. It gives perspective and understanding for everyone.

Nice to have you here Jack...

Thanks Niklas and Seppo. I appreciate your responses and feedback. You both mention themes and commonalities, which I find interesting. I like your description of how you view yourself, Seppo. While it's not my experience, I get what you are saying. I also have an addiction to sugary and fatty foods. I simply have to stay away from them and I feel significantly better. I believe the natural intelligence John talks about guides us to instinctively take care of ourselves. There's a massive amount of good info out there about health and nutrition. I feel like I'm better able to navigate through it and find what I need to recover vitality. I think a lot of engagement with life is getting rid of habits that numb us and distance us from life. These habits can take a long time to fall away from my experience and the reports of others.

Thanks again for your responses, they enliven my understanding and sense of community.

It can be hard work to stay away from addictive habits, especially when it comes to food, because you have to eat in any case. It would be nice if this would happen on its own, but I guess it's useful to give it a nudge and try. You can back off if it becomes too stressful and try again later. In fact, I've already tried once this year. It started on its own, but soon collapsed. I've been keen on health issues and diet since teenager, but it used to be quite neurotic at times. But on the other hand I get momentary excitement out of the prospect of learning to live better, and all the possibilities. Or maybe it's kind of just observing what happens, and will happen in the future while recovery deepens and goes on.

Hopefully natural intelligence will come to the fore when the neurotic falls away. It's no longer a project to save myself as much as it used to be. My body will die and probably get sick before that, anyway. The stress of trying your best in less when it becomes clearer that your behavior is not directly under your control but is rather a play of forces much like weather is, for example.

I've also been keen on many other kinds of issues to make the world better, concentrating mainly on what's going wrong and solutions to those particular issues. Environmental destruction, war, economic inequality, political corruption, the issues with reductionist and mechanical worldview, my perception of esthetic degradation, lack of beauty in built environment and art (which hits me quite hard).

It's exciting to see new theories emerging to steer us to a better direction and new potential solutions, too. I've spent some time learning about those. I've been asked by friends to start writing about my views and what I've learned, sharing various ideas people propose, as a layman, but they've been written about a lot already, and there has been a new view coming about in my mind concerning all this; they (the bad stuff) are actions and consequences of the diseased mind, or the context of fear. Nothing will fundamentally change unless it's gone. So the motivation behind this search and interest might change or weaken, the point of ruminating about all the different details of what is going wrong become less important. On the other hand, I guess it could be written from the perspective of the new context for the mind and the cause of inward looking to change humanity.

The view that there's one cause for all the evils of humanity, as well as a simple solution, has been there for a long time in various schools of thought and religions. If this is it, if it has now been articulated clearly and the healing is easily initiated in every individual mind, then that is obviously what is worth writing about. What of all the implications? What kind world picture emerges from this? There are many interesting things about this. My mind is kind of anxious to figure out what kind action and worldview comes out this, in me as well as what seems to logically follow in the larger context. But I'm not sure if I'm wise enough for the task, or even recovered enough.

Seppo, thanks for another fascinating post. I also don't know where this is going either, nor do I have firm enough footing, and so can't address your larger questions other than to speculate. It seems that once we get beyond ourselves, the petty/narcissistic manner in which we live our lives, then we can think about these larger issues and devote our energies to helping the world. I feel like I'm still in the throes of adjustment to life without the context of fear. I really can't seem to find an equilibrium or a healthy continuity that allows me to get outside of my self and, not just think, but act on these larger issues, like John and Carla are doing with their work. I believe that an important way to help the world is to clear ourselves of fear and dysfunctional habits which contribute to the chaos around us. In my work with kids with learning and mental health issues, this can be very discouraging as I tend to absorb some of their negative emotional states. Some days, like today, feel like two steps back rather than moving forward.

As John has said, who knows what new ideas and patterns of living could emerge in a society unhampered by fear, and I agree, it's exciting to contemplate.

Jack, thank you for commenting. I guess these larger questions are speculative at this point. As something fundamental shifts in our minds, there must be patterns emerging as to what kind of view on various issues emerges.

For example, the view that we don't have direct power over what we think and feel is not so clear in general, or to many people. Does this clarity emerge out of looking and recovery, even if you don't read what John says about things? It didn't used to be so clear to me. Also, humanity as one creature, in a way. It could be that this is natural intelligence in action, when the obscuring fog of fear has departed, which makes us sharp. The twisting influence of wanting to believe one thing over another is gone. These views can be debated in detail, but perhaps there is a 'solution space', a group of outcomes, that emerges from looking, which is different from our current one.

Jack, I think we all get beyond our selves at times. I'm not sure that there will be a point when suddenly one becomes perfectly selfless in one's actions. Besides, when the deed of looking is done, the rest is history. Everyday life should slowly cease to generate more havoc and dysfunctional behavior. Also, witness your occupation; helping kids with troubles. Isn't that selflessness?

I think one should go with one's natural inclinations. Even in a field such as art, there's room to be selfless, so to speak. When the goodness of heart emerges, all of it is for humanity. I was struck yesterday when reading on criticism of Modernism in architecture, how architect Christopher Alexander said that precisely that goodness of heart is what is needed in designing new buildings. The corruption of mind has seeped into every human activity, and it can be valuable to analyze and state where you find it, and the possible solutions, too. But it's no use if there is a factor that generates it all over again in different guise.

I know the guidelines here at the forum discourage us from talking about other gurus and teachers, but as another example on the change of perspective, I sometimes find myself thinking about what Krishnamurti used to say and write about things, as I still receive newsletters from Brockwood Park in UK where I spent two years. I think that he struggled mightily to articulate what he saw and felt, and he was visibly frustrated many times at his inability to convey his meaning. This is clear on many occasions when you watch his speeches and conversations on video. But now I have a clear new view on the issues he raised, and the answer is both more mundane and concrete than it was. He opposed religious thinking and groups, but he was still stuck in spiritual world. He tried to find new language with physicist David Bohm, but it didn't become any clearer what comes to concrete course of action. The whole thing is wrapped in larger than life-terminology, but from my current view I can see what he was trying to say and where he went wrong. And does it matter if I derived my view from John, or if it would have unfolded naturally from looking and recovery? I'm not sure. It all makes better sense now. The best theory is the one that casts clearest light to the whole variety of issues and is generally the simplest. Also, I can't argue with the change that is taking place in my mind.

I hope you all excuse me for my long-winded philosophizing and speculation which might not be of much practical use, but this is also something that seems to happen in me at this point in the process. Or perhaps it's a personality trait. All the same, I find myself at times quite excited about the change and the prospects of all this. Or, it could be just general excitement about life and the stuff one is interested in.

social anxiety

I was wondering if there are many pre social anxiety sufferers who have recovered since adopting the looking approach, i could maybe talk to and be able to get some idea of whether the looking will actually clear this up for me.

It is as intense as ever. Anywhere I go where there is people, the self consciousness is sometimes unbearable. Much worse than before I think!

There are many therapeutic methods I could use but the drive to try and become someone different has seemed to vanish, making me feel pretty listless the whole time. I wonder if there is something other than the moving attention exercise i could use. It's hard to move attention when the self consciousness is so strong.

Jim

ps. i am 2 and half years into this

HI Jim, I have had this. And it is gone, mostly because of the looking. It is amazing. Of course, there are still moments that feel ackward, tense, unknown, intense etc. But I find these interesting, part of life, not threatening at all. It's been about 2 years since the looking. For some time, moving attention to "me" helped.

In my case, I become rather less interested in categorizing, philosophizing. If anything, I am probalbly more "egoistic". I only act when I feel comfortable and at ease, and I do not let myself be pressured into doing things.

My social anxiety is gone as well, or rather diminished enough to be inconsequential. I had a terrible public speaking phobia, now I speak in public once or twice a month and enjoy it. I believe the change in social situations is that I no longer feel I have to perform, be witty, or stand out.....it may be part of that perception that I have to be perfect. I find I simply connect more with people rather than trying to impress them. I'm still learning how to do this, but I have less anxiety about it now that I don't see social situations as much as a performance. I guess I see situations and people for what they are and if I can't connect to someone or a particular situation, it's okay.

This perceptual change is undoubtedly due to the looking. I'm sorry, but I don't feel that there is anything I did to advance it in any way and the shift was gradual. It corresponds to an overall reduction in anxiety in general. I think the vanishing of the drive to be something different is a good thing and, in looking back, something I experienced. It's a wiping of the slate, perhaps, and allowing something new to emerge. The beginning of naturalness and authenticity.

Thanks for your kind words Jackx. Soon after my last posting things started to cool down and I hit my baseline again.

Last year around this time I was in knee deep with depression slowly eating me up. I'm feeling much of that crawling it's way back into my life. The difference is that now I am not afraid of it and I somehow don't worry too much about it (and it went away before, so it probably will again sooner or later). When someone asks me how I'm doing many times I'll just tell them straight up that it's rather shitty at the moment and that I'm having angst and just want to go hide under a rock somewhere. The stress of putting on my good face is not totally gone but greatly diminished which is a great relief. It's a strange feeling; at one and the same time be so miserable that I don't even want to get out of bed, and to still think that this feeling is completely okay and that it doesn't really matter. I pay attention to the physical symptoms (cortisol rushes, shiverings, belly aches etc) and they are far less intense now than they were a year ago although the stress and anxiety feel pretty much the same psychologically.

Motivation is my biggest concern right now Finding motivation for anything is just impossible. I think many things I have accomplished in the past have been motivated by fear. Now I don't see a point to anything really. I feel like everything is and will be okay no matter what happens so why bother doing anything? I want life to deal me out a couple of rounds, I'll happily just pay the blinds for now. This is giving be problems at work; my work demands of me to be very proactive and involved. I now wish I had a simple job like my friend who is a delivery. He drives 500 km every day, elbow out the window and radio playing. Hopefully I will be accepted to a university this fall, in which case I could really use some drive. Maybe it will come if I find class enjoyable.

Life is rolling by steadily but I just don't care much about it. I can force my involvement which makes it better but I can only do it for some time before I lose the energy and interest to do so.

Every once in a while I get wound up in theories about why I am this way, why that person is that way and other skeptical approaches to the going ons around me. When I catch this I just take a look and relax, giggle softly for myself and then put all that aside. I think this ability as my new super power. However it does not make me work any faster or accomplish more complex tasks or anything like that, it is just sweet.

Cytex, I've noticed the tendency to be less pressured, too. Egoistic is not the right word for it. More like self confident, perhaps? Or maybe just seeing the silly game and not participating in it. Or seeing what's important and what's not.

Categorizing and philosophizing comes from the newness and excitement on this process, and from the skepticism, too. Or it could be a tendency left over from the old and is fading. Hard to tell. But it feels more like learning about this, mapping out the implications. It is kind of peripheral, or optional, not in any way essential to recovery.

Jim, it has lessened for me, too. It never was debilitatingly bad, though. Or else I've forgotten it already.

I'm quite the hermit, I tend to avoid people and be quite introvert in any case. I've never done any public speaking and it would probably be terrifying, but then I don't really know. I'm more relaxed about most things now. I still don't have much feeling of connection to people. I wish I did, but for me too, the need to become different has weakened. I have the perfectionist tendency, but along with it there seems to be acceptance of the way things are. I'm generally more at ease with people, but not any more skillful than before, because of lack of exposure and practice in social situations.

For my part, unfortunately I can't give you any advice on handling your anxiety, either, apart from just the attention exercise when you're not anxious. You can't tell when, but I'm pretty sure it will weaken and pass eventually.

Thank you all for responding. I feel quite dumb most of the time because of this. Like there is really something wrong with me. The loss of desire and constant angst somehow doesn't seem like a good thing to me. It's like im in a limbo state of awkwardness and uncomfortable daily confrontation, waiting for it all to pass and yet im not wanting to fight it all and become something bigger like i used to all the time. I feel like i could make more of an effort to socialize through music that I write but that ambitious edge is not there right now. It's just a bit of a weird time for me.

Thanks again. appreicate reading others' experiences.

Hi Jim. Yes I believe I had social anxiety as well but hid it under alcohol and the facade of being tough and fun. I can relate with Jack's comment of being a social performer. I played up being witty, unique, and people found me interesting. I felt I needed to wow them with my travels or exploits so I could perpetuate the image of being interesting, edgy, and exciting. Most of that along with the social anxiety has fallen away. I sometimes wonder if it's getting older and more comfortable with myself but I think mostly it has to do with the looking.

I went through a period of time were I felt like I shed layers of old outworn skin and was stripped down to my bare bones. It was like I had to wait for my new more porous lighter skin to regrow which was an incredibly vulnerable, exposing, and painful time. It passed. I wish I could tell you something other than time helped. Lots of walks, journaling, and alone time was what I needed. This feeling still comes up usually during a transition but it's not as intense and has become somewhat of an old friend.

I'm also struggling with the ambition part. I'm self employed and I need to drum up new business to get clients. It's hard to hustle and market when I don't feel particularly ambitious. Part of it is dealing with some anxiety around putting myself out there and talking to new people. But on some level it just feels like normal anxiety not anything debilitating that I can't move through.

Hang in there. It will pass then maybe come up again and pass again each time with less force than before. At least that's been my experience.

I appreciate all your comments. I don't know anywhere else where this type of conversation is taking place. And especially not with people in my life. I feel so much moves and changes in me. I think about a lot of the same things you all write about but I tend not to write them down as I feel somewhat inadequate to express myself clearly. I'm learning about that too and its more and more fun to try and participate than stay on the sidelines. At the same time it seems the bottom line is we all have a growing realization that it all derives from the fear of life and how it has affected our personalities so it's an exciting conversation. Mine is a personality that is totally 'feeling 'based. I was totally addicted to sugar which derived from emotional eating since childhood. So much fear and anxiety and the solution was to eat sugar, sugar, sugar, a sweet short-lived moment of pleasure and numbness... then guilt, weird feelings in the body and brain. I have an immediate, strong physiological and psychological reaction to sugar. Definitely depression, self-pity and very negative thinking. For years I've tried all kinds of diets, fasting, etc. etc. It takes time but the looking has been the key to releasing that underlying anxiety that started me down that road in the first place. Waves of feeling for sweet arise but are short-lived and It's wonderful to get up in the morning with a clear head and energy to play in life.

Yes, Seppo, I also welcome the new tendency to be less pressured. The categorizing and philosophizing brings the limitation that it can distract from the impressions of life that never cease. To process these intelligently, philosophizing does not help. On the other hand it may just be fun, and it can also help to spot fear-based behavior in others.

I am glad that you participate Maureen. Please continue with that.. And yes, our community is really amazing. It is a place where fear free reactions and experiences can be tested and developed. Just imagine when that process gets it hold on the larger community. Take care!

No need for excuses Seppo. I think it is a natural process to, from where we are now, look at where things have gone wrong before.

Agreed Niklas, keep it coming Maureen! I too am addicted to sugar and even with the roots of it pulled, fear & anxiety, there continues to be a basic addictive urge. I also agree that there is much clarity without it.

Interestingly, behind my social fear were also great talents. I am very good at giving talks, connecting with people, and getting the attention of the other sex. With the social fear the suffering was even greater because I wanted so much to realise my potentials but felt trapped. Now, that changed and I start to enjoy.

And I think this could be true for most with social fear, that these people are really good. So it might be rough now, but there are good chances it will turn around, triggered by the looking.

Thank you. Thank you. Yes, it makes it much worse knowing that there are talents that are hidden by the angst around people. Last year I decided to try and create a band as I had written a number of good songs, so I found a willing bass player and drummer but found even playing and socializing in a studio with these new people was too much, so god knows what would of happened in a gig haha. atleast I can laugh about it. But it's always so frustrating and right now I wonder whether losing the backround of fear was ever a good thing. I don't have that angst that made me want to change like before. I have had periods of great 'egoic' confidence over the last five years so i became aware of my ability to perform to others.

Another thing is my inibilty to get excited about stuff. I don't look into the future much anymore whether it's to worry about stuff or get excited. polar opposites of the same kind of energy maybe.

I was pretty much bought a house today which I'm going to be moving into in the next couple of months and although I'm pleased, I just couldn't get excited. people round me might think im being rude or trying to act cool but it's not true. I just think there is something wrong with me.

I also have this lack of excitment, and it is liberating. The excitment came from anticipation, that one could finally reach fullfillment in life because something "good" happened. Birth, engagment, marriage, graduating, buying a house - all this events are tied to "feeling good", to being one step closer to happiness. After the looking, these bandaids become obsolete. Why reduce the richness of life and confine certain events to handy and tasteless pieces? And the same applies to bad things. Using an image from Marx, reducing life into such pieces of fast food is opium for the masses, similar to religion.

Jim Glover

Yes, it makes it much worse knowing that there are talents that are hidden by the angst around people.

I would even go further and say that the fear was triggered by the talents. People around you, your parents, your peers felt unconsciously threatened when you wanted to express yourself freely. And talent always seeks new ways of expression, not conforming to "how it is done", and may appear a little awkward initially.

Is there a problem with being self conscious? Is there is a problem with being you? What experience has left you feeling bereft of love? Where did you get the idea that your innocence is guilt? So that you become so afraid you find it hard to breathe. After looking at me who do you think is found? Who is continuing to live? Who persists in looking as you have already found me? We are not guilty for being alive no matter what you have heard. We are just us you and me.

Spot on, Paul.

I also experience this, you describe it well. Just when I think I'm over something and it's smooth sailing, another thing has to be undone.....and I unravel again. I think I underestimate how pervasive fear is and how it so thoroughly wove itself into my life, my personality. The roots go almost to the core in some cases and pulling them is painful and upheaves many things around it. But it's satisfying to get those taproots out, despite the deep ache that goes with it.

Speaking of addiction.. My fifteen year long smoking habit just died out following the looking. I have quit before but then it has been a conscious effort and a real struggle. This time it was totally automatic and painless.I just ran out of cigs and it was done with, lol

I smoked at least a pack a day of Camel non-filters for more than fifty years. In 2006 (ten years after accidentally getting a glimpse of the feeling of me) I was, as was my habit, having a Camel on the back porch before showering and going to bed when a thought floated through my mind: "I should quit smoking, but it's probably too late," followed by: "Well, it may be too late, but it is certainly NOT too early."

That was my last cigarette.

By the way, my recovery from the fear lasted much longer than most. It took more than ten years after that accidental glimpse of the feeling of me for the mental fog to lift enough for me even to begin to understand what had happened to me.

Peace

Everybody cries for something, needs something.Most need some form of admiration, or comfort. They might call it love. To me it feels like there is war. And I was taking all in, somehow. But today something happened, I said: Leave me alone with all this. I have had enough. And I have a baby, she is two weeks old. She is needy sometimes, she cries. But she is so peaceful. She is not in this madness, in this vortex that consumes the souls. And after my decision I could connect with her directly without resistance or limit. It was so amazing to experience that. Not sure I make sense though.

Hello Cytex,

Congratulations of your newcomer! I felt i had to comment on this. I don't know if i'm speaking of the same kind of thing or making any more sense myself, but this connection thing seems to be increasing slowly, which of course is nice. As you mentioned that she is not in this madness, this brings in my mind our two cats. I've always loved animals, but after the looking it's so fresh and satisfying just to watch them do whatever just because it's so innocent. And of course before i was so restless so my patience ran out pretty quickly to even see and feel these kinds of things. This same connection sometimes happens with people, but i would say that it only happens when i speak in person with someone. It feels our roles drops down easier when there's only one person to speak to?

Anyway, Good luck with the little one!

I had this thought about philosophizing that if there is something interesting happening here which can be put into words, it can draw interest from philosophically inclined. Similarly, how this relates to religion, mental and physical health etc. I think the point of view on life that emerges here might have relevancy at just about every field eventually , as it overturns the foundation of your orientation in life, in a way. I guess I'm just wondering about the enormity of this. Which is also very un-noticeable and everyday, at the same time.

As a update to food addiction issue discussed above, I've been living sugarless (the sweetest food being apples and oranges) for nearly three weeks now. It still feels a bit weird. There's a kind of empty spot. It has become slightly easier during the last week or so.

After looking at me, the you before looking may be passing unnoticed because you do not disappear--just fear. So who or what could possibly remain after fear but you--yes you the one still with all your thoughts or not. Who do you think me is after the fear? You. But now it is simply ok to be a you--whatever you are altogether.

You make total sense. I`ve noticed the same thing as you say connecting directly and without resistance and especially with children .Its been an amazing learning experience to be really close to my grandchildren since the looking. They are experiencing life directly and without fear of expressing all their feelings and thoughts about things and I see they really enjoy being with me because I encourage their spontaneity whether expressing anger , sadness ,joy etc. I also observe when they start manifesting anxiety, fears in different situations.I find them very open to reminding them to look at themselves and feel the sense of `me` and that they have control over where they put there attention. Of course I use age appropriate simple ordinary conversation to convey what I mean. Also they feel my calm presence and recognize they too can remain calm. Congratulations and enjoy a wonderful adventure.!

PS: I would just like to add that it is with children I have had the most success with sharing the looking. The walls of protection resulting from the fear haven`t solidified yet in their personalities. I guess only people who come to this website are ready for this direct suggestion and perhaps fewer who weather out the recovery period stick around. Anyway with children it is so obvious the sanity and engagement with life that is possible if more of us did the looking.

Thanks Maureen. I can see that my other daughter of 13 benefits from the looking, similar to what you say. I am not sure whether my son got it - he is 8. Do you think there is a minimal age? I think the best moment to tell them about the looking is when they suffer.

This is so interesting. I work with children of all ages who have learning disabilities. I have suggested the looking to older kids I work with who are suffering. I am fairly sure both my daughters have done the looking.....my older daughter has blossomed in the last few years into a much more self reliant young woman. Never thought to use it with younger kids, but it makes sense. I would think that a child would have to be developmentally mature to do the looking, with self awareness and inferential thinking abilities. This would develop at different ages. Can't hurt to try. I believe it would be apparent if they could or could not do it.

The mind

Hi, I wrote down some comments and thoughts that arose in me after hearing the webinar about the mind from May 23. This was to gain clarity about my own position, but I would welcome if you would join. Cheers, Bruno

Our experiences of life depend on the functioning of the mind. A human is considered dead when the brain stops functioning. Thus, the mind is a necessary and central part of our existence. Considering this, how could the mind be a problem, or even an enemy? However, while the mind is the space where our personal life manifests, it is not our life. There is something else that resides deeper in us than the mind. You can experience it when you overrule your mind by taking gut decisions, or decide how much value you give to individual thoughts. What operates in these cases could be what John calls me. This me cannot be grasped by the mind, and therefore with language.

Regarding how sensation is processed, the role of the brain, and intelligence: consider a plant. A plant has no nerve cells, thus no brain. However, it processes sensations and shows complex behaviour. This shows that intelligence (defined as complex processing of information, and adaptive behavior) does not depend on a brain. And maybe there is even some sort of a plant mind, so mind can exist without a brain? But in the end, musings over the mind will not bring as closer to life, and it remains a mystery.

Hi Cytex,

There is a long history of thought in both East and West called Panpsychism, which holds that mind, or soul, is all pervading. Apparently, there is a new school of thought in our days building on it in trying to explain the so called hard problem of mind-matter duality. I've read some texts of late physicist David Bohm, who speculated similarly based on observations in particle physics. To him, even sub-atomic particles had a kind of mind, though infinitely simpler than humans. He wanted to connect physical world with goes on in our minds. He thought that the fundamental constituents of the Universe are matter, energy and meaning. The latter is the weak point in our materialist explanations of Universe, especially human mind and behavior. Science is quite unable to explain why is there such thing as meaning, and give it a place in the explanation of our world. Meaning is, of course, related to intelligence. I'm not sure where "me" is in all this, but it seems to be an entity of an entirely different order of certainty than the rest, as John said somewhere else.

This is philosophy and speculations, and maybe a bit of science, too, but what John says about me being apart from everything else (mind, matter, body, brain) implies that we are indeed safe from the World, apart, yet participating. How concrete does this become in our experience after recovery? Or, how detached from our bodies and minds do we become, if at all, to not be existentially terrified of this World?

It is a fact that the physical world can maim, paralyze and will ultimately kill our bodies, reduce our minds non-functional, and perhaps even more importantly, of those we love, but to what extent shall we be our bodies in our experience? It is unlikely that we'll see our minds and bodies as distant as the weather outdoors, but some kind of distance seems to be essential to alleviate the terror and fear. This has been bothering me lately.

Thank you for your sensible comments.

Seppo

Or, how detached from our bodies and minds do we become, if at all, to not be existentially terrified of this World? (...) but some kind of distance seems to be essential to alleviate the terror and fear.

For me it seems the other way round? Distant, detached, dissociated is more terrifying, in the sense of: locked out from myself, condemned to watch from a distance, recognising the futility and ridiculousness. When I am fully immersed, I just do what is necessary and judge less.

This is a quote from Tyson in the testimonials section.

"So what happened to me? The separation between myself and my body went away. I am more alive than ever! Sometimes i just watch myself and am amazed!"

Thank you for commenting, Cytex and Jackx.

I realized after hitting 'post' that I should have been more careful in defining what I mean by detachment from mind and body, and the World. There appears to be a paradox here in equally valid and true statements of "the separation between myself and my body went away" and "you are not your body or mind", or "nothing can touch, harm or enhance me". While I cannot say I experience the first one as a solid truth yet, or the second one, for that matter, it seems to be what John says, too.

The proposition of me as something that cannot be harmed or touched by anything that happens, is in my understanding, the sole reason for the redemptive power of looking at oneself, as it frees one from the erroneous context of anxiety over how one fares in this chaotic seeming Universe. This is the proposed fact that we can check for ourselves for it's veracity by recalling our past and present 'me' in our minds, conforming that indeed nothing that hurt, pleased actually touched it. This can of course be questioned by saying that one merely projects one's present me into the past one, but there's a feeling that that's not the case. That there's a kind feeling of certainty in this. At least, this is how I experience it. This is the simple observation I called "distance between me and my mind" or "detachment". I'm asking if this observation solidifies into an experienced factual state of mind as the recovery advances? I can well believe in it or theorize over it but if it is not a fact for me, I'm under an existential threat. This was my argument, anyway.

While 'me' lives trough the mind and experiences the body and the world, and feels no separation between the two, and yet still is untouched by it all, what then is going on here?

There was a separation that comes out of fear and one that comes from the fact that there's nothing to fear, except for the body and perhaps the mind, too, but in essence, one is not under threat as one is neither. The latter 'separation' one feels as closing the distance of fear based living between one and life, as there is nothing to fear and it's safe to engage in life, as one is 'separate' from it and it happens outside oneself.

I'm yet to experience this closing of the distance. I still experience life as something terrifying, at least at times. The confusion might come from the habit of thought to delve on all kinds of catastrophes, but it's a fear based habit on it's way out? There seldom seems to be any existential terror in actual threats we face. They seem to be merely occasions calling for a specific kind of response that uses alarm to mobilize our intelligence. Or at least that's what my intelligence tells me now.

Seppo, if I try to reformulate your thoughts using my words: After the looking you no longer identify with your mind. This gives a sane distance to stuff that happens in the mind. On the other hand, you no longer need to retract from what happens in the mind, because it cannot harm you. In this sense there is less distance. Would you agree with this way of putting it?

Cytex, I would.

I hesitated to use the word 'identify' as it's often used in spiritual circles, but it is a common term for what's going on. Sanity in this distance comes from lack of fear. The essence in all this seems to be a kind of playfulness; when there's nothing to fear, except in the sense of protecting your body and personality, things are light, or lighter, at least. In my mind, this is quite fundamental in all existence: There's no apparent reason why something/anything exists. Or it cannot be captured in utilitarian terms. This, in my imagination, gives you the satisfaction in life. When things don't threaten you, it frees your intellect, creativity and playfulness, but it's not of the irresponsible kind of distancing which comes from the burden weighing so heavily on you that you reject it.

It's still a bit confusing to tell the sane fear, or care for the body, apart from neurotic fear-habit. There's some thought needed in planning one's life so that the body is as safe as is reasonable, but there's also the habit of summoning horror scenarios in the name of protection. Hopefully that fades away, speeded up with the help of attention directing practice.

Seppo

It's still a bit confusing to tell the sane fear, or care for the body, apart from neurotic fear-habit. There's some thought needed in planning one's life so that the body is as safe as is reasonable, but there's also the habit of summoning horror scenarios in the name of protection. Hopefully that fades away, speeded up with the help of attention directing practice.

I struggle with this as well. I realize fear often served as a motivator.....to lose weight, eat healthfully, and take care of myself in general. Now that it's gone, I just don't care as much about how I look or feel. I'm sorta waiting for a natural intuition about this stuff to kick in, but it hasn't. I'm a little, or a lot, unmoored, as my previous motivators and structure is greatly reduced. There is also a sadness here now that the fear must have been covering up. I don't think it's depression, per se, as I am functional and relatively satisfied with life. It feels like a borderland or in between state. Somewhat transitional, but awkward as well.

Anyone else feel this way.

Sure, Jackx, I have it. I do not like it. There is family, there are bills.

Me, too, Jackx. Sounds familiar. Transitional, yes. There might be something quite new brewing inside the unmoored state.

My depression has diminished and a sense of it having gone for good has emerged. I feel disoriented, but there are many things that have become more interesting even though they seem to be somewhat disconnected still. I think that to reach a vision of what is my 'vocation' or 'purpose', those would have to come together somehow to build up motivation and energy for me to start acting and practicing them. But then again, this might not happen, and it would probably be quite alright, but not ideal. Unless I gain a contentment and satisfaction in just existing.

I seem to have kept my interest in health issues and habits, but the neurotic aspect bordering on orthorexia has been eased somewhat. On top of worrying about health there was a kind of addiction to unhealthy foods. There was a centrifugal force that threw things to their extremes, in both good and bad, at least regarding eating. That's not gone yet, but maybe diminished some, too. I'm thinking that if those neurotic tendencies vanish, what is left is the natural instinct and appetite working in balance.

Exercise has stuck with me too in the last few years, even though I never was very interested in sports or other kind of physical activity in general since teens. It's like brushing you teeth; it's not fun but it has to be done. The satisfaction might come after exercise and having accomplished what needs to be done. And from seeing how your body reshapes itself. Curiously, though, I'm less concerned about my (nonexistent) looks, but give more thought and care to them, kind of like we discussed above considering the 'distance'. When they don't matter so much, you can take care of them in a more disinterested way which seems to bring it's own satisfaction. Maybe optimal attitude to health comes out of losing both obsession with it and the attraction to indulge and escape though eating, and rising of general curiosity about things, such as what's been found out in research?

What I'd like to be less, is lazy. I'd like to work more on things I'm (or think I am) interested in. But I have my job for paying bills and it takes it's toll. Again, there is a sort of confidence in that things will sort themselves out. Meanwhile, I'm not exactly enjoying the ride but not wanting to jump of it as much, either.

Thanks Seppo. This so well articulates what I'm going through that it seems we are living parallel experiences. It helps me understand my experience. At this point I have very little doubt that things will resolve themselves quite nicely. I just don't know how that will look or feel. I'm laughing at 'orthorexic'. I never heard the term, but that's me, or was me. Right now I'm finding alcohol to be a problem. I don't drink much, but drink several times a week with friends and I seem more sensitive to it than ever before. Or maybe it's that I'm more sensitive to the effects; like I notice things more acutely now, as opposed to my more numbed previous state.

Whatever happens it will be interesting. I find that life is just slightly more interesting and engaging. That I usually really don't have complaints other than this echo of a ghost sound track that has run most of my life, but seems to be winding down. Complaints are pro forma. It's a funny place to be. I just can't get some negative momentum going.....nor positive.

I can completely relate with the feeling of being unmoored . Lately I've been feeling like I'm walking around in a big question mark and it's not comfortable. I also feel that things will sort themselves out but at the same time I need to pay my rent and bills so there is also a sense of urgency around finding work. I've lately been running into a feeling of meaninglessness... It's not good or bad but kind of a strange space to be in. I'm going to take a few days to head out to the woods and camp by myself. If I'm going to feel uncertain and uncomfortable I might as well do it next to a river with the sounds of birds.

On the other hand, I went to a graduation party for the son of friends yesterday. I didn't know many people and this is exactly the kind of situation which would have put me over the edge with social anxiety. I would have felt terribly anxious and miserable, avoided talking to anyone, drank too much, and camped out in a corner. I did none of this and walked away from the party feeling like I connected with some people and with zero anxiety and residual judgements about myself and those at the party.

Jackx, yes, I noticed how our experiences on this are very similar, even down to when it all started.

Orthorexia is a new prospective disorder, but it smacks of medicalization to my ear. I admit that it can resemble eating disorder and can get out of hand and seriously impair your life, though.

It's a strange beast, this disorientation. I can't recall if I ever experienced this kind of limbo before looking. It's like being stuck in fog where you can't see beyond your next step. There's nothing really wrong with you but you wish you could see where to go so that you could gain a picture where you are and find a destination. But somehow it seems to testify to the effectiveness of looking.

ngregers, I share your feeling of meaninglessness. I don't know how this plays out for each of us, but I get glimpses of possibilities, little pieces of the puzzle still disconnected, but they hint at a possibility of a direction.

Camping in the great outdoors sounds good. It's been confirmed by research that walking in the woods enhances your creativity in getting new ideas and reduces stress. My little profile picture on the left is a landscape painting of mine I did several years ago which I take on hindsight to illustrate the unknown and what withdraws from us, but what you can somehow sense at times in nature, and in life in general. Natural forces beyond those we know of. Things blurry and unfocused, flux and the unfinished nature of everything which bothers and annoys, but where you can find a sense of order and beauty, too.

Anyway, I wish you good time camping and insights into where to next.

Less Resistance

Things are still awkward and I feel miserable a lot of the time but I think something has happened in my experience. For the last few weeks my resistance to how I am behaving socially has dropped significantly, and even when I have really uncomfortable moments where it just feels way too much and I think, Why am I still experiencing this?, the moments end and then five minutes later im ok again. This just did not happen before. I was in a constant state of feeling "This is not the way it should be" at every moment.

Also, I saw jackx mention in the post 'Mind' a feeling of sadness about the everything. I seem to have a sadness kind of feeling in my chest. It sometimes feels as if I might well up and cry or something, but this energy I have also experienced when I have very joyous moments too (something quite new in the last few week). I wonder if anyone else relates to this kind of excitement/sadness/joyous kind of energy... I see it is pointless to even label it. It's just energy.

One thing that is troubling me greatly at the moment is my attention. Sometimes I can have good control over it but at other times I'm too fidgety and excitable because of anxiety I guess.... I tried watching a film with my brother the other night and couldn't keep my mind on it for more than one minute, my mind was everywhere. This too is new I think. Things are coming out in the open, energies, anxieties and excitement about life.

I just cannot wait for stuff too clear up more. I want to be able to express myself as best I possibly can so I can create music and be completely present with people I want to spend quality time with. The awkward, uncomfortable tension I feel when I'm around people just seems to be irritating now rather than life threatening. I know that training my attention is gonna help me out a long way now in this process. I feel I am engaging much better than before and can only get more out of life if I keep at it.

Also, I want to comment on the looking and the relationship it has with happiness. If we go into this looking practice and expect to find "eternal happiness" or whatever the spiritual guides tell us we need to get to, we are going struggle and struggle along in misery. The looking, from what I've heard/read will give us sanity, which in turn will end suffering and the longing for happiness we all have. However, while in the process of going sane we can find happiness in life experience. For me, it is music, for others it is dancing. For some, painting. Following passion seems like a very sane way to go if you want to have a good time and get a good feeling as opposed to doing stuff that gives bad feelings. It just seems really simple. So, to go to satsang and sit for years in meditation to find "eternal bliss" or whatever, now seems so sad, when it is was never something you ever thought about doing when you were a young child and had never heard about "spirituality." You just wanted to play, make, imagine, dance.... In wonder, doing whatever you "wanted to do."

Sorry, I went off track. Just wanted to say what was on my mind completely. I know my post was a bit all over the place. I'm no good at structuring.

For now,

Jim

Thanks Seppo. It's difficult to clearly see your painting but it looks like some pretty amazing work. Similar to what I take pictures of. I live in Oregon and love photographing the rainy misty mountains and waterfalls and I've noticed I'm also able to find the beauty in the simple and mundane. The way light hits leaves on a tree is magical these days.

I do feel that state of limbo and I'm struggling with not know what the next step is. An image comes to mind of those adventure movies where the bridge across the chasm is invisible. You know it's there but it's super scary to take a step out into nothing. Just one foot in front of the other and it'll come together because it always does.

Nice changes, Jim. Yeah, I've experienced that feeling of sadness with joy too. A funny, complex emotion.

Sounds like "limbo" might be a common stage in the recovery. 2-4 years in, after the really painful stuff passes? It feels like there is some deep reorganization going on in the body and the mind and a distance from life has to be maintained while this is going on. For me there are physical changes.....a greater sensitivity to alcohol, caffeine and unhealthy foods. Changes in energy levels, mood and emotion, and of course, motivation. There is, perhaps, a greater capacity for attention and focus. The heavily negative emotions have mainly disappeared; anxiety and depression. There is lingering sadness and a sense of ennui. Overall, a much better place than where I've been all my life and a definite sense that things will change.

It seems to me that our society honours the zeal, the drive and the power that is fueled by the fear of life. I do not see where to fit in given this "limbo" state we discussed. I cannot fight the way I used to, there seems no point anymore. Has anyone found a new home, a new passion?

I did actually. I came to the conclusion that I'm stagnating and so is my career in a city that is getting increasingly more busy by the day. With the looking comes increased sensitivity and I don't want to numb out like I used to so the city and traffic is becoming tiresome and overwhelming. I assessed my situation from a practical point of view and decided to accept a new job in a small town on the Oregon Coast. I'm actually excited about it and I like what I do for a living so it feels good and the limbo state is dissipating for now. I didn't push for this to happen I just found something that was the right fit and it worked out. But yeah I get the not wanting to fight anymore which is why I'm leaving the city and the rat race behind.

That sounds good.

Yes, good to hear! Nothing much has changed in my life, yet everything has changed.....

Really lovely Jim thank you....my day to day experience is very simple and wondrous much like what you describe as childlike..I go along with what is happening in the moment..my mind wanders here and there out of habit looking for solutions or worrying about something or someone and I often just laugh. It is effortless to put on some music and dance. I enjoy the 'buzz' of a healthy vibrant body and the energy to engage fully in the world around me. I think John said often that you can't really remember what life was like before the effects of the looking took hold and that is how it is for me ..like what happened to that depressed feeling or those waves of self pity ?However I am very conscious of the fact that it is the fear of life that is gone.

Choosing misery?

I feel like I am doing this all the time. Mostly when I am with people who are closest to me, my brother, my mother. I feel like I hold onto the bad mood and even when something lights me up I will resist too stay there.

I just wonder if anyone can relate? I feel like sanity is emerging but it's still so miserable most of the time. I don't really understand humans and I don't think I ever have. The things they talk about and get so dramatic over, the gossip and the complaining. I obviously find myself doing these things too sometimes but i am so self aware I usually instantly chastise myself.

I have always been not very talkative because of the SA but I really feel at times it is too much effort so i hold long silences with people closest. Not so much with others. Maybe I have resentment towards my family? I just don't know what my game is ha. The joke is, I know that none of this really matters.

Is there anyone else who have been through this stuff similar? And has come out the other end without these ''problems''?

Hey Jim, I have.

When you say that you choose to be miserable I know what you mean. My ex recently said to me that this choosing the misery is just an old habit that the mind does just because it is used to doing it. After hearing this, it was easier for me to deliberately change the object of my attention when I am looking at bad stuff, with some force and authority. IE I don't choose the misery when it occurs (it's just habit, it's just there); but I do choose to look for what is relevant right now. It is hard and requires my sincere effort, it can be so tiresome when I have many bad thoughts and feelings, when I feel hateful or resentful to a situation, however in the end, to me, it worth all the struggle. It is easier to just allow the habit to run its course, for sure, but it is also much more painful.

For the last few days I have been going through a breakup with the girl I am in love with. Really gut-wrenching at times, I cry and I moan, which is all right, after all a breakup is supposed to hurt, nothing wrong with that. All of that will pass once the emotional wound is healed. But sometimes I see my mind resting on purely unnecessary irrelevant thoughts like "I wonder for how long she didn't love me" or "will we ever be able to hang out again" or the worst ones "we should have done this and this differently and then everything would have been fine by now" "maybe we can get back together" etc. These thoughts, thinked for more than a second or two, I deem excessive and undeserving of my attention. It really is up to me to choose to not suffer by them. They are forming out of habit and it is up to me to stop it, to intentionally direct the attention to things I'd like to see grow instead. It takes energy, yes, but what kind of a problem is that really? Only another thought. When I feel queasy and don't want to take control, I like to silently recite a mantra from the greatest Norwegian death-punk rock'n'roll band there ever was. Their song Get it On goes like this: Get it on, get it on, get it on get it on get it on get it on. Get it on, get it on C'MON! Their song is about sex but it also touches on something profound*, at least for me and reminds me that all I gotta do is to rock it out and get on with it.

On humans. They talk about drama and I don't know what to make of it. When I have seen them suffer enough I make them look. And I know, immediately, if they have. They don't know it, but to me it's clear as day, the moment it happens. Some go back to drama the next minute, get defensive or change topic for example, some get chilled out and stay undramatic the rest of the day, some actually change in personality from day one. I never tell them why I make them look, or give any background, that can wait until it is needed. And that's pretty much all I can do about it. If their drama is painful to you, or them, make them look. Then one day they too can choose to be un-miserable.

* many of Turbonegro's songs do this. They seem trivial but once you get a picture of what they're trying to convey throughout their albums, all pieces fit the puzzle and quite an interesting and deep message can emerge out of the ass-kicking sex alluding rock'n'roll, if you got it figured out.

Well said roed. Amd the insight of your 'ex' that "... choosing the misery is just an old habit that the mind does just because it is used to doing it." is especially brilliant, and I will be using that when I am speak to people about the recovery.

Great post! The thing about habit is very good. Thank you.

Then surely choosing a new habit must be the way of getting away from the old one? I'm not sure focusing attention to something neutral could do this. Maybe we need to be a bit creative.

I sometimes mock my brother for writing down goals and reading washy new age books but since I have already looked, it's probably worth a try. I just find that stuff all a drag. I'm cynical. And that's a bad habit.

Let me contribute my first post here on this forum with a little anecdote. It might not be too similar to your story Jim, however it was my recent conscious experience of my mind choosing misery

About two weeks ago I was riding my bike. An approaching cyclist either didn't notice me or didn't mind I was on the road as well. I had to dodge him, swing to the right and press my breaks hard as his frowning face passed me without apologizing/looking whatsoever. I was directly pretty frustrated. I could not understand his ignorant behavior and it got me feeling mad at how he acted. Quite soon after getting back to speed, about 20 meters later, I noticed that my negative thoughts were somehow really strong, and I realized that there was absolutely no need for their existence. They would only take my energy, without any results. I knew that I could end my misery there directly, just by stopping to identify with it. I felt a huge relief and literally laughed out loud (mostly at myself and my mind for their response to the situation). I continued my journey with a big smile on my face.

I realized that my mind has been doing this a lot, and reading your story makes me realize the more social contexts my mind has been doing this in the past and present. I am recognizing these moments and trying to make the decision to step away from them as purposefully and successfully as I did there on my bike. It really is an old habit as roed states, and I am trying to gently show it its way out.

This is by the way also the only experience I consciously have had so far of symptoms of the fear of life that are intensifying after the looking, and it was actually pretty fun.

Hi! I am new to this, just started "looking" a few weeks ago. I am feeling extreme anxiety at times during the day that leave me feeling very weepy and then moments of peace. It is quite disconcerting and I am wondering if this is part of recovery. Any tips for getting through this, how long does this go on if indeed it is recovery. I feel this method is very genuine. I would appreciate any feedback. Everyone here seems so real!

Welcome to the forum, Donnamarie. The experiences I had during the recovery period are what convinced me that the looking was for real.....and it is, both the turmoil of the recovery and subsequent loss of fear. I can only speak to my experience. I did the act of looking and thought it was inconsequential and completely forgot about it until six months later when I was hit with extremely strong emotions.....fear, anxiety, anger, crying, insomnia, the whole lovely ball of sensations you are going through. I had no idea what was going on and thought I was losing my mind until I retraced my steps to this website and the act of looking.

What helped me was John's work and this forum. I read everything and was able to piece together what was going on with me. I tried to exercise, eat as healthfully as possible and kept up my Qi Ging practice which was my vehicle for practicing focused attention. The recovery period does pass, the worst of it for me was 2 or 3 months. Then there is a long, slow falling away of behaviors, habits, emotions, etc that were part of the fear based world and are no longer necessary. I have found it disorienting, but gratifying as these things fall away. It is definitely worth going through the recovery to experience a life free of neurosis and that keeps getting better and better. Hang in there and remember that this is temporary and that you can't be harmed or helped by any of it.

Donnamarie

Hi! I am new to this, just started "looking" a few weeks ago. I am feeling extreme anxiety at times during the day that leave me feeling very weepy and then moments of peace. It is quite disconcerting and I am wondering if this is part of recovery. Any tips for getting through this, how long does this go on if indeed it is recovery. I feel this method is very genuine. I would appreciate any feedback. Everyone here seems so real!

I too was thrown back and forth, this seems common and nothing to worry about.

The tip is this: it is up to you what will grow and what will fade. When you are feeling bad, look at what is making you feel bad, if it's a thought, or whatever it is, see it, and then firmly place your attention on something other than that. Do this with determination as often as you can, over and over. As you get better at it your old habit of seeing pain will diminish faster.

It does not cease to jazz me up whenever I see someone who just did the looking. I think I speak for all of us when I say I am geniunely glad to have you on board! Good luck on your recovery and welcome to the forums!

I have tried four times to write this. I really, really appreciate this feedback. This seems so frightening at times because something is shifting and I have always been the "rock". But I do notice that certain habits have come into question and yes, looking at my thoughts seems to defuse them. The need to always "appear perfect" is in me, the need to please screams out at me. It is hard to hold up the whole world for goodness sake! When I stumbled upon John I thought, finally. There you are. And I knew I was looking at me. Today was cautiously OK. Tomorrow may be hard. But I will hang on! Thank you, all you lovely people!

In my experience, looking at my thoughts is not helpful, I meant only to notice what is going on. Actively turning my attention away from them, onto something neutral, like the breath for example on the other hand is helpful and strengthens my self-reliance. I could have been more clear on that! Hope you are feeling fine today smily

It's like we've been looking the wrong way through the peephole all our lives. Peace Beyond Understanding.

Yes Roed, looking at my thoughts is NOT helpful! But I have been practicing focused attention and it does seem to lower the anxiety. The anxiety has nothing to cling to. When thoughts arise it's like they are the glue for fear if I involve myself in them! Getting better and better at it. Its encouraging when you find that it brings peace. This has been a real shake up for me but reading the testimonials has helped.

Thanks everyone for the very insightful thoughts. I'm new to the forum, but I practiced the act of looking for the first time on May 11th 2013 (which, "coincidentally"?, happens to also be my birthday) and, as described by some, did not experience any tangible consequences in the subsequent months. I periodically retried the act, always leaving with the feeling I did not get it right. On January 6th 2015 (coincidentally, the "Epiphany"?), I was on a plane back to SF, where I currently live, and was assailed by the first of a long series of dissociative episodes, which I had previously experienced only twice (the first when I was 19, and drug induced), the second in 2012, after an intense panic attack which led me to ER, absolutely convinced I was dying. I convinced myself I had become psychotic and started seeing a therapist, with little to no avail. My apeirophobia (probably the most extreme manifestation of the fear of life), which I'd somehow managed since I was 6, came back in full force and completely took over my life. On March 2015, I finally took a 3-month absence leave from work, and flew back to Italy, where I'm originally from, to spend time with my family. I experienced about 3 more months of acute depression, phobias, anxiety, neurosis, apathy, crying, insomnia. The anti-depressants (which I'm still on), together with the support of family and friends, helped me gradually get back on my feet, and now I'm back in SF. It's premature to draw any conclusions at this stage, but seeing all the similar struggles you guys have been through, gives me some strength, and signals me that I may be on the right path.

The state I am in right now is mainly of confusion and alienation, experienced particularly when I wake up in the morning and perceive the puzzling, and almost beautiful absurdity of life, which still feels foreign to me. I practice focused attention regularly, and also perform the act of looking now and then (I am still tempted by the idea I can do it better). My apeirophobia and general depression creeps back up at recurring intervals, but they are not as overwhelming as they used to be. Without knowing about the theory behind it, I intuitively started practicing self-reliance more and more frequently, treating my symptoms as some sort of fever which needs to be naturally sweated out (often in bed, on weekends). I've finally battled body image issues for about all my life, and recently experienced a strong desire to let it all go. I even stopped my hair loss treatment, which has been mildly successful about 10 years, but very stressful, and started to be kind of intrigued by the idea of embracing hair loss, even though I still have mixed feelings on this. As for my general fear of death, impermanence, and the unknown, it is still there, threatening the rare moments of calmness and stillness I experience, but in a less menacing way(?). Anyway, that's it from me for now, but I'll post more updates with any progress. Thanks again for sharing and keep it up smily

The looking works!

Hello,

My name is Sergey, I am from Bulgaria. It works! I can tell this after 2 years experience. How it started. I knew that I am always the same and there is no change in my core - I was remembering a moments of my childhood and it seemed to me that then and now I am always the same. When I have read the Childhood method here. It was like a moment of enlightenment for me, everything was clear! I have tried to look at me and it was done from the first shot. Two days later or three I was feeling great like never before, I can't describe this, my English is not very good. This continued about 2 weeks and then came the worst. I didn't know that there is such thing like "recovery period". In short - a year and half I was in my mental hell. Now I think that fear is here, but now I know him and there is no drama, I just know that he is not me. Or to be clear: Shit happens, but they don't touch me, I just keep moving forward. Before looking I got up every morning with anxiety, easily refused every opportunity, I did not want to even go out for a walk, constantly worried about the future. In the recovery period this was worse. Now it's all gone. Yes, the life is same, but my attitude is not. I want to tell much more about how the looking changes my life but it's not easy for me to do it in English. Just to share, I wish in close future if I have financial opportunity to expand John and Carla's work here in Bulgaria. I think often for this. And in the end, thank you John, thank you Carla, thank you all for this gift. God bless you!

Recovery is pulling the rug out from many of my usual motivations, my various addictions to approval, my near constant attempts to stave off despair. This comes with some pain and grief but there's a great sense that the struggle is losing traction. I tried to suggest The Inquiry to a friend and he instantly tried to find commonalities with other teachings which concerned me as that is just more mind stuff and not looking. I think, like John has said, you need to be desperate and willing to try this simple act. The subconcious can trick you into thinking your misery is ok but you need to be sick and tired of it.

Thanks Bradley. I've been desperate enough for a while! I actually didn't need any convincing to try the act. The idea of a lingering fear of life dawned upon me by itself, one night. I immediately googled it and John and Carla's website was among the top entries.

Dear Sergey,

Welcome to our forums! Thank you very much for your report!

This is a great thread. Appreciate you all sharing your experiences and insight.

My pity parties are not the major events that they used to be. Quite profound. This change is nothing I could have brought about via mental focus. It's like I had a firmware upgrade while sleeping and there's less static. I still habitually go to funk mode but it doesn't stick the same. Also, I can recognize the cycles better than ever.

Sergey, thank you for sharing. I'm sorry about all the hell. The bigger the fish, the harder the fight. I am 2 months into this thing but since I've been actively using tools for a long time the Looking came along as the answer to a long quest and I've known since the first look that all would be well. But reading accounts like yours is so comforting whenever my character reacts habitually to other characters and unpleasant events. It's more like when my character puts a bogus son on reality, something it has decades of experience with.

Your English is fine. Hope you can read mine. Peace

Feeling lazy

Not that I'm not doing the important things; I'm actually attending to more important things than usual. It's just that I can sit still and just be or look at myself without either attending to a long list of planned activities or mentally adding things on to the list. I know somehow that the lazy feeling is just an offshoot of my past responses to life, my fear of idleness, of death. This is a strange trip but I'm not gonna whine about it because for once, something profound is happening. Ok, enough with that....how do y'all put into perspective the oddity of it all? It really seems to require a leap of faith to some degree.

Yes, and it reminds me of another discussion we had recently, that a certain aloofness or limbo state seems to be a common phase in the recovery period. John compared it to a rollercoaster ride that comes to the end. In the first moment, one is a bit dizzy and numb after all the drama and excitement has stopped.

To me it appears that much of the motivation to do things came from the fear. When the fear is gone, the motivation is gone as well, and it takes time for something new to appear. I do not like this period that much. What helps is directing attention to the tasks that need attention, and conversely not to feed the panic and anticipation of doom that may arise. This is what I would call faith, but not in the sense of prayers, but as a strategy to invest ones energy wisely and pragmatically.

Thanks. This is helpful. Do you know how I can locate the discussion you mentioned, assuming it's somewhere on this forum?

Yes, I fully agree; I also for quite some time now experiece that state of "nothing special is happening". It is often misinterpreted as feeling bored or lazy but that is not really what it is.

=====

When I first did the looking, some memories flared up of moments in the past that felt exactly that way and one can easily mistake it as a feeling of boredom or laziness. For me it were moments like walking home from a party in the quietude of the night or just hanging around in my room on a sleepy sunday. All of these memories that came up had to do with something loud and exciting having come to an end; in my case it was a party or a stressful week, I recall John mentioning a childhood-memory of him coming out of a cinema. These are precisely moments when the sense of "me" is apparent and the noise of the fear is gone.

This feeling is nowadays very intense especially in the evening, when the noise of the daily activities come to an end and I am just sensing the simplicity of being. But our attention usually goes where the noise is, where drama and excitement is and thats really the shift I and it seems most of us here are experiencing.

In the beginning I also interpreted this as laziness (my wife still does, haha ;) but actually it is real satisfaction, even love. However, I still quite often fall into the old habit of asking "So what's next?" expecting to experience some excitment and fanciness trying to avoid the backround of peace. This sets in motion the complex, old and corroding machinery of the fear but there is not much fuel left, so it can't run for a long time and it stops again...

I do this all the time. It seems frustrating without the frustration actually being a problem. I have long periods of doing very little at all and then il trick myself into some kind of new ambition haha. But it seems kind of half hearted. I hope this will die down soon leaving me with a clear perspective of what I can actually do in the world each day without the fear. I have a talent for song writing but I can't be motivated to do that right now and it's not like I don't have time. Why is that? I think this is a very common thing though. I read someones report in the forum from a few years back who said he had a period of many months where he just sat and did nothing and then suddenly one day, had the urge to pick up his guitar and make music again. This obviously gave me hope. Also, there are other 'teachers' who have discussed this.... Falling away of personal drive. It's strange to see people unconsciously wondering around trying to get somewhere without ever stopping to take a breath and think about why they are doing what they are doing. It's madness and maybe I miss it a little.

I'm actually working on a song as I write this but my motivations have chilled recently which translates into patience I've never had. But the reason-for-striving rug has shifted and continues to be pulled out.

Over the years I've read so many things written by people that 'achieved' more peaceful perspectives and now I hear myself thinking similar things. More than cool. This whole thing brings such insight without any need to shout it from the rooftops.

Jim Glover

It's madness and maybe I miss it a little.

I agreesmily I use some legal drugs, sometimes, to feel it again.

BradleyP

Do you know how I can locate the discussion you mentioned, assuming it's somewhere on this forum?

It is in a thread called "the mind", opened June 7th 2015 in the same forum like this thread, and the topic arises in post No 8 by Jackx.

There are some good posts on that thread. There does seem to be a vacuum left when fear leaves, that is somewhat filled by conditioned behaviors that are winding down. Many of the behaviors are not satisfying or no longer have a purpose, but we seem to do them anyway.....I guess that's the definition of conditioning. The momentum of fear just seems to take awhile to wind down. No other way to put it and we have to find a way to deal with the vacuum and habituated behaviors it leaves behind.

Freshness seems to be the answer, seeing life in a fresh way from new eyes. Still waiting for this myself......

Perhaps the anticipation of something to fill the void is a last ditch effort of the mind to stay in the game, to continue the illusion that there is a game.

"Freshness seems to be the answer, seeing life in a fresh way from new eyes. Still waiting for this myself......". Jackx, after just one look why are you still waiting for Godot--the waits over. John would probably tell us after just one look to get on up and live our lives. Which is what we are doing.

I went somewhere today to do a shopping task that is needed every few months. I was able to notice how much calmer I was than usual. I usually rush to this place on my lunch hour. Not today. I guess it's those types of events that show you the change.

On another note

I find I'm having muscle pains a lot. I think it has something to do with my baseline relaxation chilling out. Any of you go through a period of muscle pain?

Maybe I'm just becoming aware of how much muscle clenching I do/ have done. This looking came at a good time. (Deep breath)

I don't know what I'm waiting for. An end to waiting? The looking isn't a miracle cure for me by any stretch....still have a lot of dissatisfaction in my life. Much less than 4 years ago, but it's there.....just being honest.

Jackx

Freshness seems to be the answer, seeing life in a fresh way from new eyes. Still waiting for this myself......

With fear based mechanisms on the decline, accelerated by focused attention, formerly suppressed views surface. They were always around, but may have been ignored because they were considered dangerous: hurtful to others, not conforming, compromising one's future etc. At first, I just observed these, but step by step, also started to act on them. And, the anticipated disaster (predicted by my own fear-based mechanisms, BUT ALSO BY THE ONES AROUND ME FOLLOWING THE FEAR SCRIPT) does not manifest. To the contrary, "fresh" perspectives open. This process may benefit from faith, or courage.

Nice! Well stated.

Здравствуйте:)

Здравствуйте:))

Cytex

I agreesmily I use some legal drugs, sometimes, to feel it again.

Interesting Cytex. What kind?

I have decided to go and pick some psilocybin mushrooms which will be in season here in one month.

Hello Svetlana, welcome to our forums! There are a few people here who can read and write in Russian, but it would be best for all of us if you could translate your postings into English before posting them here. You could also post them in Russian followed by the English translation, all in the same post. You can use Google Translate to help you with that.

We look forward to your contributions, but the best thing is to start by reading the postings that are already here, so you can get a sense of how our forums work before starting to post.

All postings are moderated, so it may take a few hours for them to appear. Please submit your posting only once.

Yeah, stated well. I'm really liking how each drama has a more limited lifespan now.

The bottom really does fall out. Wow. Lots of unconscious habitual things still going on but it's like some stimulant was removed from my IV.

In my wiew is drugs, legal or not, a violation on our pressius minds. No moral here, I did hard drugs for fifteen years. I love my mind today. Take care of it. Pease!

I use coffee and tobacco (cigars), sometimes Kratom.

Open House Meetings

Most people who seek help with their experience of life may try a number of different methodologies that can include spirituality, psychotherapy, religion, medication, yoga, group therapy, and even such dangerous procedures as ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy).

With most or all of these methods, an expert will offer guidance of one kind or another, and monitor progress or regress to help keep them on the right track. The expert will have a systematic regimen to offer, based on their experience with those who have come before, and he or she will be prepared to guide the patient based on that experience.

We are not like that. But we do know quite a bit about the method of looking at yourself and its results. The direct result of the initial act of looking is the immediate disintegration of the context of fear that is the source of the all the misery. This is true for all who look. It's a lot like a reset button. Once done it will trigger a process of psychological transformation that can be difficult, and is entirely unique in detail to each person.

There is no systemic regimen that can be deployed to guide the reborn personality step-by-step to the intelligent and sane outcome that is the prize at the end of the road. Each person will have a unique a journey to freedom and sanity, and each journey will be as unpredictable and complicated as was the damaged personality that is being regenerated. The actual help that is available here has nothing to do with understanding what your personality should be, but we can give you an extremely simple practice to train yourself to be effective at making the moment-by-moment choices that taken together will shape your mind from now on. And that is something that only you can do.

You will also have to learn how to use the help of the many who have been working with this for longer than you and can also speak from their direct experience of the true nature of sane human life. The sooner you begin to look for guidance in the complex process of recovery the better off we will all be.

But the best help you can get will come from questions that arise from your actual experience of looking at yourself. Our intention with these Open House meetings is to provide a central venue where the questions, doubts, and fears that are unique to you can be heard and considered by the entire community for the benefit of all.

New Open House Series with John Sherman

Sunday, August 30 from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm PDT (14:00-15:30 UTC/GMT)

We will meet once a month, usually on the last Sunday of the month, to talk about the looking, the recovery from fear, and the results of the looking.

John will open the meeting with a brief talk and then he will answer questions.

Suggested donation per meeting: $10.

Registration is required and free of charge.

You only need to register once for all the meetings in 2015. You will receive email reminders before each meeting and you can attend all or only some meetings.

Register for the Open House Series.

Learn more about how our online meetings work.

Do you have something you would like John to talk about? Email your question to John and he'll answer it during the meeting.

Sane Enough

I have been sitting many times in front of my computer trying to write a summary of my recovery and also respond to some really interesting and helpful conversations here lately. But nothing happens. I can't get the texts finished and I often delete them after hours of writing. Very stupid, but there is where I am at the moment. My motivation, drive and efficiency is very low. I can relate to the conversations here lately. Limbo state, loss of fear connected to loss of drive, waiting for something new to appear. I have been wanting to respond to these conversations but I haven't been able to do even that. But the conversations has helped me get a possible explanation for what is happening with me now.

I have also found it confusing to share what really is happening with me. As many has been in to before, nothing and everything has changed. It feels so absurd! And the tendency to forget how it really was before is also strange. I can't say that my life has turned to gold. Actually, anxiety and most of all depression lays as a heavy cloud over me most of the time. My body is tensed and I can't get through the day without coffee. I see what coffee do to me, and my natural sense is that I don't want to have anything in my body or mind that disturbs the fragile process I am in. But it helps me get my mood up a little and I can't actually be without it. So my day to day life isn't very nice actually.

But it is when I look back that I am amazed. Early in life I was a very confused young boy. Couldn't really connect with anybody or anything until I, in my early teens, found drugs and alcohol and a bunch of friends that felt the same. I became more and more self-destructive over the years, and became known as the one how always took at least twice as big doses of drugs than everybody else. My teenage years became very turbulent. Later on, in my early twenties, I was sentenced to 14 years in prison for possession of drugs. I got out after 10 years, when I was 33. The time in prison was a real hell. I couldn't cope with the situation in any other way than to continue with drugs (now medicine). I became a subject to the prison systems psychiatric care, and there they gladly gave me anti-psychotics, antidepressants and sedatives. I never was psychotic actually. I was just feeling extremely bad and medicine was the only thing available.

I have been out for about five years now. I haven't used drugs, medicine or hardly any alcohol in this time. But despite that the chemicals are history, the energy in my minds history is still present. It lessens, but it is still there. And the one thing that seems to be most persistent is depression. So, when I try really hard I can remember the hellish state I was in during the most part of my life, not only in prison. It feels unreal in away. Like another life. And compared to now, it is an enormous change. And the way I relate to my depression now has also changed dramatically. I seem to be less and less worried about my mental and psychical health.

I have thought a lot of when the time was when I first looked at myself. In 2009 I got the book Meeting Ramana Maharsi by John, from a friend. I had that book with me for a year. And when I look back now I can see that I, when getting the book, was already in some sense familiar to what John was saying. And I am almost certain now that I looked at myself for the first time by accident in prison around 2008. I was trying to follow some meditation instructions I had found in prison. I was trying to find my real ME, beyond myself. But I failed, as I usually did with things. I looked and I looked, but I couldn't find any depth inside of me. No new ME. So instead I, just to be self-destructive once more, I looked at myself in disgust. I looked at the ordinary me that stood in the way for my real ME. I looked at the one that I was trying to escape from. This maybe sounds strange, but this is what happened. And for me this actually gives great meaning. Because something really started to happen to me in the end of my sentence. And the book Meeting Ramana also made really much sense to me when I got it in 2009. I saw from start that what John was saying had nothing to do with spiritual enlightenment. Friends around me did interpret the book different, but I knew for myself that this was different and that it had something to do with me, ordinary me.

So if this date is correct I have been in recovery since 2008. Sometimes I think for myself that I am one of those who always will be in recovery. That my mind has taken so much damage that I will have to live with, for example depression, for the rest of my life. And I have somewhat accepted that. For me it is amazing that I am here at all. That I function at all. So, so far I can't tell of any wonderful life that has emerged after the looking. But I do know that this work and process are working. I use to say to myself that if I can have the experience of life that I have now, despite my life experiences, this process will be useful to everyone. And here lays my main interest and focus in this work. My own progress it's not so interesting anymore. I manage. I am sane enough. I mostly think of all the people who don't even have the experience of life that I have. And have no idea why they feel as they feel and don't even know about the fear of life and what it does to us, or how to address it. I think a lot of the poor souls I left behind in the prisons psychiatric ward. And not only them. I think of all the people with mental health problems, which seems to increase in number the saner I get. Life has taught me that psychological suffering is meaningless, it doesn't serve any greater purpose or higher meaning on our journeys in life. And the looking has taught me that there is a way to sanity. And even if sanity don't necessarily mean the same for all of us, it at least means that life become bearable for the worst inflicted.

So I have no doubts as to where my heart belongs when it comes to what I want to do, but as I said in the beginning, I feel like in limbo, waiting for something great to appear. But I can also see some small changes in my daily energy level. I drink less and less coffee and I am starting to trust my own energy. But it is a slow process. I know I should have started to practice focused attention a long time ago. Lately I have noticed how my attention naturally goes to new and saner things. It feels like I am one of those who have waited the recovery out. I still do, but I see signs of progress.

In the mean time I study Psychology, hoping to someday use it in the service of this work. I have no work so I am a full time student for practical reasons too. I use social media to spread news about this work (it would be interesting to connect with forum members there too). And I donate what I can every month to RiverGanga Foundation.

Ok, I think I will post this now, before I delete it again. It often hits me how enormous important this forum is for me, and has been over the years. To know that other people goes through the same process as myself. For those who have the energy and willingness to share your processes and thoughts here I am ever grateful.

Thank you all"¦

Hi Niklas, thanks for sharing and it would have been a pity if you deleted without posting. Recovery indeed is a continuous process. The notion that, after a distinct recovery period, all will be fine can be dangerous in the sense that one expects some bliss to occur. Rather it is my experience that with the fear gone, I can face my issues as they appear, and work through them. Some disappear to re-emerge on an other occasion, other are gone for good. I feel empathy, curiosity and patience with myself, but also with others. Sane does not mean perfect, after all. But yeah, the boredom and aloofness worries me sometimes, and occasionally I panic what might happen if I do not get my shit together, work hard and relentless etc. But on the other hand, it is my experience that it is best for me to act only when it feels right. Chasing after stuff my mind tells me has not been a successful strategy.

Please keeping talking to us. Believe it or not, it's very helpful. My life has been somewhat similar, I just never got caught. The struggle is everywhere. The truth that is unveiled by the light of looking is. It is. It is. It is. What else can I say? We've looked so we are. I am. It's true, by the way, I also feel a bit stupid when I post. Perhaps it's the mind's poor grasp on the situation. I wish more people would post. Every time I check, there are a lot more guests on here than members. Not sure what that means.

Hi Bradley, thank you for your great postings! They are very helpful to us. I agree, it is more interesting when more people are posting regularly. There seems to be phases in this process. Sometimes there are a lot of postings and then it slows down a bit. As for the so-called guests, we believe those are registered members who left the forum open in their browsers and went somewhere else. After a while, the forum times out and the person is logged out, but since the forum is still open in their browsers, they appear as guests. Also, people who are looking at the registration page would show up as guests until they finish their registration and activate their membership. I don't have any other explanation, since no one can get into the forum without being a registered member and being logged in.

Please keep posting you all! Your thoughtful reports about your recovery are helpful to all of us!

OK, that goes far to explain the 'guest' observation. I was optimistically hoping that a lot of people [that had already looked] were trolling because they were also confused by what was 'happening' to them. This whole thing is by far the most profound thing that has ever 'happened' to me, as much as that is a bogus statement. How can what I already am 'happen' to me? I agree on the phases and I think that contributes to the fragmented frequency of entries here. As soon as you write something, you start to reflect on the entire experience and all of a sudden what you just wrote feels useless. In a lot of my written correspondence in 'the world' I am trying to make a point, something I can stand behind. Here we are making comments about our take on looking and the change it brings (even right now these words seem so foolish!). The whole thing kicks its legs out from itself. So perhaps we could say that if we don't see a lot of chatter on here constantly that things are ok. More likely some of us are confused as hell but know something's happening so we just go on with our lives, vascilating between old patterns and this new/old thing-ness that has become known to us. Thank you all for being here and sharing. Niklas, man, hang in there. Wish we lived near each other as we could do a coffee shop thing.

Regardless of the chatter things are only ok. As you think about it eventually you are reduced to saying nothing about it. Pretty much living your life after a while obviates commentary. But here's the deal--after the thundering silence--we still may talk, here, as everywhere else we choose without fear. So why not.

Hi Cytex, thanks for your comment. Yes, it seems like it is very easy to project upon the recovery process, the old fear based longing to be finished with life. To be free from our painful experience of life. Call it bliss, I call it a death wish. I had a very strong longing for that life should be over. I wouldn't call it suicidal, but a deep longing for peace. That old longing for peace can make us wait for recovery to give us perfection and stillness. But insted we get life, more life than never before. No wonder we are confused..! I still fells a bit strange to me to say yes to the continuous raw experience of life, and face it, knowing it will be here till I die.

Thanks for your sharing...I can feel that connecting with the community again was actually the main reason for me to post again. It feels great!

Hi Bradley, thanks for your comment.

Exactly, well put.

I think that you are right Bradley. The fact that it can be such a confusing struggle to post here, dont show anything else that the process the looking produces is very real and powerful. To anyone who is struggling with this, who stresses and pushes them selves to be active in the forums. Please relax and take the opportunity when it comes...

And thank you to for being here and sharing Bradley. I dont know where you live, bit it is certainly to far a way for coffee shop thing. But who knows what happens. But we will be seeing each other here, that's for sure..

Thanks for your comment Paul. Yes, why not. Words are much more interesting than silence.

"How can what I already am 'happen' to me?" Yes indeed exactly. I would say tentatively that what you "am" so called is "only" happening after just one look and this question is that happening along with everything else that is arising as your life. "To look at me" is the fruit of having already looked at me. Why do you think you and I are drawn to this simplicity? It works because it has already worked. And by the way after just one look--stand still and take a look. What's different? Well, whatever it is, you are. And I am.

Ah but then the silence came

Or was it always there?

The answers tried to speak their minds

But they had lost the will to care

Please join us for an online Open House tomorrow.

This an invitation to the online Open House tomorrow, August 30. All Registered Members will receive a copy of this message by email.

There is really good work going on here in the forums. You are learning much about the nature of the fear disease, the recovery from it, and the true nature of being human.

What is happening here is not only new, but rests on understandings that invalidate most of what we have assumed to be true about the mind and its troubles.

Carla and I have been paying close attention to what you are all doing here, and we have learned much from you already. The insights that have come to you and the manner in which you describe and understand them are new in the world of human suffering and our capacity to heal ourselves from the wounds of the fear disease.

What's really needed now is to bring your work and our collective understanding of what we are developing here together to the world at large.

We strongly encourage you to join us tomorrow for an online Open House this Sunday, August 30 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm PDT (21:00-22:30 UTC/GMT).

Click here for more information and free registration.

According to the World Health Organization at least 500,000,000 people in the world suffer from the misery of mental disorders. This amounts to one person in every four crippled to some degree by psychological misery. Most of those who seek help try a number of different methodologies that can include spirituality, psychotherapy, religion, medication, yoga, group therapy, and even such dangerous procedures as ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy).

With most or all of these methods, an expert will offer guidance of one kind or another, and monitor progress or regress to help keep their patient on the right track. The expert will have a systematic regimen to offer, based on their experience with those who have come before, and he or she will be prepared to guide the patient based on that system.

The most common method people turn to other than mainstream religions is psychotherapy. There are many approaches to psychotherapy and a wide range of means for accomplishing them, but it seems that most hold the view that good aspects of the personality can be made to be dominant in the mind, and the bad aspects can be recognized and discarded in favor of the good ones.

But that premise is flawed. The assumption that there are good and bad aspects of the personality may be true enough, but psychotherapy goes further and seeks to heal the battered mind by encouraging the good and eliminating the bad. As many of us know from personal experience, that idea has not shown much in the way of lasting results.

That is not what we do here. The direct result of the initial act of looking is the immediate disintegration of the context of fear that is the root cause of all mental misery. This is true for all who look.

Once that is accomplished, a process of profound psychological transformation automatically begins. The process can be difficult, but in the end the personality heals, and life is seen clearly in its true nature. The act of looking creates a new foundation for the mind. And upon that new foundation, the personality recreates itself, now free of the shackles of fear.

There is no systematic, step-by-step regimen that can be offered to guide the reborn personality toward the sanity and intelligence that are the prize at the end of the road. Each person's journey will be unique.

The actual help that we offer here has nothing to do with telling you what your personality should or should not be. Instead, we give you an extremely simple practice to train yourself to be effective at making the moment-by-moment choices that, taken together, will shape your mind from now on. This is something that only you can do for yourself.

You will also learn to use the help of the many who have been working with this method for longer than you and can speak from their direct experience of sane human life.

But the best help you can get will come from questions that arise from your actual experience of the wild spectacle of life as a free human being. Our Open House meetings provide a central venue where the questions, the doubts and the fears that are unique to you can be heard and considered by the entire community for the benefit of all.

Please register and attend the online meeting tomorrow and help us see clearly what needs to be done now.

Click here for more information and free registration.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

Thank you for reading this message.

What a gift

We are so fortunate to have John in our midst. Not only is his message the answer, he himself is not a savior either on paper or in character. He lets us know that we all can do the looking and lose the fear of life. He shares in a way where we can see him as a common man and not put him on some pedestal and in the process put our peace beyond reach. This really is a precious occasion to have accessibility to this teaching and teacher. Feeling very thankful.

I am somewhat convinced that most people really don't want peace, or they don't understand that they can't find it by doing what they're doing. You have to be ready to hear John's message. The somewhat frustrating thing is that as you recover, you see more clearly how jacked up everyone is but at the same time they are not in a place to hear about the looking. And we cannot escape their pain but at least we know the truth.

Beautiful! Thank you!

The mechanism, the calculating device, it calibrates to a new baseline, a baseline with a new focal point and at the same time, no focal point. New perspectives appear as part of this experience that are wonderful but at the same time, the recalibrated device does not cling to them.

This is what the device was guarding against, a hard reboot resulting in a loss of a lifetime of compiled code. Code that constantly recompiled itself using increasingly corrupted data.

And yet, it all feels like no big deal. One cool thing is the newly noticed ability (capacity, response) to be present while someone is having a crappy day instead of catching the energy of it all, being unconsciously triggered into my own patterns.

I feel the ongoing need to share periodically so I spatter my thoughts here. Thank you all for allowing me to fill space a bit.

Just a rant

I feel like i needed this my whole life and it came too me a bit late.

When I was very young I apparently refused to take part in group walks at the playgroup i went to; I screamed and kicked and refused it for reasons no one understood. At every new school I went too up til the age of 10 I would worry and cry at having to go there each morning and again, no one knew why. I especially had a great fear of the school showers, after sports class, where I remember dozens of kids having to squash into this narrow changing room and push too get to the water. For that reason, I am quite indifferent to the conformity of mandatory schooling for children.

I have never been a conformist and I eventually shaped this fear into rebellion when i reached the age of 12-13. I became tougher, I got in fights, I smoked as much pot as I possibly could, I did everything the school teachers asked me not too and I continuously disrupted classes with my clowning around. I don't feel ashamed about any of this now of course, I realize why I behaved this way and why so many other people do.

It annoys me when my parents (especially my goody-goody step mother) makes coy remarks about how bad I was and how I failed school. GOOD! is what I say each time, and i mean it. Had the world been more open too ideas such as 'the looking' before I reached that age of rebellion then surely it wouldn't have been so rough and people would of known what was needed at time. Instead, trips to psychiatrists, hypnotherapists, counselors, doctors etc. etc.

I am quite indifferent to the world actually. People are so scared they can't even admit it. They seem pretty dumb to me now; I mean most people. They would rather just sit and wait for the next good thing to happen and pretend they know what life is all about. THAT IS HILARIOUS! When you see people acting as if they've really got it together. Sounds cynical but it's really terrible. There are hardly any natural human beings in the world. I am no longer part of the popularity contest and I'm glad! This post is just a venting rant, I don't expect any response.

I do think the looking can only be shared with people who need it though. Too many people are, like I said, going round as if they have got life figured out, even though you can see they suffer their trivialities. They don't want to hear you tell them otherwise. The only people who will really take it in and digest it are the victims/neurotics. This work surely needs to make itself recognized in the mental health field first before it has any chance. How many psychologists are prescribing the looking cure? Can it break through the madness? Think of the prescription drug companies that would be deemed obsolete if people were taking the natural cure to depression and anxiety rather than there costly little pills. I know in the states they make millions out of the people there. It's sanity vs Insanity.

Preach brother, preach. Like George Carlin used to say, I'm not learning anything here so why not deprive others from their education (class clown). I've recently felt frustrated about the complete lack of response when I suggest looking to others. In retrospect, my mechanism has selectively ignored so much in my lifetime. I'm so thankful that I was open when John's message came my way. Wow, duh statement....I was so happy to look at what I have always been seeing. Maybe the blatant-ness of it is part of the problem. In the 6 months prior to the looking, I was experiencing a lot of revelations about everything being right in front of me, all solutions, opportunities. Like you said, you gotta be ready for the truth. Now it's interesting to observe my personality as a characteristic rather than the focal point of every critical person in the universe, especially me. Whew....now I can die of natural causes instead of killing myself by constantly sending stress messages inward.

My personality enjoys commenting on this profound change that is in many ways a fading memory, a decaying reverberation.

I may start a new topic titled 'babbling tangents related to that which I'm trying to explain'.

Everybody got his, her own rant, I suppose. My current version goes as follows: I am scared, sitting around paralysed with fear that any action will bring me closer to the anticipated catastrophe, which I know is unreal but will unfold nevertheless following the mechanics of a self-fullfilling prophecy. Like an ancient Greek tragedy. Everybody sees it coming, but there is nothing one can do about it.

Of course, the advice is: "Do not to feed this script with attention. Just starve it. The fear is gone after the looking. It is just the momentum of obsolete psychological mechanics operating." But clinging to such thoughts is just another delusion. I mean, there is really nothing else than doing this attention thing and wait. Funny thing is: it seems to work. More and more good things happen, normal things, not that symbolic big heavy stuff that I am used to. But I am looking forward to the moment this terror will be gone.

The mind is like a drunken GPS. It constantly recalculates but it can't walk a straight line from insanity to sanity. The blinds have been pulled up and the morning sun is shining but we're still fumbling through the darkness of the night. Our destination has always been reached.

"Red is grey, and yellow, white,

but we decide which is right,

and which is an illusion." The Moody Blues

Cytex, how long since you first looked? I'ts been about three years for me now. Bradley, I understand you are fairly new too this? You may well have a very smooth transition like some, hopefully. I haven't got much to say on what's been said. I actually regretted posting this thread as soon as I'd done so because it was a very personal rant and not many people speak up on this forum...

Hi Jim, it's been 2 years. I like to read here, especially the personal stories! It is just hard to comment. To me, the most adequate seems to "listen". My story changes all the time, with the mood, what memories surface etc. Actually, motivated by yours, I started to write a lengthy post, but then got lost in words and deleted before posting.

Drunken GPS... that is a good one.

As a long time spiritual seeker, the looking was the answer to much that my mind had tried to accomplish in the past. So perhaps my mental struggle is not as bad as it is for others. Listening to John's and others accounts is so very helpful. 53 years of pain is hard to let go however.

More people should share their comments. I feel like a minority here but so what. Hopefully more will speak up.

I'm glad you guys are speaking up and I personally love rants. I have less and less to say the farther I move away from my first look, but I don't want to be one of those who just fades away. I think this work, this forum, is incredibly important and dynamic and I love to read all the posts.

Ok, I kind of re-created that lengthy post...

Jim Glover

People are so scared they can't even admit it.

Actually, I could sense this since I remember. There was always this feeling that something is wrong, there is this huge gap between what life could be and how I experienced it. It was so obvious - like an elephant in the room. But nobody seemed to notice it! The advice I kept hearing was: "Work hard, try your best to avoid mistakes, do what the authorities say - but never feel too comfortable. If you cease your efforts, you will be doomed. Nobody waited for you and the world is merciless." There was an underlying layer of violence and threat. As a teenager I started to look in literature and music, for the highest intensities that humans can experience and express, and I had many great experiences with art. Later, I got addicted to one specific writer, Austrian Thomas Bernhard, who very artistically and precisely described that gap between experience and imagination, and how everybody ridiculously and miserably, yet somehow still graciously fails at life. I wanted all that intensity, that artistic glory that I knew exists, expressed my way in my own life, but did not really know how, felt blocked, locked out: a lot of talents, power, intelligence, but somehow no way to properly express it. That created a lot of anxiety from early on. I managed to succeed in many things I started, but somehow I was not satisfied, everything was so hard, and somehow the achievements lacked something, not sure what. I wanted to go beyond, whatever that means. I acted strangely, got ashamed etc. felt like I needed to hide, yet was eager to prove myself - very stressful combination.

I checked out many things in the search for a solution: spirituality looked very attractive at first, but I considered it a fairy tale, something far away, and I really, really detested the guru aspect. Religion seemed to be for weak people, who dare not to face the truth and look for soothing. Power seemed boring, giving you false friends, responsibility and loneliness. Well, sex and rock'n'roll never failed to attract me, but genuine intimacy is something very fleeting, at least I never found it to last, and the problem was I was afraid of people. There was homeopathy and their concept of disease that I found fascinating. Their working model is that disease follows a pattern, has a specific form of expression that can be mapped to the expression of a remedy. But it takes a true master to recognise the character of the disease and find the matching remedy (there are about 5000), if the whole thing works at all, which can be doubted.

I realised immediately that the looking is the real deal. Now, I am not sure anymore. Or, I do not want to decide whether it works or not, that only gives me headaches.

Something else: I wonder why the messaging system is disabled. Sometimes I read a post of a person that seems no longer active but I would like to directly ask how he or she is doing. Or just contact somebody.

1) John mentions that we can determine how it works by noticing any change in our relationship to our own lives. This seems most profound when I do/experience something that I haven't done in awhile. It's like being in a very similar situation lets the mind see and compare the differences and the difference is noticeable.

2) from what I've gathered around here, you sincerely look with intent.....then you focus attention as an ongoing practice. When I catch myself in thought loops I sometimes now remember to focus on my breath. I never did that before looking. Read about it so many times before but with a fear based schema, I lacked a clear enough baseline to think of that option let alone practice it.

Do you practice focused attention / redirection or whatever it's called?

3)John got to the point where he enjoyed the rare occasion when some of his old patterns would show up but it took a LONG time.

Seeing as I am currently living very simply, don't have to work very much and have a fairly stress free job when i do work, I haven't really felt I need to train my attention. But I do see how it can be advantageous to people who are constantly rocked by the waves of thinking and need to feel centred and calm, as some people have more rushing lives and relationships. I have been more concerned (though not really) of the fact I am extremely calm and my desire to live seems to have vanished. I think that what I mean is, the search for identity among all the other identities has gone, leaving me in the so called 'Limbo state' people talk about. I hope this goes and I can find some kind of ambition and goal which seems worth while eventually. Like Cytex, I am also very into music and art, literature. I've been thinking recently how the fear of life has actually worked in favour of artists producing some truly great pieces of work; I don't see it being done in this limbo state.

Ok, only into this 2 months now but have had some taste of that. I have a demanding job and create music when not working but have enjoyed the lessening of the intense need to fill the void. I suggest you challenge the thought that you aren't doing exactly what you should be. I've just recently been able to just be with some of my strong emotions rather than riding them. I'm hoping for you that this period of unknowing is yet just another temporary phase chock full of references from a fearful past and that it will pass.

Bradley, yes, I did the looking correctly, and directing attention helps to get over this attacks. I also see changes. So we will see how this ends - it does not really matter whether I believe in the process or not.

Jim, I got the same issue with the lack of zeal, and I need to be creative and do mental work for a living. My work is also competitive - and almost everybody of my peers runs on steroids. I reason my energy levels are more or less the same as before the looking - so this period of limbo could be important for the body to regenerate from the frenzy before. I can help my body in this recovery process by living a more healthy life (less alcohol, sports, etc). I am confident that energy and goals will eventually align.

I have a strong suspicion at this point that any and all desires for resolution are baseless works of the mind and do not reflect our true nature. They come and go so therefore they fail the truth test. I think we tend to struggle when we confuse our personality with the truth of who we really are. It is part of our personality to want resolution perhaps. But who we really are has no care whatsoever. So when the day is done we should recognize our concerns as outputs from personality not reflections on reality. Which is ok. If we can't see personality for what it is we will feel a void when faced with the truth. Your mileage may certainly vary and I don't intend to diminish anyone's particular struggle. Sorry if you thought I was implying that you didn't look properly or what not. Not my intention, just stating the 2 steps as I have deduced them from John's talks. I was hoping for clarification if I was incorrect.

I am not sure I really understand what you are saying Bradley, but I will comment anyway.

It is ok to fight and to struggle. Everything ist still around after the fear of life is gone, including confusion or anger, etc. The ingredients of life do not change, our biology does not transform into something else. One can even be wrong on certain things. This also applies to John. I admit I did feel a bit lectured by your post, I did not want to express it in my answer, but it seems it did shine through nevertheless - I apologise for that. I appreciate your reply. Based on your point 3) I have this image: I feel like being the doctor and the patient at the same time. As a doctorI know I did the surgery correctly (the looking) and gave the correct medicine to support healing (focused attention). On the other hand, as a patient I am in pain, I blame the surgeon for it and I am begging for pain killerssmily

Yeah, in retrospect I also feel that I was being a bit on the lecture side. (So cool not to ruminate on such an 'error' to the ridiculous level that I did up until recently....what freedom). Part of my personality is to spin things into something positive, the tough it up approach. I believe at this point that it's just a feeble attempt to dance around the despair of living in fear and I habitually get on my high horse and shake my pom poms. A coping strategy from my past still playing on. I agree that the looking removed the fear and it really does nothing else, at least not directly. Nor does it have to as this one thing is all we could ever ask for. I still have loads of issues including BS-ing myself daily but the fear is gone and I'm slowly seeing that. I'm struggling with expecting the looking to resolve things but the work of the looking seems to hint to me not to do that. But the process uncovers pain in a way that is so raw, perhaps because I don't run from it so much. The pain is now there to examine and it has such complexity and roots and mental supporting variables galore but at the same time, I'm not seeking an answer to it anywhere as much as I used to. This feels so much more grounded. But yes, not all roses here. And there's nothing I can do about it but experience it. Very strange stuff.

One Buddhist saying is "all phenomena are dreams". When we realize we're dreaming at night we usually shrug off what we thought was reality and go back to sleep or wake up and start our day. I've read so many teachings on not taking your thoughts seriously but I never could get a solid perspective on that until I did the looking. It's like I did years of classroom training then the hands on part of the course was the looking. Now all the truth that I read and heard about makes so much more sense although it doesn't have to. But I have a whole catalog of relevant data in my head that now sticks so much more. All the absorbed knowledge I was grasping at before now is part of the repository that my brain uses when it comes up with new insights, all enabled by the looking. And it doesn't really matter. To babysit myself is a choice I still unconsciously make many times a day.

On a side note, the new clarity is making my job easier at work, but it has increased my intolerance for all the extra blah blah that has nothing to do with the task at hand. My desparate need to climb the corporate ladder has chilled which in some ways opens up opportunities. My creativity and ability to focus on things has grown. But that stuff was always there, just had been increasingly fogged up by mental banter of the fear based variety. I like where things are going in a general sense but the idea of having any opinion or commentary on my life now comes with a lingering thought that I'm babysitting when I do that. How can you think about how your life is? It just is. Any thought about it is a conditioned mental concept based on comparison to some other concept. Wtf?

I like reading your post. You have a lively way with swift turns but never loosing the target out of sight. Whenever I am writing something, it feels like first shooting fleeting thoughts, stuffing them and then arranging them lifelike, very cumbersome process. I agree on the content too. Currently I like the energy point of view. The fear binds huge amounts of energy. After the looking, more and more will become available to be directed where ever our attention decides to.

Almost like holding on to the energy is a defense mechanism. Like taking a big breath before going under water.

Although overall the general feeling of peace and sanity is undeniable, as time goes by I feel a bit shipwrecked, longing for the time when someone I know personally does the looking. I never thought that sanity would leave me feeling alone. This thought is strictly mind stuff and it doesn't run all that deep. Maybe that's why I make notes here. The good news is that my relationship with others is improving which makes sense.

It really feels strange to just do practically nothing (watching football on TV) and not feeling a growing need to 'do something'. I can't remember when I've felt this way. Maybe when I was a kid. I don't feel lazy now. I'm just here. I'm 'just here' a lot more lately.

Bipolar

I've heard John talk about at least one bipolar sufferer finding peace after looking. As someone with vacillating brain chemicals, at times I wish that I could hear from someone who has gone through this. If we assume that the moving mood states are caused by genetics and not a response to fear then one might wonder how the looking has helped people when these same people received no positive results from even EST. OK, perhaps this is not entirely true (the 100% genetic) and the removal of the fear pattern is directly helpful. Maybe the condition is a response to fear somewhat and therefore becomes a lot more manageable.

What I'm noticing: Without the fear I can actually see and notice the mood fluctuations. This has got to be a move in the right direction. Mood swings now don't trigger intense mind reactions that in-turn set up new rabbit holes to find one's self climbing out of. The temporary nature of each experience is either an immediate understanding or ends up being within a short period of time. No multi-day head trips anymore. Prior to 'the looking', mood swings (especially highs) would usually end up with me saying or doing something that triggered shame, loathing, anxiety, etc, mentally magnifying other's responses and inducing and living in my own artificial world for a period of time. Since I was at stake each new episode added shrapnel to the theater of my life that I had to defend and/or perform damage control on.

The light is shining on all of this and it's a good thing. But now I see things I never saw before.....perhaps that's a big part of the recovery. The light does not discrimiate in what it shines upon.

So, I can see that looking does something about this. It also stirs it up because you can start to see how you've been kidding yourself and others. But if this is a chemical thing....Like I said, I'd love to hear a few words from some people that have gone through this. My mind could use some external dialog to go along with what's happening to me.

Here is a posting from the man I spoke about. It is the only post he made, but we hear from him from time to time, most recently in March of this year, and he is doing very well.

http://www.justonelook.org/community/forums/forum/conversations-about-the-looking/looking/659-the-looking-at-me-has-been-quite-trip?_=1442953109605

Yes yes yes. Thank you. My takeaway is to look more, which I'm doing anyway so I'll keep at it. Helpful stuff. In your book you have a line that reads "see if you can't see yourself" That sticks with me quite a bit. Trying not to see what you are is a powerful suggestion. I like the 'always touching your face' and the 'white paper that's always there' quotes from some of your videos. The spontaneity and honesty that comes out of your discussions is so cool.

Counted my breath while in the dentist chair today. Interesting experience.

It's so odd, I've been suffering for 48 years ever since I was 5 but I can't seem to shed a single tear about it anymore. Profound indeed. Many times in the past certain things would remind me of my entire life being one long continual painful mess and it would just break me down. Now the general feeling and thought is that it just isn't true. So even when I habitually start to have a pity party, no one shows up in essence. So strange how the cycles stop.

Bradley, I would agree that while there is a contribution of genetics, it is clearly below 100%. This is a complex disease with many small contributions from a high number of genes. The current state of knowledge is summarized in this article: https://www.dovepress.com/genetics-o...d-article-TACG. I am just mentioning this because I think it can be stressful to believe of one's genetics as a sort of cage. From a science point of view, this is certainly not the case.

As a therapist, I'm very interested in whether the act of looking ameliorates more serious psychiatric diseases. My own depression and anxiety were serious enough and the looking was nearly 100% effective with anxiety and about 80% effective with depression (so far). This is far higher than the 30-40% effectiveness rates of drugs. Posts like the above suggest that there is hope that this is true. I work with kids and have had seriously depressed kids look at themselves, as well as high functioning autistic children.....many of the kids I work with have a syndrome of learning, developmental, and emotional disorders. So far I haven't seen the long term effects of the looking in their lives, and there's the problem.....the looking can take quite awhile to show the effects and this population is not the most self aware, reflective group.

Good stuff, though and we must continue to spread the word. I believe in it enough to tell others about it, including many of the kids I work with.

The Fear

I'm still wondering how it is that this insignificant act took away all my motivations and aspirations, all ambition and desire for achievement, it's really strange to see. I mean I'm okay with that at the moment, in fact I enjoy it but something in me still nagging: how you gonna survive like that...where you gonna be in 10 years if you continue like that...

I wonder about this thing called fear, the mother of all these wonders of human achievement. It took us to the moon and let us see the naked surface of Mars, hidden beneath its dusty cover dancing along with the stars, it made us dominate the earth surpassing the great dinosaur and the tiger in power and skill, made civilizations with all its scientific inventions, administrative play and complex views of how we see the world and ourselves. It made us fight wars, then conquer one another, colonization and slavery as he whose fear is greater is the winner and the winner takes it all.

It has made our minds speed up, overwhelmed by gigantic floods of information vomited out of the mouths of giant oracles called google and tell-lie-vision that where shaped by our minds yet shaping our minds in our craving for more, bigger and better life. Yet what is the price?

As we pay attention to the daily soap called "The Fear of Life" the currency that slips through our hands is and has always been -- Our Life.

Like the bull in the arena who has been chasing this damn red fabric over and over again, each time getting a spear in his neck not realizing he will never win - that's the rule of the game.

As we're bankrupting ourselves in the stock market of our minds, speculating on what idea is gonna be the next jackpot, we here have decided to stop speculating and invested our last coins on nothing and no one but ourselves - Bullseye!

Things Are Gradually Changing

Looking back, my life has seemed to be on a gradual decline with social anxiety and a general unhappiness being my main focus for the last 25 years or more. I maintained friendships somehow as my anxiety kept driving me away from anything but the minimum of social contact. I eventually succeeded about 3 years ago as I had barely seen the friends I'd had for 20 years for about 2 years. I had gotten into spirituality and found I was isolating myself more and more except for going to work. My personality as it were was disappearing and just felt like a dull shell as my work mates went about their lives.

I used to go walking in the hills alone hoping for a respite from my ever chattering negative thoughts and the times when the biting wind and rain silenced my mind were bliss. About 2 1/2 years ago I reached the top of a hill I was climbing and sat down and realised I had no friends, no girlfriend, I have always had a problem with relationships and have been with some great women but my anxiety couldn't handle it. (Bear with me it does get better... ha, ha). I had nothing to say to people as I was doing nothing, even to my family.

I was at my lowest ebb and in searching the web I found John's website and gave it a go. Well, for a couple of months after, I had some really really low moments but they passed and then I felt like life had decided to stick its boot up my arse . I gave away all my spiritual books to the charity shop and stopped searching for others. I decided to take up golf lessons just to try something new and get out of the house.

It was at about this same time one of my old friends appeared at my door for the first time in over 2 years. It was uncanny as he liked playing golf too, so we decided to have a game.

From there I began going out with my old friends again. Don't get me wrong, all my anxieties didn't just disappear but they are gradually diminishing .The first sign I noticed was that whenever I seemed to meet anyone or even hear a sound, a knot immediately appeared in my stomach. After a while, I realised that wasn't happening anymore.

As these anxieties disappear I find I can talk to the neighbours and not worry about what they think of me if the usual small talk is a struggle and also allows room for me to relax more and conversation happens easier.

I have also joined the local squash club and even played for their league team last night. Sitting on that hill a few years ago I wouldn't have believed I could spend an evening with a group of people I don't really know that well and feel welcome.

My friend in work also asked if I'd play for the local bowls team. He'd asked a few years ago but then there was no way. But this time I decided to play. It's as if the anxiety has disappeared and a "I'll give it a go" attitude has appeared.

I always use that hilltop moment as a reference point in my progress because you start doing things that seem to be no big thing now and so you easily overlook the fact that sitting on that hill these things at the time seemed completely impossible. So I would highly recommend you also find a reference point.

I haven't got a girlfriend yet and I know that when that happens and I feel comfortable in that relationship that for me will be total confirmation that this has healed my mind.

I have never felt so excited about the future knowing that, after 25 years or more of unhappiness, after such a short space of time all the things that have been holding me back are falling away and my personality is freeing itself from the shackles of fear. I can't wait to see what unfolds.

Thank you John and Carla for everything.

paul

Thank you paul moonmonkey,

I have been creating unique guitar pieces for many years but have had a very difficult time sharing them in a live performance scenario.

Despite my fear I have gone out to open mics over the last year or so and faced this anxiety.

I found that my fear has left at times and then it comes back.

After doing the self looking act a few weeks ago I still feel anxiety with performing but I can focus on my breath and begin to understand that it is a self defence mechanism based on a fear of the unknown(future/criticism/lack of attention)which could also be seen as a unhappy persona agenda.

Life seems to be full of distractions that, if paid attention to, have the possibility to cause depression and a lack of self confidence.

This self looking brings one back to the radical root source of who you are in it's simplest form.

Play on.

Ian

A question regarding fear and the mind

Hi, it has been 2 years since I first did the looking. I do see a lot of changes. Lifelong issues have been dissolved. For example, social fear is much reduced, maybe by 80%. And I am grateful for that. Ocassionally (but much less frequently), I still have strong but vague feelings of impeding doom, of having failed at something. However, when these states arise, there are initially no thought patterns associated to them. This feeling, or whatever I could name it, is present before thoughts. In such momenst, directing attention to breathing helps to shorten these periods, before the mind kicks in to amplify and prolong these states. So, it seems to me that not everything happens in the mind. There is a deeper level where fear exists (in the body, in deeper levels of the brain, maybe the amygdala) before it rises to the mind. Can anyone relate to that?

Hi Cytex..yes very much so. as I read what you say about impeding doom I realize I always had that feeling and now its gone ..hum smily..as a child born with this fear and then living with other people always acting out in the context of fear the body starts to tense up naturally as a means of protection I suppose and of course crazy paranoia sets in too...the vital free flow of energy is blocked..so the fears provoke feelings of anger, sadness , confusion etc. and these feelings multiply. Does the thought always come first or the sensation ?I read somewhere there is always a thought first.?It seems so many waves of feeling pass through me which don't seem related to any thought but now I don't really concern myself as much . For a long time I had very strong emotional reactions and now I seem to have a more gentle awareness of thoughts sensations which feel tense fearful .I came to the looking after 30 years of work on the body ..releasing emotions etc...so I know its all very connected. However what the looking does is dissolve the context of fear at the root of the problem so the recovery period although very difficult at times reaches deeper places in me..more subtle healing (for lack of a better word) of my nervous system..I am always interested in this subject you bring up and not too often discussed here so it would be interesting to hear how others feel.

Thank you, Maureen. If I remember correctly, you have also been suffering from the fear of annihilation. In my case, this fear was gone immediately after the first looking. Frankly, it is my conviction that fear of life exists in the body independent of the conscious mind. I agree that the looking will reach these places too.

The standard psychological answer is that thoughts and beliefs come before emotions. They may be unexamined, unconscious beliefs, but they would come first. I too question this assumption, although I think it's mostly accurate, and I believe I remember John saying that fear can be pre-cognition, but I'm not sure. Maybe he can weigh in on that.

I also agree with Maureen that it kinda doesn't matter. Once the fear is gone, it's gone. There does seem to be a deeper level that fear sinks to, below the mind, and which the looking meets and nullifies. I think of it as 'me' being at the core of things and the looking allows me to radiate outward and upward, eliminating fear as it moves through the system and healing as it goes. The healing seems delayed in some areas but it happens eventually. I also have recovered from social phobia, generalized anxiety, depression, to name a few.

I found different answers on this topic. A cognitve psychologist would agree that beliefs come first, a trauma therapist or neuroscientist might not. I find views that unify biology with psychology the most fruitful. However, it might not matter in the end as the looking works anyway.

You're right, Cytex. That was what I was trying to say......I think cognitive theory tends to be the prevailing and most used modality, but you're right, the repression/trauma and psycho-dynamic theory is still strong. And I agree, it doesn't really matter to us lookers.

Nice posts! Welcome to the forum, moonmonky and Ian.

In business, some of us have learned to appreciate the 'new eyes' that recently added employees bring to teams because we no longer possess the wide eyes of a newcomer. I believe that the task of promoting looking suffers from this as well as those who have looked eventually cannot relate all that well to the old world of insanity. The message is simple but it draws suspicion like it's another cult and you will sell your soul if you're not careful. Sharing this stuff is challenging and as much as I share the vision of more and more people looking, I also feel that we have a lot of work to do. An organization that has nothing to gain by sharing something goes against the rules of human interaction at the group level. Can you imagine seeing a news story about looking? Can you think of reasons why people would reject looking?

Thank you for these posts. I'm happy for you Paul. I've been in a similar situation regarding socialising with people. I don't feel very anxious around people, but I don't find them interesting (which might be some kind of defence). Still, I've had good times among people during recent weeks. Just last week I had my friend visiting with her lovely 1 year old boy who's full of curiosity and life in general, and he is such a delight to watch, as he goes about his life with lovely smile. It's easy to fall in love with such creatures.

I think my time having a baby of my own has passed, but I do wish I could still have relationship. I just don't feel very hopeful about it. But if I too develop in a way you described there might even be a chance, in principle.

Ian, I can see how overcoming performance anxiety is important to your art form. I don't think I could ever play for an audience even if I could play something. My art has been painting and I wish got it back. I've been paralysed with meaninglessness. If one only lives for oneself and feels no connection to anything or anybody, there's no point in art either, in my mind. I'm being constantly told how talented or skilful or some such thing I am and that I should be making art, not mopping floors, but it's hard to explain that life means nothing to me and there's no energy for painting.

It's a nearly constant mind numbing torture to live on in this isolation where nothing means much and life often feels like a overrated affair or plain error and deception. What's all the fuss? Besides, if this is a world where little innocent creatures like small boys and girls get horrible sicknesses and are victims of violence, it seems to me that it would a duty for all of us to hastily exit this world if not for anything else as a protest for such a God that allows it all. And do it over and over again if we are reborn and never give up.

If my mind can change on this, I welcome it. I can see the mechanism how this could change, but so far it persists. I can see how suffering is part of this world, and how those little children bravely go through it, and we with them, and it's all life, not too big a deal should be made of it with our suffering imaginations. Just momentary suffering in a basically benign Universe. I hope it can be true. There are billions of other me's here, so if one misses life entirely, there are others who don't. That's a kind of consolation.

Imagine if everyone on the planet looked at themselves this week. Not sure if we would survive the next 3 months. Just a thought. Imagine that if world leaders learned that either everyone does the looking or we perish, how would they go about it? Is the inquiry really always going to be restricted to those who have suffered and searched? Must pain precede this?

No, pain need not precede this. Some people have a natural curiosity to try new things - for example children. These will also try the looking if properly encouraged. This is why I think it to be important to bring it to children.

One other situation to suggest the looking is when people wonder why I am not in the hunting/resignation/salvation/self-agrandation etc. mode anymore. Then I might tell how they can have that as well.

I like that, 'hunting/resignation/salvation/self-aggrandization'. HRSS.

Yes, I think children are wide open. I do the looking with kids I work with who have learning disabilities.

John in a recent video I downloaded you asked for suggestions on how to up scale this thing. I've been thinking about the symbols you use to illustrate the problem and its solution: The fear of life as the disease, and the looking as its cure, its medicine. Similar to an antibiotic it should work even without the subject's knowledge of taking the medicine, or even of the disease.

I believe the answer lies in those symbols. I'm sure you already considered how other new medicine and treatment gain attention, confirmation and eventually makes it to the public. I thought I'd bring it up since I haven't really heard anything about getting some basic clinical research done on this. It seems very straight forward and probably cheap to do. Have participants do questionnaires and interviews, do the looking, then do follow-ups over three to five years, and do it double blind. If the fear and looking phenomena behaves like illness and treatment then it should be clearly articulated in the data. Personally, in light of what can be gathered from these forums both explicitly and reading between the lines, I think such a study could potentially yield some eye-opening results. I just don't have a clue on how to persuade an institution somewhere to do this.

Great idea. We would need an indivudual who does psychiatric or psychological research, who is familiar with requesting money for research, and would be willing to file a grant proposal.

Just realized a proposal should include an experiment to seek synergies between looking and focused attention practice as well. From the anecdotal evidence we already have it seems this practice plays a key role during the hypothetical recovery period (which we also might gain insight to).

Control groups could do nothing, or only do the looking once, or only do focused attention practice. Then one group that does the looking once and the attention exercise routinely.. Maybe one group can do the looking repeatedly aaaaand maybe I'm getting ahead of myself a little bit here, hehe smily

I don't know about you guys but I have confidence in the looking to direct our species toward an unpredictable yet sane and life loving future. So I get a little excited!

I wonder whether it is practical to have control groups that are not doing the looking. These folks would try it anyhow, I guess - they would get curious, and the looking is really simple. The control group should not even be told about the experiment. However, I doubt this conforms to the ethical guidelines of doing studies.

Paul Freedman, Jonathan Goldberg and Jaak Reichmann who co-authored The Radical Act of Inward Looking (2013) conclude on page 23:

'Given the large numbers of individuals who have reported significant benefit from engaging in the act of inward looking, we are planning clinical research aimed at measuring outcomes relative to various other interventions.' Here is the report as e-book, it's a good read: http://www.justonelook.org/texts/the-radical-act-download.html

What about them? Freedman, Goldberg and Reichmann? They seemed keen in 2013 smily

Until such time that a 'recognized' entity decides to invest time in this, we could perform a much less stringent survey of our own if this hasn't already happened. Having data, even if it isn't laboratory quality, can add beef to a proposal and help would be researchers over the proverbial fence. This data could also help our group improve the way we help others through recovery and other aspects of the looking metamorphosis.

We heard from Paul a couple of weeks ago that a journal named 'Undivided: The online journal of non-duality and psychology' will probably pick the paper up, but this seems to me to be unlikely since the looking actually invalidates the foundation of the standard model of non-dual spirituality by causing the mind to find its satisfaction in the uncontaminated content of life itself.

But there is much that can be done to bring this to the people themselves, bypassing the filters of existing approaches whether they be standard psychotherapeutic methods or the seeking after rescue from human life by supernatural means.

We have some good ideas as to how to proceed now, so stay tuned, and continue with the good work you are all doing here. I can't adequately describe the immense value your conversations here have been to Carla and me as we work to develop the methodology and means to bring this to a world of human beings who so desperately need it. Stay tuned.

3 months in and today's word for me is patience. My personality and the world of interacting it has always reacted to continue to stir things up. Feeling less at stake but not always all that less. Still quick to draw my sword. The natural state is there/happening/evident at more and more times but I think in some ways it is too much void too soon or perhaps the reptilian brain isn't convinced at all time. Especially when something is considered threatening. But I am standing my ground/stating my point without getting anywhere as angry. I am looking for sanity. This is a good thing. I am looking and this is great. Started looking in front of myself as well. If that makes sense. It's not really all that distinct and like John says, there is no boundary to your mind. And he says not to fetishize the looking. Patience. Things are making more sense while at the same time the mind is becoming ok with knowing it cannot know. At least it can't know using the terms it is used to manipulating. The looking presents the mind with a convincing argument, a testimony to what it has always been witnessing so the jury slowly rests. But like most courts, it takes a long time. And the seating sucks. And you have to show respect to certain people or else.

Ok, now I'm just having fun as my coffee has started to kick in.

Patience

Increased sensitivity to suffering in others

I think perhaps it was mentioned in Look at Yourself that the veil gets removed and we can no longer feel separate from suffering in other sentient beings. Ouch. I guess we're not in Kansas anymore. Anyone noticed this feature of the more and more noticeable reality that comes into view? Actually I think John called it a bug.

I might be wrong and it's something I heard him say on a YouTube. Either way, raw stuff.

I haven't experienced any significant changes or increased sensitivity to the suffering of others"¦ I have always been sensitive to this aspect of life, and it's probably why I went into clinical social work. However, I think there may have been a shift in the underlying energy which creates the sensitivity. Before the looking I was in pain myself and could see that pain in others..... We shared the pain, or my pain was just spread out over a larger area. Since the looking, my suffering has been reduced dramatically while my sensitivity is about the same. On second thought, it's not the same. I am not overwhelmed by the suffering of others to nearly the same extent and it doesn't trigger my own suffering. I have more space to look at it, be thoughtful about it and to try to see if I can help, or not.

The sensitivity has always been a struggle in my personal and professional lives. I don't think I feel as much pressure to try to help people as I did in the past. I realize people have to go through their own suffering and I try to help where I can. I'll try to tell people about the looking, especially when they are deeply suffering. I just did this with a work colleague and she seemed responsive to it. I've seen the looking take effect in the lives of several people I've been close to and it is very satisfying to watch the changes in their lives. In this limited way I understand why John and Carla are so keen about their work. It's satisfying.

Thank you Jack. I've always been sensitive as well but with the removal of the self protection/isolation, the suffering of others is more real. Words are escaping me here but I hear what you're saying. I shared the Looking with a friend a few days ago. I am curious about how this will go as I work with this person. (His boss)

Back to the suffering of others, it isn't overwhelming. I think my reactions in the past flooded me in an attempt to perpetuate duality, like most of the fear based reactions.

Now I can't hide from it but that's ok because I'm not adding mental fiction to it. But it's raw, like I said. No slick packaging or advertising.

Right! Not predictable. I may eat my words tomorrow! I often have proclamations, certainties, insights, rants, etc. for breakfast.

On an almost daily basis new fresh insights seem to pop into my awareness. The immediate thought following these ah hahs is usually 'this new clarity is due to the looking'. The ah hah about the ah hah. Or something like that. It's more of an understanding than a logical reason. The mind still likes to find reasons.

I think the recovery takes a lot of energy. Some habits that used to motivate are now dead weight and suck up energy until they pass.

I heard John say that thinking about all this is a very natural thing to do. This is helpful after so many years of feeling that thinking was in the bad column. Let the hamster wheel run even if it goes nowhere.

The one dose of 'fear gone' has killed some motivation. It seems like I can find just as much enjoyment in what I would have called doing nothing in the past, when I let myself.

I still have a nagging fear that I need to keep inventing game changing systems and solutions. There's also a sense that the fear driving that is losing ground.

I was a beach bum during my early adult years and I didn't 'straighten up' until I was almost 30 and became a father. Since then I've been playing career catch-up. Killing myself would be a more honest opinion.

I'll take loss of fake motivation over mindless fear. But I agree, it's beyond strange. One of the clues that the looking works for me is that it doesn't roll out according to my mind's terms. The mind is great at pointing out faults in everything it sees but it cannot gain any ground on this. Like trying to climb a greased pole. It marshals in emotions and stored memories in an attempt to pull me back into the trance of fear because it fears anything different. Wow, drag me back into fear because that's all I've ever known. Oh well, algorithms can only work with known variables. The good news is that these algorithmic flare ups can't seem to persist through the night. 1 day venues at best. Now the dreams are getting funky but I'm viewing all this change as a good thing. Stiring up the mess is part of the work, it appears.

Another take on this: I'm seeing my career more now as an artist than a tactician/ fire fighter/protector of the free world. There is an art to being in the moment and letting things unravel into what they're pretty much gonna be. Almost like being bumpers on the kiddie bowling lane of reality. Ok, maybe not. The old saying that showing up is a big part of success.....

Ok, getting off track here (and enjoying it).

I think that motivation will morph into or be replaced by a different catalyst.

Was Leonardo DaVinci motivated by fear or wonder?

Great musings.....very enjoyable. For me, the loss of motivation seems to have been taken over by a natural redirect of attention. I find my attention going to where it needs to go to at any given moment. If something needs to be done, I find my attention going to that thing and the motivation is almost inconsequential, as the energy to act follows attention. I don't know if this makes sense or not, and the pattern is not established, but I have noticed a very focused type of action, recently which follows attention. I can really get a lot done in this mode, it's like being on Ritalin......

You might notice that people seem to always need something to worry about in the future. Like some kind of reason for this moment to be worth while. I didn't become really perceptive to this until someone mentioned it to me and since then I see it all the time and find it very hard to relate to since looking. Other than that, a bit like Jackx, I have always been pretty sensitive to others who are suffering.

There's a Seinfeld episode titled 'The Reverse Peephole' that I sometimes laugh about when considering how the looking changed things for me.

I was, like so many searchers, looking in the completely wrong direction, trying to use my mind to free me from my mind's illusion. I knew, by reading teachings from various sages, that transcending duality was 'the goal' but it all remained a fancy dream within a dream, if you know what I mean, which in some ways led me even deeper into confusion.

One simple act, a momentary intentional glimpse of yourself, something you've been seeing your entire life without intention.

Here's to looking at yourself. Cheers

As the anxiety drops out I get this periodic sense of time stopping. Well, It's not like time actually stops but without the ongoing mental churning and posturing the effect is like the world slows down and some areas seems to just stop. I had been living in such a ramped-up make believe world.

This recovery is quite something. The fact that commentary about it is challenging and lacking in depth is testament to the mind's limits, the same mind we previously put all our chips on to save us.

I find I can identify with much of the above. I am a few weeks into this program of looking as suggested in John's teaching, and the results are good so far. Fear and anxiety are not turned off completely but there is much less mental pain. The recovery period may lie ahead but the importance is that it is recovery. I know about recovery in a different context as an alcoholic,and the good news is that I feel it won't play against the 12 step program I have pursued for the last 5 years in AA. I would be very grateful to hear from people who are doing this alongside a 12 step program.

Thank you.

If you do a search for AA and recovery, you will find many older posts that speak to this subject.

My thought today on this is that the looking opens your heart. Of course, these are just words trying to explain the experience and lack any technical scope but so what.

I like this ever expanding feeling of open-hearted-ness. Very much. smily

HI i am interested by the discussion ...I recently had the experience of the neurotic fear of not being accepted, arise in a really safe place, just because I got really physically cold and could not find a way to get warm for a couple of hours and then I became convinced that everything had changed. It was quite astonishing. It seems that revealing the ease of being that I now live in has a shadow that just has to arise and any trigger will do. It just makes me so happy that I live in ease most of the time. love to you all

Hi Frank. I have experience from NA when I was in the very beginning of my recovery from the fear of life, the psychological fear that we often talk about here at the forum. I have during the recovery process, that is a result of having looked at myself, seen that the root cause of my addiction (or the addictive personality as NA names it) was to be found in the fear of life.

I remember when I was told in NA that I would have to, to stay out of drugs, follow the program for the rest if my life. I felt deep inside that that was not the case for me. I was of course afraid that that feeling of me trusting my own ability to recover, was one of my old denial's, that so often before had left me in trouble. But not this time. This time it was different. And it would be wrong to say that I healed myself. The looking healed my mind from a psychological fear that controlled my life. Today I only put my trust and faith in my attention.

But I have the deepest respect for both AA and NA. I think the program itself and the sharing and honesty, is one of the really good treatment there is on addiction. And you should of course attend there as long as it feels right. But I suspect that you will, in time, begin to struggle with the feeling that you want to trust yourself in a way that is new to you. No worry. It is a natural part of having looked at yourself.

I will always be of help if you want to talk more about it...

Nice to have you here,

Niklas

I must report that I'm noticing (how can you not) that some of the changes seem to come rather abruptly. This here recovery is not entirely a linear rollout of events or adjustments. Regardless of the bumpy path, I continue to do or rather become someone that I've only read about before and that is to be comfortable in my own skin. I've never really felt like this before, that I can remember. Things really changed over the last week or so. I'm at 3.5 months into this now, give or take. Seems like a few things had to come to a nasty peak before they passed. Old personality habits. Or perhaps I'm riding out the cause and effect of pre-looking activities. But now I'm no longer feeding them so the cycle ends. This really is some profound stuff.

Hi Niklas and thank you for your comment. It is much appreciated. I found the 12 step program worked wonders for me once I gave it my full commitment, but the fear and anxiety came back 2 years in.I blamed it on all sorts of things- a lack of continued commitment, events in time, negative thought life, depression, but I now think it may well be simply that fear of life talked of here re-emerging from a less active state. I will keep my AA life going as I still believe it to be the solution to the problem of my alcoholism.

Thank you also Jack. I will check the other forums.

The improvement since I started looking continues.

Perhaps the cold triggered a survival mechanism that felt like anxiety....a deep rooted need to compete with others for resources? I have experienced this as well for short periods of time. I think the key is that it is time-limited and we can return to ease fairly quickly. I even find these experiences interesting.

Nice to see you here again, Helen. Your video report is one of my favorites.

I'm loving your posts, Bradley, keep it up. It helps me remember my own process and to recognize the changes I have experienced. I'm coming up on four years and I tend to get more reflective at these big markers. The changes continue to come in fits and starts, but mostly things just go away quietly. I'm experiencing the influx of phenomenon that comes to fill the vacuum left by maladaptive defenses and content.

I seem to have a lot of time on my hands! A lot of of empty cognitive real estate.

This is a genuine anxiety killer. If there was one thing to put front stage to help people get started doing the looking that would be my vote. (Prior to this I had found that "At Last A Life" was the best resource available.) But that's just the begining. Without the all encompassing need to protect myself from the world I've been able to see how I've been messing up my marriage (and the 2 prior failures). I now see such beauty in my wife in so many ways. I had lost view of so much due to fear.

Having time on your hands is what we've always wished for, Jack. I hope that you can enjoy it at least some of the time. I find myself smiling more for seemingly ordinary experiences, like walking my dogs in the fall weather and feeling the breeze. Blissful stuff.

I can no longer get engaged with any 'spiritual' books that stress 'getting there' via the mind. It just doesn't hold a candle to who I really am so I can't read more than a few lines before I stop. So many things are now OK. It's OK. It's OK. My wife says I sound like Juan Pablo from the Bachelor. (I forgive you if you don't know the reference)

I would be so confused without the fellowship of people on here and the body of work that John has put forth. I cannot over emphasize that. Hey, an idea for a book, "A Guide to Recovery". Perhaps it can include posts from here. Maybe a book about the recovery will interest people in the act of looking. I know when I started telling my friend about the recovery it sparked his interest. Maybe a searchable FAQ might be helpful. It's nice to be able to ask questions here but some of the inquiries feel odd at best.... "How come I feel funny about not caring if I feel funny?"

BradleyP

I find myself smiling more for seemingly ordinary experiences, like walking my dogs in the fall weather and feeling the breeze.

Me too! Riding the subway, seeing all the people, all the different people, the shapes and colors of the trains, listening the soundscape of old carts speeding and bumping down the rails, crossing busy platforms full of movement full of life. Before I was angry at riding the subway. Now it is all beautiful to me. So I can't help but smile! Just as I do from reading you post Bradley smily

We're starting to sound like awakened sages, lol. Yes, the subway can test you. Reminds me of a quote out there (Adya I think) stating that if you think you're enlightened, go spend 2 weeks with your in-laws.....

John talks about the ordinary becoming much more interesting. Your description of the whole subway experience reminds me of Eckhart Tolle talking about sitting on a park bench and finding joy in watching the world around him. (From reading the Power of Now I think Tolle looked at himself when he had his awakening....I don't think he really knows it)

It's strange how reality can feel like you're on drugs sometimes. John has stated that we take drugs to escape. I just never understood that the thing I wanted to escape was my own conditioned mental landscape. I always though I was escaping something 'out there'.

Here's something interesting: I shared the looking with one of my team members here at work (my senior-most guy) and we're both beginning to enjoy running a busy IT department under the influence of the loss of fear. I'm months ahead of him (on the recovery) but he's already letting go of some of his prior concerns.

I will refrain from training focused attention extensively. For me, there is an inherent danger of suppressing unwanted shadow states, and likewise delaying recovery. To the contrary, I want to fully experience and welcome whatever sensation arises in my body. I trust it is here for a reason, and without the fear of life I can deal with it with empathy and courage.

Frank Roberts

I find I can identify with much of the above. I am a few weeks into this program of looking as suggested in John's teaching, and the results are good so far. Fear and anxiety are not turned off completely but there is much less mental pain. The recovery period may lie ahead but the importance is that it is recovery. I know about recovery in a different context as an alcoholic,and the good news is that I feel it won't play against the 12 step program I have pursued for the last 5 years in AA. I would be very grateful to hear from people who are doing this alongside a 12 step program.

Thank you.

I've been in AA for over 5 years and looking for 4 so our background is similar. I still attend regular meetings, work the steps with a sponsor etc, but it is clear that looking at me has done more for my recovery than anything else. I saw early on that mental illness is too primal to be mitigated effectively by using language and thus AA would always be a struggle for me. So when I discovered John's work here I followed his advice with the same "desperation of a drowning man" because for me it had to work. My life depended on it. And I'm now happy to report that for me it has worked.

Steven, I'd like to hear more about your recovery if you have the time and inclination.

Emotion

Re: Recovery

I've been in this work for 6 years now. The first 5 years seem like a cakewalk compared to the last year. My truck died, I lost both of my jobs, I went broke, I lost my physical possessions, I went homeless and I fell in love. Despite these perceived complications my day-to-day functioning level is very high. I've found long distance running and IPA's useful for alleviating the nearly constant barrage of uncomfortable emotional states I've been experiencing. My skill level with attention has reached an acute level, which has made the situation both better and worse. Better because I'm able to easily drop or look past useless thoughts, and worse because I now FEEL my feelings without any form of buffering. I often wish for some hiding place from this body: a distraction or identification but looking away is no longer available. Through this work, I've directly accessed a vastly increased level of capability in adapting to, and making use of, adverse conditions.

It's actually been a wonderful year.

Below is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to share with the people close to me that have looked.

I found that as my habitual reactions to emotional states disappeared I began to enter into a new, raw, and much more immediate emotional experience. In this place I am utterly naked; the thoughts that I previously engaged with as tools for navigating, understanding and labeling my emotions have either been rendered transparent or have departed entirely. What I'm left with is an ocean of raw, unmitigated emotional experience. This work has profoundly affected the sensitivity of my body; I often feel that it [the body] is processing an incredible strain; that it's the theater for an ordeal that could shatter it completely, yet I feel an unusual sense of love and joy permeating the discomfort.

- Richard

www.justonelook.org/look/blame

I appreciate what you are saying. I am new to looking but not new to seeking. I've noticed that the fear of life was also a fear of my own personality. (Talk about dysfunctional!) I have a growing feeling of open hearted-ness towards others and quite recently, myself. I might venture to say that the looking turns us to our Bodhisattva nature. Perhaps that is the nature of all things once the torturous fear dissolves.

I don't share your opinion on training focused attention. The inclination to stay with experiences, whichever way you view them, seems a fear based mechanic of the mind and pointing out such experiences being (t)here for a reason only emphasizes it. Deliberately moving attention away from that which you call unwanted states is not going to hinder or delay your recovery, on the contrary.

For me the moments of clarity, which are undoubtedly affecting the direction of my life more and more, only arise spontaneously, seemingly out of nowhere. And by practicing attention these little epiphanies don't only surface more frequently but they also deepen and become more meaningful and impossible to ignore. As soon as I go looking for them in my experience I am actually standing in my own way.

This practice of focused attention is not at all what I imagined it to be. Who would have thought I would ever quit using cannabis because I wanted to. Nothing is a struggle after having seen clearly what needs to be done or not done. I think it's impossible to deny the truth once it is seen in a fear free context. The way forward becomes obvious, a non-issue really.

I hope I didn't misinterpret your sentiment. Also I realize this posting is kind of dry, sorry about that. It's late and I'm tired but I really wanted to post this because I have been thinking about it and would like to know what you and others think!

Best wishes!

Thanks, roed! I agree the ability to direct attention is useful, and I apply it often. However, deciding not to attend to sensations and experiences in the body can be the perfect excuse of a fear-based mind to avoid issues that actually benefit from or need attention. So it is actually the opposite of what you say: a fear based mind tends to avoid dealing with all life brings, that is, all sensations that arise in the body. Instead, a fear-based mind applies selection and censorship. This happens involuntarily. Therefore, I tried to do the opposite, in a self-reliant way. Instead of declining to attend to certain sensations, I embrace them all. However, importantly, I do not identify with them. I just witness and acknowledge whatever arises, whatever happens in me, like a host would welcome guests that come and go. This is how I decided to use my attention.

As a result, the limbo state that I (and apparently many others) experienced is now gone. I feel more energy. So it works for me. I will see where this lead to.

Well, now I'm back to tell that I've been through 4 days of life situation pain. But this morning I had a realization that I have never abandoned myself and I never will. This was so beyond comforting. While this thought was my point of focus I was also having one of those experiences where 'I' was everywhere. Then I had the thought that I've never disappointed myself and never will.

It's amazing what happens to your life perspective when you no longer feel the desperate need to be somewhere else. When I was in grade 5 there was a teacher that asked the question about what I wanted to be when I "grew up" (whatever that means) and I said that I wanted to be my self. That was not the answer that she was looking for and almost caused her to snap out of her waking coma. It seems that the indoctrination starts early and causes the present moment to be viewed as not as good as your future possibilities. One of the connections to enjoying ordinary is the work with breath. When some wacky diversion comes up in the mind to cause anxiety or fear of some possible future situation I can now go to my breath and say really? and then let the nonsense dissipate. Thanks for your posts Bradley P. The conditioned mental landscape is based on indoctrinated limitations.

Thanks for clarifying, Cytex! Actually there might not be a conflict here between what you and I are saying to begin with. What I meant to point out is my improved ability to see clearly what is true in each moment rather than following the analytical thoughts that arise out of circumstance, and that by doing so the issues seem to resolve themselves given some time. I attribute this improvement to the practice of focused attention. So maybe your objection, although quite minute, struck a nerve with me. After all, the looking offers us a life of unmediated self-reliance so there is no way to do it wrong, to do the life wrong.

I absolutely agree with the OP as well. The thoughts are a consequence of some feeling which is already there, like ripples on a pond after a stone is tossed. And they are not good nor bad, just not relevant.

roed, and even if there is a conflict, it is fine. The working model seems that mechanisms in us are diseased because they evolved in the context of the fear. And that one needs to starve them, deprive them of our attention, to give room to sane mechanisms that arise. Formally, from the outside, this concept makes sense. However, it brings the tendency to sort what is in us into old-fear based, and new, sane. And this promotes suppression of shadows, and can prolong recovery. I decided to embrace everything that arises in me. There is no need to selectively deprive certain sensations of our attention, because they were born in a context of fear. After the looking, there is nothing to be feared - so why not deal with whatever is in us? Of course, I am not talking about intellectualising, or identifying with concepts, but welcome the sensation before they manifest as language or concepts.

I can feel what you are saying Richard. To really feel is a very powerful outcome of being free of the fear of life. Maybe the most powerful outcome of them all. It hurts, but it is true..

Thank you,

Niklas

Feeling life can be brutal. I don't know what changes from this point - I've been moving my attention away from feelings - it doesn't seem like there's anything else to do but that. One interesting thing I've been considering is that life itself may simply BE constant tension and friction - It could be that I just never felt it fully before this past year. I cannot honestly say that the feeling states I'm experiencing have any relationship to my circumstances. Regardless, I feel that our ordeals and trials in life are extremely valuable as 'food' for this work. I've had long periods of ease and calm but I've grown to love this rawness in a way I can't describe, it's just so... gnarly

Recovery is a bitch some days. Again and again for me, some of my hold-outs have to really make a mess of things before they burn out. They don't go peacefully.

I quit coffee 1 week ago. Whew. Just wanted to add that.

Getting better and better

I can't believe how much my world has changed over the last month or so. I went to a pub on my own last night and played at an open mic for the first time in my life and I was shocked at how natural and at ease I felt when I went up. I was also shocked at the lack of worry before hand... This is me, the one who has experienced severe, dysfunctional social anxiety all my life! It's amazing.

I want to mention that I did go ahead with the psilocybin idea a couple of months back and although I'm not saying that doing this is what has really boosted my confidence; that drug made me even more present, conscious and in awe of the everyday mundane stuff. A week later I heard john mention how amazing water was in a retreat video and I couldn't believe it as I had literally been sitting in the bathroom watching the water run into the bath and the steam rising up a couple hours before and was amazed at how amazed I felt at that :D It's hilarious and most people would think i was going mad if I mentioned it haha!

I didn't want to put this in the reports section as I don't want to make definitive report as yet, as I feel i'm still in the process of recovery. I am using my attention when needed and I am letting myself be miserable when I'm miserable, letting myself be happy when I'm happy, letting myself off when I've done/said something 'wrong' or stupid... etc. etc. Just allow, allow, allow. Not easy but once you've looked, like john said to me on the phone, you can either learn to use your attention and engage in life skillfully, or you can go on hating everything... I believe expectation is what made me miserable! Maybe we can actually speed this process up if you start allowing stuff and use attention once you have looked!

I read a Zen inspired book recently called 'there is nothing wrong with you'. I found it really helpful! I highly recommend it after looking at yourself smily

Nothings a problem. Love to all!

Jim

Very cool Jim! It must have felt great to perform your music. As for the other stuff, when the fear is gone it seems to free us up to try new things and see what works and what doesn't.

I also have been getting absorbed in things. It's great to be able to dial into details and immerse oneself in something. I have been stopped in my tracks by various patterns and texture in nature this fall. Also, certain tastes become really intense when focused on. Oddly, I am more easily startled. I've never been a jumpy person, even in the worst of my anxiety states, but lately loud noise or unexpected movements will give me a start.

Anyway, I'm very happy for you and hope you have many more performances.

I appreciate your honesty and direct articulation of your experience, R32673. I'm four years into this and am beginning to suspect there is a rawness you describe underneath my current perceptions. I'm not at all experiencing what you describe, but it makes a certain intuitive sense to me.....and it's similar to what others have described.

It sounds a little unsettling to me and I'm glad you're clear that it's a positive experience. I wonder if everyone goes thru this and if it becomes more natural as time goes on; you seem to be saying that it does. I really admire that John doesn't go into detail about his experience with life after the looking, as I think he allows us to experience it for ourselves without bias, and perhaps we all experience it differently. I do wish I knew more about what was coming, tho.

Thanks again, I find your experience interested and feel free to share more.

I feel you brother, it's like I quit something new every day. Not ready to give up coffee, tho.

Thank you for sharing your experience Richard. The fact that you can see the positive in what most would consider to be dire circumstances is a testament to the effectiveness of the looking and focused attention. I'm glad that this is the case for you.

I was staying at a friends house who has is a long time practitioner of Zen meditation. He had a handwritten slip of paper on his desk that said 'don't look away'. I thought to myself well I really can't anymore even if I wanted to and honestly I don't want to. I've come to enjoy the sharp edges of life even though it's uncomfortable. I use the focused attention exercises and other techniques I find helpful to redirect my attention from unhelpful thoughts and feelings. I sometimes just let it run but somehow don't feel as invested as I used to. I've been practicing redirecting my attention for some time now and I suspect that it's starting to happen more unconsciously now. Like I've laid down a new healthier pattern. I've noticed more and more that uncomfortable feelings are just uncomfortable feelings. They come and go and don't seem to stick too long until they shift to another sensation. And it can be intense. I've also noticed that some periods of my life involve more friction than others but those tense periods have really spurred some major positive changes and growth in my life.

I took up stand up paddleboarding and being out on the water is peaceful and calming. Actually anything that requires balance seems to automatically focus my attention and calm down my nervous system.

Thanks everyone for your posts. I really find them helpful and interesting.

I so appreciate everything that members post here. I've had a couple of really hard weeks including pain due to loss to someone very close to me (my dog). Something about losing the fear allows you to experience your pain in a way similar to applying coats of paint or some other process that has to be done without reservation. I don't fear feeling sad like I used to, as if it was an indicator of how close to the ledge I was. At the same time, the looking doesn't make you into a robot or anything. Far from it.

Well, my wife is not a morning person but I am and when you add coffee, well, I'm glad we don't keep firearms because she would have shot me by now. So I initially quit so I wouldn't send her running on weekends but I really needed to quit. I wanted more balance and removing a periodic shot of speed is seeming to go a long way. Take a week off from work if you can when you do the detox. That's what I did. It will take a long time to get my wife to like me again, if ever (you can be really crabby during the withdrawal) but it was a good move. Google it, there's a lot of positive stories out there posted by people who have quit. Caffeine is not good for you. The coffee industry (and others) have a lot of money to throw at research outcomes that support their profit making goals and longevity. They're just groups of fear-based bipeds after all.

I'm well acquainted with quitting coffee, I've quit many times😉.

Speaking of how things are changing gradually and addictions... One development is that I stopped smoking cannabis almost three weeks ago and haven't had a drink in two. The life is becoming clearer every day.

Here's the story: A sudden moment of insight revealed to me that my use of these drugs, especially cannabis, was not in my best interest, not to my aid. At first I had terrible anxiety over how blind I had been to my own abuse and all I had lost due to it. I had known it for a long time, but bargained with myself, and every time it had ended in denial resulting in me using more. Following this insight I was hating on myself for a little while... until it suddenly shifted to a deep and humbling gratitude over having been presented with this problem in a new light. I felt incredibly lucky to, for the first time, see so clearly how this actually had been hanging over me for a long time, holding me back, and how simple the solution was! I started laughing all by myself and felt a huge relief. I had been using these drugs for years and years for all kinds of intents and purposes but in this moment my relationship to them shifted completely. I still have urges to use, my room mates are all smokers, but these urges just aren't realized because I simply have no interest in realizing them. It is very freeing.

People say cannabis isn't addictive. My ass. First week I numbed down with alcohol, yet I was twitchy & itchy, had terrible insomnia, sweats, dramatic mood shifts (depressed, euphoric, depressed like a roller coaster), more sweats, skin crawling, couldn't sit still, absolutely zero appetite etc. One week later I stopped drinking too because I didn't want to go on drinking away my abstinence, instead I wanted to experience it fully. And I got it. Turns out my old friend drinking problem showed its face - made itself known - once again. So now the alcohol abstinence slowly took over day by day. Horror nightmares (seriously hellish, waking three four times per night not daring going back to sleep), aches in the body, more mood swings (a little different shape), social anxiety, self-hatred - just kept on worsening during the whole week. Then last week it finally started to turn around and now I sleep well, eat OK (although too much sugar for my teeth) and my so-to-speak baseline mood is getting brighter and lighter.

So now, what do I want to say with this? Well. Although things have been on the rough side for a while, I have not realized my urges, simply because I don't see why I should. Previously when I have quit drugs I have needed to remind myself of why I'm quitting. This time it's been the other way around if that make sense? This would never happened this way if it wasn't for the looking. I feel free from the desire to flee or escape. It's still there as a habit but it's totally mechanical and.. well.. dead. Life is so.. nah.. I won't even attempt it. I get much more done now and I'm getting better at life. I'm seeing a new closeness to my emotions (to myself really) and it makes it easier making meaningful connections with others. And there's more. This new skillfulness and attentiveness is also making it easier to make others do the looking, seeing when there's an opportunity, seeing effective ways of suggesting it, seeing what is stopping me.

People congratulate me on my "success" with quitting, but I feel no recognition with that. Success relative to what? Why would I go back to my addictions? It's probably one of those things people just say when they don't know how to relate but want to support and encourage. I'm still loving my coffee though. Black, strong and two cups per day. With biscuit or bun. It's in my blood, us Swedes basically get fed coffee by the mother's milk. Rather silly but in the end we are quite productive aren't we.. LOL :D

Thanks everyone for writing here, I love reading it all!

Looking back a few moments in life really stick out. You know those moments when everything changes and you know life will never be the same. The aha-moment of figuring out how to count above 20 at the age of four, a family decision to move abroad at eight, coming back two years later, my first "real" job at eighteen, military service, getting my own place. The first true love and heart break was like that. A close friend died when I was twenty five. The passing of family members. The looking. You know, all those things. My first psychedelic experience was also like that. Probably the most difficult six hours of my life up until that point. That trip brutally showed me how I had been so so wrong about pretty much everything. Some may sneeze at it, but for me it really was a major event that turned out to have much influence over my person. My friends have told me afterwards that it made me more harmonious and settled. Over the years I kept going back to psychedelics of varying kind in search of more enlightening truths and insights but they became ever more scarce, however I did become pretty good at at letting go and enjoy myself in the moment, even facing adverse circumstances, how to make an adventure out of something frightening. It can be said that psychedelics are a form of escapism similar to other drugs, for sure, but it can be equally argued that they rather induce a brutal wakening to the moment. During a such states you have nowhere to run, you are left alone with your demons right in front of you.

I thought these drugs, psilocybin in particular, would save the world. Transgressive demeanor and going beyond one's own believed identity, exploring and smudging the boundaries of separation between the self and the rest would open peoples hearts. This was when I still believed that the right or wrong ideas was the cause of all suffering, and that other people would actually be interested in such pursuits, just because I was. Today I am so grateful to know this is not the case. The cause and the cure are so much simpler than that. Thank god, because people bound by the fear of life are generally not interested in transgression of any sort. This master plan would never have worked. In retrospect, it didn't even work for me. Only the looking works.

On a side note; after the looking, in a fear free context, I find psychedelics, especially mushrooms, are still really something. Hands down the most interesting, fun and worthwhile way to get high/drunk if you ask me, and I have tried many ways. Nothing wrong with wanting to get a high every now and then in my opinion.

And Jim I thought a little about allowing. Allowing is a verb, ie something that happens. If you attend what is, then it is only what it is, isn't it, whether you allow it or not? Like the allowing - it is a thought happening - and there is no opposite to it. No disallowing to negate the allowing. How could there be a disallowing of what simply is? Well there's the fear obviously but that is gone now. I think this allowing is a bit redundant, typical mind business... but it's up to you what to look at forum post

See what I mean? Let me know if I'm wrong!

Thanks for the book recommendation, today I see, which I couldn't before, how some writers are so remarkably exquisite and clear and it's really enjoyable. I will check it out.

Congrats on dropping the smoke and booze. I hear the personal joy and peace in your words and I'm so very happy for you and those who are noticing and looking.

I'm reading "The Denial of Death" by Ernest Becker. Interesting read. Perhaps we fear life because it leads to death...

Good stuff, Roed. I'm very happy for you. I've had a similar, if much more minor renaissance.....I have taken to thinking of the looking and recovery as coming out of sedation. (The opposite of the Ramones song, 'I wanna be sedated'). My addictions are food and alcohol, but mainly food. Recently I've gotten back to a vegan, whole foods diet and feel so much clearer and awake. I've known this clarity before, but not synergistically with the natural life, post looking. I'm not as compulsive about the diet and can 'break the rules' with no trouble or guilt. It's interesting to play with attention and try new things with this old body and mind. Tweaking for optimal intensity and naturalness.

This act obviously has huge implications for addictions. It's been a struggle dealing with mine thru the recovery, years of struggle really, and I'm not naive enough to know they won't rear up again, but each time is diminished in energy and intensity. After awhile I imagine they simply lose all potency and we just walk away, like you did.

For me it's a matter of turning my attention away from sedation to wakefulness and clarity.

Maybe 'allowing' is the wrong word, as like you say, it sounds like something to be done. I suppose 'acceptance' could be more fitting; like accepting that you feel miserable (like i do now) for no good reason. Accepting when you think you've done something socially embarrassing or even been rude or bad to someone else. Accepting when you don't have much to say at a party or social event. Anyway, it's all in that book smily it's a great read.

Although I will never know, I now feel that maybe I have let my recovery drag on a bit by expecting that suddenly, some kind of enlightenment was going to happen. Instead I could have chosen to use these other strategies to help burn the old thought patterns and behaviours that still linger. All the mindfulness teachings are clearly very beneficial (which is obviously why John teaches focusing attention) but when you are using them, expecting to reach some sort of goal, you will no doubt suffer.

Thank you Jackx, for your response! I am sure there's going to be many more performances smily and also, you mention how things make you jump... I think I know what you mean. Like a car door slamming really hard, or a powerful engine running, seems to go straight through me and sometimes I'm also startled.

roed, I agree that there is no escaping stuff when you are willing to 'let go' on the mushroom trip. I took some for the fourth and last time this year, on Saturday night, and there was some strange emotions coming to the surface, and like you say, instead of freaking out, I was being creative with them and trying to enjoy the party I was at. There is always a lot of laughter on them smily I had many friends there so I didn't' have to worry about my physical safety too much. I have found that certain people are good to be with on this drug and others don't quite get the letting go part. There are a lot growing here in England right now (Liberty caps) and if people do decide to try them out, I wouldn't recommend more than a couple of grams first time. I think I may of gone a bit over the top the last two times smily Anyway, I don't want too turn the looking forum into a drug awareness one :P

I am grateful I can have these conversations here, because I still feel pretty alone when it comes to the looking. I haven't really tried to persuade many others to try it yet. Maybe that will come when the time is right and the person is open enough.

Maybe 'allowing' is the wrong word, as like you say, it sounds like something to be done. I suppose 'acceptance' could be more fitting; like accepting that you feel miserable (like i do now) for no good reason. Accepting when you think you've done something socially embarrassing or even been rude or bad to someone else. Accepting when you don't have much to say at a party or social event. Anyway, it's all in that book smily it's a great read.

I see what you mean. It seems you are not hating on yourself anymore and have an easier time getting on with stuff, good and bad, which of course is wonderful news smily

What I was trying to get at is that attending something is the same thing as accepting or allowing it. Only the mind needs a story behind it. And ultimately the events in the mind can't help or hurt you. When the fear goes it goes instantly and it goes for good.

Although I will never know, I now feel that maybe I have let my recovery drag on a bit by expecting that suddenly, some kind of enlightenment was going to happen. Instead I could have chosen to use these other strategies to help burn the old thought patterns and behaviours that still linger. All the mindfulness teachings are clearly very beneficial (which is obviously why John teaches focusing attention) but when you are using them, expecting to reach some sort of goal, you will no doubt suffer.

My suspicion is that these thoughts and behaviors will be gone before you know it - literally before you know it smily When new stuff comes in it is easy to notice but when old stuff goes it takes a while to discover it is gone. Some things leave without us ever noticing them going too, maybe some we didn't even know of when they existed. Speed things up by paying attention, it has done wonders for me. Reading your texts I get the impression you are quite the clear minded person and in the OP it seems you have already come a long way in a very short time frame! Which brings me to:

I am grateful I can have these conversations here, because I still feel pretty alone when it comes to the looking. I haven't really tried to persuade many others to try it yet. Maybe that will come when the time is right and the person is open enough.

QFT. This little corner of the web is such a gem. Where on earth would I be without the contributions of everyone here..

And I'd like to, if I may, suggest you to introduce the looking to your close ones. A couple of months into looking I just had to do it of what seemed selfish reasons. The fear and neurosis around me drove me nuts. Always having to combat other peoples' angst, which they themselves most of the time didn't even know they suffered. Everything's easier now when I can shoot straight with these people. Turns out there's actually no distinction between my pain and others' so in the end I did it for all of us, just couldn't see that at the time. Remember they don't have to believe you, they just need to do it. Figure out some way to package it so they intentionally attempt to feel the feeling of you. I think you will notice who has done it smily

I did it for similar reasons, Roed ( introduced the looking to those close to me), and it has really changed the dynamic in those relationships, especially with my wife. However, not only is there less negative energy coming from those around me but, unexpectedly, they are more excepting of my negative energy when I get into those states. A nice reversal.

Yeah that's right! I feel like there's more room when all parties are independent, y'know? A thing about this though... It's easier than ever for me to establish new relationships nowadays, but these relationships never feel as meaningful for me as they seem to be for the other part, and this leads them to be disappointed because they notice it too. I recently read Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha (1922) and when Siddhartha, after having stayed with the ascetics, returns to the city he calls the citizens there 'the child people' because of how he sees them as naive and impatient, like children. Perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a molehill here, but it's like I have to bring the looking to new acquaintances before we can build something truly mutual. Just an observation on the subject of relationships. Glad to hear yours have been helped too smily

Edit 2015-12-09: I now think this was mostly a false trail and born out of confusion.

After initial anxiety it brings peace and a feeling of aliveness when I accept and witness all states or feelings that arise. At first, this can be hard, as I fear experiencing anger, shame, abandonment, helplessness, and I used to go far avoiding them.

"Instead I could have chosen to use these other strategies to help burn the old thought patterns and behaviours that still linger." I want to stop this war against parts of me. It does not help.

So you guys are into mushrooms, eh ? I've never tried any psychedelics, maybe always too scared of what could happen. I've smoked masses of weed for many years but now there is not even a faint desire to do so again....okay there is, but I don't pay attention to it. You know there is a mushroom I've been taking, it's not psychedelic nor is it a normal edible mushroom. It is helping me a lot in the recovery as it balances my energies very gently and also improves clarity and attention. Its not at all strong and also has many health benefits...Very beatiful thing...it's called Reishi or Ling Zhi (Ganoderma lucidum).

I have a friend who was like a spiritual companion during the spiritual phase of my life, which ended radically (guess why ;-). A year ago or so I met him after a long time and told him to look at himself, I didn't say what this is all about, just told him to do it. Now, I spoke to him some weeks ago again after quite some time. He's like: "man, I feel like everything I have been doing and believed doesn't make sense to me again". His beliefs and restrictions are falling away and he doesn't know whats happening to him he just says "things are falling apart".

I was astonished, really as there is no better words that could describe what has been happening to me after the looking and I'm very curious as to how this will unfold. You guys can't imagine how zealous we were.

What I have also recognized is that I always had this attitude of not allowing myself to fell good, as if there was something wrong with experiencing pleasure. Its a very fundamental expression of the sense that something is wrong with you. And this I would say now is the most significant impact that the looking has done for me, it took that notion away and that's why I feel so good at times. And spirituality works with that assumption a lot; that there an original sin that needs to be covered somehow by denying yourself of this and that, you know. It's very self-destructive and it's just now that I really become aware of the fact that this kind of self-denial really has been disappearing drastically when I started with the looking.

Peace

Jaja83, the book i mentioned at the very beginning of this thread covers what you say in your last paragraph very well. She (the author) talks about the fact that we feel we don't deserve to be kind to ourselves, feel joy, happiness and take credit for things, because we feel there is something wrong with us. Her theory is actually that it's the conditioning passed onto us by ''conditioned'' parents who in-force this notion that in order to be ok and loveable, we must earn it somehow and be perfect. This of course (only being a theory, a good one I think) could cause a load of suffering. The whole book talks about self hate and the ways we reinforce self hate to keep ourselves safe.

I have felt quite miserable this week and I fell back into old patterns of blaming my misery on external forces; 'it's my brothers fault', 'it's my housemates fault', 'i must leave this house if i want to be happy'. It got to a point last night when I just wanted to break down in tears I could feel myself fighting to stay in this stubborn glut of misery I was feeling and refusing to open up and instead my negativity was bringing down the household (or so I felt). Anyway, i went upstairs and picked up that book again and i read this paragraph.........

'I can give you the simplest of all possible rules of thumb: Any time a voice is talking to you that is not talking with love and compassion, don't believe it! Even if it is directed at someone else, it is the voice of your self-hate. It is simply hating you through an external object. It can hate you directly by telling you what a lousy, rotten person you are, and it can hate you indirectly by pointing out what's wrong ''out there''.'

I felt like this was the paragraph i needed more than any other last night, as what she is pointing too is exactly what i had been doing the last few days which just kept me trapped in misery.

About the mushrooms, I have some suspicion that once someone has looked at themselves, even a so called 'bad trip' isn't going to effect them that much; I mean like some people take them and end up in a mental institute. Each time I have taken them this year I was aware that no matter how crazy things seemed to look and get, I could come back to myself, clear, present and unchanging. But they are not for everyone and I actually think i went over the top last weekend which may have actually contributed to me feeling so low afterwards. I'm sure i will go back to them one day but I think a controlled, curious approach to any drugs is needed rather than a 'i need to escape this dull world' attitude. I'm sure the numerous pints of beer didn't help either.

Also JaJa, I will look up ling zhi! sounds good smily

thanks

Yes Jim Glover. I just ordered that book. I love reading... and that topic is what occupies my mind right now. thanks man...

You know i just found an appropriate term for "feeling that there is something wrong with me", it's SHAME. Psychologists define: "We feel guilty for what we do. We feel shame for what we are."

And also "Shame is when we feel disappointed about something inside of us, our basic nature." That really struck me when I just read it! Isn't that the reason why the act of looking at yourself works? The looking brings to attention and proves to you the fact that essentially nothing is wrong with you nothing ever was and ever could.

Yeah, I've been thinking that shame, the internal version of contempt, is one of the most destructive permutations of the fear.

Love this thread!

Indecision, up and down, lost and found

Hello everyone,

I've been a member here for some time but don't think I've ever gone through with a post. I've oft forgotten and neglected the forum here since discovering it. I saw John's video, "At the End of Your Rope" some years ago back when Google Video was still in existence, prior to YouTube's existence. Regardless, I know I started a post a couple or few times though don't recall having ever gone through with finishing a post. Ego didn't want my first post to come across the wrong way I suppose. Well, now, I'm at such a loss I don't know what else to do but write, here, for whatever reason. Tonight, it's going on 5am, and I am struggling a great deal. I did not know where else to turn. I am at a complete loss, yet I don't see how any guidance, consolation, even empathy will help as the decision I have to make is huge, and time pertinent, yet here I am.

I have a relationship decision to make. It's been a rough road, yet also a beautiful, worthy one, I think... I don't know anymore. My partner and I had a bad fight tonight that I've been up all night pondering. I am at the end of my rope, with the negativity, with the emotional trauma of seeing my partner deal with stressors in ways I find difficult to understand anymore. I see the anger as such wasted energy, though this is not to say I don't have my own faults, merely stating the difficulty of my end. I also am fully aware of how we are products of all that came before us, and know it is not her fault. Nonetheless...

We are scheduled to sign a year lease at a new place in a couple days. I'm not sure I can go through with it anymore, though not doing so puts her in a tough position, and I am afraid of making the greatest mistake in giving up on our relationship. She recently finished school, I lived with her a few hundred miles away from our home town for the past year, working while she concentrated on her last year of school. I kept us afloat on a servers income, allowing her to concentrate on the difficult final year of schooling, but we barely had enough money to move back home. We had made several trips back here before we finally moved, looking for jobs and places to rent, though it was hard for either of us to find a job without a local place of address, and hard to find a place to rent without a job up here, of course. So we bit the bullet and each moved in with our respective families, to get jobs first and then try for a place again. We've been apart for a few months now, though we've each secured jobs and are now financially (though barely) able to get a new place together.

She has had a very tough time of it, as she does not get along well with her family, though they mean well and really aren't so bad (from this perspective). The problem, again from this perspective, is that she has a habit of seeing things negatively, and responding with so much anger. She has tried breaking up with and pushing me away multiple times, as well, only to realize afterwards this was not what she wanted, and we would make amends. I feel like I've been the only one to be willing to apologize in our relationship, even when I know I've not necessarily been wrong to her in anyway, simply to assuage the situation and hope to open that door for her, as well, for when she gets angry, she shuts off and the anger only festers.

God, I see there is so much ego, so much identification with personality of my own here as I try to explain the situation, but I don't know how else to express this. I love her very much and have worked so hard to keep us together, but I am drained. Tired of fighting, worn down by the anger she holds, whether towards me, her mother, her daughter, her father... it is like there's two of her. And I realize as I type this I have had a habit of getting into relationships with this type of personality. Again, I have my own faults, I don't think I'm better than her by any means, just expressing this side of it.

I just don't know how to make this decision, though I know I'm leaning towards breaking it off. I've never had the nerve to do so on my end though. I do know that she's absolutely miserable staying with her family, has complained constantly of this. We are both in our mid 30's at this point in our lives, so it's totally understandable. Actually, I am 36 and she is 37, so it's a tough pill to swallow when you're used to being independent, I know, though I don't understand dealing with anger anymore. Perhaps my own fault is having not been a more actualized man for her, at least in providing security, having more money for our hierarchy of needs to be fulfilled. Certainly we'd be somewhat more comfortable had we not have had to resort to staying with our families for this last few months, but this was the plan we chose together. Either way, even when money wasn't an issue, the habit of negativity was still an issue. For the majority of our time together we weren't exactly affluent, but we were secure and got by alright.

I see now that I'm writing this more to concrete my decision than anything, yet I know I will be putting her in a truly difficult position if I break up with her, but the alternative could very well be another year of emotional turmoil. My other problem is that in the process of self-inquiry I feel that somewhere along the way I became detached from life, from my inner drive, from motivation to achieve more, and only during these last few months have I begun to reconnect with something gone since perhaps my early 20's. I have always dealt with anxiety, so much so that I identified myself as a shy person for years. I feel that I am finding purpose again, than losing it, then finding presence, only to be snapped back by incessant thoughts all over again. It is an amazing challenge to hold attention, yet I have had many profound experiences of insight, and notice thoughts much more often, and easily these days. Staying with it, oh that's another story. Mind snaps back as soon as I let go, every time. That said, the seeing has helped me become very patient, and accepting of life as is... except for when dealing with another's anger in close relationship. And that's the rub.

I have been on this path of self-realization for the past decade, at least, yet this may be the first week in years that I have actually meditated more than once, for a decent amount of time, seriously forced myself to sit down and just be for 30-40 mins when I typically last just a couple of minutes at a time spontaneously. I find more time to just be, and look at what appears in consciousness now that we are not living together. I feel selfish for saying this. I have started to build new vision of doing something greater with what talent this body/mind has, finally freed at least enough of ego associations to feel safe going forward and applying myself in a new way. I felt I was losing it for a while there, internally. With no personality that I wished to hang onto anymore, seeing aspects of identification so clearly that I began losing drive and a sense of purpose in the world.

This is all so difficult. I have much to thank her for now. She is much more of a go-getter (there's those damn identifications again). I am finally signing up for school for the first time since I was 18, due to her encouragement, and am actually looking forward to it, though not without trepidation, of course. I always resisted the idea of paying for education, to the point of holding myself back from becoming more disciplined in life, though. I've always seen commodification of information as immoral, and wanted nothing to do with such institutions, until she encouraged me to join her for one of her psychology classes because she knew I'd enjoy the Professor. And I did. The guy spent a night in jail with Noam Chomsky, was instrumental in the Civil Rights movement, had a wonderful way about him, and I was already fascinated by psychology, really any kind of inquiry into mind, so I ate it up. She actually hated it though, she just liked the professor from other classes and knew we'd hit it off. That said, I am not so interested in political activism anymore. I see that no wider revolution will last without each of us first going through our own inner-revolutions. So, that has been the name of the game for some time now, for "me". To focus back on self-realization, that I may shine naturally some day, and perhaps then be of some real use in this world-play.

Politically, she and I see eye to eye, even spiritually in ways, but I don't see her as interested in practice of self-inquiry as I am, and that's ok, just wondering, what am I holding onto here? Certainly security, she's more responsible member of society than I am. She does her taxes on time, I've not been great at that until her. She's been a great teacher for me in these ways. I am definitely more organized now than I was before we were together! She's OCD about organization, I'm just way easy going.. at least, those are our patterns. I'm not anything, and I realize that intellectually, though rarely have I scraped that surface experientially. I understand we are the products of all human and Earthen history before us. I understand that we are not our persons, we merely have persons... all of this I grok more fully each day, though the great experiential breakthroughs have only truly ever occurred under the influence of certain substances. And I don't want to have to rely on anything to be free of this mess of personality complex! Though I am still lost.

I am comfortable with this woman, and when it's good I am quite content. But if I am honest, I am not entirely fulfilled enough to feel secure in our relationship, and also know I've thought of others, mostly when it's become too intense, but that's there, as well. I have no particular alternatives in mind to her, though I truly long to be free of the stress when it gets to these points. I cannot heal her, I cannot fix her, I thought by example perhaps, but what an ego game! And I become blind to my own faults my focusing on hers, as well. I don't want to rely on her to be more organized and secure in this society. I need to find myself, and not revert back to habit of ego games over and over and again in this life. I know what I've wanted all along, but of course that has also given ego something to cling on too. How clever our fearful minds are. So many phases, so many blind alleys, so many u-turns. I'm spinning wheels here. And how can I ask anyone to tell me what to do?! I've heard every piece of advice, every pointer, just have such a struggle committing to applying attention consistently, long enough, or have not been able to let go enough to be free. I still smoke cigarettes, a 20 years love affair that is an awful way to treat this body, and an awful crutch. Though I have finally had a month without smoking weed, that's a big deal here as that only occurs once every few years for this body. I'm enjoying the new clarity of mind, for sure, and have gotten past the psychological withdraws of that at least.

I feel the want to end this rambling mess with a question like, "What do I do?" but I know better. Just so, so confused. And sorry to bombard you all with this. Thank you for caring, to anyone that even reads one paragraph of this. I apologize for my ego spewing all over the place here. I wish to be honest with where I'm at and not feign some higher level understanding. Those moments are fleeting.

To sum all this up, I have to decide, tomorrow, what I'm doing. I've spent over a decade searching for what's already here. I've injested hundreds hours of J. Krishnamurit, Gangaji, Ramana, Adya, Mooji ... their guidance rings in my head when I try to be still. Saying after saying turns into thought after thought about how to recenter myself, take a step back, just be, breath.... bah.. what a mess. This is when we get to the end of that rope right? But I'm concerned over the fact that I've been to this point many times already. Must I go even further into the pits of despair to be able to finally give up enough to truly see? I know every trick in the book, ego's made quite a game of it. That's not to say so many layers haven't pulled back and it gets easier everyday, but how to find one's way in the world again after so fully divesting from egoic interests. How to find the drive to be of purpose in life again? How to even make a serious life decision anymore?

Ah, there's the question. Love you guys. Thank you for being.

Has anyone read "The Denial of Death?

I play at blues Jam nights here in Memphis once or twice a year. Usually anxiety factors in a lot. (What fun is that?) I barely know the players and there's an audience. I'm looking forward to the next time. I haven't jammed since before I did the looking.

On a practical level, tasks are so much more straightforward now and the dire need to execute everything my mind can drum up has diminished a lot. I end up producing more because the decisions are clearer. Things get done more because I want to do them, not because I have to.

Playing blues in Memphis......no pressure there, right? 😉 Enjoy!

I am actually thinking about performing again next week, minus any alcohol, so that might bring up more fear than last time, I had drunk a few drinks before and like I said, I was shocked out how easy it was and also how I had felt very little 'relief' after, which is a common thing when someone does something for the first time I think.

I keep on going back to that book and I have been noticing when I have hateful thoughts and get angry at things, that that is born out of shame. It seems the feet are a good area for attention to go when you find yourself in those modes. Someone recently said to me, when I was full of anxiety, 'think about your feet, your feet, your feet!'. It helps smily

In Qi Gong practice there is a visualization technique where one imagines things like pain, emotional negativity, etc, as smoke. On the exhalation, you breath out the smoke and breath in 'energy' on the inhalation. When I'm anxious, especially performance anxiety, I imagine the anxiety as smoke and push it down my body thru my feet on the exhalation. This is a good directed attention exercise as well. I find it helpful to move the anxiety away from my chest and heart and down my body.....so, yes, the feet!

The energy center in Qi Go g is called the lower Dantien, or right behind the navel. This is also a good place to move extreme anxiety and pain. Then from there down the body like smoke. Hope the performance goes well!

I think I'm turning into a Qi Gong addict ..I really love to do the movements and check out too all the subtle feelings of anxiety etc.( great smoke visualization..will use for sure) The standing in stillness is amazing really slows me down and I see clearly how I choose where to focus my attention..its all fun now to explore anything since I have no desire for any particular outcome or romantic idea about these techniques like I used to have...I'm 68 and I love to feel physically stronger and more balanced. I never really had social anxiety but lately I've been pulling back from social interaction..lately I have persistant thoughts that grab me that I am rejected by this or that person etc.("the voice of self hate" )but again all there is to do is choose if I want to put my attention there..I love you all what great conversations!

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your postings.

I have been performing at open mics since June 2014. I am a guitar player-solo instrumental pieces.I have found this to be very challenging as I am a shy/introverted type of personality. Just lately, after looking in September, I find that I am not anxious or nervous but something happens before going on stage now that feels very similar. I find that there is a life force energy that is almost vibratory in the body but it is not fear but a type of life-affirming now/joy. It affirms that I am doing exactly what I should be doing at that moment. If the fear of life was still dominant I might not have noticed or transitioned to this growth and self affirmation regarding sharing my creative side.

Ian Weir

I always get a very clear type of high after performing. At least when I do a jam night type of thing. When I drive home the car seems to glide. Everything just seems perfect for a bit. Something about opening up yourself to a crowd maybe.

I've been doing online music collaboration for a few years now on numerous sites with people from all over the world. PM me if you want more info. Cheers.

Wow I congratulate you on telling the truth..so refreshing..yes this looking at me is so simple and no big spiritual deal but I felt to put words on it today..it feels like unlimited space inside and out that is expanding all the time as the fear goes.. grounded and open and a sense I know for sure is me ..I have more and more energy and I can welcome it now whereas before I felt some fear around this feeling( I always felt I was too much)..so its just really awesome and interesting to participate in life in a whole new way..

"...but again all there is to do is choose if I want to put my attention there."

Yes, and why not put the attention there? Maybe this voice belongs to a part of you that needs attention, that you neglected or suppressed for a long time? Now it may be the time to welcome this part, an inner child that feels abandonment or neglect or unworthiness. If you acknowledge it exists and allow it to stay for good, it will calm and relax.

I don't know what's happening but I'm into my 5th month here and the bottom seems to be falling out. I'm sure it's part of the process but, wow. On the other hand, I have a confidence that I've never had. Confidence might be the wrong word. A willingness to stay in the situation and to stop trying to think my way out of it. At least some of the time. But my fear of change is still hard at work at times. Definitely some raw emotional content. In and out of sadness. The despair I've unconsciously employed various tricks to mask is free to torment me. And now the holidays are coming. Shit. This recovery is going to really show me who and what I am. How many people have had close relationships like marriages go bad during recovery?

Hello Bradley, The PM option seems to be out of order right now.I am writing solo guitar pieces currently in A=432 Hz.You might want to investigate 432hz.com for more info.

Love & Respect

Ian

That's about when things hit me hard. The difficulty in my relationship was not my wife, but came from me and my intense emotional state.....in this case, anger and anxiety. I was intensely angry and seemed to be releasing years worth of anger I hadn't felt, I guess. This put a strain on things, to say the least. That and my insomnia, anxiety, and crying.

My relationship survived and now we are closer than ever. My wife also did the looking several years after me and I see changes in her that she is reluctant to acknowledge....she sees the act as somewhat trivial, but she was not in as bad shape as I was. I anticipate a growing relationship, but who knows? I am certainly a different person and much less distracted by my inner demons. Interestingly, my wife still sees me as I was in the past, especially when we have an argument, which is rare these days. She will accuse me of being inward, self absorbed, and withdrawn. I calmly remind her that this is certainly the way I used to be, and may have old habits hanging on a bit, but that my life has radically changed.

Fear will try to convince you that disaster is around the corner, but redirect your attention from this. Hang in there and enjoy the ride as much as possible. The growing clarity is worth the grief of recovery.

My Observations about Focused Attention and Repression of feeling states

I have seen reports that some might find the use of focused attention as what I've heard referred to as spiritual bypassing or using techniques, mantras etc. to avoid feeling states and I understand this fear since we all repress many many feelings.

The context of fear is gone after the first look. Then we talk about focused attention . I can see how there can be some confusion and perhaps be seen as an avoidance or selectively depriving or accepting of certain sensations etc.

What I read from numerous reports here and my own experience would be the contrary.The recovery period after that first look is very intense and emotions arise and are experienced even more deeply than before the looking. Within the context of fear there will always be repression to a certain degree. Feelings like anger, shame, sorrow are scary.I have done years of therapy to access deep issues from childhood etc. but since the context of fear was still very strong in me old habitual reactions kept coming back. I was hypersensitive and could feel relaxed and happy only in certain environments.

The looking changed everything radically.The immediate self reliance helped me to welcome and bear all sensations although very painful and overwhelming at times at a much more honest and deep level in my personality. So no repression. A huge difference for me is that particular trauma or habitual reaction doesn't reappear. Usually it's gone without me noticing.

Over time the skill of control over my own attention became more established. I may be aware of a thought or emotion appear..indulge it (eg. have a little cry) or move my attention to my breath. I am deciding for me in that moment. Focused attention is simply an added skill for greater self reliance not as an avoidance of sensations or feelings.

Thank you, Jack. Your words are comforting. Interesting about your wife. I may never share the looking with mine. I'll have to be profoundly different in her eyes and even then, she'l probably need to initiate. We'll see. When people live in a world comprised of thoughts piecing everything together and they don't question the box they're in, well, I don't expect to see them on here, if you know what I mean.

Bradley you asked about close relationships and looking. I was dumped a few months after I shared the looking with my partner. That it was a decision made from self-reliance, unfortunately did not make it hurt any less for me. But to look at yourself is every human's birthright and transcends whatever the personal circumstances of a relationship might be. I'm very happy to know of one more person in the world on their way to sanity.

Remember, they don't need to be as self-reflecting as you are. Just one look is all it takes.

Recognising Algorithms

My life is completely changed since I started looking at myself a few years ago. In the last few years I have started doing the things that I know I really want to do. One of these things is joining the local choir which is linked with the local church. I love the Christian music but as an outsider in a Christian world (being born Jewish) Christmas Carols have been anguish because they thrilled and moved me but also conflicted me.

This morning listening to John I recognised controlling my attention by moving from the thoughts to my joy in singing is obviously a revelation of the nature of the algorithm. I feel so released from a life long conflict.

Thank you John and Carla.

Love,

Helen

Beautiful, Maureen. Well articulated. I also liked what you said about feeling more spacious in another post. I connected to this as I feel more space between my emotional experience and 'me.' I can better feel my emotions without fear or difficulty, but if they are very intense, I can then can add space so that they are not as potent or block everything else out. Felt but not overwhelmed. This is kinda new for me and allows some modulation of intensity. I also know that intense emotions will blow by rather quickly and will typically not linger.

Maureen I

The immediate self reliance helped me to welcome and bear all sensations although very painful and overwhelming at times at a much more honest and deep level in my personality.

I very much agree, Maureen. When the fear is gone, all states can be witnessed, if one chooses so. And I would encourage everybody. It did me good. Resist the temptation to avoid or suppress unwanted states by using guided attention. I say this based on my own experience.

I wanted to come back to this post as I am now feeling a lot different and in much less of a good place as I was when I started this thread.

I could say that when posting it, I was at another point where I thought finally everything was suddenly going to clear up and be ok for me, but I now understand the patterns I have been falling into, and the fact that a lot of my suffering actually is a choice. Admitting this almost feels more painful because I am accepting it is my stubbornness and indifference towards others and the world which is keeping me from lifting myself out of my current slump of misery.

This suffering here feels so familiar and more comfortable than trying to be happy right now, so this is how I remain. I live with my brother and an old friend who seem so so happy and I'm finding it extremely difficult to be nice to either of them. I am very deep in self loathing now and I am struggling for inspiration to try get out of it again. I don't really know what did it before.

I don't have a job at the moment and my social life is non existent. People don't understand how I can live like this, sitting round the house all day in a low mood and not even be bothered about not having any money, social interaction, or even bother to look for work. I don't really understand it either. Something has to happen. Or actually, I need to make something happen to get out of this rut. I can see that the looking has worked because at times just 'being' feels really nice. I see myself as 'the first person' now (douglas hardings description) and I am no longer seeking for anything permanent as I have found 'me'. I am only writing this because it's the only place I want to express how I am feeling right now. I am so closed to people and I don't really get why.

I have always been very uncommunicative and felt like everyone has something I don't when it comes to socializing. I realize it's because I prefer to suffer it seems. I think maybe if I go out and meet new people and opportunities in my life, I may become more open to change in my attitude and personality. At the moment it is very difficult to even want to string two sentences together to another person. I don't doubt the looking has worked it's way with me, I just want to be an example of the fact that I now have choice what to do and attend to and right now it's suffering.

So not only is attention important. Intention must also be important too. Intention to get over suffering by doing stuff maybe. I don't understand why it seems so hard to want it right now though. Does anyone understand what I'm saying? If we want happiness so damn much, why do we choose to suffer and suffer. It seems very strange.

There are many parts of the world where they say, 'don't like the weather? wait a minute' or some version of that. I feel this has been my experience post-look. It's been a roller coaster of experience, emotion, and perception. The hills get smaller and the ups and downs begin to flatten, but I definitely get what you're saying. All I can say is that we are in completely new territory with this stuff. New terrain, that shifts as we think we have our bearings. Fortunately, this surface shifting is taking place over a solid core of 'me.'

I read a Rolling Stone interview with Scott Weiland, the Stone Temple Pilot lead singer that just died from an apparent drug overdose. It was mesmorizing to read through the lens of the looking. His life was one of pain and attempts to escape from the pain. He talked about his drug experiences, particularily his first herion injection. He described it as coming home and finally feeling like he was okay in his body....that it took away fear and the constant discomfort of being human. He likened it to a 'warm, golden glow' and stated this was what Buddhist and other spiritual seekers were after. This was the only way he could escape the fear, pain, and paranoia of his life. Reading this, something gelled for me about the looking. It isn't the warm glow that everyone is seeking. It isn't 'happiness', or some ephemeral notion of satiety and contentment beyond the human realm. It is an okayness with life as it is in all its crazy glory. It's lower the walls and letting the hounds run wild. It's re-writing the script we have been speaking to all our lives, or even throwing it out the window. It's hanging on by the skin of our teeth one day, awash in emotion, and feeling a pervasive calm the next that feels like an energy field that will never dimish.

I have stopped most of the analysis of my life, the constant mental tweaking that I have felt necessary to make it through the day. I am more and more okay with what happens and I forget to be upset during upsetting moments and happy during blissful moments, or at least constantly check the emotional meter for trouble or overload. It all just happens now, like it was before the look, but with much more acceptance and without the running commentary or the strain of trying to change things that are already happening or will happen no matter what.

Not sure this speaks to your post, but it's what has been on my mind lately. One thing I am sure of, your experience will shift, maybe already has.

432 is cool. I know some folks that use Audacity to adjust to that frequency. It's definitely mellower.

The looking allows our brains to rewire. How the new wires are run must surely vary from person to person. I believe the looking pulls the fear rug out for good but we can't just lay on the floor where the rug once was. It's like a line Rodney Dangerfield said in Back To School, "the war's over....get new parts for your head". I got a lot of burned out parts and that's ok.

I think this is depression. You should take an action and do something to feel better. Start with little things one by one but every day. If you don't, this can make you sick. You can start with simple walks to take some fresh air.. Do something man, you are stronger than that!

P.S. It's good to find what makes you to feel in that way.

Thank you Maureen. Very well said.

Dichotomy of Experience

Hi everyone,

I am new to this forum. I wanted to give a little background about myself and then ask a question.

I've been looking at myself off and on (without even calling it that) since a kid. I had an amazing experience when I was first drawn to meditating when I was in my early twenties. For five months it felt like I was just looking at myself from sunrise to sunset -- not only at the feeling of me in my chest and body, but seeing it in everything around, such as trees, mountains, etc.

Then for some 20 years after that it has felt like I have been running from how simple looking at myself was.

Where I find myself now at 48 is that it feels like I am split in two. Whenever I stop and look at myself, it is easy to see and feel the empty space of 'me' in my chest. Often with it I feel bliss, an ache of love, but mostly just feel peace. If I am hiking or sitting quietly, I can see that me-ness in other things too.

But, other times it feels like all the habits and addictions to escapes I have had since a child are here as strong as ever. When those thoughts come up I don't even want to stop and look at myself. Thoughts come up with a vengeance to arrogantly dismiss it as a waste of time, to say 'don't look at yourself. go run to your normal escapes and you will feel better.'

It seems like the more I look at myself, the peaceful parts of my mind become even more at peace, but the parts which have never been at peace seem are as tumultuous as always.

My question is, has anyone else experienced this? Will continuing to look at myself eventually even out my moods and bring peace to the parts of my mind which seem so overactive, desperately running from fear to escapes, built up over almost 50 years of ruts.

Thanks.

I think my experience has shifted. In quiet moments, I see life moving in a way I never used to notice before. I can't really explain what this is. i could say there is an absence of a me + life. It's just 'this' or what's happening. I am undefined in those moments. But It's not like I am trying to be there, it's just the case in many moments throughout the day.

I can understand from your communication Jim that you are reacting to the porousness of compassion.John talks about this in some of the retreat talks.He stated that if his circumstances had been different soon after the looking that he would chosen seclusion to get away from all the insane behavior.There seems to be a lot of indoctrination about how one is supposed to feel-happy sad ,etc. in certain situations.These coerced behaviors are revealed as such after the looking and probably cause what looks like a lack of ambition but I feel that it is a type of shock at the realisation of how much is training rather than genuine emotion.

Hi Jim,

I experienced this same type of feeling from doing a contemplation about mortality and impermanence.It was a time that I was studying Kali Ma and her devotees do this type of contemplation work to become wiser about reality.To my surprise joy arose from my focus on this fact of life.It felt like the arising joy was telling me that deep emotion and a true understanding about the human situation is dependent on our mortal condition in this physical realm.Joy arises in me spontaneously for no reason especially when I am playing music or just being calm and mindless.

riewnai1

These coerced behaviors are revealed as such after the looking and probably cause what looks like a lack of ambition but I feel that it is a type of shock at the realisation of how much is training rather than genuine emotion.

Interesting interpretation, and new, too. This seems a very plausible way to explain that limbo state we have been talking about.

Jim Glover

So not only is attention important. Intention must also be important too. Intention to get over suffering by doing stuff maybe. I don't understand why it seems so hard to want it right now though. Does anyone understand what I'm saying? If we want happiness so damn much, why do we choose to suffer and suffer. It seems very strange.

Hey Jim, this speaks volumes to me right now. Why am I constantly choosing to stay bitter when I know the sweetness of interaction with life? This has come and gone as a pattern throughout my now eleven month long recovery. A period of euphoria and lots of deeply satisfying interest, gratitude and curiosity with life and people, everything's great, I make others happy too. After that follows a longer period of normality, which is kind of dull but that's ok, I can put attention where it's useful most of the time and the only negative feeling is boredom and the nearly omnipresent suffering of others. Then comes depression, self loathing, wanting to pull my bed cover over my head: A wish to go back to the womb and forget about it all. This is normally shorter, calendar time wise, but it feels really long and at times like it's never going to end. Eventually it fades back into dullness, then back to euphoria. Over the year I've seen maybe three-four full cycles of this, although each day can be it's own chapter of course.

Thoughts about what to do about it all arise constantly during the dull and depressive periods. When I'm depressed my thoughts can be very persuasive and trick me into believing I'm doing something wrong often leading to more self hatred. I see they cannot hurt me, yet my emotional life is bound to them, so I feel silly for feeling bad. I ask the same question! Why do we choose to suffer and suffer? How will it all feel once the clouds of anxiety are dispersed, what am I looking for?

John says one day it will all be gone no matter what we do and to make the best of this time to exercise focused attention. Not as a band-aid during this difficult time but to master the skill of intentionally choosing what to attend. I stick to that and just watch as I trip over my own feet.

I just heard this and found it really helpful, thought I'd transcribe it and share (so yeah mind that punctuation is actually mine here, not John's).

John Sherman, webinar video "Misidentification"

Responding to a participant around 58:00:

The reason we get tricked is because we are looking for an instant solution. The reason we get tricked is because the disease itself has convinced us that what we need is to have no trouble, is to have no problems, is to have nothing to do, nothing to figure out.

...

The actual experience of human life, with all of its difficulties, with all of its confusion, with all of its surprises - is itself the food that solves the hunger of wanting what we don't have. It's life itself. It's the difficulties of human life, it's the joy of human life, it's the intelligent engagement with human life that is everything we ever wanted. And we can't know that until it reveals itself to us. And it will. You've done the work, it will. I really advise you to keep up with the business of directed attention. There's nothing else that we can do you see - we can't do anything - everything that's here is already here! All the problems, all the solutions, all the history, all the expectations, all the desires - they're already here. We can't do anything about that. But what we can do something about is what we attend to. And that's all we can do something about: the development of clarity, skill and depth of understanding of the power we have, which is the only thing we can do - to determine for ourselves where we put out attention. And that does it all. Once the disease is gone, that does it all. But it takes time, it's not instantaneous. And it takes engagement, it's not magic. When expectations do appear about what might come or what we should be doing that we're not doing or anything of that nature we can just decline to attend to it. It is of no use to us whatsoever. That's the results of the looking. They're not magic although in retrospect it may seem so.

Cool thread! I found it liberating to hear that there are some other people here who can appreciate mushrooms. I have used them several times (in moderate doses) over the past year. The experiences were different each time, but mostly worthwhile because I always got some insights - for example, the first time I took them, a year ago, I heard an inner voice telling me "your prayers and intentions are powerful" - it was so unexpected, but sounded very true (and is true) and important. I took them because I was still going through the internal hell that the looking (and life) brought into my life. I was like a drowning man grasping for anything I could use to get out. In retrospect, I don't know how much the mushrooms helped, but they probably did help in some ways that I cannot define.

Anyway, I almost feel ready to write a report of recovery, but I don't do it yet because it would perhaps be immature. I'll just see what happens and how I feel in a while. Right now I still consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes and weed, so I'm not exactly a recovered person, am I? :D

But things have changed! It is almost unbelievable to suddenly realize that the anxiety that was almost constant in the past, has disappeared.. and instead there is increased clarity, peace, contentment and happiness. Oh gosh, it feels so good to write something positive here after years of writing about intense, relentless suffering!

Thanks for being here.

Very cool. Glad things are going well! I'd like to hear a more in depth report soon.

We're all in this together. 5 1/2 months in and I'm getting a feel for it, I think. I think keeping an open mind lets the circuitry rewire easier. Patience and a knowing or conviction that it's a rebuild that you can't choreograph is important. Don't judge anything based on sporadic external events and your conditioned reactions and thoughts about them. We're like diseased and undernourished plants that have been transplanted into fertile soil with abundant sunlight. It takes time but it happens. If it was quick, it would be BS. Why do we always want BS? Conditioning? Laziness? Who knows.

thanks for sharing this smily

Well, i suppose the weather has changed a bit these last couple of days. I have actually been uttering a few sentences :D I almost took up one of my old habits of reading a spiritual book for the second or third time so I could then 'be ready' to face life again. I declined because I sense it is all in my hands now....

Like you Lee Harry, I still use alcohol and I feel I should try to stamp it out a bit because i am definitely using it to numb the social anxiety but to be honest even alcohol didn't work for me a few months ago. It didn't make me happy anyway. Last night it did smily Mushrooms and LSD have both been proven to be very therapeutic in small doses. My last mushroom experience was probably too powerful and although I felt very clear minded the next day, I felt very low. I might indulge again (sensibly this time) next summer but until then I'm taking a break.

I'd love to write a report, but not just yet. I'd like to give it a bit more time - for things to settle and solidify. So yes, hopefully soon!

>>We're like diseased and undernourished plants that have been transplanted into fertile soil with abundant sunlight.

Nice!

>>Why do we always want BS?

The Fear of Life.

So since our entire schema has had the fear of life as its root (which is bullshit) we by default assume all solutions will be modifications or offshoots of what we have always known (more bullshit). Although the recovery shows us the fallacy of such a framework, it does so more like how a fog clears, revealing a landscape has never been noticed before.

Lovely Helen..I too experience many everyday moments where previously I would hold back from life... conscious or unconscious fear creating varying degrees of paralysis. I spent a couple of days with my 5 year old grand-daughter in the country and it was so interesting to notice how my responses to events have changed.I feel so much more relaxed and willing to flow with whatever is happening.

She is relatively fear free and it is mind-blowing to watch her constantly creating , feeling, laughing . There were moments of conversation about nature and how humans are part of nature yet are destroying and hurting nature. She was baffled how this could come about. Whenever I see an opportunity I remind her to look at herself ( child appropriate language like you are the same as you were younger ) I see her reflecting on this . I see how important it is to keep putting this message out there..easy and a natural part of conversation with a five year old .

I understand that the infamous period of recovery will be over for everybody who has done the looking, some day. The bulk of fear-borne psychological mechanisms will have left by then. So why is it important to train where to direct one's attention during the recovery period? There will be no need whatsoever to control the attention in a sane mind. A fresh natural intelligence will be guiding the attention in a human recovered from the fear of life. Thus, the only reason to train directed attention in a recovering mind would be its palliative effects. However, this bears the risk of use this method to distort the experiences of life that arise because one fears unpleasant emotions.

Good question Cytex. In my experience unpleasant emotions are unavoidable and as my mind recovers I'm less and less afraid of difficult feelings. Even with attention exercises I still feel the emotions they just don't have as much grip. I feel like I have more control to direct my life despite the emotions. For example yesterday I was invited to an event full of new people. I was tired and felt a bit withdrawn. In the past I would have just skipped it because trying to meet new people when I'm feeling withdrawn would have been difficult. But I went met some really neat people and enjoyed myself. So I guess it's about choice. I could have decided to go home and that would have been fine too. It was subtle but I had redirected away from the habitual response of not socializing when I feel tired and withdrawn.

Also I don't know if the recovery period is ever really over. The most intense parts seem to fall away in the first few years but I think gaining skillfullness over my attention is a lifelong process that will become more subtle as it goes on. I find myself redirecting back to my breath throughout the day. It pulls me out of my train of thought and helps me feel more grounded. I wonder if the attention exercises are just another matter of choice? I find it interesting and helpful to strengthen and redirect my attention. Maybe this really isn't the case for everyone and once the fear is gone the need for attention exercises drops away naturally.

I've also have noticed the stronger my attention is the more potent it is. Running a business my attention is pulled in multiple directions. Using the attention exercises I'm able to pull my attention out of all the details and direct it towards one task. And I can accomplish a lot when the beam is focused on one thing. So for me there's a practical side to focused attention.

I will be speaking about this in the Open House meeting tomorrow. http://www.justonelook.org/look/openhouse

Today's meeting showed me something quite amazing. When John was leading Nancy to look at herself I did it too and discovered that everywhere I looked for my self, in sensation, thought, feeling the sense of my presence was there! I was in everything that is this conglomerate that lives me. I had set up an image that I was behind the deepest sense of myself but that too was just an algorithm. And there is so much ease in living this me trusting that what arises must be ok because it has arisen, wow!

Maureen I feel that just being with our grandchildren in this ease of being naturally confirms their trust in life.

Love,

Helen

Hey Bradley, just reading old posts and saw this...

Yes, I have read it and I'm gunna read it again soon i think. Is a great book!!!

Yes. Looking works. Best not to set expectations and to avoid trying to script your recovery. You may do the looking in a rather desparate way for some time and that's ok. The crappy stuff will stand out more than usual for some time. Then it lets up. For me, it seemed to let up in a way that just happened and it was not an event; there was no distinct transition. It just happens but it isn't a result of something the mind puts into play.

Welcome to the forum, zuroma999.

I'm happy for your peaceful experiences. I hope you'll have plenty more of those in the future.

I'm my opinion, it might not be of any particular benefit to compare your past looking to what you've run into here with John and Carla. Look afresh (as I'm sure you've done already). I have a friend who claims she's done the looking long ago but It's quite clear we were not talking about the same thing. I'm not saying this is the case with you, but to me it points to approaching these things afresh without comparing to past experiences. People mean many distinct things with "me" and those get confused easily.

What I understand from John is that looking at yourself is not a tool to bring peace or get rid of tumult in your mind. Seeking peace might just be an old habit and looking at yourself might well be waste of time, at this point. It's a cure but not an escape from your moods. On the other hand, if you feel like looking, go ahead, as long as you're compelled to.

I hope you've familiarised yourself with the attention directing exercise John advises us to practise? You don't have to give too much attention to tumult in your mind or the commentary about moods and escapes.

Helen thank you so much! I'm glad to hear you are continuing to discover new things, it sounds like a fun adventure! I'm still in the beginning of my journey and I'm only now starting to feel what I believe to be the recovery kicking in with increasing force, which honestly is not exactly an attractive outlook. Your posting is so encouraging and uplifting, I'm very lucky to be here, thank you.

yes exactly!

From a sane place

John says that after just one look at "me" the context of psychological fear vanishes from my mind permanently. If that is true, why do I still experience confusion, depression and anxiety? My focus, in finding signs of progress in my recovery, has almost exclusively been aimed at how I feel and how my mind behaves. When seen like that, my recovery has been a really slow and a pretty hard process.

But recently, after a conversation with a friend, it hit me that a really fundamental change has taken place in my mind since I looked at myself. A fundamental shift, that I have become used to and that I some how tend to forget. I am still confused and I still have days with depression and anxiety. And I often have a hard time to actually pinpoint what, if something at all, has changed for the better as a result of the looking. But now I know for sure. My mind is not perfect, but I always act from a sane place. It is not easy, and this fundamental shift has actually made some of my relationships harder than they where before the looking. But it feels real and true.

I see now what John means when he says that the fear based psychological context disappears after just one look. I have seen this for a long time, but not as clear as I see it now. Instead of only looking for signs of progress in how my mind is dealing with life, I can notice the underlying fundamental shift that makes me see and express myself from a sane place.

Niklas

That is so cool. The change is profound and it happens in spite of our vigilant signpost watching. The criteria we use to determine improvement was compiled from the fear-based mindset and while we're waiting and watching for this 'improvement', the real shit happens.

Although some relationships may seem harder to you I'm assuming your relationship with yourself is much better.

I am also surprised that fear and anxiety hasn't gone away, three and a half years in. I can tell something has happened, and that like you, I come from a sane place, and it seems obvious when others are not.

I mislead myself into thinking that one day, I would just feel so at ease after looking, that my life would become so much more enjoyable and full. This is not the case. I sometimes wish that I had been shown the looking somehow by mistake and then carried on trying to make things better for myself. Instead I have been isolating even more than before, and hoping I would one day feel free too get on with stuff. Big mistake.

At least I know that I am benefiting people by being sane, even if I am being a hermit haha, it's quite funny really. But I no longer want to experience the anxiety I get, so I need to work on that.

Alcohol

I have been considering giving up booze for a while now because although I like the occasional beer or wine, it is never just A beer or A wine. It's usually drink until I fall down.

So I use alcohol too numb the anxiety and feel more confident around people. Does anyone else do the same? I'm sure the answer is yes but I wanted too start this subject. If I want to be free from fear in situations, it must be best too go into them without medicating with drugs and alcohol...but this is never easy, and takes a lot of courage, especially in a drinking atmosphere.

Does anyone want to share there experience with drinking and the looking? What works?

Good conversation topic, Jim. More and more I use less and less alcohol. It just doesn't seem compatible with a life free of fear. My larger issue is over eating and when I have a couple of beers, I tend to lose control on food......so I have really cut back on my alcohol consumption. I also find that I don't like the dullness and sedated feeling that ensues from drinking, in the moment, and into the next day.

I also find that over time I am intelligently guided to try different patterns, or I come across helpful information and I can see the benefit for my life. There is a lot of information out there about alcohol consumption, positive and negative, reading up on the effects, physically and emotionally, etc. may help figure out how to go about it. I applaud your courage and think you're on the right track in facing your issues soberly.

Hi Chris..yes I read with empathy all your story which of course could be much of my story with different characters perhaps..an insight appeared around dealing with my own issues with anger so thought I'd share it with you..I have always had a hard time with this energy coming at me..I felt always a collapsing fear around anger and as if my nervous system since a small child was so affected I can not imagine recovering completely...of course I too have investigated this personality and this issue in a million ways and found calm from the storms but the looking..the power of this simple act to cut the roots of the fear has the effect that over time that old fearful personality just doesn't have the same hold over me..new ways of responding to situations appear arising from a strong self reliance..so for example I tend to just tell the truth and set boundaries with people and respect others boundaries. I think we will always walk away if we don't learn how to communicate honestly there is a lot going on with everyone ..so anger arising in myself or others is a natural bi-product of the fear..always feeling something at stake..it takes time to see all this but for me it is incredibly freeing..love Maureen

Looking shows us the truth of what we really are. Perhaps for some, holding on to a concept that looking will rewire all our synapse connections without any activity will drag recovery out. I get more ah ha moments now post-looking than I've had in my life and I attribute all of my new understanding to the looking. It's just too profound, my new approach to life. But these new awakenings or lessons require a continued questing attitude, at least for me, albeit, it's no longer a pressing neurotic search.

My future will probably include a clearer perspective on all of this, as will all of us arguably because we've done the looking.

Like when John gave up smoking, the thought to quit comes around when you're ready to quit so if you're thinking about it, you're probably ready.

Yes, that is really cool. And I find a kind of rest in noticing that the root cause for my suffering is gone for ever. That far exceeds my waiting for perfection.

And yes, my relationship with myself has become much better over the years. And the relationship with others is getting better and more true, but also harder.

And in a way I am surprised that we are surprised. I am, for example, almost 40 years old and has been very much infected by the fear of life as long as I can remember. My mind is so used to get corrupt information about life from the fear based context. Lets say, in my case, it take ten years for my mind to be, for the most part, free of infected responses towards life, it is after all not so unreasonable.

But I know very well that it is hard not to want to do something to not experience anxiety. And I am a little confused here. I cant really say how I have delt with it over the years. I know that I often have turned to noticing this feeling that something profound has changed and that the cause for my anxiety is gone. And I have also experienced many times that the level of anxiety never reaches the levels like it did when the fear of life was a part of my mind. And my guess is that that is the case for all of us. I think that there are a limit of how bad we can get after the fear based context is gone. That has for me anyway, been a sort of comfort and a practical reality during my recovery.

And I think we both will feel more and more at ease with things over time...

I just felt tempted to say that nothing is required, except of freeing ourselves from the fear of life, which we already have done.

It's a cart before horse, chicken and egg thing. Looking sets one straight. The ensuing rehab involves learning new tools and new understandings that would not be uncovered without the looking. This is my take on it so far. At some level I could agree that all you have to do is look. I think our characters persist in this experience and part of the rehab is learning to let those characteristics just be what they are.

I totally agree that the looking changes everything. It seems to roll out in both predictable and not so predictable ways.

Thank you for your responses...

Hey Jim, surely a good topic! My relationship to drugs has never been this difficult. After looking it has become easier to recognize when I'm doing something out of fear rather than the reason my mind believes about it. Turns out my drug use often ends up in that category. I get caught up in many, often contradictory, ideas simultaneously so I have a hard time making any sense out anything really. It is very frustrating and I feel helpless and fearful when trying to decide how to go on. On one hand they can obviously help out in the short term, but in the long run they take their toll one way or another.

For example: Smoking cannabis usually makes me feel more comfortable about the current state of things, however, abstaining makes me feel more alive, alert and I have a much easier time (and interest in) controlling attention. Regular use adversely effects my productive output quite a bit as well, which can carry its own emotional consequences at times, but at other times the mental hell is just more than I want to deal with. Alcohol works great for social anxiety at the right amount, but that's normally difficult to achieve. And I have noticed that if i know that I'm drinking to get more confident, I usually don't get that effect at all. I also see that this drunk-confident me, even if I'm "doing great" socially, is actually prick way more often than sober me. On the other hand everybody drinks and it's what's considered the normal way of hanging out and it really gets me out of the house to meet people.

John says no matter what you do during recovery it will all come to and end just the same. So should I take drugs to instantly make me more content with the current state of things, or should I abstain to be in more control over my attention and actions (maybe even hastening recovery, who knows), or should I just not care anymore at all, stop worrying about it altogether and just roll with the punches and see what happens. No question mark here, just thinking aloud - maybe someone can relate to these thought forms. So this is kind of what I mean with contradictory ideas, doesn't seem so serious when typed out like this, but this is one of the things I still believe that I need to fix before I can be at home in my life.

George Carlin described how drugs are mind-opening and constructive, and that an intellectual mind would recognize when the benefits of a drug had run their course and therefore save itself from destruction.

But these new awakenings or lessons require a continued questing attitude, at least for me, albeit, it's no longer a pressing neurotic search.

Well put Bradley, I can very much identify with this. Although I think of the questing attitude, whether neurotic or not, as just another algorithm having its way. Probably not all thoughts of self-improvement are fear based of course but I've been duped so many times now, my mind believing that this is finally the idea, understanding, routine, attitude etc that will make all well, what I have been waiting for.

At this point I'm very confused and exhausted by the dissonance in my mind, so my response in a sense stems from this state. Life is surely not _less_ stressful now than before the looking but for sure less neurotic and the stress feels different now.

Basically what I'm suggesting is that true hope cannot be found in hope, only in sanity and self-reliance.

LOL. Right.. Like Niklas said (:

Hi roed! I can relate too all you say about this, apart from weed as I don't like smoking.

I am still not sure when or if I will be able too quit alcohol so soon, but I do know that if I start to go without it, I am trusting my 'self' rather than the chemicals.

Just had another look at this and realise I have been thinking exactly the same thoughts you mention, especially in the last paragraph; whether to keep doing what I want when I want or to abstain from these activities and try to become more self reliant instead of drug dependent. I also see that these obsessive thoughts are actually neurotic and therefore come from the fear. I know a lot of people who use drugs and like to drink on occasion and they seem perfectly angstless (new word) and would never trouble themselves with this kind of thinking.

Right!?

When it comes to others I think the fear keeps them in denial. It's a shame cause it would be a lot easier if we were all talking about it rather than ignoring it to be fair.

I feel gratitude reading your response, quite wonderful actually! Groovy communication right here smily

What a gift! We're just bitching and moaning about how difficult and miserable everything is... but we get to see each other in it, because of it. So let's get to it and bitch some more :D

I have more fear than I can endure at this point. I refocus my attention whenever I think of it, flex the muscle. But I can't be in control all the time, it's just impossible, it'd be weird as heck too. And the time in between is mostly spent looking at my thoughts, which I still sort of automatically believe to be true. LOL... even this automatically appears to me as a problem! See? This is the dissonance, it's stressful.

Hi Jim. I used to drink quite a bit of alcohol and smoke cigarettes. One day I just quit smoking. I had tried to quit in the past with lots of angst surrounding the process, but it never seemed to stick. But post looking it just happened with very little drama or thought. I also drank heavily for years. Same reason as yours-- it helped numb social anxiety and boosted my confidence. Now too much alcohol makes me feel crappy and dull like Jack said. I like a nice buzz but not full on inebriation. I also dislike hangovers more than the 'fun' of the night before. I heard a quote where someone said drinking too much the night before is 'stealing tomorrow's fun' ;) I like feeling clear and grounded which often brings sharp edges because I'm not numbing but i like those too. I also don't experience intense social anxiety anymore.

Last night I enjoyed a glass of sake and smoked a rolled cigarette (a very occasional thing). I realize I enjoy substances much more when I'm using them for occasional enjoyment and not abusing them. I know my cut off limit and I tend to respect it, but sometimes I still go a little overboard. Even then since I don't experience much guilt anymore it's not a big deal.

I'm developing healthier habits like training for a half marathon and practicing guitar and taiji which is infinitely more nourishing and interesting than drinking and smoking.

So what works? It's a good questions because I often see patients as an acupuncturist who want help quitting smoking or overeating. I have a certain acupuncture protocol I use, but recently I have been giving them the directions to look at themselves and attention exercises. I think the acupuncture can calm stress and help break habits, but unless the groundwork of fear is removed by the looking I don't think it will stick. So maybe it's just time. As the fear evaporates and sanity takes over things just leave on their own. As my attention grows stronger I can make a choice about drinking or not drinking or drinking and not beating myself up about it.

I quit drinking and toking many years ago after having it be a major part of my life. This decision woke me up in a way and I spent the next period of my life trying to catch up with all the lost productivity which created a new type of unbalancing. You can quit whatever you want but if you don't have sanity you'l just find something else to get addicted to.

Now I have thought about it, I think a balance of socialising with alcohol and then socialising without it is a good place too start. Because at the moment I don't socialise at all :D therefore it's hard

Thank you all for responding.

By quiting, I learned that I don't need alcohol to be an asshole; I was able to remember each time I was a jerk quite clearly. But that didn't stop me. Post looking, one of the first things I noticed was I stopped freaking out when I said something off color. Further into recovery, I became a lot more sensitive to what I was saying and that is something that's working very nicely.

Herbs

I've been experimenting with herbs for some time now and I would like to share some info with you guys, especially with those who struggle hard with anxiety and depression.

There is a class of herbs that are called Adaptogens. They are very mild and non-toxing and generally can be taken daily for an indefinite amount time without side-effects.

Adaptogens have a normalizing (balancing) effect on body functions especially on the nervous system and act as tonics. Some of of those plants, besides energizing the body, have anxiolytic (fear-dissolving) properties. So maybe someone find that they are helpful during the recovery, for me they are!

Here are some examples (actually there are around 20 generally accepted plants in this cathegory):

Schisandra (seed)

Reishi (mushroom)

Rhodiola rosea (root)

Eleutherococcus (root)

Rhaponticum (root)

Gynostemma (leaves)

Ashwagandha (root)

Maybe it's helpful to any of you...

peace

I second that, and add:

Moringa (typically ground leaf powder) - helps me for sleep, focus and concentration

Maca (ground root powder) - general stimulant, more sexual energy

Milk thistle (plant extracts) - liver protectant

I drink Yerba maté. It also seems to have these effects.

Yes yes and yes! Good discussion. I take herbs for anxiety, irritability, and just overall health. If you are able to and enjoy running around in the forest you can find lots of reishi (at least in Oregon you can). I wild crafted and made a bunch of tincture last year... good stuff. I usually take Chinese formulas. Xiao Yao Wan is generally good for depression irritability and stress. You can usually find it at a Chinese medicine store or find a good herbalist who can prescribe a formula suited to each individuals needs.

ngregers

If you are able to and enjoy running around in the forest you can find lots of reishi (at least in Oregon you can). I wild crafted and made a bunch of tincture last year... good stuff.

Oh you are really fortunate, as far as I can tell we don't have Reishi growing in the forests here so I started growing them myself.

Reishi is really a great something. It brings me back to a sense of calm clarity of the mind. I guess that's why it has been used traditionally to enhance meditation...

And yes the chinese have a very interesting way of blending and using herbs, it's a real inspiration.

When you make tinctures make sure you make a double extraction with alcohol and water and then mix them together to get the full spectrum of active ingredients...

peace

Have you tried all of these herbs? I cannot find Reishi mushroom, naturally, in the UK (suprise, suprise)... Can you recommend one of the others, in capsule form? Which might be cheapest?

That's great! Good to read that another human being has turned sane! smily

I'd like to write a report about my recovery soon, but not yet because I'm looking forward to a similar confirmation as yours. It's my 4th year of recovery and things look quite good, but I still need more time... what I wondered about in your post was the part where you said that your relationships have become harder than before? Could you explain more? I, to the contrary, would say that relationships have become easier because I choose the people I hang out with and don't hang out with people I don't like. Being honest and sincere is an absolute must for me now and if I can't be honest, I better don't deal with those people. It has become harder to be in-genuine for sure and I can't imagine going back to the pretense, hiding my truth, and showing myself off as someone else. I am me and that's it. So, I'm wondering if you're having similar issues or is your experience altogether different? Thanks and good luck!

"It has become harder to be in-genuine for sure and I can't imagine going back to the pretense, hiding my truth, and showing myself off as someone else. I am me and that's it."

Good stuff, LeeHarry. Your short account strikes a cord. I'm just over 4 years and can agree with what you say here I'm looking forward to hearing more.

SSRI's

I have decided to go on a course of paroxetine too see if this might help lift my mood and function better. I took it it 2011 before any knowledge of looking or anything like this and it seemed to work, maybe only as a placebo but something happened. Back then I remember my self esteem increased and my self image became more positive and acceptable, at least to me.

The difference now is that I don't think my self image is as lucid and real as it was back then. I am much more present to the moment and the movement of life seems to capture more of my attention than the constantly wrestling thinking patterns. Saying that, I wonder if this drug may work well with looking and have a positive effect. I know that they can be addictive once started so I'l try it for a year max.

Any ones experience or thoughts on these drugs whilst looking would be greatly appreciated.... I've seen people post about this in the past but I wonder if there are any fresher ideas about using these drugs post looking...

If you do a search on the research on exercise you will find that there are many good studies that show that exercise is as effective on moderate depression as SSRIs. SSRIs are only about 40% effective, a little better than a placebo. I would say try exercise first, if depression is the problem. Now anxiety is another animal and I don't know the research on anxiety and SSRIs, but you could check it out.

In regards to depression, exercise increases something called BDNF, or brain derived neurotrophic factors. This substance is produced in the brain and has both protective actors against neurotoxins, like high levels of cortisol that often go with depression, and it also increases neurogenenisis, or the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is associated with memory and emotional regulation. This is a rather new area of research (BDNF) and the discoveries are still coming in. Interestingly, fasting has similar effects on the brain as exercise. Both stress the brain, which is a good thing as it increases levels of BDNF. I have experimented with an intermittent fasting regime for the last 5 weeks and have experienced favorable symptom relief from depression, on othe order of when I used to run long distances. It's not as draconian as it might sound. I stop eating after dinner, around 7 and don't eat again until 11 am. This is a 16 hour fast which allows an 8 hour eating window, where I eat as much as I normally eat. After 12 hours of fas I got the liver switches from burning glucose as fuel to burning fat.....this is ketosis. Researchers have found that the byproducts of ketosis, ketones, are actually the better fuel for the brain over glucose, probably affecting all brain functioning. For more info on this, you can look up a tedx talk by a John's Hopkins researcher named, Mark Mattson.

Your decision to go on SSRIs, is of course, individual decision and I'm not saying don't do it, but it might be useful to explore these other areas as well, maybe in conjunction with SSRIs. I would advise seeing SSRIs as a temporary measure with plans up front on withdrawing after 6 months or so.....many folks go on these meds for life and the longer you are on them the harder it is to get off.....in my experience in working with kids as a clinical social worker.

Bottom line, do the research on exercise, diet and fasting and avoid the psuedo-science info in this area. In regards to the looking, my anxiety went away almost completely after 3-3.5 years. My depressive states hung on longer, but have gotten better after 4 years and using the measures I describe above. It does get better!

Jim sorry I don't have any experience to share in this area. Seems to me you need to try these meds out and see for yourself if they can help you, I know that's what I'd have to do.

For me nothing other than one look at me and learning to guide attention has worked in the fashion it is talked about here.

Can add that going half-manic on attention practice has done wonders for my fear and worrying lately, I don't know how determined you are to work with it but I strongly encourage anyone really to put all eggs in one basket, at least for a while, and see if there's anything to it. Do it every waking minute you think to do it with intent and determination to become a friggin pro. The misery is still around surely, but it is just depressing and beside the point, deserves way less attention than it calls to itself.

The hardest part is to keep practicing when everything is awesome, but doing so is like exercising with extra weights and totally rewarding in that sense. Somehow deeper than whatever is making my day awesome in the first place.

Love roed

I used to use SSRI's for depression before looking for many years (more than 10 altogether) without any discernible effect on depression. They just made me sleep bad. As Jackx says, the effectiveness of SSRI's have been contested, some saying that they are not actually any more effective than placebos, considering all the research results withheld by the drug companies involved in developing them. That's what I've heard. Placebo effect in itself is not to be dismissed, though.

I've greatly improved along the years since I started looking. These days, depression is for the most part a thing of the past, and I attribute it to the looking. I practise the attention directing very infrequently and lazily, so I find some inspiration in roed-'s posting. Maybe I should do it some more. Some consequences of depression are still there, the habits that developed due to depressed mind, and the lack of development, too. These might also change over the course of recovery.

I practise intermittent fasting, too, or it might be more accurate to say intermittent feeding, as some suggest. My fast is even longer most days being 19 hours and 5 hours of feeding (fast-5 method), but I'm relaxed and flexible about this these days. It's worth saying here that if you have eating disorders or compulsive eating, it might get aggravated in the adjusting period to this regime. What some call limbic hunger might eventually go, referring to wanting to eat when not physically hungry after some time, and healing some of the obsessive eating. All in all, I find fasting a very fascinating thing and it suits me well. It's empowering. I don't like to be eating all the time. I don't do it for the mind, but for the body, mostly. I believe looking has brought some self-reliant confidence and clear headedness on this issue, too. You might want to check on "fasting mimicking diet" which has been developed at the University of California (I think) to mimic the positive effects of fasting but making it easier, if you're interested in all this. Basically it's a 4 day period of eating certain way to get a fast response in the body repeated a few times a year. It has been shown to improve many health markers dramatically while being easier than actual fasting for some. This is a new development.

I would promote the attention directing exercise for depression, too, but if you want to do more and easier things, those other things might be useful.

Thanks for these responses...

Exercise and the paroxetine is the way I'm going to go from here. I may think about the fasting methods another time. I am also very lazy when it comes too the focused attention but to be honest I don't feel like I've needed it. My life has been very stress free lately as I have only just started working for the first time in two months and I have been living like a recluse. Not such a bad thing in the coldest months of the year. The problem with this is when I have to talk to people it gets more and more difficult.

Seppo, I was convinced that it was a placebo effect that worked for me last time on that medication but I cannot be sure. I know a few people who really feel they need it and without they become major depressed and suicidal. I don't get bad depression so I am using the drug for anxiety mostly. But with anxiety does come low moods and isolation with me.

Last month I became so used to my own company that I was convinced that I would be content and happy (possibly) if I never saw another person again. Even my family. Some would call this depression but it just seemed so comfortable not to have to worry about having to go out and deal with the fear and alienation. The fact that fear is what made me like this in the first place means I would be doing it for the wrong reasons though. Unless I tried to become a hermit out in the wild somewhere I have to go out into the world where people know me and I need to socialise to make a living.

So, I am hoping this drug will help spur me on a bit. May sound a bit reckless but it could be worth a try.

Thanks again for the replies!!!

Jim

Good info, Seppo, thanks. I tend to binge on food, especially in the winter.....when my depression hits hard, and have found fasting to regulate my appetite and my whole relationship with food, as well as my mood. I feel like this is what John means about when he talks about 'natural intelligence'. We find what works for us in our particular body/brains. I like 'self reliant confidence and clear headedness'. Sums it up.

Do feel that fasting helped your mood regulation?

Good luck, Jim. My wife is on paroxetine for anxiety and it works well.

The drugs might have helped me when I was first diagnosed and this might be due to placebo effect, or not. I've told this before here in some earlier thread that in the neuroscience lab I do cleaning in the mornings there was some research done on the SSRI's and they find that they increase neuroplasticity in the brain, making them more flexible. This might explain some of the effects and why the best response comes with drugs combined with psychotherapy. If one feels they help I don't see why they shouldn't use them, especially if the side effects aren't too bad. I had go on sleeping pills every time I used them.

Jackx, I don't think fasting has done much regarding my mood. At first with fast-5 method, I did experience the lessening of the so called limbic hunger and it made me feel better. I get binges still, especially when I get very hungry and because I haven't got rid of the compulsive sweet/fat combination in my diet. If I did, I'd have to reconsider my fasting as I wouldn't get enough calories. My sugar intake concerns me, but I feel the recovery might take it away at some point. I feel lost and empty and try to add some feeling by eating cookies and cakes and chocolate, to get something going on in my mind. Now, clearly this is a dysfunctional pattern of behaviour and might not survive the recovery as it advances. I hope it won't.

I believe exercise is good for depression as well, but in my case I lacked the motivation. If you just want to lay down and die and don't care about nothing much, it's hard to see why exercise. I got into training with weights about ten years ago whenever I felt better and it might kept the bad feelings at bay somewhat. These days my exercise is minimal, but I've read some interesting theory about HIT, high intensity training, where you train briefly and infrequently but intensely, meaning doing your set till you can't do another rep. It's very demanding but I believe it has effects less intensive training doesn't have. I'm quite sure more research will be conducted on this in the future (it's been looked into since the 60s, before the jogging and other cardio exercise was promoted so much in the seventies, as result of a fad and inaccurate research methods, I've read). It's even said that it gives better overall cardiovascular conditioning than the regular running etc. This way you don't need to spend much time in the gym and it's much safer. It makes sense that the quality and intensity of muscular stimulation gives better results. I can see the shift happening with HIIT, high intensity interval training where you cycle or run with the highest intensity possible for less than minute and repeat it a few times per exercise and a per week. This has shown to be effective for many people replacing hours of steady state exercise giving the same or even better results. But I think training with weights has been ignored some in favour of the so called cardiovascular exercise. Anyway, this is just a side issue and my view (actually, of many other's, too) and mentioned in case you're interested and looking for your way to exercise. There are alternative views on this as well. But any movement for the body is potentially good for you, both mind and body, unless it's done in excess.

Jim, your feelings about being content without seeing a single human being are familiar to me, especially in teens. Then I got depressed as a young adult and felt that I failed to make connection with others and was depressed for the next 20 years. Until recently, when the feelings of not needing others are coming back. I believe this is because I'm healing. I feel I have more room to be with or without other people. I'm less anxious about how I'm seen or what others think about me, while also being more relaxed and direct in saying what I think. And more confident. What I'd like to find these days is a project to do and pour my energies into.

The thing about attention practice is that it is totally unlike any other thing you do, while all the other things are the same.

Thanks for your comment LeeHarry! I will answer you soon. I am still thinking of what I accyually ment when I said that some relationships have become harder.

Thanks, Seppo. I have heard of HIT and try to do some of it in my exercise.....walking hills, short burst running, etc. For me, exercise and other monotonous activities are the times when I do attention exercises.....focus on my breathing, or my step cadance, etc. it's comfortable and something I can bring my attention back to.

I also struggle with compulsive eating, or have in the past. I pretty much have to cut sugar out of my diet. I've read where fasting better regulates the hormone ghrelin which manages appetite. I have found that fasting pretty much took away my impulse to overeat and regulated my satiety levels. There are definitely parallels between the effects of exercise and fasting on the brain, which is why I suspect it may help with mood as well.

I have found a theme between fasting and directed attention, that I can't quite verbalize. I believe there is s deeper connection between the looking, directed attention and other basic, primal activities such as eating/not eating, focused attention/diffuse attention or zoning......as I said, I can't quite put it into words, but it feels the looking process has sensitized me to these basic functions in a new and rather intense way. For example, you can choose to read social media or direct your attention (look up from your computer) outside and watch the birds or wind in the trees. You can be more structured and chose to fast from social media. Perhaps, just as with fasting from food, your taste and senses will refine and your satiety set point will change, thereby becoming satisfied with 'low stimulation' input.

Thoughts?

Jackx, those are interesting reflections. I need to think about what you said on attention practice relating to fasting, satiety point etc. I wish I could cut sugar from my diet, but strangely I don't feel too alarmed about it anymore. One of the troubles with not getting to work I'd like to do, painting, is perhaps that I spend a lot of time online looking into the many things I'm interested in. Painting requires a special frame of mind and a another kind of time. All this digital stimulation leads elsewhere, so some kind of digital media fast would be in order.

To comment some more on the HIT. The short bursts you etc. are more HIIT (the extra 'I' there meaning intervals), which is different. In HIT you don't have intervals, you do it very slowly, which strangely enough, adds to the intensity. And makes it safer for your joints and easier to watch you posture etc. The point is to do the set (of weigh training) to failure, which means until you can't move your load anymore. This is surprisingly difficult to achieve. When the fatigue hits, it starts to feel uncomfortable and your minds starts to scream for you to stop, you're suppose to carry on. If the load still moves, you go on until you fail, and still push for 10 seconds. This ensures the optimal stimulation to the muscle cells. The point is not to move certain amount of iron certain amount of times, but to send a message to your cells. This is so intense or even a little bit frightening, that it might take some time to get to the actual point where you fail. At least it did for me. This requires attending to your mind, which is quite close to attention practice. You turn your attention away from the thoughts that tell you to stop and only watch your movement until it stops. So it's quite a mental exercise. I think I get better at it the more I practice attention directing. This kind of training is so demanding that you can hardly do it longer than 30 min. Also, they say it requires longer recovery. So you make it short, intense and with a week or more between each set (one set per exercise each session). More on this google Doug McDuff or Drew Baye, for example, if you're interested. There are videos of how it looks like on Youtube.

I think the intensity of it might contribute to distracting you from depressive feelings, plus the the physical intensity of it draws you to your body way from your head. It might be that the connection between attention training and physical trying and fasting is the intelligence of body and mind awakening, now that I think about it.

The Fear of Life Has Gone

It was only after the fear of life had disappeared from my life that I knew it had been there at all. All my old pursuits have remained except one: the great self-justifying spiritual search.

Now I do things spontaneously, following my passions, and then live with the feelings that arise on the full spectrum from exhilaration to despair. The need to justify occurs as thoughts but does not underlie actions. It is such a relief, even in the midst of a day or two of misery. Nothing lasts long enough to stop me from getting on with enjoying living. This is stunning. John has found the key.... If you read this and wonder, try the looking.

IN JOY,

Helen

Yes! This is my experience as well.

Wow Helen you say so much with so little. I enjoy it very much, thank you.

A sane thought

When I woke up this morning I thought about doing some schoolwork. I often think to do schoolwork but only to keep me out of trouble. Today I didn't speculate in that, it was just a normal thought suggesting to do it, nothing more. So I did what I always would have done: I got up, made some breakfast and eventually spent this whole beautiful spring day with friends instead. There's still plenty of time to catch up on the reading and now they say it will rain tomorrow. Aren't I in luck!

Hurray for the education system in Scandinavia! Let's enjoy it while it lasts. I recognize this very well roed. I have a one year old son and he is always more interesting then the books that should be read. And I always find a way to make deadline. And the main reason for that to work, it seams, is the way I relate to what is to be done. The neurotic stress about it is not so strong anymore. And that makes me more effective too.

Forgetting to look in recovery

About nine years ago I encountered John's work as I was looking into different approaches to self-inquiry, and I began practicing the looking very intently. I felt entirely sure that I was seeing myself, and it came naturally. I continued to attend "spiritual" retreats, but while others were practicing meditation, I would do the looking instead. A couple years later, triggered by a divorce and the death of my mother, my life seemed to fall apart completely and I fell into an extended period of alcohol abuse, accompanied by intense depression and anxiety. During this very long period of time I completely forgot to look.

Only recently, as I began to enter a different kind of recovery (the AA kind), I remembered to look again. Now when I'm in meetings, and others pray to a higher power, I do the looking instead. Once again it comes naturally and I've been doing it often.

I am wondering if forgetting the looking for so long is something others have experienced also. I can't help thinking that my seven year stretch of "amnesia" might mean I never got it right the first time, and perhaps I don't have it right now. On the other hand, I feel I am doing exactly what John has described. Grateful for any responses...

I did the looking, forgot about it, and came back to myself after a hellish time of recovery. It wasn't as long a period as you describe, but I did take up the looking again when I figured out what was happening to me. Interestingly my mother died as well in this process. My anxiety and depression, which was substantial, went away almost completely after 4 years. Since then life has ripened and is growing richer every day.

I'm glad you're on the mend. I believe we all go through this process differently, but that once we see ourselves, the truth, it grips us firmly and we can't wiggle away. The fact you came back to the looking probably indicates you did it right the first time....You may want to set up a phone meeting with John.

Dear delmogazi

Great to see you back!

Thank you Jackx and Carla. After some more looking, I do believe I'm on the right track. So good to have a community here. I wish I could find the "like" button so that I could like your posts back.

Dear delmogazi,

We're very happy you are here. Please post your questions, reports comments, whenever you feel like it. Your experience with the looking and the recovery is useful to all of us.

As for the Like button, look on the lower right corner of each posting, reply or comment and you'll see it right there, to the right of "Flag" there is a hand with a thumb up. Click on it to like that particular post, comment or reply. And if you click on the little box with a number right next to it, you'll see who liked that particular posting.

Hi Carla,

Not that it's very important to fix, but on my screen, when I view the postings, there's only Quote, Comment, then Flag and no thumbs-up. Just to let you know why I still haven't liked your posts!

Thanks for letting me know. The Like button actually does not appear for anyone but the Moderators. We'll do some research and see if we can figure out how to make the Like button appear for everybody.

Could anybody point me towards threads that discuss addiction and the recovery process? I fear I'm not "out of the woods" yet.

Still awkward

It's been 3 and a half years since I first looked and I am certain what needed to happen, happened. Something to do with my perception has definitely changed but it is hard to describe. I suppose it is just the case that I am going sane and that what is happening right now, moment to moment, appeals to me more than worrying about an uncertain future, which makes life seem more interesting. Like there is so much going on. Like I say, it's hard to describe.

What has not changed for me is the self consciousness that has been my biggest enemy for a long time. I don't understand why it is hanging on and I wonder if using focused attention exercises is the only way I can get past it. It is basically social anxiety and I always feel it when around people. I am more worried about my facial expression than of other people when I talk to them. My smile is sometimes feigned, like I have to force it. It sounds ridiculous but it has become like an obsession. I know this is big detail but i don't mind sharing and wonder if others can relate? At times when there is no anxiety I can obviously relax and enjoy company but usually it is very frustrating.

Anyway, this isn't a major deal I know, so i'm not looking for any life saving advice. Just thought I'd post something. Forums are a bit quiet these days eh...

Jim

delmogazi,

If you type 'addiction'; in the Search box on the top of the page and hit Enter (or click on the magnifying glass icon), you'll find many posts that discuss it. You can search for any word or combination of words. If you click on the little arrow next to the Search box, you can refine your search even more.

Acutely aware of the fear of life

Unfortunately, I'm still posting in the recovery section of this forum because I'm acutely aware that the fear of life is actively dominating my mind. It's comical, but I've observed that there's something full-on determined to hold me at arm's length from life. I have lovely spring weather, amazing friends and family, blessings all around, and yet something wants me to escape from all this. It doesn't matter what the escape is...anything at the ready...drinking, smoking, reruns of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills...you name it! I am completely convinced that I've genuinely seen myself over and over again, and yet it seems I'm so adverse to meeting life right where it is. Well, for whatever it's worth, that's my post this evening. I'll keep looking as much as I can remember to do so. Grateful for everyone in this forum...

You show a good understanding of the cause of the problem when you write that you have ""¦observed that there's something full-on determined to hold me at arm's length from life."

That's exactly true, and that something determined to keep you away from your life is your mind, which has been crippled by the fear of life itself, and paralyzed by the energy exuded by that fear. Looking at yourself destroys the underlying context of fear, but although the fear of life is gone its effects will take some time to die off. It is those lingering effects that cry out to you to escape before you forget to be afraid.

It is not your fault. Your personality, like for most if not all of us, was damaged by having taken birth in the fog of fear and it will take some time to recover and heal. The prime directive of the fear is to forbid direct contact with life. The irritation you feel about the persistence of the symptoms is itself one of those symptoms, and it works by pulling your attention away from life as it is to the irritation and confusion about it.

You need not wait passively for your mind to clear of these aggravations. If you are willing to take on the practice of self-directed attention as you recover, you will learn to take intelligent and self-reliant control over your attention. It can be very hard in the beginning, and might even seem impossible, but you will begin to notice real progress within a month or so, and as you gain in strength, even the difficult process of recovery from fear will come to be deeply satisfying.

Here is a link to the file with instructions for the self-directed attention practice. Please take this seriously.

Self-Directed Attention Instructions (PDF)

Dear John,

Thank you for the thorough and thoughtful response. I have read all the supporting materials on your website, and will faithfully attempt the attention exercise, even as everything in me seems to want to resist it. The instructions on the attention focusing and on the looking are very clear and each make perfect sense. I have only one lingering question. Is the focusing of attention on the breath intended to make it more likely that I will readily focus on the sense of "me" throughout the day? I wasn't entirely sure about the relationship between the breath and the looking, but this is my assumption, and I wanted to make sure I had that right.

Turns out that the act of looking needs to be done just once. It is common for people to glorify the looking and assume that the more they look, the quicker they will be finished with the misery created in fear. This is understandable given the fact that nothing useful can be done to cure the mind's madness until the fear of life is cured by the act of looking at yourself-at your me-at least once.

But once you have done that, the disease is cured, and repetition, although sweet, is absolutely optional. Once you have succeeded in that really simple task, what remains is the recovery, which can be difficult and painful, and can persist for a long time unless you take direct control over the development of your mind as it heals from the disease.

And that is the purpose of the practice of self-directed attention. As you work with it, you will come to see that:

1. Your attention is the only phenomenon over which you have any control at all;

2. Gaining effective control over attention is extremely hard in the beginning, but can be accomplished more quickly than seems possible when you first begin to work with it;

3. As skill and understanding grow with practice, you will begin to see the true and deeply satisfying nature of the human mind. The childish fear-driven hunger for a stroke of magic to take away all difficulty and even the need for work on yourself will vanish. In the end, you will come to love your human life precisely because it takes clarity, patience, and skillful work with your attention to bring it to fruition.

Got it! Thanks so much!

Completely Hopeless

All I want in life is to NOT be forced to interact with pathological people (true, it's different for everybody and may vary on perception and your past experiences in life),

And to be able to hold some sort of standard level of "dignity" throughout my life, which frankly I think most people out there would rather take away from you, rather than you keeping it.

It's all tied into the money/power/territory system that the apes before us have devised (for their benefit mostly, no surprise there).

I feel really hopeless and powerless, almost to the point of suicide (don't think I'll do it, I know I'd mess it up bad).

Funny thing is this is the first time in my life where I felt this raw and hopeless.

I don't know if this means the Looking is working on me , or maybe this is possibly the end of my so-called Life.

I have the right to NOT interact with pathological people (again my POV, my right to see things the way I see them) and simply ignore people who I think could bring me more pain and suffering.

I know my life would be WAY happier and easier to navigate if I didn't have to pretend that I don't want to interact with certain people. Don't get me wrong, I always give people a chance (too many in fact, that's when the bad stuff starts happening.) And being autistic I tend to just "cut things off" right then and there when I get too overwhelmed, I don't want to do it that way but often it's literally too painful for me to go on interacting with said person. And usually ( I don't know why ) that's when people get violent (usually implying that I'm a danger to them or some such nonsense, I guess NTs have to do it that way to justify their insecure insanity). If not physically violent, socially violent and vehemently antagonistic. I really really don't like that , and it's worn me down for so many years now. I literally don't know what to do around people anymore. Which is why I just want to stay the hell away from people, and they away from me.

I usually think I have a pretty good handle on understanding social interaction, but lately I realize I'm way in over my head.

I don't understand a damn thing, apparently.

And sorry for my previous angry rants on this website,

I have no outlet in the real world, no place (not filled with psychologists) for me to fit in where I feel at home,

so my only semi-outlet is online. And I hate to have to do it this way because being online is a poor excuse for meeting your daily quota of positive social contact with people (which I read in many places is a basic necessity for human psychological well being.). Maybe there's groups out here where penniless autistic people can get structured social interaction.

I think the thing "normal" people don't realize about autistics is that fear can really run wild in our system. I don't know why that is. Seems to be a common autistic trait (for those who fall without a safety net, or fall into life's traps, or are being bullied and can't find a way out).

I just want the right (which we don't have currently) to NOT interact with people I don't feel comfortable with.

Just seems the more I stand up for this simple right that everyone (IMO) should have, the more "normal" people go for the jugular, just to ensure you don't get what you're asking for.

I think it's an instinct thing, that normal people have. It's a power-based instinct. Normal people NEED to have access to you no matter what, come hell or high water.

And that's the root of what disturbs me. That and I can't find a date. Nothing more life-destroying than being an autistic bisexual (more on the straight side), basically an unlayable bisexual, which is a contradiction in terms. But anyway, that's neither here nor there.

So, to sum up, I feel Hopeless, and I need some type of Sanctuary, respite from all unnecessary and unneeded human interaction that's actually more detrimental than good.

I have so many good qualities, and I just need a stable life for it to grow.

I don't feel as hopeless as I did when I began writing this post.

maybe that's a sign i need communication with people to "get the bad out"

4 1/2 years in.

Looking report, 4 1/2 years post-looking:

Basically all negative emotional patterns are gone. The anxiety and depression syndromes that infiltrated my whole life are gone. I still get anxious and depressed, to be sure, but these instances don't last long. My preoccupation with salvation, enlightenment, and spiritual perfection is mostly gone. I am still somewhat a bystander to this process, peeking in the windows of spiritual forums to see what others are doing, but less and less inclined to engage myself in these discussions, even to try to explain the effects and simplicity of the looking (fear seems a powerful force in keeping us away from the thing which would mean it's end. At all costs!). The endless spiritual fantasies about liberation and oneness are simply no longer necessary or even desirable. I find myself bemused that I was ever so deeply caught up in these endless discussions about spiritual liberation, salvation, non-duality, ego, reincarnation, consciousness, etc.

Guilt and shame, which drove many of my actions and feelings all my life is greatly diminished and almost gone. I have had to learn and rely on other motivational forces....creativity, truth, quality, meaning, etc. Many of the perseverative, idiosyncratic habits and thought patterns which were fueled by guilt and shame simply dropped away. The avoidance of and attempts to ameliorate guilt and shame are no longer necessary. Beer gets undrunken in the fridge, junk food sits, neglected, in the cupboards.

Tasks, work, problem solving have all become easier, more efficient and enjoyable. I simply go to work and do what needs to be done without much fuss and much less procrastination. I have struggled with ADHD and executive functioning difficulties most of my life, made worse by anxiety; focus, working memory, memory, and planning. These issues have been greatly reduced and ameliorated. I can sit down to a task and get lost in it without becoming distracted. These instances of 'flow' have increased enormously. In the past, immersion in a task or process to the point of 'timelessness' only happened when it was something I enjoyed....building with my hands, movies, etc. Now I get caught in flow while driving, doing chores, at work, and other routine things. The internal complaining and desire to be elsewhere during times of boredom or even painful experiences is greatly reduced. I can dial into the present moment with precision and artful direction of attention.

My body was another lifelong obsession. I am no longer obsessed with my looks, my health, or my ailments. I have found it satisfying to take care of my body and health rather than be obsessed with perfect health and fears of illness. I find pleasure in exercise, qigong, cooking and eating (and growing) whole foods. Rather than thinking of these things as salvation, they are simply fulfilling activities in and of themselves which promote positive energy and enjoyment. I can now eat 'bad' food occasionally without fear and guilt and not binge on them as before. My energy levels and stamina for life are higher than ever.

I am not perfect by any stretch. It's been interesting to be honest with myself and allow the truth of my faults and imperfections to come through......something I once avoided at all costs. I always considered myself a 'nice guy'. In fact, this persona was critical to the idealized self I had created. I had to have people like me and went to great lengths to obtain the approval of others. I tend to be socially introverted with a great love for people. It always bothered me that I wasn't more extroverted and socially available as I was often stricken with social anxiety. I found, once the social anxiety went away, that I can tolerate a room full of strangers, but it's simply not my preference. I'm learning to parse my social energies without beating myself up about not being social enough. I still occasionally awake to nightmares, as my dreams seem to be a channel of the fear I'm not experiencing while awake.

I never believed I would experience life in this way, or even imagined life could be experienced in this way. My recovery was rather wretched and afterward there was an emptiness, a vacuum, left by the absence of fear. I had relied on fear all my life; an awful baseline from which to measure every paltry nuance and twitch. Without it, there wasn't much meaning. The psychologist, Martin Seligman, stated that he noticed that when his patients recovered from depression and anxiety they weren't necessarily happy.....the absence of pain wasn't fulfillment and happiness. This too was my rather numb experience for a year or so after the recovery. With the aftermath of the looking, I found that meaning, aka life, filled the void eventually and reliably. It took awhile to get here and I look forward to an ever evolving relationship with this human life as it expands outward. If I can get here with all my doubts, fits and starts, and exquisite neurosis, so can humanity.

Dear Jackx,

Thank you very much for this clear, sane, lucid report.

Thanks, Carla. It's appreciated. I have been having a difficult time talking about the looking with friends and significant others lately. If been getting a lot of push back, saying they don't see changes in me, that I can't attribute changes to the looking and just general disbelief. It's kind of discouraging, given that I experience life in a very different way than I did 5 years ago. I wish I could communicate things better. It seems that those close to me don't want to or cant see the changes. I have even felt the rising of emotion, mostly anger, about this that I haven't experienced in awhile.

Does anyone else struggle with this?

It is my experience that trying to tell someone who has known me for a long time, including my family, is very very hard. Telling a stranger is much easier. I went to Brasil in 2014, after an absence of 15 years. I got to see a few of my old friends. They would ask me what I'm doing and, instead of trying to describe it, I would say: It's hard to explain, but I can show you. And then I would go through the instructions for looking at yourself with them. As far as I know, they looked. How could they not? I have learned not to ask for their impression, because they most likely will not recognize it. Then I would tell them, if things start getting weird, get in touch with me or go to our website. I don't think people can see how different I am from the person they used to know. After all, the bulk of the changes is all in my own mind. They may even feel it, but they would not recognize it consciously. One thing I think is important is to never try to tell someone unless they ask. And not to expect anything in return. Just warn them that things may get hard for a while and leave them be. There is no way they can understand what you are trying to communicate before they do the looking. All that matters is to try to get them to look - if they ask for it.

Thanks Carla. That's very helpful.

I can totally relate to what you are saying. I have the same trouble with social anxiety. Especially when I am around people who are acting very unconsciously. And that seems to be my biggest fear, unconscious, insane people. I often have to fake a smile when I am around people. I have been forced to do this for so long that I no longer care whether it's a fake smile or not, I just want people to leave me alone. Or at least to have the right to have people leave me alone. Which I think is seriously lacking in this culture we live in, and by that I mean American culture.

I am hoping to, just like you, that the cooking process will perhaps relieve me of some of this, ideally all of this, anxiety and social awkwardness.

It's interesting to think; those people you try and mention the looking to may not have noticed when you were miserable and burdened with 'the fear of life' either. We all experience our own reality tunnel and I assume it is only our misery and conditioned fear that we focus mostly on when we are caught in 'the fear'.

Dunno if that makes sense. I think I can relate though. Sometimes I feel I am really at ease and wonder if others notice it as well as me. But why should they care? And do they really care? Maybe that's why you felt anger; cos you wanted them to notice and it didn't show up. I understand that, as I catch myself doing the same thing.

Not sure if what I'm saying makes much sense as I am a little stoned as I write this.

ps. I'm sure people very close to you noticed when you were really really miserable. I was referring to that low level misery that seems to persist in all of us, to different degrees.

Jim

Yep. These social fears are persistent as hell and only seem to be completely absent when I'm intoxicated with alcohol. Maybe I am not exposing myself to these fears, soberly and often enough. I have wondered in the past how a forced social setting, like prison, could actually improve my social anxiety as I would have no choice but to talk to people. Either that or be estranged.

ps. the looking process has rid me of those panicking, run away thoughts that used to be there, I think.

Actually I don't think those close to me knew how miserable I was......and I think you're right, we are all caught up in our own misery and don't notice others. I think the anger is mixed with frustration as I'm not feeling anger now. It's a mix of need for validation and just wanting those you love to experience what you are experiencing. All those with whom I had recent conversations with have done the looking and they all deny experiencing the effects and question my experience, even though I see signs in them of changes. I guess it doesn't even matter if they acknowledge the looking as causality, I know they will change in time. I was just surprised at the level of emotion this elicited.....both in them and me. Defensiveness and attack on both sides. More levels to uncover, more pockets of fear to unravel. It's all blown over now. Kids are much easier to talk to about the looking. 😉

Really beautiful report Jack , it is so exciting this is possible with just one look..very much my own experience.too.I agree Jim with what you say everyone caught in the fear of life pretty much focused on their own situation. I see a difference in my own response to the dramas unfolding around me. I have a definite calming effect and many people mention this. I think its natural to expect a lot of resistance from others . I too struggled with so many deep seated fears during the recovery. I stay alert to any moment I can inject the simplicity of the looking into a conversation if the context feels right.

I may be missing your meaning here, but [ ...exposing myself to these fears ...] is a bad idea; declining to attend to them will starve the specific recurring pattern, and in time they will simply not arise. http://www.justonelook.org/look/attention

thanks John.

yes, I understand how controlling my attention is probably the only way to have the anxiety fade. But when I say expose myself to them, I mean, rather than avoid places, people, and situations, I'm best off trying to face the fear which arises. Like the book 'feel the fear and do it anyway'.

There is just a lot of discomfort in these social situations and it sometimes gets easier, sometimes more difficult. It is frustrating when I start believing anxiety won't appear and then it does.

But anyway, I am not self pitying and playing victim any more. I am trying taking responsibility.

Jim, exposing oneself soberly to the situation that causes fear is perhaps beneficial, but attending to the fear response is not. Maybe the fear goes without that even, in time? It might happen that one day fear doesn't arise in that situation.

I've been thinking about "working" on one's weaknesses and bad habits regarding the recovery, whether those should be left to take care of themselves or should an active effort be made to get rid of them? There are habits that can endanger your health in the long run, or even the short one. Perhaps an effort is needed for those if they're not going away? I've been thinking that they'll go in their own time but recently I find myself making an effort, but I'm not sure about it.

I've been watching John's retreat videos recently and it has triggered some clarity regarding thinking patterns. I've been clearer about the algorithmic nature of my habitual thoughts and how insane most of them are. Probably all of them are skewed to some extent, but some are downright laughable. This has made it easier to move my attention away from them. Our minds are funny in their contradictions; one part goes after a thing, another condemns it. Each algorithm kind of making sense in it's own context, but put all together, it's a madhouse. Seeing those mad bits of program running wild, then withering and losing power leaves an empty place. It challenges one to replace them with a new ones, but those need relearning, and it feels slow and kind of awkward. All the same, I feel progress toward clarity and sanity has been happening.

Jackx, your report is immensely encouraging. In the same span of time I can't say I've got that far. My junk food doesn't sit neglected, unfortunately. I'm currently repeating my experiment of last year to abstain from sweet junk food, going on 4 days now, and I feel miserable. I feel empty and anxious, don't know that to do now I'm not as spaced out with stimulants. I feel resistance and lethargy to take on doing stuff I used to like and think important. I just waste my time away doing nothing. I still have horribly depressive thoughts and in the absence of them I feel I'm in that limbo we've discussed here before. And at 45 I feel my life is over anyway and I better get used to it. But there are good things happening, too. I see more clearly how all my thinking is confused, contradictory and/or destructive, which makes it easier to move attention away from it, to see that it's all patterns and algorithms without any significance.

I've been thinking about the changes not being noticed and I think that absence of something is not often noticed. It might get noticed if your motive to do something goes absent which makes you lose interest in that something, but all those internal changes that don't manifest in any straightforward way remain inside you. It's the absence that's really revolutionary in our minds.

delmogazi and all,

The Like button is working now for everybody.

I find that my intelligence/attention leads me towards a solution to most problems.....or at least acceptance. I'm learning to trust my instincts more and where my attention and curiosity leads me.

Jackx, I've read your account several times over and find it both inspiring and genuine. I was wondering if you ever practice/d the self-directed attention that John recommends? Did that kind of exercise have any role in your "recovery" or did things just play out over 4 1/2 years?

In addition to what John has replied, this can be an interesting read: http://www.fastcompany.com/3059634/your-most-productive-self/your-brain-has-a-delete-button-heres-how-to-use-it

In short: the article discusses that connections in the brain that get used less get marked by a protein. When that mark is detected by 'glial cells', they destroy the pathway. Which is actually literally what John is saying: if you decline to use these neural pathways, they will starve.

I guess not interacting with people is not a good way to starve these pathways.. you are looking for healthy interaction instead of no interaction.

Also if I understand the problem might not be in the interaction, but in the social comparison.. which still might occur in forced social settings or in isolation.

Stop the social comparison and the pattern will starve.. probably easier said than done, but i guess it's as simple as that.

NB: Of course this article might be the easily consumable mass-media version of the actual story.. it might only apply to very specific regions, pathways or animals even. There is probably no proof this applies to behaviour patterns.. but that doesn't make it less interesting and relevant smily

Kinda both. Things definitely played out because a lot of this happened before John and Carla formulated their ideas about directed attention. However, I was experienced in many kinds of meditation over the years and never found it difficult to direct my attention.....that is, it was easier with a background in meditation and the base of fear gone from my mind. This is very much unfolding. Since writing this I have had some emotional rollers coming through and stressful life circumstances. But this is the way of life and it's not devastating as it once was. I do Qi Gong every, or most mornings, and I use this as my directed attention exercise. I bring my attention to my breath and the movements. I use Qi Gong for healing and to maintain health as well as working with attention. I also use the directed attention exercise, however, I typically don't wallow in negative thoughts, as I once did and my mind seems to reboot on its own. That's not to say I don't experience negative thinking and emotional states. I Do. I use healthy eating, exercise, an Qi Gong as a way to add quality to my life, rather than a desperate attempt to save my life as it once was.

I guess the bottom line is that I trust my mind to nudge me in a good direction, now that isn't toxic with fear. This trust builds ever so gradually and incrementally over time and directed attention, by whatever means works, is a good way to further that process.

Interesting read indeed Poliment, including the caveat. Thank you. Carla and I have been discussing the role of the brain in the workings of the disease and its cure lately.

We will have more to say about it when our insights become a little more clearly developed.

Nice to hear that you are trying to create a better understanding of the role of the brain. Have you (or others who are far in this process) ever had an EEG recording while doing the looking or in regular resting state? Just a small setup that targets the frontal and temporal regions could be an interesting start.

Good luck with all these efforts. I trust that one day we'll all get the whole picture.

Polle

So far as I know there have been no EEGs performed in connection with our method, but that would most likely be useful in understanding the relationship between the brain and the mind in that context of the cure and the recovery. And of course that would be beyond our reach now. Our most pressing need now is to find the resources we need to expand the reach of the method itself throughout the world. I'm confident that as the news of the looking spreads, people working in that field will come forward to play a role.

A team of two mental health clinicians and one psychiatrist in a research hospital in Toronto, Canada have written a paper about our method and had it published in an online journal of psychology and non-duality (http://undividedjournal.com/2016/03/24/the-radical-act-of-inward-looking/).

You can download the paper here if you haven't already:http://www.justonelook.org/texts/the-radical-act.html

The missing link...

Dear John and Carla and everyone in the forum,

I have been helped so much by this forum-space, and having the ability to voice my questions/issues has been invaluable, especially because so often we think we have things right in our heads, but actually when we attempt to say it "out loud" we realize it wasn't quite right. Not to mention the fact that others' perspectives can steer us on the right course. I also really appreciate that the forum moderators steer the conversation here to a meaningful place, avoiding extraneous and distracting side conversations. I have donated to the forum both singly and monthly, and I encourage everyone else to do so. I could make the case solely on the fact that the things I don't spend money on now, since I've done the looking, far outweigh the cost of sending a donation to the forum.

I do have a lingering thought that I hope could be addressed at some point. I understand that the purpose of "self-directed attention" is to help me move thoughts from one place to another. But for me there's a missing link in the logic. I think I've actually got self-directed attention down pretty well now. But then the thought comes in...what am I supposed to attend to? From watching John's videos, I've gathered that his advice is that it's just whatever is going on in the moment...life...doing the dishes...etc. But part of me rebels against that in the sense that there are an infinite number of things I could attend to in any moment, and how do I know what's right? Plus, I have a big rebelliousness since childhood against "doing the dishes", lol! I guess what I'm asking is, even if I have the power to direct my attention, how do I guide it??

With great respect and gratitude,

Dina

If I go skateboarding, the only thing I need to attend to is my balance and the visual aspect of riding my board. If I play the guitar, all I need to do is concentrate on the chords I'm playing and the melody I am searching for in my head. It's the same when you do the dishes, or take a walk, or are driving.

You might have thoughts come to you when you do the dishes, about how tomorrow is going to be really hard or maybe an analyst on something 'bad' that happened yesterday. These thoughts are unnecessary to attend to and come from 'the fear'. So, in that moment you can either put your attention back to the feel of your hands washing the dishes or to the sensation of your feet (one I find helpful), or to your breath. Then you have moved attention away from those neurotic, suffering thoughts, to something which is neutral and 'in the moment'.

The idea that there is a right thing to put attention on is another fearful thought, as there isn't any right thing' we should be doing or attending to.

I hope this helps.

I am also starting to practice the movement of attention exercises.

Enjoy smily

Things are getting better all the time. Funny, I've said this before :P One thing that is becoming very obvious is how our personalities are constantly changing; from fearful, to angry, to calm, to confident, to anxious, to bored, to excited. Nothing is fixed and we need not try to be permanently happy or positive etc.

I feel much more relaxed in situations where I was completely tense before. I am on an SSRI though, which helps me a lot. I am looking forward to the summer, and to seeing friends and family. Something I shy'd away from last year, living out my days as a miserable hermit.

It's good to know that it is totally in my hands when it comes to how much suffering I endure from day to day. I am practising focused attention and I can see it's reward. Even if I don't use it very skilfully and become lazy, nothing sticks around as long as it used to.

Thanks for the responses here.

Jim

delmogazi

I do have a lingering thought that I hope could be addressed at some point. I understand that the purpose of "self-directed attention" is to help me move thoughts from one place to another. But for me there's a missing link in the logic. I think I've actually got self-directed attention down pretty well now. But then the thought comes in...what am I supposed to attend to? From watching John's videos, I've gathered that his advice is that it's just whatever is going on in the moment...life...doing the dishes...etc. But part of me rebels against that in the sense that there are an infinite number of things I could attend to in any moment, and how do I know what's right? Plus, I have a big rebelliousness since childhood against "doing the dishes", lol! I guess what I'm asking is, even if I have the power to direct my attention, how do I guide it??

Actually the purpose of the self-directed attention exercise has nothing to do with moving thoughts. The sole purpose of the exercise is to gain supple control over your own attention.

If you are still having trouble with the exercise and are unable to get to the count of ten reliably, you should do nothing with the thoughts that have hijacked your control, no matter whether they are worthwhile or worthless. Instead, every time you find yourself distracted, merely move your attention away from ALL thoughts and back to the sensation of the breath in your nostrils, and start counting again from 1.

On the other hand, if you have gained reliable control over your attention, with steady practice you will learn to recognize the worth or worthlessness of the individual thought forms present in your mind. The thoughts you decline to attend to will die of starvation and fall away on their own; those you deliberately feed with your attention will flourish and evolve to give more depth and detail to your understanding.

Your skill in declining to give attention to the worthless thoughts will increase over time and this will hasten their demise. And you will learn to make the most of the thought forms that are sane and self-reliant.

And when you understand the practice clearly you will see that it is all much simpler than it seems.

John,

This is really helpful. I'm getting from the message above that it's not so much about putting attention on something or other, but taking attention off something unnecessary. I do find that I can get to 10 in the exercise most of the time, so I'll see if I can notice the worthless thoughts and decline to attend to them.

I Salute You John And Carla

I was thinking of you guys today and this poem flowed out of me. Thought it might promote, your site in some way....peter

I Salute you John, And Carla

Once when I was filled with fear

My nerves on edge my mind unclear

I tried myself to work it out

My mind it was so filled with doubt

Meditation I learned to do

Self help books and Gurus too

I sought to help me from this curse

But each new day it did get worse

I left my wife, and family

Lived like a bum, and I hid from me

Drank myself to misery

Smoked the drugs. They did not free

Me. They only made it worse

Each day I lived it was a curse

After a year I did go back

I swore no more I'd follow this track

I knew that I must cure myself

And bring my mind way back to health

I found a good man on the net

That wondrous day I'll not forget

He told me 'all you have to do

is close your eyes, and look at 'you'

I thought 'well this is kind of dumb!'

Yet to his words I did succumb

I tried the looking for a while

And as I did I learned to smile

I had learned to look within

I sailed through, that cursed din

It turned and fled away from me

The joy came in, and I was free

From all the nastiness, and strife

This man John Sherman changed my life

So now no worries pursue me

I sing all day, and dance with glee

My failing marriage I did change

I did my life then rearrange

Now wisdom it does fill me up

I've overflowed the loving cup

I thank John and his wife too

What they had told me, it was true

So anyone who reads these words

I hope within you something stirred

If you have fear, depression too

Or Anxiety, I'm telling you

Get in touch with John Sherman

The you may reach space I am

Your life will change I tell you this

You'll go from misery to bliss

A tribute to John, and Carla Sherman I salute the pair of them

PeterDuggan

Thank you, dear Peter, for the beautiful poem!

I too, find this posting very encouraging Jack. My mind has not lost the symptoms of the fear as much as your mind seems to have. I recognize all of the changes you are reporting, from my own recovery, but often the old psychology seems to be the most dominant in my day to day experience. For years I have been convinced that I have done, by looking at myself, what's needed to be done. And I have found a rest in that insight, knowing that I don't have to do anything. So I have been waiting the recovery out, and still waits in a way, for my mind to reach the level of sane reactions as you mention. And I find your report to be a good pointer to what is to be expected, sooner or later. And I guess that a regular use of the practice of self directed attention had made, the effects you mention, to appear rather sooner than later. That is certainly true in my case anyway. And to be honest I am getting a little tired of waiting. Therefore I have decided to begin with the self directed attention practice, starting today. Better late than never!

"‹Thanks for sharing...

Thanks, Niklas.

This is great news, Niklas. The sooner you start a daily practice of self-directed attention the better. When John and I went through recovery, we did not know about the amazing effect of this practice, so we kind of waited the recovery out, although all along we were working to understand the process so we could be helpful to people. And, until we figured out the role of attention in this process, that's what we told people to expect: you look at yourself, and things will be all right in the end. It is really true that it all gets clear over time, but without our active participation in the process, we miss a great opportunity to have a say in the shape our mind takes as it regenerates.

Since we started urging people to take on this practice, we have seen amazing results. I myself started practicing self-directed attention regularly only last year, even though I am sure that the worst of the recovery was over for me a few years ago. I practice it all the time now, and it is really amazing how easy and automatic it becomes. Any time I notice a thought that is slightly neurotic and does not have any practical application in the moment, I move my attention to the sensation of the breath in my nostrils and start counting. The counting really helps me focus.

The thoughts I refer to are mostly worrisome thoughts about our constant lack of money, in our life and in our work. This is a very old tendency that has been reappearing every now and then lately, triggered by my current hormonal imbalance due to premenopause. Now that I am getting much better at determining for myself what I pay attention to, I can notice a lot sooner when a harmful or simply unnecessary thought attracts my attention. The practical thoughts that may lead me to an idea for how to get the money we need to pay the rent, for instance, are welcome. Anything else that feeds the worry and is not practical I recognize more quickly and simply decline to give it my attention. And sometimes I have to do this over and over, as the worrisome thoughts keep coming back in a loop.

This is true, radical self-reliance and it is available to everyone.

I have also found out that this applies to physical experiences too. Not surprising, since they too only occur in the mind. As I mentioned, I have been going through premenopause for the last six years, and it has been a bumpy ride. Every now and then, because of hormone fluctuations, I experience temporary depressive states of mind that are accompanied by very uncomfortable and sometimes very painful physical symptoms, mostly disturbances of my digestive system. I do what I can to deal with the symptoms, and I practice self-directed attention. I decline to attend to the crazy ideas that pop up about what's happening to me, and Oh, my god, when is this going to end? Maybe there is something really wrong with me"¦ etc. These seem to be really ancient patterns of reaction that reappear when my body-mind system is unbalanced. I am also doing this with any painful sensation that appears. Not giving attention to the physical sensations does not make them go away, but it does help to clarify my relationship with them. I am becoming more stable and self-reliant in dealing with these physical problems.

Anyway, I am very happy to hear that you have decided to get serious about the practice of self-directed attention and I am certain that you will get very good at it soon. I promise you, you will not regret it.

I urge every person reading this to do the same. If you do not, you will be all right eventually, but you will be missing out on a great opportunity to participate actively in the shaping of your mind. And the period of recovery will take much longer to finish.

No one needs to passively wait for it all to be over. The practice of self-directed attention gives you control over your attention and in doing so, gives you the tool that allows you to have a say in the shape your mind takes over time by attending to the psychological mechanisms that are sane and useful to you, and declining to give your attention to those that are sick and harmful to you.

Thanks for the interesting report Carla. Yesterday, after having made the post above, I realized that I actually have been doing some self-directed attention practice. Not a structured or a serious practice, but more like noticing in the moment when my thoughts looped and were best to be discarded. I have become more aware of my attention and it is probably something that, as you say, comes of its own if we just wait long enough. But a more serious practice has certainly made my recovery more interesting and effective. And to see the seriousness of the practice now feels very right from where I am now in my recovery. It seems like the self-directed attention practice is at the center of the recovery process. More so than the looking actually. Everything starts with the looking and then getting to know and take control of one's own attention, is the real work and practice.

."‹Thanks for your support..

my 1yr report

Hi all,

Last weekend it was exactly 1 year after I first did the looking. I'm writing down what my experience has been for anyone who is starting this, into this or interested in it. Its gonna be a long read I guess so be prepared.

Starting

A faraway friend introduced me to all this and told me that this had ended his search some years ago. "Give it a try if you want" he said and gave me a card of John and Carla.

I did the looking a few days later when I got home, the night before my 24th birthday.

Up to that point I did have a "healthy" interest in spirituality/mindfulness and all that, but I was not so much on a quest of realization, nor was I meditating or following any specific doctrine, practice or advice.

The first week(s), june-july

When I did the looking first I was not sure what I was looking for. The childhood memory method made it all clearer. I found myself in the first weeks doing this at random moments like in the shower. I'd try to go through many stages of my life and see if I could find this same 'me' in all these memories, both good ones and bad.. and I could. I did really try to kind of conceptualize or separate this feeling from all other experiences.

I watched a lot of footage on youtube in this first week. Probably one of those 2hr recordings every evening.

Seeing I liked the looking I also started practicing focussed attention for some time. I was surprised by the difficulty at first, but also by the progress. I did notice in my day to day life that I was more able to take on the observer standpoint and see how I was myself consciously controlling my mood, reactions etc. I also saw how other peoples reactions were all part of unconsciously conditioned behavior, and couldn't understand why no-one was trying to take more control over this.

What did not really happen for me was a general continuous blissful feeling. The looking itself was soothing in a way, and the focussed attention had its benefits in day to day life. There were surely some moments where this resulted in blissful experiences, but not in the 'everything is blissful' sense.

At this point I was cautiously enthusiastic about the looking. It appealed to me so much since it was such a practical approach to traditionally spiritual themes and that fits really well with me. I also lost interest in all traditional spiritual approaches from the east.

The next months, august - november

After maybe about a month or maybe two these initial effects started to flatten out. I gradually stopped doing the looking and practicing focussed attention. I simply didn't have the inclination. I was quite content and was just waiting for all this to reveal itself more. Over a period of the next ca. 3 1/2 months I think everything kind of returned to normal. I was still interested in the looking, I occasionally visited this forum, but that was about it.

Halfway, november - march

Around november some things started to change in my interior and exterior. My internship came to an end and my next project for my study backfired last minute. It was half november and there was not realistic opportunity of fixing a new project before christmas or soon thereafter. Next started a rather frustrating time where I had basically nothing to do other then reaching out to all kinds of organizations and waiting for replies. Around the same time other things happened in my exterior. My grandfather passed which served me a whole mix of emotions; there were some issues in my relationship; I moved to a new city into a new house with new housemates, and -not unimportantly- winter came and it got cold and rainy here.

All this seemed to take its toll on my 'interior'. Over the moths end of november to maybe the end of march or early april or so I was feeling rather lethargic. I had so little energy to undertake anything and I was overtaken by a general downhearted feeling. This was not directly being reflected on the outside world. I was still seeing friends, family, my girlfriend etc. I was still training to run the half marathon in march. I mean to say that I could still have fun, I was still functioning in society, but I was just under the surface quite distressed I guess and it was harder to engage in all this. I needed a lot of sleep, maybe 9hrs a day. It is still hard for me to say if all this was the result of the looking and part of the recovery, or that it was the result of my context undergoing so many changes. I had always suffered from winter depressions in a way anyway. I still don't know, maybe it was a bit of both.

In this time I also started to develop a strong interest for more traditional eastern spiritual philosophies. More than I ever had before. I tried to get a better understanding of what was happening and started diving a bit more into the teachings of Ramana. Then after that there was Papaji and the whole neo-advaita movement. Somewhere halfway january I had quite the mystical experience of profound insight when drifting into sleep. This put some extra fuel on the flame. My healthy interest in all this had turned by this time into quite the craving for realization and the release of this downhearted feeling. During this period I also did the looking at times, just to see if it did anything to me. I could not get the satisfaction from it that I used to get at the start. I did notice how during the looking or during focussed attention I felt a kind of 'pressure' building up in my forehead. The forum here didn't give me any answers what this could be. I didnt consider it to be a medical condition because I felt how it was a result of my attention. I didn't feel like posting about it on this forum since I kinda lost my trust in the looking at this point, plus I actually completely disagree with the forum moderation policy (this has withheld me from posting several times out of principle). I found my answer a little later when reading about Chakras, the third eye and all that. My mystical experience from a little before that fitted well in these yogic frameworks too. As a result I accepted these traditional viewpoints as probably right, and the looking as a helpful step on the way to realization.

Towards the 1 year mark - April - june

After a lot of setbacks I could finally officially kickoff my new project in April. Finally having more to do helped getting me back up. The downheartedness slowly moved away, the obsession with spirituality also flattened out a bit. Everything returned more to normal again. Or at least, a version of normal that integrates my better understanding of myself, others and the world around me that I have created with the looking and other paths.

I felt that regaining control over my attention was important to get better mentally. I started to try practice focussed attention again, which I found the most useful meditation practice. I noticed I lost my previous skill and I could hardly get beyond the count of two. I have made progress in this, but I am by nature not really a committed person and I haven't truly been able to integrate this in my life an take on this practice regularly. It is the same reason why I had never truly practiced any form of meditation for longer periods of time before I got into all this.

I am now feeling pretty good, but I do notice a yearning for this blissful experience that is supposedly to be found when diving in the self. Of course I know it is not something that can be 'found', that it is already there, that it is not the goal but the means etc.. but the yearning is there and it is much stronger than it was 1 year ago... a lot stronger.

Actually before the looking I did not so much believe in the concept of the fear of life. I was unable to see it in me. Quite soon I found it and I hope it will be washed away by the looking or any other path that resonates with me along the way. Understanding what it is that can be washed away probably makes that craving intensify.

Concluding

- I can say that at this point I am not sure what the looking has done for me. Surely the first months it has taken me pretty much as described here. However, other paths have taken me in similar ways for a number of weeks when I encountered them, and I am not ruling out that any of these paths can resonate with primal instincts of egoistic appreciation and strive for gratification, and maybe the looking just happens to do so really well. That is not to say that it is a bad thing to do. I'd recommend anyone who is interested in self development to do it.

- The focussed attention practice I think is very helpful and I wish I had a stronger power of mind to integrate this fully into my life. The scientific benefits of meditation have been described many times and I think that focussed attention might even be more efficient for novices than other forms of meditation since it is much clearer and practical.. just hypothesizing here

- I definitely had a time of emotional difficulty and distress. This can be attributed to the recovery. How I like to see it now is that much of this can be from external factors, but the experience might have been more intense due to the looking. In a way I think I am experiencing specific emotions stronger then before such as sentiment and empathy. I get more emotional when watching movies for example.

- Currently the looking has brought me a deepening understanding of myself and others and our conditioned behaviors. This fueled a flame in me that desires some form of liberation from the fear of life, suffering, etc. I am not sure at this point where this is leading me. I know that yearning for this is not the answer. I try to pick up on focussed attention and see where that will take me together with the understanding of the looking and other paths. Note that I haven't lost faith in the looking, maybe the dust is settling now and my 2 yr report will be much more evangelical about this practice. Thats actually what I still hope for.

Thats about it, I hope its useful for someone out there in person, or more generally for the common understanding of the process after the looking.

I haven't re-read this after typing it so I hope it makes sense for those who read it.

Be well,

P

Dear Forum,

I continue to work through this process, so please forgive me for whatever I express here...I'm still struggling with the idea that I should focus on "doing the dishes" (meaning any number of things that arise in the present moment which need immediate attention) versus paying attention to world affairs (very loudly calling our attention at the moment). John, you have yourself expressed being dismayed at the state of the world. How can I not pay attention to this stuff?

With all due respect and gratitude,

Dina

Dina,

The simple answer is that you cannot help but pay attention to the sorry state of human affairs in our time. Nor is there any reason to turn away from the facts of our current descent into madness, murder, and torture.

But neither is there any reason to permit your attention to be pulled to the fear-driven drumbeat of misery, hopelessness, and the sense of helplessness that comes to a mind still under the effects of the fear. That is true of everyone's mind, especially when still recovering from the damage it suffered during a lifetime under the constant bombardment of fear's message of helplessness.

It seems to me that our only hope is to go sane. And so far as I can tell, this method is"”at least for now"”the only road out of the fear-driven madness that afflicts all humanity.

So, heal yourself first by clearing your mind with the Self-Directed Attention method. Strive to gain skill and suppleness in your control over your own mind and, if you can, help us all by actively participating in the work to bring this hope to the world.

This method requires nothing but to be tried once in a mind damaged by fear. We have good reason to believe that merely hearing the suggestion to look at yourself in the manner we advise is all that's needed to set that mind on the path to sanity and away from fear.

Let me know if this helps.

You might also consider this: http://www.justonelook.org/community/forums/articles/5486-who-s-to-blame.

John

Numbness

I'm sure I heard john mention that we can sometimes become a bit numb in recovery? Well, this has been my experience for quite a while now.

Although I have been getting more enjoyment out of life recently, I often feel that I should be feeling more emotions, especially towards others. For instance, someone recently died on the news and I felt nothing. I actually think people act out sorrow to appear more bothered than they are. People talked about it being very sad for the woman and her family but I really cannot feel for those people, even with effort.

Also, sentimentality and nostalgia are things I don't really get any more. I don't feel the feelings others seem to experience when looking back at past experiences.

It has been this way for a couple of years now, and remains the same, even on the tablets I recently started taking for anxiety/depression. I don't think I can blame the tablets as like i say, I've felt like this for some time. A school friend I lost touch with died a couple of years ago and I felt nothing. I was shocked and it felt strange when I thought about the fact he is no longer here and alive but there was no sadness, no sentimental feelings.

It feels quite alien. Can someone please relate or comment?

PS. i suppose the worry here is that i am a cold person, but i always felt the opposite was true, before looking.

I'm very familiar with the kind of numbness your describe, Jim. I've been feeling that I'm cold, too. I'm not very concerned about it these days, though. I don't blame myself for feelings or lack of them. What can you do about it, anyway? It's out of your control. Our opinions about what we should be feeling can be skewed, too, especially about things we can do nothing about. The tendency to lose your protection against other people's suffering and the barriers between us seems to me to be something else. It might be that during recovery your mind is busy rearranging stuff and under construction and doesn't know how exactly how to react to things while the old is going, hence numbness.

Also, it might be that death and grieving gets a slightly different meaning, eventually. I'm not sure about this, but I don't see death as sad for the dead because death is the end of sadness, too. Sadness is for the one's left behind grieving. Then you go on. Grieving takes it's course and then passes, I'm sure. I believe a kind of intelligence takes over grieving, too. Part of grieving is all kind of thoughts about what happened and why. Those would be ignored, the skewed ones, at least, or wouldn't even appear.

All my life I didn't feel much towards children, but then a person close to me had a child and I "got it". The fragility, vulnerability the utter reliance of an infant on adults hit me like a bomb. It was hard to bear. I started feeling very strongly towards him. It came out of the blue and took me by surprise. I can reach an imagined grief when imagining a death of such a child, and playing along with it I imagine the complete and world shattering shock it would bring on the parents, but I noticed that a sense of intelligence in there keeps an eye an on it. Now, I don't feel the same about grown ups, but I can detect some kind of shift happening there as well. I see people acting stupidly and I see that the only smart way to relate to that is to see them as afflicted, sick with fear of life, and therefore needing compassion rather than judgement. This feeling keeps getting stronger and more and more frequent.

I used to take pills for depression for years, on and off. They had no effect on me, numbing or otherwise, except making sleeping uninterrupted difficult. I haven't taken any for many years, yet I'm more confident that I'll get better than I have been for decades. My life has been expanding recently towards new hobbies and new people, and though I used to either turn them down of pine for them in the past, I kind of let it happen while I feel quite numb about them. Or ambivalent. For example, I participated in an introductory sailing course just a week ago. I haven't been to any courses for over ten years. It just kind of happened. It was a good experience. I'm now a member of worker's sailing club. Two weeks of sailing the summery archipelago is in the plans. I'm still unsure whether its an activity for me, but I let it happen and I'll find out. I kind of feel not up to speed and a bit uncomfortable with what's going on, but that's life. It's new and new things are slightly uncomfortable at first. I used to reject the new.

I don't know whether the general numbness will subside, but I'm confident that it's nothing to worry about.

About nostalgia, I recently read an article discussing studies that concluded that nostalgia is good and constructive for you. I don't know about sentimentality, but I don't reject any emotions or worry too much about lack of them for the simple reason that they are outside of me and beyond my immediate control. I'm responsible for them but I don't make them happen.

It seems to me that the experience of living without fear is such a unique and radical thing, not only in our personal lives, but in the broader context. We are breaking the internal rules we followed for so long and we are breaking the consensus rules in many ways. My feeling at this moment is that we underestimate the power and impact if this simple act and we expect to just get on with life in a slightly updated software version of our former self. I don't think it works that way. Sure, I've felt numb too, but if you look deeper there is something seismic going on at our core. I am coming to believe that regeneration, recovery, whatever you want to call it, is so complex and multifaceted and so idiosyncratic to each individual's life. Some of us take a long time to come through it, perhaps the rest of our lives, depending on the level and impact of the fear. Numbness, craziness, hypersensitivity (which I seem to be experiencing now) calmness, all this cycle through as we adjust to a completely altered perspective. These changes seem to be surface disruptions as things bubble up from our core and geological shifts of the mind and personality continue. We know who we are. Everything else seems like the weather....if you don't like it, use directed attention and wait ten minutes. As I mentioned, my current weather is hypersensitivity and my body going through changes I can't even quantify, but I've definitely had the numbness too. It's just more interesting weirdness and I think we have to respect and trust the process and the way we individually go through it.

It helps to hear that others experience what I experience, I can relate to both Jim and Seppo's accounts. Thanks for the sharing, as we are in this together.

Hi Delmogazi, Jackx, John, Carla, and everyone here!

This thread really spoke to me because I experienced something very similar. I first came across John and the looking before he started calling it that, about 10 years ago. At this point I feel certain that I did the looking, and I continued to follow John as his way of describing this act developed away from the world of spiritual seeking into the much more practical thing that it is now. Everything John said about what it's like to be sane, and what it's like to experience life without the craziness generated by the fear of life, felt intuitively true and desirable to me. But even though I had done the looking repeatedly, I still felt miserable. I believe John has said the looking will cure you of the disease, but it takes a while for the symptoms to go away...well, I felt anything *but* cured, and to be honest felt very little difference compared to before I had done the looking.

After that, I did not experience addiction myself but got into an intense relationship with an alcoholic and became deeply codependent, and like others forgot all about the looking. I also went through (a different) recovery in the Al-Anon 12 step program and my formerly actively alcoholic partner is now sober and doing great in recovery himself, but I have remained miserable in the same way as I was before the looking, even though my life circumstances have improved greatly in many ways. Recently the misery got to be such a problem that I've started flailing around for anything that might help, and came back to see what John was up to lately. A few days ago I listened to his podcast on self-directed attention, and I am starting to think this may have been the missing piece for me. I've been practicing the exercise of focusing attention on the breath, and outside of that exercise I am practicing becoming aware of what I am attending to and determining if that is useful to me or not, and at times (this is a hugely different experience for me) actually being able to decline to attend to thoughts/feelings/internal monologues that I see to be harmful.

I will be honest--for a while I felt rather disappointed and disillusioned about the looking. I always felt John and Carla sincerely believed in its effectiveness, but that for some reason it just didn't work for me. I am excited to give this approach another try with this tool to help me through as I (hopefully!) "go sane." I am very grateful to John and Carla for continuing to do this work, and for the support of this community. I hope to stick around this time, and to have good things to report smily

Hi, teacup! It's great to have you back! Welcome!

Thanks Carla! I'm excited to be back. Good things are happening, I'll write more about it in a separate post smily

Self-directed attention has been crucial for me.

Hi everyone!

I wrote a little about my background with the looking elsewhere, but to sum it up briefly, I first did the looking about 9 years ago, participated on and off in online meetings and forums and such, and probably did experience a bit of that initial "honeymoon period" of reduced unease that John talks about, but that was about it. After that, I didn't feel much difference at all between how I experienced life pre- and post-looking; the honeymoon period passed, some really difficult life circumstances came about, and I became about as crazy and miserable as I've ever been. My life circumstances are much, much better now, but I have remained extremely miserable/depressed/anxious, and in desperation looked to all sorts of avenues for relief, eventually finding myself back here.

What I found was a new emphasis on the self-directed attention exercise. When I was participating in the meetings and forums before, John had put on the website some instructions for practicing self-directed attention, but as he has said in recent podcasts it was presented more as an optional activity to help make the recovery a little easier. I don't remember much urgency to the suggestion that we practice it, and as such, I pretty much ignored it.

What John had to say in the recent podcasts about self-directed attention, as well as the reports from people in the forums, convinced me to give it a try. I felt a major difference almost immediately. I have been practicing the exercises every day for about a week and a half, and the constant fog of depression has dissolved in that time. I used to wake up every morning filled with dread towards the day and hatred towards myself, and had to drag myself out of bed at the last minute to avoid being late for work. Now, when I wake up, those feelings might be present, but in a much less intense way than before...and then, as John suggests, I decline to feed them with my attention, get out of bed, and start my day.

That said, I do feel a very strong sense that this is just the beginning of what could be a very challenging process. Over the past week and a half, it has occurred to me that I think this might be the first time in my life that I've ever really consciously been aware of my attention (except maybe when I was doing the looking, but at that time I wasn't so much focusing on my attention itself as on the feeling of being me). It blows my mind a little to realize that all my life, I don't think I've ever really consciously attended to anything, ever! There were times when I experienced what people called "flow" or "concentration" and such, but looking back I think it was just a coincidence that whatever I was doing was pleasurable/rewarding enough to call my attention fully to it (this mostly happened for me when I was playing an instrument). I don't think it ever happened as the result of a conscious decision on my part that I would attend only to what I was doing.

I am also a bit wary of celebrating the "end" of my misery and depression; after so many years of trying so many things to find relief, I feel a need to give this some time and test it out. That may be a neurotic impulse, but I think that's ok...if that feeling is a neurotic impulse, and this method works, then it will go away in time smily Since beginning this exercise, I have learned that almost ALL my thoughts are neurotic and unhelpful, but I feel much less at their mercy than I did before. It's really amazing--so many spiritual teachers, therapists, psychologists, etc. that I either talked to or whose books I read said things like "thoughts are just thoughts, they don't have any power over you," and I always agreed with that intellectually, but this is the first time I've actually experienced it in my bones and been able to do anything about it. Again, I do very strongly feel this is just the beginning, and I recognize that there will be some rough patches ahead, but what I have experienced so far has convinced me that this is a thoroughly worthwhile practice to commit myself to totally...perhaps, the ONLY practice that really matters.

Finally, I'd like to say Carla's comment about self-directed attention in response to Niklas in this thread was extremely helpful to me: http://www.justonelook.org/community/forums/forum/conversations-about-the-looking/testimonials/6689-4-1-2-years-in

It gave me a great point of reference and what she talks about is almost exactly what I have been experiencing, so it gave me some confidence that I am on the right track. Huge, huge thanks to John, Carla, and everyone here sharing their experiences!

Youngmee

Youngmee, thank you! I recognize myself in so much of what you describe - and I'm very happy that you say:

teacup

what I have experienced so far has convinced me that this is a thoroughly worthwhile practice to commit myself to totally...perhaps, the ONLY practice that really matters.

It didn't take as long before I started exercising focused attention but that's just because the work here has emphasized its importance much more lately. I feel very grateful to have found this out because like you say - that it's the only practice that really matters - is what I see to be the case too.

John says that all will be fine in the end with or without this practice but that recovery presents such a good opportunity to learn how to shape one's life and that committing to the practice will hasten the process of becoming sane. I get this. But you say that nine years after first looking at yourself you have remained extremely miserable/depressed/anxious, and in desperation looked to all sorts of avenues for relief. Now you found attention, which I hope (as it seems) will help you as it helped me! And your post actually leads me to ask something I've been thinking about.

John and Carla, I'm curious how you finally got out and what that was like without the knowledge about attention we have now. I have friends and family going through recovery but in many cases they don't know what's going on or even that something is happening with them and it's hard to communicate about it directly. People are very sensitive. To me it certainly looks like they are recovering from the fear but often they don't recognize or accept this themselves. It's quick and easy to do the looking but to start training attention is difficult and requires sustained determination before the value of it becomes obvious. So I wonder what finally drove you sane. Is life just so in-your-face rich one day that you just can't help join the party, or was control over attention the key all along?

roed_

Forgive me for taking so long to answer this good question. I will try to speak about it in the Open House this Sunday July 31, 2016 - 2 PM PDT.

It would be good if you could be there.

John

NOTE: John answered this question at the Open House meeting on July 31, 2016. The complete recording is available here:

http://www.riverganga.org/Support/category.php?category_id=51

New Hope

New Hope!

I recently read John's article on The Difference Between Self-Directed Attention and Mindfulness Meditation. I'm so glad I did!!!

I've learned so much since then about myself, meditation, forgiveness, patience, Vigilance, and how being consistent is worth the effort! But mostly I'm beginning to see myself differently! That's the forgiveness part.

I've been working on the practice of Self-Directed Attention for only 2 weeks. Already I see a subtle shift in my relationship with myself. I've heard, and even said "I am not my thoughts". But I never got past that - "it's a good thing to know I'm not my thoughts" - philosophy to having the actual hint of the experience, or KNOWING it! ( Except for the brief experience of unity I had in 2012 which caught me completely off guard because I had no reference to understand what happened to the "Me" I always knew myself to be)

Anyway...very quickly It is becoming clearer that thoughts don't have to be believed, owned, or even paid attention to. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that thoughts are like bubbles or clouds coming from and returning to the nothingness they came from.

But after 2 weeks of practicing Self-Directed Attention for just 5 minutes a day, I'm catching myself more quickly and more often coming from the conditioned mind. Or as John would say, acting out the behaviors caused by the psychological mechanisms.

Of course, It doesn't keep me from acting them out, but recognition is a step towards healing!

I'm excited! And very motivated to continue with the process and the practice!

I feel like now I have some HOPE for a sane relationship with Life, myself and those around me. I feel some relief that I don't have to know some secret code to find "enlightenment".

All I need to do is learn and CHOOSE what is worthy of my attention.

I'm sure I don't yet know what IS worth attending to yet or probably even fully understand what that means. It's really too early to say too much about any big shift. There really isn't one. Other than the fact that something in me KNOWS that THIS will WORK where all my other efforts have failed!

Thank you John for such a SIMPLE TEACHING! I can't express my gratitude enough for the gift of a simple doable method that proves there is much more to who & what I am than thoughts feelings and actions. (Effects)

I feel compelled to say that I agree with the statement of "what I have experienced so far has convinced me that this is a thoroughly worthwhile practice to commit myself to totally...perhaps, the ONLY practice that really matters."

I had a "Mystical experience" in July 2012. Since then I've been driving myself crazy trying to find a way back to that oneness.

Everything in my life has left me empty and unfulfilled. Seeking has been a way of life in one form or another. Money, Love, recognition or approval etc.

But after 2 weeks of directed self attention - focusing on the breath. I've seen the obvious!

I'm plumb crazy!! Afraid of everything! Committed to distraction to avoid...who KNOWS what. This practice gives me some insight to how my mind ACTUALLY works without studying some Manuel!

Or adding more ideas to contemplate endlessly in hopes of a cure.

By learning to focus my attention where I want it rather than where it's called. I feel it's a way to learn to love myself! A way to FINALLY quiet the self hating voice! And in the process stop the voice of hate for everything eventually.

I'm nowhere near that but I have a sense that I've never felt before that if I am diligent and dedicated to this practice, the result is guaranteed.

So much is observed as I do this it just blows my mind!

I'd LOVE to have a chance to just talk over coffee or something and share all my experience so far.

Clarity and confusion. The sense of an observer and a doer. The "doer" being crazy as hell and the observer just patiently waiting for the doer to starve itself.

It's WEIRD but I'm loving it! (Kinda lol)

Thanks for sharing, Rick! I've been experiencing exactly the same thing since I started practicing self-directed attention about a month ago. Like you, I have read and heard countless times advice along the lines of "You are not your thoughts, they have no real power to hurt you; let them pass through you like clouds passing across the sky." I agreed so wholeheartedly and thought this made perfect sense. Every once in a while if I manipulated my attitude with enough finesse I might even manage to call up some semblance of feeling like my thoughts were harmless clouds passing through the infinite sky of my being or some such thing, but for the most part it just didn't do much to relieve me of my constant underlying misery. But now that I have been practicing self-directed attention, for the first time I'm experiencing firsthand what it feels like to really know for myself that even my most desperate, self-destructive thoughts are as insubstantial as wisps of smoke that dissipate into nothing if I turn my attention away from them. More recently, I've sometimes even been seeing these thoughts dissipate on their own without my even consciously making an effort to turn my attention away.

Like you, I also felt (and to a large degree still feel) that I don't fully know what is or isn't worth attending to, and as I think you implied, I decided I wouldn't worry too much about that; in a very short period of time, some of my most painful and debilitating thought patterns have already diminished to a degree that I didn't think was possible. I figure that as my most obviously unhealthy thought patterns fall away, I will naturally become more able to recognize healthy/attention-worthy thoughts when they appear without my having to do a whole bunch of mental hand-wringing about that (which is what I always used to do before starting this practice). Thanks again for sharing your experience!

4 weeks of practicing self-directed attention

I've been practicing self-directed attention for about 4 weeks now (10 minutes every morning of counting my breaths, as well as trying as much as I can for the rest of the day to be aware of what I'm attending to and not attend to thoughts I recognize as harmful). The results so far are really remarkable. Parts of my longstanding emotional baggage that I had been unable to resolve despite going through several therapists and support groups now feel mostly like no big deal, like things that are over and done with and no longer relevant. Before I started practicing self-directed attention, I was convinced that I was defective in some way and doomed to be depressed for the rest of my life. That feeling is much less overpowering now; it does still come up, but I tend to find it unconvincing when it does, and it goes away much more quickly than it used to.

I think the recommendation to practice self-directed attention is such an important development in John's message about looking at yourself. I know for sure that I looked at myself years ago, and for all I know my mind may have been healing itself all this time, but I honestly never actually felt like I was making any progress until I started practicing self-directed attention. When I did start doing this, I felt a difference pretty much immediately. In the 4 weeks that I've been practicing, there was one week when I was really busy and skipped a few days, and I definitely noticed an increase in neurotic/hostile-toward-life thinking. When I started practicing regularly again, I noticed a clear improvement. I've dabbled with meditation and psychotherapy methods that aim to cultivate saner, more skillful ways of thinking, and nothing has resulted in anything that feels as stable and reliable as what I'm gaining through self-directed attention. This is the real deal.

For years, I have experienced some pretty bad physical symptoms and moodiness when I go through my premenstrual phase (which I am going through now). Yesterday, I woke up feeling a very strong sensation of what I would have previously labeled as "depression" and then gone off on some angsty mental dramas about how it means I'm fundamentally defective and will never be a functional adult and I have to find a way to fix this etc. Yesterday I noticed that what I was feeling was mostly physical, like sinus pressure in my head and heaviness in my throat and chest, and a simultaneous tendency to react more strongly to anything emotional (like a sad song). Unlike what used to happen, yesterday there was minimal mental drama; instead I just experienced the physical sensations and heightened emotional reactions for what they were. When thoughts like "Oh my god there I go again, I'll never stop being an emotional wreck" did come up, I recognized them as being unhelpful and mentally moved on to something else. As a result, I ended up having a good day that struck a balance between productivity and rest. In the past, I'm certain that I would have moped and procrastinated most of the day, and spent the rest of the day beating myself up for moping and procrastinating. It may not sound like much, but for me this is a huge step forward. I have much mental unhealthiness still left to lose, but for the first time I feel confident that things are going to be ok.

Sounds great Teacup! I experience more space in my thinking when I practice directed attention. My mind feels spacious. More flexibility to cognitively move away or move closer to thoughts and feelings. I think this is what you're saying as well. I practice a couple of times a day and this seems to multiply the effect.

Hi Jackx! I really relate to what you're talking about; I think I'm experiencing the same thing but had a hard time putting it as concisely as you did. I practice 10 minutes in the morning, and as often as I can throughout the day in a less way (just trying to be as aware as possible of what I'm attending to, and moving my attention away if it's on something unhelpful). When I can, I try to practice for another 10 minutes in the evening. Thanks for your feedback; I've been reading some of the older posts in the forum since it's been a very long time since I was active here, and I really enjoy your posts. It's been really neat to see how your recovery has developed and very helpful to see that I can relate to a lot of what you've said during that process. It gives me more confidence in the feeling that I'm on the right track.

Same as it ever was...

Hi Folks,

Just being honest here, but I did "the looking" intensively back in April, and as John says, my "recovery" is as bad as predicted. I wish I could say I've done the self directed attention regularly, but somehow I can't seem to do it in a disciplined way. I recently attended a 10 day silent retreat in a "spiritual setting" and did self-directed attention regularly during that time, and afterwards, everything was so lovely. But since I've been back, can't manage to make it happen. Now I'm back in the usual darkness. Well, just checking in. Namaste, y'all.

hello delmogazi , i try and do 10 minutes or so every morning and whenever i can during the day. It is difficult especially when my inner dialogue and feelings draw me somewhere unconsciously i don't want to go.I have found that after i have concentrated on my breathing i expand my attention to the sounds around me and find it a lot easier than concentrating solely on my breathe and it feels a lot more natural as my attention is focused outward and expansive but my mind remains still. My mind keeps drawing me to pointless debates and opinions but slowly i am spotting them as they occur and it's such a revelation knowing i can divert my attention away from all these idiotic ,pointless thoughts. keep trying as best you can that's all you we can do.

Hi Delmogazi,

I just wanted to say thanks for your honesty. I don't know that I have anything especially helpful to say, all I have to share is my own experience. I had a VERY long and difficult recovery period after I first did the looking. For years and years I didn't feel like I was getting any better at all; I first did the looking before John started talking about self-directed attention, and for me this has been the missing link. As soon as I started doing the 10 minute structured self-directed attention exercise on a daily basis (this was some time in July), I started to experience some of the changes that John and others talk about. Since then, I have experienced a lot of frustration and doubt along the lines of "If I'm really getting better, how come I still have so much anxiety about my job? If this exercise is really working, then how come I still get so wrapped up in XYZ?" Even so, at the same time I've also had the sense that even if a certain pattern of anxiety is still present, other negative patterns are definitely falling away. I have days, even weeks, when I feel like I'm in a full-blown mental/emotional relapse and just as unwell as I ever was before practicing self-directed attention, but if I really look at what's actually going on I can see that even when I get swept up in some emotional drama it passes a lot more quickly than it would have before. Hang in there.

Shine

Just want to stop by and say that the feeling of me shines thru everything, more and more, each day. Self-directed attention, my own version, has really enhanced this awareness.

Stay with it people, feel the shine!

Shine on Jackx!!

How beautiful smily

Other forms of meditation an ok substitute?

Hi guys, I was wondering whether other forms of meditation are suitable/as efficient for recovery besides the self-directed attention exercise. I ask this because I am thinking of going to weekly meditations with a teacher so I can develop a consistency and depth with my focus practice but the form of meditation that is advocated by her is more similar to Zen meditation. The primary difference between her form and the self-directed attention exercise is the focus on the rise and fall on the abdomen while breathing instead of the warm and cool sensations at the nostrils. Counting of the breaths is involved in both however.

I am not sure if she will be encouraging of with the self-directed attention exercise as described here and I want to a practice as closely as advised by her if I attend sessions regularly. Will I still reap the benefits the same with the abdomen focus in regards to attaining more control over my attention?

Sorry if I am being pedantic here just wanted to know if this is ok.

Warm Regards,

M.T

I don't think I'm qualified to say much about meditation or the attention practice, but it doesn't seem to make any difference whether you focus on nostrils or abdomen. You're consistently focusing on something, right? Besides any kind of meditation has been shown to have positive effects, starting from turning on gene expression for more than a hundred genes to all sorts of mental enhancements, according to a scientist I watched at Youtube. Meditation here understood widely as a practise that directs you away from dwelling on thoughts; looking at a picture or a candle, focusing on breathing, just sitting quietly...I think it's more to do what you're after with meditation. Traditional Zen practice has a spiritual goal, as far as I know. That separates it from self-directed attention exercise.

John's self directed attention exercises reminded me very much of my zen meditation days. We basically counted breaths as John guides us to do. My point of view (not necessarily John's) is that once the recovery is mostly over and we gain facility with attention, we can use our own intelligence to figure out what works best for us. I now use a directed attention technique of simply observing (looking at) whatever is going on internally and externally......it could be my thoughts, sensations in my body, or birdsong. Before the looking and recovery when I tried to do this, when I called it 'meditation' and had loftier end goals, I simply could not do it. It was an exercise in futility. Now, with some daily practice, I can slip into this mode of attention quite easily and after awhile I am in calm, alert state that is quite comfortable and satisfying. I don't need to be there long, but I find it a pleasant reboot of emotions and thoughts.

So, I think we mature in our ability to direct our attention as fear loosens it's grip and our minds recover from years of distortion. I imagine this way of being will simply become second nature with no required effort on my part at some point.

4 years into the looking

Hi guys.. I did the looking four years ago, and I've tried to write a post so many times, but just could not find the words. Something compelled me to write this account tonight so here goes.

The first thing that happened to me in the first week is that I no longer had any interest in spiritual matters, it just vanished, so I gave all of my spiritual books away. Then after about 3 weeks things went crazy and I suffered more physical ailments more so than physiological suffering, although some of that did heat up more, I went through a very painful drug detox from prescription medication, which before the looking I wouldn't have dreamt of coming off,

I lost my job, my mam, and my financial independence, I developed insomnia, which I still have, and then developed facial neuralgia as well which I still battle with .. but somehow through all of this my life long depression just fell away and I haven't had medication for that for over a year, them thoughts just don't enter my head, I don't worry and obsess about things anymore, I stopped biting my nails, and I've always been a habitual nail biter since my teens,

I've developed new interests that have surprised me. Sometimes I can be walking down the street and the feeling of me just happens really strongly, without me even trying. I feel my emotions really strongly and can't stuff them down anymore. I have been practicing the attention exercise with the breath, but find it really difficult as the pain in my face and mouth tends to be bigger and pulls my attention to it, and I wondered if anybody else suffers pain and illness and how all of that fits into the looking, as it hasn't been talked about really. I'm sorry for the really long post and I probably haven't said all I wanted to, but it's took me 4 years to write this report. Love to all. Yvonne

Dear Yvonne,

Welcome to the forum! We are very happy to see your post.

All the things you reported are experienced by a lot of people who embark on the road to sanity and self-reliance: loss of interest in spiritual stuff, drug detox, life-long depression that just goes away, old habits of self-harming just falling away, relationships ending, loss of jobs, finding new interests in life...

The experience of very strong feelings is also common. This happens because your mind does not have the old defensive buffer that protected you from your own life anymore. You are now experiencing life as it is. You may also experience people's pain and suffering a lot more closely. The sense of being overwhelmed by it will calm down over time.

You are going through a huge change in your mind and body. It takes some time for it all to settle down.

I myself had a lot of physical problems while going through recovery. My respiratory allergies got a lot worse for while. I had dental problems and ended up having two root canals done, one of them completely unnecessary. I also started having a terrible pain on the right side of my face. It turned out it was trigeminal neuralgia, which apparently is not uncommon on women over 40. I don't know if this is the case with you, but it looks like it could be. Doctors usually will refer you to a neurologist, but the only thing they can do is prescribe pills. The only thing I know that effectively deals with this problem without producing any side effects is acupuncture. If the acupuncturist is really skilled, it only takes one session for it to go away. Keeping your sinuses clear also help. When my allergies get worse and the sinuses get clogged, the nerves get pressured and some of the pain sometimes comes back.

Regarding the insomnia, it is also not uncommon. But it will go away eventually. We have heard from many people over the years who had the same problem. Be patient with yourself. Sleep when you can. Take short naps, if you can. Try not to get anxious about not sleeping.

If it is hard for you to focus attention on the sensation of breathing when you are in pain, try something different. When you are in pain, close your eyes and move your attention like a flashlight into the pain. Try to see it up close. Just try to dive with your attention into the core of the pain, and kind of melt into it. It is not easy, because the whole body gets tense in the attempt to avoid pain. Instead, try to feel it fully, don't be afraid of it. Relax your body as much as you can, lie down, breathe deeply, and look into the pain. Investigate it. Where does it begin? Where does it end? You will probably only be able to do this for a little while, but keep going back, whenever you can. This exercise will not stop the pain. But it will teach you something about pain and your relationship with it will change.

I suggest that you read this thread here in the forum:

http://www.justonelook.org/community/forums/forum/conversations-about-the-looking/looking/659-the-looking-at-me-has-been-quite-trip

You could also use the search box in the forum and look for the terms "insomnia", "sleep", "depression", etc. Each of these terms will bring up a number of posts that may help you better understand what is happening.

Please keep in touch here. Let us know how things unfold from now on. You will be helping all of us.

I wish you all the best.

Love,

Carla

Thank you Carla for this post, it has helped me immensely, I have tears in my eyes just reading it... Thank you to you and john for bringing this wonderful act to the world. And yes Carla I have just had one root canal pulled and they say it is trigeminal neauralgia, which does also effect my sinuses, I will try the exercise you suggested, love Yvonne

Thank you teacup and moonmonkey. For the first time in ages I feel some relief. I can't explain it, but the usual things aren't bothering me lately. I hope it's a good sign.

One more thing that I would like to mention is that I also had recurring nightmares for a few years in the beginning of my recovery. The best thing to do when waking up from one of those is to not pay attention to it. It's safe to ignore it. Many of us have been so accustomed to assigning meaning to dreams that it may seem hard to ignore a nightmare. The whole thing doesn't really mean anything at all. It's just kind of a cleansing, I suppose. They fade away eventually.

To add some thoughts to this thread, I've been continuing with HIT, IF (intermittent fasting) and attention exercise, and those things have made a difference. I'm not sure which one is the most responsible for this. I'm more and more confident that depression is in the past, apart from the regular kind on changes in the mood. I've been drawn to whole food plant-based diet lately, and been eating mostly vegan for the past few weeks. This have made a big difference in my mood, too, which is consistent with recent studies made with increasing fruit and vegetables in your diet. Serving by serving, the amount of fruit and veggies have been found to make people happier, up to 8 servings a day (if I remember correctly). I've been vegan and raw foodist before but it feels different now. I'm more level headed about it this time. I'm not trying to save my life with diet anymore, covering up something else with health obsession. I'm curious about the optimal diet, but I seem to be able to keep the theory and my eating practice separate these days and watch them both unfolding and merging on their own, without too much forcing. It's an exercise in excellence, trying to do things as well as you can, but being grounded in reality of your own situation and pace of progress. It's very satisfying.

The thing that makes the most difference about eating now is that I'm not using food as entertainment as much anymore. Somehow it's just losing it's hold as a mental habit and addiction. I keep a "fun day" a week when I eat whatever I fancy, and I'm flexible when I'm offered food that isn't ideal, which is a sign of progression, too. I don't feel the need to be rigid about it. I can enjoy unhealthy food on occasion, but don't feel as drawn too it as I used to. We discussed sugar and food addiction in some other thread, but I seem to be busting my sugary food habit, which is great relief. It's early yet, but I feel some confidence already. Actually, I felt confident that I will (at some level) when the time comes, a couple of years ago already, and hopefully it's now happening. It's strange, this confidence, like you know that those good things will happen. Because the basis for the bad habits is basically gone. This all translates to overall trust satisfaction towards life. And then you get curious about it all and think "Heck, whatever else is possible!?" You keep pushing your previous boundaries further and it's exiting. This is such a long way from the depression, pessimism and paralysis I used to live in.

Jackx, I think I can now see some connection between attention practice and fasting and other such physical and mental disciplines, in them being some kind of intelligence about self regulation. Too much indulgence in thought, food or physical laziness won't feel good or optimal.

What comes to company and social relationships, I've become freer with them, too. I'm more relaxed with people but I'm not looking for a salvation in relationship anymore. I cherish the freedom to be by myself, and I enjoy the occasional social engagement. I'm quite amazed to find this happening.

I could have almost written this post as my own, Seppo. I'm pretty much on the same track. I am not nearly as intense and compulsive about food and diet, yet am probably eating better and feeling better than ever. I am not trying to use food as a vehicle to transformation or salvation, as you say. It's just food, it's just our bodies, and just life, right?

I can't pinpoint causality either. I just think the looking initiates a major sea change and each person finds their way as they ride out the changes in their own mind and body. It's really great that you're feeling the effects so profoundly, I am too. I just wish that others could experience the same changes......it's amazing that the effect of the fear so thoroughly blocks such a simple little thing, no?

Hi Yvonne, welcome to this forum, I'm glad you decided to post. As I just mentioned in another post, I felt like I turned a corner after four years, things began to settle, and I gained confidence in my experience with the looking. It sounds the same for you. I had recurring aches and pains and insomnia, and still do to some extent......I have learned, as my mind quiets, not to focus too much on the little pains, as they go away fairly quickly. Actually it's less that I learned anything and simply instinctually stopped, now that I think on it.

I had several bouts of insomnia, one early on in the recovery, which was just nasty......I'd wake up crying and think I was dying. The second was more recent and lasted for about 8 months (I'm five years post-looking). There's a funny little story to this.....which I don't intend to attach too much significance to, but it happened. So I was not sleeping well and waking up every 2 hours or so. I often abandoned the notion of sleeping somewhere around four in the morning. I was grouchy, moody, somewhat depressed and all the rest, but still had the deeper sense of peace that comes with the looking, so I wasn't suffering too much. Then one night I just started sleeping soundly. The first time this happened, after eight hours of sleep, I excitedly told my wife about it! After about two weeks of sound sleeping I read an article on feng shiu, the Chinese theory of energy flow (which I am highly skeptical of by the way). I got the article in relation to my qigong practice, which I am not skeptical of...... In the article they were saying that a mirror at the foot of the bed will disrupt sleep. I paused and thought.....about two weeks before, at the same time I started sleeping soundly, I had moved a full length mirror from the foot of the bed, on my side, to do some drywall work and had never moved it back. Like I said, I'm mostly a skeptic on most things, but I didn't move the mirror back and have been sleeping great since.

We we live in a mysterious world. Here's my take. The looking dispels fear and regeneration happens, as John and Carla state. Our regeneration response is idiosyncratic to our own context, DNA, life circumstances, hard wiring, etc.......we are exquisitely unique. For me, I have found that to be a more fully functioning human, I need to eat a healthy plant based diet, move a lot, and engage in a meditative discipline which serves as helping to hone my attention and keep my body healthy and functioning. This is discipline is qigong. I, in no way believe this should be a formula for someone else who has looked. They may thrive on red meat and Pepsi whilst playing video games non stop. These activities and practices are not salvation or transformative, we don't need that, it has already happened. Our natural intelligence simply guides us to do what is best for our bodies and circumstances. The interesting thing is, I suspect all this keeps changing as we move through the life long process of healing our mind.

Just my take and thanks for sharing your story.

Yes Jackx, sea change it is. What is interesting to me these days is how this change translates into choices in daily life, and visions about the directions one should pursue. Or a vision/s for humanity at large. There are countless interesting philosophies and ideas about what an ideal society would look like, how we should live for it to be sustainable etc, but I kind of believe that this change channels one into a slight, or perhaps quite profound, shift in the angle about them. I can sometimes feel that there is a pattern to how I relate to ideas about food, health, society, politics, sustainability and so on, but I can't quite verbalise it.

It seems, though, that I'm still looking for definite answers and I'm a bit uneasy about most things being incomplete, in process and always changing. I wonder if this unease is natural or if it will go drop away eventually...? I'm still quite the perfectionist and it leads to certain dissatisfaction. But this bothers me less, it kind of sits in a different context now. Food is just food, and some disease or another will finish each of us off anyway, but if I can do something about it with diet, then I can pursue it with new kind of freedom when I don't seek distraction, or salvation from eating. It's this freedom that is that compels you to learn more and go further. Regarding diet, it's new to me because I didn't feel free about what I eat. Let's see how things develop.

I know what you mean about societal focus and how to make the world better. I am in my mid fifties with two kids......makes me think a lot about our world. I think the fear-free perspective allows us to intuit things that fear occluded and we make decisions based on our context and perspective. I have recently been convicted about how I spend money.....I believe it is the most political thing we can do besides voting,actually way more important than voting, as we vote with our money every day. Perhaps redirecting our money is like redirecting our attention......I saw clearly how fear and greed have conditioned us so thoroughly and how the big interest (energy, pharma, medical, food, and military) have sickened us, weakened the earth, and thoroughly conditioned us as consumers and politically. I am planning to put solar panels on my house and buy an electric car, even if it's a stretch financially, because I need to personally do something about global warming. Also, buy less animal products and buy locally, etc. give to organizations like this one. That's just my own take on things, someone else may be convicted to act differently based on their context. The key is acting. Before the look, I thought about things, talked a good talk, but never made a move. I can't take away their fear, but I can redirect my money away from fear into life affirming business.

We look, we see, we act. As our minds heal the world heals because the world is contained in our mind?

Cancer

I know this may not be a popular topic to post about ,but a few months ago before Christmas my wife of 30 yrs was diagnosed with breast cancer .Since this time she has undergone intense chemo treatments .In which her suffering from the chemo side effects has effected my state of mind .In retrospect. My wife works as a physical therapist and has always lead a very healthy life; she is a very spiritually focused person who is not afraid to help and serve others and has given much to the world in her work. No doubt this experience has been helpful in dealing with this disease. A number of our friends have died of cancer. Since my wife's diagnosis I've carried around a lot of anxiety concerning her condition. I sometimes can't sleep at night. My wife lost all her hair and she gets stomach troubles with Chemo. I attend to her as best as I can. We pray, chant mantra, spend time meditating and listen to spiritual talks like the ones John gives publicly.

I see people here write about many different kinds of problems that seem serious to them, but in my view 90% of what I see seems meaningless compared to dealing with the hard effects of cancer. I wonder... What is it about superficial suffering that makes us human beings struggle so much and make us believe we are far away from knowing ultimate reality? I invite cancer survivors and sufferers to comment or anyone else who has had a loved one pass away to share any insights. May everyone be at peace in their life. Celia & Roger

Hi Roger,

I'm very sorry to hear about your wife's serious illness. I'm not a cancer survivor nor a sufferer of serious illness, but I've been looking into lifestyle choices and health recently, and came across researchers and studies about diet and cancer at YouTube. I don't know if you know this already, but there have been studies made on the effect of fasting before chemotherapy. A few days' water fast before chemo seems to mitigate the symptoms that the toxins cause in the body, and make the cancer cells more vulnerable to the therapy. Fasting selectively weakens the cancer cells' ability to cope with the toxins and strengthens the healthy cells. In this state chemotherapy seems to hit the cancer harder.

What comes to our common illness of fear of life, it seems to me that all kinds of things in life are seen as serious threats to our well being resulting in the superficial suffering you mentioned. They seem as threatening as cancer and we are alarmed all time and on defense. Hence the metaphor of "psychological auto immune disease". This is a serious condition, as we know. We also know the cure but it acts out until completely gone. Most of those things become meaningless when faced with death. But absent of imminent threat of death, other things occupy our minds. I was affected quite a lot when guy of my age I see daily, under fifty, faced the same threat from cancer. It makes you think.

I wish your wife strength and success fighting cancer, and peace of mind for you, too, Roger.

Many years ago I was with a Indian Yogi who was a 'Muni Baba' (term meaning silent monk) People around him were often over taken with this monks eternal silence. So some began to imitate being silent themselves. Gradually a few people began experiencing mild detachment and joy ,while others experienced a rush of thoughts and nervous energy .A small number who continued being detached from speaking 'started' experiencing depression ,sadness and others had problems with various empty emotional states ,which lead a few toward temporary insanity ! When one is sick ..one needs to take the correct dosage of medicine . We should be aware medicine has to be regulated in a specific way in order to have the best effect .I trust John to guide me here .I have seen numbness in a number of spiritual and non spiritual people who went threw intense meditation that caused them a lot of mental suffering . On the other hand 'a few days silence'' may just be what the doctor ordered ,likewise mindfulness done with awareness is very helpful to me and balances expression of my emotions.When someone close to us dies its natural tears come ,I can't imagine it any other way. I can truthfully say: before the looking I was stone cold ,while now I am not afraid to express feelings. Men are conditioned to hold emotions back ..it can be very bad for health to do this . .

I have been thinking about this post for quite awhile and recently have felt some things have gelled enough for me to respond. First, I am sorry for your situation. I have experienced serial grief in my life, most recently when my mother died within 2 weeks of my mother in laws' death, but nothing this intimate. On the occasion of tending my mother and her death, which was perfectly natural for a 93 year old, I found that my grief was clean, or at least cleaner than in the past, more efficient. By this I mean that the looking, over time, seems to have made my emotional states more efficient and productive. I have less meta-emotions about my emotions. Grief is just grief, sadness is just sadness, without reactive meta-anxiety about the grief that spirals the grief and sadness into a whole new realm. I still get anxious, but I'm not anxious about my anxiety. I still get sad, but I'm not depressed about my sadness, thereby avoiding a self perpetuating pattern that goes on and on.

Our mothers died two years ago, three years after I looked. Now I feel I have some perspective on what was happening then by observing the increasing efficiency of my emotional states now. The absence of fear allows us to respond naturally to painful events without the emotional drama of the past. It still hurts, no question, but we also have the space to process the meaning of the event and see it more wholistically, as well as be present for those we love.

I hope all is well.

Brilliant!

Thank you for your cancer update and support . My wife does fast before chemo also she takes immune supplements .She was unaware fasting could help the medicine work better .I can also comment my wife has lead a very healthy lifestyle following a traditional strict Satvic yoga diet for the past 15 yrs,She got good news after Chemo treatment nr 3 some weeks ago.that her tumor reduced by 35-40% . This week we go again for treatment nr 4 ,which has been on cycles of once / 3 weeks.There is another study unrelated to diet that reports 'positive attitude ' is critical to having strong immune response .

Would like to report. My wife's tumor has reduced by 85-90%. With the help of conventional medical treatment, meditation plus other forms of alternative support, it looks like this thing is finally on the run ! It's been almost 5 months since her diagnosis and with another month to go with Chemo before the final treatments are finished which is greatly encouraging. I wish other cancer sufferers best wishes with their treatments. I have learned a great deal in terms of striking a balance between alternative and conventional medical treatments .

Great news!

Roger, that's wonderful! Please give her our love. Thanks for letting us know!

Some thoughts on recovery

The other day it occurred to me how snuffing out the fear of life was like removing a blindfold that had kept me from seeing my own life clearly, and this recovery process has largely been about getting accustomed to my new eyesight which filters out much less of what is going on. It is not all that different from other changes I've gone through in the past.

The difference seems merely the scope of it. Normally only a part of or some parts of the environment change, but following the looking the whole world is new. Adjusting to new conditions happens all the time only that most changes are so small that they don't, or barely, catch my attention and they often happen without my involvement. But every now and then something major happens, like a big separation, someone close dies, or a relocation to new town etc., things which can leave me confused and miserable for a while until I get back my footing in the new circumstances. It's natural that more substantial changes are harder and take longer before I feel normal again. Whatever happens though sooner or later I always find myself head up feet down, limbs in place, feeling the same as I always did, but in a slightly new situation and one or two experiences wiser. This thing doesn't seem so different to that after all. What occurred to me is that despite all the colorful images shoved in my face suggesting I do this or that, recovering from the fear feels very much like the same old familiar process of getting used to life after some significant change, and that it really doesn't have to be any more complicated than that.

So to anyone going through tough times: if you aren't already doing focused attention practice begin immediately. It comes with many benefits but perhaps most relevant is that it increases your brain's capacity to adapt to new circumstances, so you can shorten the time it takes before it's over. I trust it will be the same in the end either way though. You will get comfortable in your new shoes eventually, just like you would start dating again after a painful breakup, even though it might have seemed impossible at first.

Things are moving along quickly...

I think I'm on some kind of accelerated version of JOL! smily I started around a week ago and everything indicates that I'm already in recovery. As I said in my introductory post (My Story, under Looking), I have a chronic disease, so what happened a few days after I did the looking and then was doing the SDA exercise regularly is that my condition grew much worse, to the point where it was hard to do the things I need to do to take care of myself. There was a lot of fear, so every time I felt fearful, I did SDA, and it helped. After a couple of days I had a day where I felt much better. It was such a big change that I knew it was because of the work. Then I had a little relapse, but just kept on doing the work. I'm convinced that this is true and real, and that all of this stuff is coming up now but will eventually fade away. I'm acutely aware that all my physical problems are rooted in fear, because I have been very fearful from infancy. This is the first time I've ever found a way to deal with the fear. The SDA is very powerful. I'm wondering if anyone here has had an experience similar to mine, with things moving along so quickly. From what I've heard John say, it usually takes a lot longer. But then again, these concepts aren't foreign to me, since I've spent decades with spiritual studies and self-reflection.

Hey JR, that's great to hear! You didn't go into these details as specifically in our last email. Very happy to hear this. As I was saying, I do the SDA practice several times a day (at least) and I feel this is absolutely necessary for me, for both physical and emotional reasons. As you know, I've had a good amount of mystical experiences and have zero fear of crossing over, but I have loved ones to consider that I would never want to hurt by having them think I am suffering, etc. So I am 'sticking it out' right now doing this. I don't know if I am getting as quick as results as you, but I definitely feel it working more and more. Hey, just the fact that I'm still on this plane writing this posting is a good sign right?;-) I'm going to shoot you an email reply..

According to John the disease is actually immediately and fully cured by a single look at you and it seems like you see that for yourself! I too have found a clear relationship between the effort I put into SDA practice and how my life unfurls, especially when the going gets tough, that's when it counts the most. One thing which has been useful to me, and I recommend you look into to it too if you haven't already, is to have an as thorough as possible understanding of what the fear of life really is, how it has shaped the remaining fearful content of your mind. A quote that stuck with me was when he said something along the lines of "understanding the fear of life is like seeing that the earth is round; before we can see it for ourselves we must get some distance away from it". The fastest way we know to do that is definitely SDA practice. But to complement it maybe check out John's articles or read some testimonials and stories from the forums, all that stuff has helped me in noticing when I'm doing something out of fear rather than sanity. And it's just a great journey to take on during recovery, one that I've gotten a lot of satisfaction from (even though I must admit that at times it's been like a witch hunt after the fear, and that's not the point, that is in itself fearful). See, these things are sneaky as heck! Anyways, great to hear you are doing so good, mentally and physically! Stick with it, pay attention, and no matter what comes you are still here smily

Yeah, sorry about leaving out the details...guess I wasn't thinking about them at the time. smily

And yes, it's a very good sign that you're still here on this plane and posting!

Hey, roed. Yes, I think something definitely happened after my first look at me"¦and now with the SDA practice I have this (very nice) feeling that everything is taking care of itself, and all I need to do is continue to practice. I have gotten helpful insights during this brief period, and also a lessening of fear, as I mentioned. Since my physical situation is pretty severe, I haven't had complete relief yet, but I know it's coming, because my thoughts/feelings/emotions have changed so much since I started SDA.

The "why" of the fear of life has become clearer to me since I started this work. I knew even before I ever heard of John that I was afraid of life, and that's why I got sick and ended up housebound. The only problem was, I couldn't find a solution, even with all the spiritual studies I've done over the years. What I love about John's approach is that he gives you something to do, so you're not floundering around trying to figure out what to do! It's practical, not difficult, and, at least for me, it's also enjoyable.

My friend Lex (above) will get a laugh out of your suggesting that I read John's articles, testimonials, forum posts, etc. He knows what a fanatic I am! I've already read tons of his stuff, and am now rereading his book. smily

As for the "witch hunt" with the fear, I've never had to do that because it's always been so "in my face." I guess you could say that my middle name has been "Fear," but now not so much!

Thanks for sharing these insights Roed. Like jr, I, too, have read much of John's stuff now and listened to many of the yt's and podcasts. My experience is a little difference than JR's. I did the looking when I first read John's book - and it kept coming back, and still does sometimes. The whole childhood memory thing and all that is something I had done a lot studying various teachings of nonduality. As I was writing to JR, because we both have a lot of familiarity with nonduality, this teaching was not in any way surprising or shocking to us. To me, it seems like a 'missing link' of sorts. So, with the looking, I felt like I got a good sense of it..but I didn't experience that peace and satisfaction that John talks about in any big way that is supposed to last for up to 2 months (I'm referring to conversation 5 on yt where John talks about this). Because of this, I certainly don't want to say any suffering I am currently experiencing is because of the looking I did - I mean, I'm certainly not gonna take ownership of the 'bad stuff' if I don't even get the 'good stuff'!;-) What I do experience I get sometimes after doing the SDA and the real potential of it. I could see how it could prolong the body/mind of Lex (like, you know, the human me that you would see if you met me). It just makes so much sense to me the way John is laying it out. Perhaps you can elaborate on any specifics you would care to share about the SDA practice and how it's effected your life. I read something good by you the other day how you were saying you are much better able to handle change. I do believe it is human nature to get stressed out over big changes in one's life - say moving somewhere new.. a breakup in a relationship.. a death of a loved one, etc.

As far as the fear goes - This is very interesting. I guess I always assumed that most everyone I knew had the same fear that I did - which is the fear of suffering. It will be interesting to see what other insights I gain into fears I may have as I continue the SDA practice and gain more distance from that fearful content of my mind. Maybe I will be surprised by some totally new revelations.

Although I don't agree with John's view that the human race is going to destroy itself soon (I believe it's actually we, as a human race, are more evolved at this time than at any other and it's just technology that makes it seem otherwise..well I've written about that in other posts). But what I am really curious about is John speaking about how much he loves human life. It's like he holds a sacredness for human life. And this is something that that healer guy I studied with, who healed so many, also talked about quite a lot. Don't get me wrong, I believe that life is sacred, but I believe not suffering is more sacred than life. John Sherman, the healer guy I studied with, and a couple of other healer types I really respect (because they got concrete, verifiable 'miraculous' results) seem to have a view of human life as being so ultimately precious and wonderful. And if they could heal all these people, and if John had these great insights into what I consider to be the 'next step' in..well let's call it 'Experiential Nondual Realization' to be fancy and sexy;-) Then I feel like I must be missing something. Don't get me wrong here: I certainly don't go around with a 'life sucks' attitude..I'm definitely an optimist..ask my friends!smily I am always looking for the good, the love, and trying to cultivate what, to me, is the good and positive in life, BUT I don't have the outlook (yet?) of John Sherman and the others I mentioned with how extremely good and wonderful this human life is. All the best, Lex

After doing Directed Awareness during the period of recovery I found thoughts becoming less dense, more like clouds. Gone was the heaviness and insistence they had. It becomes easier to shift attention to that space there seems to be between me and thoughts. As someone said, one naturally seems to attend to

saner thoughts without having to make much effort. I always was a overly analytical type and its a great burden lifted when every thought does not have to be mulled over and every action analyzed to death. There is a flow to things which to me is the natural order anyway. I still get the occasional dark cloud passing by but it never stays more than a few seconds.

Your voice totally chimes of relief, and it's so wonderful to hear it! And I totally relate to being fanatic, for the first year or so I would spend an hour a day (at least...) watching videos of John, reading forums and articles, etc. I think part of why it feels so good is because out of nowhere comes this one place which isn't contaminated with fear, and because it, just as you say, give us something real we can do!

After 5 and 1/2 years, I think the best way I can sum up the looking and its effects is to quote many others......"it's not what I thought it would be." It's not bliss or "enlightenment" (in whatever form that takes in ones mind) it's something other. Sometimes ineffable, yet deeply tangible. You have the exact same life, but it is deeply altered. At first you really want to heal, physically and emotionally, and you look for signs everywhere, then it doesn't matter and you become familiar and easy with your quirky hurting life, then......you heal. The healing is not some triumphant release, it's just easy and natural simply because you stopped being obsessed with what's wrong. It happens on its own time and you begin to trust this. That laser-like focus, attenuated by fear, on what is wrong shifts and diffuses to a broader field, your life. What is right and true.

Jackx

After 5 and 1/2 years, I think the best way I can sum up the looking and its effects is to quote many others......"it's not what I thought it would be." It's not bliss or "enlightenment" (in whatever form that takes in ones mind) it's something other. Sometimes ineffable, yet deeply tangible. You have the exact same life, but it is deeply altered. At first you really want to heal, physically and emotionally, and you look for signs everywhere, then it doesn't matter and you become familiar and easy with your quirky hurting life, then......you heal. The healing is not some triumphant release, it's just easy and natural simply because you stopped being obsessed with what's wrong. It happens on its own time and you begin to trust this. That laser-like focus, attenuated by fear, on what is wrong shifts and diffuses to a broader field, your life. What is right and true.

Excellent comment Jackx.. Thanks so much for posting this. This makes a lot of sense as to how things would happen. Best, Lex

Thanks, Jackx! this is exactly my view about healing...if you're going after it, in the sense of trying to fix something or hoping something will magically change, it doesn't happen. All of these "added things" (as Jesus called them) occur naturally when we "seek the kingdom first." The way I see it, it's fear that keeps us attached to the "I need this to happen" mindset.

Simply beautiful Jackx, thank you!

jazzrascal

Thanks, Jackx! this is exactly my view about healing...if you're going after it, in the sense of trying to fix something or hoping something will magically change, it doesn't happen. All of these "added things" (as Jesus called them) occur naturally when we "seek the kingdom first." The way I see it, it's fear that keeps us attached to the "I need this to happen" mindset.

Right on JR..This outlook is what I've observed in most all healing modalities that, at least sometimes, would get effective results. There's a lot of truth in that one line about seeking the kingdom first and all things being added on!

Very helpful Antony, thanks for sharing that. I haven't been doing the SDA for even 2 weeks yet - but I do it several times a day (even more some days). I was just now writing to a friend about what you are writing about here. I am starting to feel that distance between myself and my thoughts. Now I am seeing why John refers to mental insanity of the mind/thoughts! I think it was the author Michael Singer from 'The Untethered Soul' who used a very good analogy. Imagine if your mind was a person and your roommate.. Referring here to the mind as the tens of thousands of thoughts that usually flow through most of us all day. Would you want to live with that insane roommate? Would you even want to associate with that crazy maniac? That analogy has never been clearer than now.

Hi Ljazz.

I think with time, and I see this already happening, there is no consideration as whether thoughts are sane or insane, good or bad, positive or negative. There is a ground under these definitions which you could call peace or relaxation but which I guess is just you, that "whatever it is" that is always here, present. The video where John says that the Looking is the essence of the practice of Inquiry is right on. But even with Inquiry it was easy to go down a lot of dead end roads. Certainly the Looking avoided a lot of wandering around. One understands better what all these teachings are trying to get at, have tried to say but got bogged down in concepts. Glad to say that this act of Looking goes right to the heart of the matter as it were.

Progress update

Here's what's been happening since my first post (See: Things are moving along quickly...). I continue to do SDA several times every day, and take a "look" when I feel moved to do so.

Overall, and this is hard to put into words, it seems as if something is "loosening," like barnacles breaking off an old ship hull. There seems to be less strain, and no more need to do what I think I "should""¦I'm just letting things unfold instead of pushing myself. No judgment. If I don't take a shower today, so what? I'll take one tomorrow. If I have a stack of laundry I didn't get to, it's all right"”the world is still turning. I'm less anxious, and when anxiety or fear rear their ugly little heads, I do SDA and they back off.

In addition to SDA and occasional looking, I also find it very helpful to quietly say to myself from time to time: "I'm not my life, I'm not my body, I'm not my thoughts."

I've had some insomnia, but it doesn't concern me. I think it's because I'm caught up in the amazement of this powerful secret, and that it will settle down at some point.

I'm more content with things the way they are, even though I'm still housebound. I've stopped struggling against my chains, you might say, and am generally somewhat more at ease.

Interestingly, I've had an awakening about what I eat. For years, I tried to follow various diets: macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, raw fruits/vegs, blood type, and on and on. I felt I should be a vegan at some point, because it was the "purest" thing to do. I no longer feel any of that and have discovered that I really need to eat more protein (chicken, fish, eggs, etc."¦not sure I want to go back to red meat because it kind of grosses me out). Since I went back to eating this way, I'm starting to feel physically better and stronger and I'm not hungry all the time. Not saying this is for everyone"”we're all different"”but it seems to be good for me, and I'm convinced I saw this as a result of doing this work.

That's it for now! smily

Hi jazzrascal, I'm glad to hear you're progressing and less anxious. I can relate to what you say about diets. I've tried all sorts of vegetarian diets, too, from raw and living foods to just not caring at all about what I eat. Interestingly, recently I've found myself going back to the "pure", or maybe more rational approach to food. But without the compulsion of saving myself through diet. Just asking what's the best, healthiest diet, as I feel there's more space now around what I eat and less addictive-like compulsion.

My investigation is kind of rational curiosity combined with working with my eating habits, partly separately. I feel I have more patience with my habits and behaviour. I've come to the conclusion that our collective eating and food culture is as corrupted with fear-based habits and traditions as any other field, say politics or spirituality. I'm not sure if science is the ultimate best guide to what to eat because it's reductive by necessity, but there sure is a lot of research going into what to eat and what's best to avoid. Others, like yourself, go with the intuition, which I applaud, because our needs are different. I try to combine the two.

I myself have gone from being obsessed with protein (as the current trend is) towards low(ish) protein, plant based whole foods (I don't call it vegan, though ), minimising animal foods (Dairy and eggs in my case. I think of animal foods as fat, not protein. I'm not sure, but most of their calories come from fat? All the same, both contribute to satiety). It's exciting to find that I can actually progress toward what I (currently) believe to be optimal, learning from science-based material around the web and books. There's a lot of differing opinions and views around, all backing their claims with a this study or that. You just have to pick your position and investigate, see how you feel. Perhaps it's the novelty of the freedom from obsession that makes it exciting. And like you, I believe the freedom comes from doing this work.

Hey Seppo and jazzrascel, I too am (was) obsessed with food as salvation and drug. I used it both ways to some pretty miserable conclusions for years. I agree, Seppo, that food has lost its power and I'm able to follow intuition and knowledge to find a good balance. I follow a plant-based diet as well, but without the sweaty devotion and analysis/guilt this entailed previously. I wonder if we simply don't have different needs based on where we are in recovery or life, as you both suggest. It's nice to be free from the tyranny of food (I like the parallels you make with fear-based anything, Seppo: politics, spirituality, etc.); it's devotion and dogma. I am about to put this freedom into practice and go out for a burger.

Love the discussion.

"Ineffable, yet deeply tangible", my thoughts exactly, Jackx. It's the most curious thing, and feeds both doubt and certainty in me.

Thumbs up to Jesus, too, except we don't need to seek the Kingdom anymore, we are in it already. I think those Christians got it right in the sense the whole thing is quite easy to solve, or has been solved already. Death ( fear ) has been conquered. It never had any basis. And then you're reborn ( recovery ). It's interesting how the Christian belief comes to make new sense after this, as a somewhat clumsy attempt to grasp what's going on. And many other teachings besides.

antonyirvine

Hi Ljazz.

I think with time, and I see this already happening, there is no consideration as whether thoughts are sane or insane, good or bad, positive or negative. There is a ground under these definitions which you could call peace or relaxation but which I guess is just you, that "whatever it is" that is always here, present. The video where John says that the Looking is the essence of the practice of Inquiry is right on. But even with Inquiry it was easy to go down a lot of dead end roads.

The way you are speaking of this is congruent with others I have spoken with who, supposedly, have come to some sort of 'experiential non-dual awareness'. Yes, I agree and have seen there are many dead end roads people go down - even with Inquiry. Thanks for your reply Antony. All the very best, Lex

Spiritual, and even religious teachings, a fair amount of time, get to the heart of the matter, it's just seems like there's so much bull excrement to wade through sometimes, it's hard to find it!:-O

The biology of trauma

John and Carla, I know this is a link, but I think the article is so good and pertinent to the biological and psychological mechanisms of fear, I thought we could post it on the forums.

LOL! But its there, once you wade through the muck!

Jackx, the simple truth is that all ideas previous to Just One Look about the cause of, and the cure for, human biological and psychological mechanisms of fear are of little practical use in the light of the role of the birth trauma in sowing the seed of fear in the newly-minted mind.

The only fear that is relevant in the effort to effectively heal human mental suffering is the fear of life"” until it's gone. The psychological insights into the expressions of that fear are irrelevant because they are all ex post facto to the arising of the fear, and when the fear of life is gone, human fear assumes its rightful place in our life, which is that of alerting us to actually arising danger, and then disappears.

A mind free of the false fear of life itself will at some point be shorn of interest in the ins and outs of psychosomatic dramas arising from the false fear of life. I suspect that in time there will arise new psychological methods and understandings that are free from the need to seek understanding of the falsely fearful mind.

One more thing. Everybody would benefit from a fast from anything non-dual. Thirst for non-duality is a thirst for non-existence.

I've deleted the link, but approved the post, for the benefit of the others.

It really is beautiful Jackx. Congruent with some other teachings I've heard and respected and it just intuitively feels correct to me. Thanks!

Seppo

"Ineffable, yet deeply tangible", my thoughts exactly, Jackx. It's the most curious thing, and feeds both doubt and certainty in me.

Thumbs up to Jesus, too, except we don't need to seek the Kingdom anymore, we are in it already. I think those Christians got it right in the sense the whole thing is quite easy to solve, or has been solved already. Death ( fear ) has been conquered. It never had any basis. And then you're reborn ( recovery ). It's interesting how the Christian belief comes to make new sense after this, as a somewhat clumsy attempt to grasp what's going on. And many other teachings besides.

As I got more into advaitic/nondual types of teaching, it gave me the freedom to investigate into what I considered to be the good and positive aspects of certain organized religions. I even 'fell out' in the spirit (and believe me I really tried not to! 'What bunk!' I thought and the joke was on me;-) And I've also had spontaneous glossolalia (christians call it 'speaking in tongues', but it's been around much longer than christianity) for a whole month after meeting Tommy Welchel and having him pray over me. He is the last living link to the Asuza St. Revival which happened in CA in the very early 1900's. It's the only time I'm aware of where there were spontaneous full limb regenerations that happened in front of numerous eyewitnesses who were then able to later recount it. If you want to read about some amazing healings of limbs and noses teeth eyeballs, etc being regenerated, check out his book 'Miracles Form Asuza St and Beyond'. I get so happy everytime I read it and meeting Tommy for me was like I guess a teenybopper meeting a rockstar or a moviestar... hahaha!! Hey, I wonder can I post a pic here? Let me try attachments. Me and Tommy from upstate NY-----if it comes out.. Oh shoot, it says I'm not authorized to put attachments...Maybe one day if I get more clout!;-)

The problem is JR, is that I've lost all my money on continually buying new wading boots. I'm actually in debt to the tune of about $757,000 to wading boot companies throughout the world. Cha!;-)

John Sherman

One more thing. Everybody would benefit from a fast from anything non-dual. Thirst for non-duality is a thirst for non-existence.

Another little tidbit John: Psychologically speaking, oftentimes, people who were abused as children many times just want to disappear. They just don't want to exist. I've run across these types of people in nondual seekers. Sometimes, I think I want to live long enough to figure out why you love life so much - because, intuitively, I feel there is something to that. I mean we were born into this life, shouldn't we be enjoying it? I would daresay that the majority of people love life when things are going their way and, at other times, not so much! But I know of - well for the sake of convenience let's say 'spiritual masters' - who have gone to torturous deaths laughing and singing. Or like buddhist monks who self-immolate themselves while remaining perfectly still and unperturbed. Not exactly the same thing as loving life if you're going to burn yourself to death though!;-) But I think you see what I'm driving at. I especially appreciate your story of the very intense viral food poisoning and it makes me think of these things. All the very best, Lex

Okay. I thought the biological research was interesting, not the non dual part. (Not sure there was a non-dual part). There was a mention of an area in the prefrontal cortex associated with present moment awareness that was suppressed by trauma.....as well as the language centers. I was curious if there could be research at some point pre and post looking where actual brain changes as a result of the looking could be documented. It would account for the reports of heightened present moment awareness, something I experience myself. I would think this type of neuroplasicity would take time......and would be rare in the adult brain.

On another note, while I respect your adamant disapproval of anything spiritual, I believe there is a mixed message of, on the one hand, a growing autonomy and self reliance post looking, and the need to be protected and sheltered from other 'spiritual' influences during the time of recovery. For me grappling with these beliefs in open discussions was an important way for me to understand how the looking is different from nondual and other religious traditions and to gain autonomy and self reliance in my own thinking. Just my two cents.

I think nobody wants to exist until the fear of life has dissipated in the unexpected way we see happening here.

Let me share a story. Not long ago I was intensely investigating Tibetan Buddhism and its ultimate goal. It was like an old hobby made a comeback in my life. I was telling myself that this time it wasn't because I needed saving, but rather for some arbitrary research purposes like to compare it with looking for instance and see similarities and differences, or to learn for myself whether what was promised by those teachings was actually attainable or not, 'cause you know, to be able to fly or pass through matter would be pretty rad after all. I thought I was on top of things, that I could be on the path and yet stay sane.

As I went on, with each passing confirmation that I was getting further or understood something new, I was getting more and more caught up in it. It took too long before I recognized how tired and miserable the whole project had made me. It was a slow and steady increase of investment during the better part of a full year. But then, suddenly and unexpectedly, it stood clear how all such efforts are fueled by nothing but a deeply rooted anxiety about being alive in the first place, and how my "research-logic" had been a justification for keeping up the fight towards a natural life, a strive to end my existence as it is. When it finally happened I was so relieved I actually laughed out loud! :D But I also felt like a jackass and completely empty inside (pun intended). Not for anybody else, but for myself, for falling for the fear once again, for feeding it attention for so long. This blaming and shaming however was remarkably short lived and nothing that a good night's sleep couldn't do away with, and the void left after quitting the path was filled without fuss by my own life.

So I second John's comment to try and divest oneself of any interest to elaborate on these matters. It was a very conflicting and confusing time to go through the above. As was it extremely exhausting and it didn't even bring anything worth keeping in the end. In fact I believe my recovery slowed down during that time, and it would have been much better to spend that energy just focusing on my daily life and working with attention like it's talked about here! So there it is, thanks for reading and hanging out. smily

Thank you for posting this Roed. Really wonderful description of how you got caught up in the fear and very inspiring to know how quickly it dissipated - as well as any 'guilty' feelings. I, too, currently agree with what John is saying where he talks about if you have any extra energy to do something, use it for the SDA practice.

"I think nobody wants to exist until the fear of life has dissipated in the unexpected way we see happening here." Yeah Roed, you could be right on the money with this statement man. Best, Lex

John wrote above:

A mind free of the false fear of life itself will at some point be shorn of interest in the ins and outs of psychosomatic dramas arising from the false fear of life. I suspect that in time there will arise new psychological methods and understandings that are free from the need to seek understanding of the falsely fearful mind.

To me, this is nothing short of revolutionary, since the entire world is caught up in the belief that past emotional, psychological, and physical traumas are the cause of all our current misery. I myself am caught up in it to a degree, but two things I've learned from JOL are gradually helping me overcome this. The first is that John points out that we are love...nothing but love (can't remember where I read this...might have been in his bookLook at Yourself) and the other was the realization I had from the childhood looking exercise. I saw that if the me that I am now is the same me I've always been - unmovable, permanent, unchangeable - and that if this me is love, then I have never been touched or hurt by anything that has gone on in the ever-changing human picture, and I am not touched by it now. This means that all the childhood experiences, whatever they were - neglect, trauma, abuse, indifference, lack of love and affection, etc. - have never had an effect on ME.

This is a an relevant discussion. What I take from this is that there is only one fear worth taking seriously; the fear of life, and then not even it after it's been done away with looking. And then there's the natural fear to protect us appropriately, but it takes care of itself.

I'm feel there is an important issue here about the pull of past systems and established avenues of inquiry, and danger of confusion. How skeptical should we be of them? Is there any wisdom there? Should we try to find out? And when, at what point in our recovery? Shall we know when? Or shall we lose the interest? Should we be very skeptical of all our interests? I feel John's warning here raises many questions, but I also feel he's right. I feel I can only take his word for it or don't, if I don't clearly see his point in any given arising pull of interest. Is there a way to discern a fear based interest? Or should we forget it all and just go with the SDA practice as roed_ and Ljazztrm seem to say...

roed_ I relate to what you say about your interest about what a sane mind can achieve and do. I feel that pull, too. Is it all corrupt? I don't believe of flying or such things, but maybe seeing how sane and effective and clear about practical day to day living can be, what sort of surprising solutions to questions and challenges turn up. What to eat? What's optimal diet? How to dress? Best way to exercise? How to find like-minded people to do things with? That kind of things. A kind hunger for excellence has awakened anew now that I feel I have the space and different kind of confidence. Makes me wonder what part might be of the fear based remnants (perfectionism)?

I can see how from this point of view it is quite irrelevant to look into fears and their correlates in the brain in order to find cure through understanding. Same goes with psychotherapy. I'm into science but sometimes I think this quest to solve the human condition through the brain is misleading, or misses something. Increasingly I tend to see the corruption of fear everywhere, even in the most rational of pursuits like science. From this I quite agree with John about the human predicament; it is a real possibility human race might not make it. Or the civilization as we know it.

From what I've read there is the perfect storm of worldwide economic low, climate change, the needed energy transition and the rise of the general political madness brewing to destroy our chances. If we don't collectively act on it all we will descent into hell. I think this is just realism. For instance, it's been speculated that the needed shift to renewable energy won't be able to sustain a society as complex as we live in now, so what would a transition (or a crash, in the worst case) really mean, globally? I don't dare imagine. It all rests on the bedrock of energy production. It's been theorized that Roman Empire collapsed into its own size and complexity, given the energy source they had; muscle power of beasts, slaves and citizens. Even with most of us free of fear and adequately through the recovery it would be challenging, on the practical level, even though renewable technology can probably maintain much more complex society than that of ancient Romans'. We need minds that don't get out of balance when facing bleak forecasts. Sane minds and fast, please.

But then there are so many things that might surprise us positively. I hope we have time. I don't quite see how this thing can spread fast. I don't feel optimistic about that but I hope this is one of the things that will surprise us. Maybe we need "tactical optimism" at this point as physicist David Bohm put it. Or, more likely, both optimism and pessimism are beside the point.

jazzrascal

John wrote above:

A mind free of the false fear of life itself will at some point be shorn of interest in the ins and outs of psychosomatic dramas arising from the false fear of life. I suspect that in time there will arise new psychological methods and understandings that are free from the need to seek understanding of the falsely fearful mind.

To me, this is nothing short of revolutionary, since the entire world is caught up in the belief that past emotional, psychological, and physical traumas are the cause of all our current misery. I myself am caught up in it to a degree, but two things I've learned from JOL are gradually helping me overcome this. The first is that John points out that we are love...nothing but love (can't remember where I read this...might have been in his bookLook at Yourself) and the other was the realization I had from the childhood looking exercise. I saw that if the me that I am now is the same me I've always been - unmovable, permanent, unchangeable - and that if this me is love, then I have never been touched or hurt by anything that has gone on in the ever-changing human picture, and I am not touched by it now. This means that all the childhood experiences, whatever they were - neglect, trauma, abuse, indifference, lack of love and affection, etc. - have never had an effect on ME.

I know he says we are all love in his first book JR..and he says something like even that's not adequate to describe it. I had done exercises like the childhood memory thing in the past when studying nondual teachings. Yes, I agree with your description of it. As we've talked about in emails, since a small child I think I had this understanding that can be brought about by the childhood memory exercise, and never had a fear of death because of it. But it never changed the fact that I don't like suffering and I don't think that understanding mitigated the suffering at all either, except for that one issue of fear of death. It's funny because my mom usually says the same thing that you do about nothing can truly harm what we are..and, of course, I agree.. Oh, ok, now, just thinking about it I see another benefit - like, realizing this, we can see that any suffering we experience will eventually be over. Ok, now I get why this can be a good concept to remember. Thanks JR!;-)

Seppo

I'm feel there is an important issue here about the pull of past systems and established avenues of inquiry, and danger of confusion. How skeptical should we be of them? Is there any wisdom there? Should we try to find out? And when, at what point in our recovery? Shall we know when? Or shall we lose the interest? Should we be very skeptical of all our interests? I feel John's warning here raises many questions, but I also feel he's right. I feel I can only take his word for it or don't, if I don't clearly see his point in any given arising pull of interest. Is there a way to discern a fear based interest? Or should we forget it all and just go with the SDA practice as roed_ and Ljazztrm seem to say...

Wow, Seppo - quite a post and a lot to think about. I'm not going to attempt to try and give my answer to all of it, but would like to address relevant parts from my viewpoint. I consider myself to be one who uses 'spiritual', 'metaphysical', whatever term you want to use.. Maybe the best is 'love' or 'unconditional love'.. to try to effect practical change in this life to make myself and others happy. That's all I really care about. It's why I've just been naturally interested in spiritual healing since a very small child. No one around me at that time had any interest in it. So, the way I personally would approach the questions I quoted you in is to see what works the best for me. What makes me feel the happiest and most peaceful? There are certainly other approaches to try to eliminate fear from our lives other than the SDA, but many of them are so complicated! And they haven't worked for me. Years ago, after I read 'Love Can Open Prison Doors' by Starr Daily, I was totally convinced love is the answer to every problem - unconditional love. Real love. It's how I was led to John's book in the first place. I believe I was researching terms like 'nonduality' and 'everything is love' and came across John's book on Amazon. Anyway - not to go too far off on a tangent here. How does the SDA practice make me feel? Does it work better for me than anything else I've tried? Of course, first I had to resonate with what John is saying about it. This is the premise I'm currently operating on now, and I think John is saying the same thing...at least I got this from his first book when he was talking about compassion:

My supposition is that, on one level, we, as humans, are naturally loving and compassionate beings and it's all the fear that is what blocks it and causes all the suffering people can experience. When we eliminate that fear, then won't we be naturally loving and compassionate. To take it to a 'higher' level - In John's first book he talks about how could he not be compassionate to 'someone else' because, really, he has come to see what he is, is all there is. So how can one, recognizing this on an experiential level, not be reaching out to try and mitigate 'others' suffering? Better put - How to help them mitigate their own suffering. I know I am kind of 'mixing levels' of speak here, but words fall short when talking about these concepts I find. I had an experience this morning - I was out and about and just seeing everyone with more love and feeling much more peace than usual. All I've been doing is the SDA practice and focusing on trying to love (like, sometimes, I'll just repeat 'unconditional love' to myself - and I think the SDA practice is even helping with that since it is developing my focused attention). Then, I went home and was 'hit' by something. It was very strange. I was home just doing some work and I sat to do another 10 min SDA practice and was 'hit' with some type of overwhelming sleepiness. I never experienced it like this before. And when I woke up, I just felt really bad..very unusual. What I think happened was that the effects of the SDA practice are starting to work in my life and some major resistance to that came from somewhere. I don't know where - maybe one of my friends with powerful mystical gifts will tell me at some point..as that tends to happen to me. Anyway, I took this as a good sign..when I felt better of course! Because my experience this morning, plus that type of resistance I never felt before makes me feel like something is really happening!

Seppo

roed_ I relate to what you say about your interest about what a sane mind can achieve and do. I feel that pull, too. Is it all corrupt? I don't believe of flying or such things, but maybe seeing how sane and effective and clear about practical day to day living can be, what sort of surprising solutions to questions and challenges turn up. What to eat? What's optimal diet? How to dress? Best way to exercise? How to find like-minded people to do things with? That kind of things. A kind hunger for excellence has awakened anew now that I feel I have the space and different kind of confidence. Makes me wonder what part might be of the fear based remnants (perfectionism)?

What if the fear being gone automatically leads you more towards the right choices for your own life? In my own experiences with healer types that emitted powerful love and no fear, they always seemed to be 'guided' to exactly what they needed to be doing with no real effort on their part. Just an intuitive knowing of what the best choices were to make for all concerned.

Seppo

From this I quite agree with John about the human predicament; it is a real possibility human race might not make it. Or the civilization as we know it.

From what I've read there is the perfect storm of worldwide economic low, climate change, the needed energy transition and the rise of the general political madness brewing to destroy our chances. If we don't collectively act on it all we will descent into hell. I think this is just realism. For instance, it's been speculated that the needed shift to renewable energy won't be able to sustain a society as complex as we live in now, so what would a transition (or a crash, in the worst case) really mean, globally? I don't dare imagine. It all rests on the bedrock of energy production. It's been theorized that Roman Empire collapsed into its own size and complexity, given the energy source they had; muscle power of beasts, slaves and citizens. Even with most of us free of fear and adequately through the recovery it would be challenging, on the practical level, even though renewable technology can probably maintain much more complex society than that of ancient Romans'. We need minds that don't get out of balance when facing bleak forecasts. Sane minds and fast, please.

From what you've read, yes. But the media focuses on these things. I maintain that if we had the technology we have now hundreds or thousands of years ago, the forecast would be much more bleak. We, as human beings, are collectively raising in consciousness. Because of the technology we have today, the media makes it seem like this isn't so sometimes. And I'm not saying the media shouldn't report on these things, because, in this way, people who do have their consciousness 'more raised' can be made aware and help in whatever way possible. But look at what people did to each other hundreds and thousands of years ago. In Roman times, wasn't it a type of sport to watch people in an arena kill each other? What about the rampant slavery that existed all over the world? The Inquisition? The Holocaust? Mussolini? Communism? All the things that happened in China where millions of people were killed that many westerners don't even know about hundreds of years ago. Well, the list could go on and on. And it's not that all these things don't still happen today. I'm not saying that. But, they happen on a much smaller scale. And I believe that scale is getting smaller and smaller - of course, not nearly fast enough, imo! What about innocent civilians dying in war? (Of course, really, we're all 'innocent' but, for purposes of this discussion). Of course it happens every day still. But, because of the technology - more military targets are able to be centered in on.. think about how many more innocent civilians died in WWI and WWII..

Seppo

But then there are so many things that might surprise us positively. I hope we have time. I don't quite see how this thing can spread fast. I don't feel optimistic about that but I hope this is one of the things that will surprise us. Maybe we need "tactical optimism" at this point as physicist David Bohm put it. Or, more likely, both optimism and pessimism are beside the point.

Haha! You really got me going on this post Seppo, I didn't expect to be sitting here writing all this!

Why do you care? So what if we don't have time? And I direct this to John and anyone who has had insights similar to him. What is it with the love of this human life? Why do you love it so much? I mean, really, I want to know.. I love the fact you love life so much.. I think that's great! I mean, I intuitively feel like this is an outlook we should all embody because it just would make us so much happier and more peaceful. And to love everything that happens..unconditionally.. I certainly get it..intellectually.. It really feels like the way to go.

Seppo I love your phrase "tactical optimism"! I think that's what we need coming from a spiritual healing/metaphysical background. It really does seem that the universe supports our endeavors more when we have an optimistic viewpoint. I've seen it a number of times now in my life. People who really believe it will work out for the best in situation x, y, or z, really do seem to get the support from the universe/Life they need to have what they want happen. People who talk about how things won't work out for them in this way or that, usually manifest that result. And not that it's easy to have that outlook of 'tactical optimism - and I say I've seen it a number of times, because I've been involved in various healing type circles for years and met some extraordinary people in terms of, say, 'love consciousness'..it's still the minority that can do this.. and, now that I am thinking about it, these are the people with the least fear! Ok, 'tactical optimism'.. I'm stealing that one from you man!;-) Best, Lex

A kind hunger for excellence, that's a good way to put it. My story went sour because it became an obsession, and I feel it became obsession because I fueled it too much so I ended up relying on external confirmations. But it's still there, my strive for excellence, but really just in the background, like a gentle motivation to get things done, to get me interested in the going-ons. That's why I feel these little quests for improving our ways don't need our attention, to me it looks like that is default in a sane mind. I don't know if this makes any sense?

About spreading looking, firstly I agree that the challenge we, together in here face, is.. well. It's big. We might not make it. Let's not dwell on it and instead get going.

I still think the 30-second television advertisement is one of the most powerful means of relying a message to the public. I've been watching some TV lately, and I notice how it affects me. If John were to come on, introduce the looking ~ 10 seconds, then talk about recovery and the power of attention ~15 seconds, and conclude with the link and a request for financial donations. You know? Run that nation wide. Just saying. It's not impossible!

Your idea is our idea. All that's needed is the money to do it. Maybe you could do some research on the likely overall cost.

I know someone in TV, I'll see what I can find out!

Thank you. When we have numbers we can get serious about raising the funds. We are a registered nonprofit in the US, which opens opportunities to seek grants.

Lex, I have learned to be cautious of predicting outcomes of this work because it is virtually impossible to do that. Any wonderful experience that comes and goes is beside the point in this context. It may indicate that something is happening to you, but in my case none of those feelings, thoughts or experiences have shown me anything of value, rather they have just made me more miserable in the end. So if you avoid all that it may hasten your recovery and spare you trouble! Attention practice has two parts - one is cultivating a strong "muscle" of attention which gives you the power to discern for yourself where to direct it, and two is to actually apply that power, and consistently turn your attention away from anything that is not practical in the moment. So that includes the wonderful, the awful or the neutral states and experiences, thoughts and emotions, more or less everything, that comes and goes throughout recovery! So don't trust thoughts basically, focus on something else, and if there's nothing practical going on that could use your attention, focus on the breath. That's the second part and it's equally important in my experience.

A comment also on experimenting with self-directed attention. I did it and here's what I found. The breath really is the perfect sensation for strengthening your muscle of attention. Why that is, is because it is completely neutral, and it takes a determined effort to stay there. Your mind will try and make a mountain of a molehill, that's where my experimentation came from, because it seeks to improve and develop things, to get somewhere else, to "see things differently", or the like, but really you don't need to do that. What you are after is to take back the power by not listening to what your mind suggests to you and instead put it somewhere that you choose. And because it's boring, and sort of shuts up the mind, the breath becomes somewhat difficult to go to and stay with. Secondly, the breath is harmless, neutral and always there so it's really the optimal place. If anything, all it suggests to you is that you are still alive, and that can't hurt. Other targets may carry meanings and elaborations that might be detrimental towards our goal of self-reliance. And if you find counting the breath too easy then you can always just pay even closer attention. There's no graduation when you step up to something more advanced, or some other sensation.

Some thoughts relating to this post and what's current here generally. Hope it adds something to the discussion!

John, perhaps we should consider radio as well. Probably cheaper in both production and air time. I'm a big fan of radio smily

ode to the work of John and Carla

It's been ten years, now, thereabouts. Haven't been here in awhile. Watched three or four of John's YouTube videos yesterday and a little later this came to me with great joy and peace:

me...burbling beneath and as inward-looking lens of is

during whom countless I's

bud, unfurl, and bloom,

fade, curl, and fall away endlessly as once-was,

wafting to their doom.

John Erwin

I went through similar analysis and evaluation of many past beliefs. I suppose it was draining and ultimately useless, but I also found things of value. I reached a similar conclusion, that I don't need the belief systems I previously thought I did, and also that I don't need any belief system. I think this kind of examination is useful in the process of what stays and what goes. This is a personal valuation and we are under consciousness construction and evolution. Therefore I think it is important to discuss this evolution with others if we wish.....as we find out what has quality and staying power. I suppose I will feel unfettered at some point, communing with the matter and stimulus around me in a fluid give and take, but until then I will have fun speculating, thinking, believing and disbelieving. When you know there is no harm in store, there is freedom to run and play among among the beliefs and constructs until they lose their juice.

Lex, I have learned to be cautious of predicting outcomes of this work because it is virtually impossible to do that. Any wonderful experience that comes and goes is beside the point in this context. It may indicate that something is happening to you, but in my case none of those feelings, thoughts or experiences have shown me anything of value, rather they have just made me more miserable in the end. So if you avoid all that it may hasten your recovery and spare you trouble! Attention practice has two parts - one is cultivating a strong "muscle" of attention which gives you the power to discern for yourself where to direct it, and two is to actually apply that power, and consistently turn your attention away from anything that is not practical in the moment. So that includes the wonderful, the awful or the neutral states and experiences, thoughts and emotions, more or less everything, that comes and goes throughout recovery! So don't trust thoughts basically, focus on something else, and if there's nothing practical going on that could use your attention, focus on the breath. That's the second part and it's equally important in my experience.

A comment also on experimenting with self-directed attention. I did it and here's what I found. The breath really is the perfect sensation for strengthening your muscle of attention. Why that is, is because it is completely neutral, and it takes a determined effort to stay there. Your mind will try and make a mountain of a molehill, that's where my experimentation came from, because it seeks to improve and develop things, to get somewhere else, to "see things differently", or the like, but really you don't need to do that. What you are after is to take back the power by not listening to what your mind suggests to you and instead put it somewhere that you choose. And because it's boring, and sort of shuts up the mind, the breath becomes somewhat difficult to go to and stay with. Secondly, the breath is harmless, neutral and always there so it's really the optimal place. If anything, all it suggests to you is that you are still alive, and that can't hurt. Other targets may carry meanings and elaborations that might be detrimental towards our goal of self-reliance. And if you find counting the breath too easy then you can always just pay even closer attention. There's no graduation when you step up to something more advanced, or some other sensation.

Some thoughts relating to this post and what's current here generally. Hope it adds something to the discussion!"

- Roed, just a short one for now since I am out on my BlackBerry, but I just wanted to say I definitely agree with what you're saying about not trusting the mind. It feels like my mind just wants to cause me to suffer!

but, with focused attention, isn't the idea to focus on the wonderful things? I would think the wonderful things would usually be practical in many moments. I plan on studying your comment again when I have more time. A lot of good stuff there. Thnx!

Switching attention from physical pain/discomfort

I could use some help with a couple of things...I've been doing SDA for around three weeks and am getting pretty good at focusing my attention. When a distraction pops up, I'm able to recognize it and start counting over again. However, when I'm not in a "formal" SDA situation (sitting quietly, using the alarm, etc.), I have a lot of trouble switching my attention from pain or discomfort in my body, especially if I'm in the middle of doing something and can't stop and turn to my breathing. In other words, it's not that hard to move my attention from my thoughts, but when they present themselves as physical symptoms they seem so much more aggressive. Any suggestions?

Here's another thing: I tried that exercise that John suggested where you alternate between your breathing and focusing on your pain/discomfort. It doesn't seem to work for me, maybe because I thought the whole point was to remove my attention from the pain, since focusing on it continues to feed it. Am I missing something here? Help, y'all!!

roed_

John, perhaps we should consider radio as well. Probably cheaper in both production and air time. I'm a big fan of radio smily

Yes, radio is great! We love radio. Let us know what you find out.

Pardon my shorthand from my BlackBerry JR - but just to remind you of the spiritual healing perspective of this type of issue, in a lot of modalities, and maybe someone more knowledgeable will chime in as to the differences and/or similarities of the SDA practice when dealing with this issue. In many forms of spiritual healing, the idea is that the pain is there to get your attention. A lot of methods have you actually'breathe into'k the pain and/or send love energy to the afflicted area. So, when I have physical discomfort doing the sda, I actually give it full attention - instead of my breathing - and it works the same for me. So I am using the discomfort as my 'focusing mechanism' instead of the breathing. But maybe this isn't right for the SDA? It's the impression I got from what I read. Hopefully someone w more experience will chime in. Best. Lex

Hey Lex, here's a bit from the email I sent you earlier on this topic:

When I was going through my "mind/body phase," I tried sending love to my body parts, and it did nothing for me. I guess some people can make that work if their belief is strong enough, but it really runs contrary to what I understand and feel is actually true. Sure the pain cries out for attention, but giving it attention doesn't make it go away"¦it feeds it. John has said that the whole point of SDA is to learn how to shift our attention to things that we really want, instead of just being sucked in by whatever calls out to us.

I think part of the hell which comes from physical pain and discomfort is the mind fighting against the situation. Giving the sensations of pain and discomfort straight attention can, in my experience relive part of it, because it shows me there really is nothing to be afraid of, it's just pain, or in other words I needn't escape it, so my stress about it fades. Not to be confused with directed attention practice though, in that I don't mean to do this to strengthen control over attention generally, just a way to familiarize with the sensations present.

Actually Carla, that satellite radio seems to be very popular these days. And a lot of the tv sets nowadays are hooked into the satellite radio I notice.. Podcasts are all the rage nowadays. Have you checked out Marc Maron's? http://www.wtfpod.com/ He even had the last president on.. But he's a recovering addict and has had some deep talks about compassion and recovery and some spiritual stuff.. I think he works the 12 steps.. I mean this guy is pretty much world famous now.. He's got a real funny TV show too.. Anyway, I don't know him personally but I dropped him an email about John and this site and told him to have John on for a podcast.. I don't know if he checks all his emails since he probably gets a ton.. but what the hell? Figured I'd give it a shot.. I can tell he's a sensitive cat and a seeker. All the very best, Lex

It could be why some people who go through torturous deaths are singing and laughing the whole time. Or, like the Buddhist monks who self-immolate themselves and who are completely still and at peace. It's something that always fascinated me because, to me, this seems like total freedom from suffering. I really appreciate that story from John about when he had the very serious viral food poisoning and had no mental suffering attached with it.

Hey Seppo, we're also having conversations over on the JOL Facebook page. On there, if you post in the 'comments' section, it comes up instantly. https://www.facebook.com/groups/justonelook/ All the very best, Lex

We're also having conversations over on the JOL Facebook page. On there, if you post in the 'comments' section, it comes up instantly. https://www.facebook.com/groups/justonelook/ All the very best, Lex

Maybe check this one, JR

https://www.justonelook.org/communit...-for-the-girls

Hi roed, I'm a couple of decades past the menopause thing (I'm John's age), and actually, since I wrote this post I feel very sure that I don't want to practice the "looking at the pain" thing. smily I don't find it helpful at all for me...seems like it's working for you, but I'm finding the best approach for me is doing the SDA and also seeing me as I contemplate the fact that I'm not my body, not my thoughts, not my life. I also started doing qigong every day, which is so difficult for me, but is really helping. It's only been a few days, so that's why it's still so hard...I'm in pretty bad shape physically, but now I know I can do something about it. Thanks.

Lex, thank you for taking the time to comment on my post so thoroughly. I don't think of myself loving life or humanity. I'm probably the most depressed person you know. It's just that not caring is wrong, taking part in the destruction.

"Tactical optimism" comes from David Bohm, a brilliant thinker who had lots of talks with Krishnamurti.

Yes, but the right choices might come through just this newfound interest and a sort of enthusiasm after some of the effects of fear start to dissipate. There certainly is much less effort going on.

My media is recordings of philosophical, economical and physics talks, discussions, blogs and books. Not the mainstream media. It might be that we are raising consciousness, although I don't like that phrase (I'm a bit of a skeptic). But consciousness won't change the fact of EROEI of energy production, or what is already underway politically or economically.

I had my Facebook page deleted years ago. I miss it for this kind of discussions and groups, though.

I'm not over my food addictions. Not all the tyrants are gone. Eating is just about the only pleasure I can still feel, and it feels kind of scary to denounce food as distraction, relaxation and stress relief. But some kind of development seems to be going on.

Surprisingly, I was able to get over my block to painting and have been able to dabble with my oils over the past few weeks, with no pretty results, but still. I've been happy about this development. Another result of recovery working it's way. I kind of knew it was coming. My thinking is that perhaps I rediscover my pleasure at painting and it will assist in leaving intoxication with stimulating foodstuffs behind. But as I've said before, I'm not awfully concerned about it most of the time. Things will follow their natural course. Perhaps SDA is the only thing I can do, or otherwise work with my attention.

We all die whether living healthy or not, but since painting is "old man's game" as David Hockney has said, I'd like to live long and healthy enough to produce a couple of decent paintings before the end.

Jackx, I hope you enjoyed your burger. Jazzrascal, I wish you'll be unchained from your condition soon enough.

Perhaps raised consciousness, or whatever term you prefer, maybe, functioning without needless fear, can reverse certain things already in motion. Who knows what new and helpful things we can come up with if we are functioning without the encumbrance of needless fear?

Thanks for the info Sepposmily

Seppo

I've tried all sorts of vegetarian diets, too, from raw and living foods to just not caring at all about what I eat. Interestingly, recently I've found myself going back to the "pure", or maybe more rational approach to food. But without the compulsion of saving myself through diet. Just asking what's the best, healthiest diet, as I feel there's more space now around what I eat and less addictive-like compulsion.

Hi, Seppo,

I was fat all my life, and in retrospect I see that it was always driven by the need for protective swaddling.

And even after the looking had killed the fear, the habits of mind that it had sown persisted for some time. Keep in mind that we were still in the beginning of our work of understanding the looking and its nature, and we had not even begun to work with SDA yet.

By 2007 or 2008, I weighed something in the neighborhood of 250 pounds. I was seriously overweight and deeply uncomfortable in my body.

Then Carla and I spent some time learning about human weight problems and food.

Long story short, we decided to eat fresh organic food that we cook ourselves (some of it we grow ourselves), and we cut our portions to half of the recommended amount.

It didn't take long before we began to see the results not only in weight lost and a general sense of well-being, but in our overall approach to food.

We never looked back, and we have the same dietary standards today. Keep in mind that our new relationship with food has not brought with it an experience of loss of the pleasure of good food; to the contrary, we love good, healthy food more than ever.

As I write this my weight is 125 pounds, and has been stable for years now.

With your growing facility in SDA, you should have little if any trouble looking into the facts of food, and creating your own plan for getting better at feeding yourself in a healthy manner, and following through on the project.

True, who knows what might happen. I imagine it would be a very different world.

Hi John,

Thank you for the encouragement.

I never would have guessed you had trouble with your weight. Your story about food sounds like a success story (like your story with smoking) all the more incredible as it's not a result of forcing oneself to an ideal, but a natural unfolding of the mind growing healthy. If only there was a TV documentary series of following people who've done the looking and the change in their lives thereafter.

I guess some things persist longer into the recovery, and perhaps there is a reason for it. I trust there's an intelligence of kind in the workings of it. Plus a change always comes with a bit or work. I never had the swaddling and have been lean most of my life (I lost a few pounds after going mostly plant-based, and I've been stable since) but sweet treats have been my drug. Alcohol has been a no-no to me for most of my life because of my interest in health and "spiritual matters". In fact, I started drinking more alcohol after doing the looking and after losing my interest in rescuing myself through those. But stimulating foods elevate me for a moment (a few times a week, currently) especially combined with a good book or a movie, and makes me forget dreariness I still often feel about life. But there is a growing confidence that it won't be a problem forever. Even the quality of the problem is different, it's less of it, a kind of puzzle mostly. I can't stop being amazed by this confidence. I haven't cultivated it and I have my doubts, very often, but the confidence persist, despite my skepticism.

I've already had the re-awakening to facts of food for a few months. Not only to what is deemed healthy, but to what seems to be nicer to other creatures and the state of the planet. But I can clearly see the traps people fall into when they feel the need to confirm to various -isms about food and how the facts then get twisted. Michael Pollan's succinct advice on proper eating is one of the best: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. My plan is still int works.

I've also noticed the pleasure that proper food gives. It's different from the pleasure trap of foods for escape, of over stimulating kind of pleasure. The problem seems to be that so far at least, the habit of pleasure seeking has won due to its overpowering nature, though less frequently of late. I tend to think we are in this trap because we don't experience satisfaction about life you talk about. It's a kind of pleasure, too, but vastly different. I experience glimpses of that satisfaction, out of the blue, in day to day life.

I get thrills about the prospects of having a command of my attention. I think it's mostly my imagination so far, but what a difference in life it would make! It's amazing to think about. I also like very much what you hint at about us having just begun with SDA, or looking, as more and more people get in to it and explore it in their lives. It's an exciting prospect.

I have fallen into natur eating style, in fact I call it being on the 'natch', for some time now. This plant based diet with little or no processed foods or animal products used to be such a struggle. I micro managed every bite and felt guilt and shame when I fell off the wagon. It did have aspects of salvation. Now I just do my best and it is kind of effortless. I feel so much better as well. I did enjoy my burger! No guilt, no self pity.

I do think there here is another dynamic for me. I have noticed that sometimes I crave feeling bad. It was my set point or homeostasis for so long, there is this natural pull downward to this feel and drinking beer and eating bad food will get me there quicker than anything. When there, there is a weird comfort in the bad feeling. When this happens now, I'm puzzled by it, wondering why I'm in this state and why I 'chose' to get there. It doesn't last long and I can easily get back on track these days but still........

the Michael Pollan quote is a favorite of mine as well, Seppo.

Be well.

It's interesting how very alike our experiences of eating and changes in it while recovering are. Choosing to feel bad also...Feeling bad feels like a sigh of relief, coming back home after too much of a good thing. Maybe because the familiarity of indulging and the low afterwards is relaxing while the new is still taking hold, our bodies and minds not yet fully settled into the new, so you'd need a break? Or just the remnant of the old acting up?

I have this idea that I can indulge in these habits as long as they persist, because they'll be gone soon anyway, and at the same time I feel it's wrong for the body. There is a mixture of confidence and regret.

I would like to add that the purpose of SDA is to gain conscious control over your attention, which is the natural state when the fear of life is gone. You do it to strengthen the muscles of your attention, so to speak. When they are supple and strong, control of your attention becomes natural, just an aspect of a self-reliant life. Then the SDA practice is not necessary anymore; refocusing of attention happens naturally.

Lookers tell their stories

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We believe it is also a helpful aid when telling people know about Just One Look, because they are first hand reports from people who experience the results in their own lives.

Definitely Carla, nothing speaks louder than testimonials for sure! Best, Lex

I still find it hard to project anything else to my future.

Seppo,

That might be a good thing, since any effort to project anything anywhere is born from the residue of a fearful mind. There is nothing you can do now to hasten the falling away of the damage done by fear but to begin, and stay with, a disciplined practice of Self-Directed Attention, and see it through to the end.

The goal of SDA is not to become good at SDA, but to become skillful in self-reliant-life, a skill that was crippled by the damage done to your attention by the fear of life.

The purpose of this practice is to return to you the simple skills of being human by leaving behind the empty spectacle of misery and confusion.

John

Social fear, still

Say what you will about moving my attention to breath, and sooner or later all my angst will be gone... What is still here and very real and difficult for me, is this social anxiety that's plagued me all my life. I got rid of it last year, so it seemed. I took meds, got drunk and stoned and numbed the emotions. I think what happened is that I just put the whole thing on pause. Now, It's nothing to do with my minds stories about it, so the breathing techniques are irrelevant I think. It's the instant, sensual, interactions with others in the world which is hard. Why isn't it effortless yet? When I first joined the forum someone said they felt like they were learning to talk from scratch, all over again and that it was effortless and easy, after four years they said.

I am over four and a half years post looking. I can see that my perception has changed in some extraordinary way, but that alone hasn't freed me of all this inferior stuff. I can do the focused attention or zen mindfulness all I want, the tension and feelings of not being good enough and anxious when I talk to people is still here. I need to wait? I must just do something else I suppose. I guess my intention to get this out is to correct my last reports of everything being fine and experiencing no problems. Just not true for me now. I feel stuck again.

I spoke with Richard Lang, who teaches headless method, and he said he experienced some really difficult self conscious times twenty years after doing the looking. Kind of diminished the idea of a gradual recovery into a sane and happy life for me. Shit doesn't want to go away that easily. Maybe he repressed it, maybe it's a good thing it's still here with me?

I think that pointing out that attention exercises are time limited is a good reminder. I find this to be true as well, Carla. I don't need attention exercises as much anymore. I do use the breath counting when I wake up at night and can't fall back asleep, but fortunately my spate of insomnia seems to be gone for now. I also use them situationally if I am in a stressful situation. It seems the stressors are external these days and not internally generated as the habits of fear lose their momentum. I let my attention find its balance without much thought about it. Sometimes I drift and need to refocus, but this has happened all my life. I do find that when I need to focus I can and that I am much less avoidant of thoughts or situations I find uncomfortable.

.

Hey Jim, I hope someone with more experience will chime in with advice. I have been doing the SDA practice for a little over a month. Because of various circumstances in my life, I am compelled to do the SDA exercise quite a lot - usually 1-3hrs cumulatively in any 24hr period. I am also a performer. I notice, in the last week or so that I feel somewhat more relaxed when performing and in social situations. Yesterday I noticed when performing and just interacting with different people I was more relaxed than usual. If you look at long time Buddhist meditators, you can observe nothing can really 'ruffle' them at all. And the SDA practice and the breath following mindfulness meditation are the same vehicles...the same mechanics of practice..but with different intentions. Conversation 9 on youtube with John is wonderful in explaining this. Hope this is of some help and someone who has been doing the SDA longer than I have will have more helpful things to share. All the very best, Lex

Jim Glover

Now, It's nothing to do with my minds stories about it, so the breathing techniques are irrelevant I think. It's the instant, sensual, interactions with others in the world which is hard. Why isn't it effortless yet? When I first joined the forum someone said they felt like they were learning to talk from scratch, all over again and that it was effortless and easy, after four years they said.

Are you sure about that? Wouldn't it be the mind stories acting instantaneously as you're interacting with others? I mean, happening so fast your not consciously aware of it?

Darn it Jim, what a drag. Not sure if this is relevant, but I see a difference between meeting new people and re-shaping my already established relationships. The latter is generally harder, but in both cases I often struggle to find a balance between "giving" myself and "hearing" the other person. Not a huge issue I would say, more like a work that needs to be done every time. Further, when a group's larger than say three-four with people myself included I become quiet and hang back unless I know everyone very well - then I'll be very active in my role in the group instead. A person or a group of lookers is always easier to relate to, and find my role with, no matter where in the process they are. Like I said, I'm unsure of the relevance of this to your situation. It's good to see you though, cheers!

Yeah Jackx, exactly - speculating, thinking, believing and disbelieving is all good fun when they don't take precedence over normal life. I couldn't manage to stay sane and follow this path at the same time. I got hooked on it, on the promises of an escape from myself, that I wasn't enough already, so I didn't concern myself with real life things as much during that time, and it was not clear to me that there is no harm in store. That's how I felt miserable. It may not be the case for everyone, but let me put it like this: The secret mind practices I was doing sort of came between me and my own life, feeding that which kept me from living my real, normal, human life as fully. I too think there are plenty of golden nuggets hidden in these traditions and practices, but that's a different story and another topic for discussion I think.

What if you choose a place, a city for example, and try to get 10% of the citizens of that particular place to do the looking. You could channel the resources and use the local pathways to get to the people which might be cheaper and you could really observe how things work out. Combined use of local TV stations, radio, newspapers, cinemas, facebook groups, email, SMS and maybe a couple of interviews would make it feasible to achieve that within a reasonable time frame. And I think if you run a campaign for a city, people donate more readily, because they know where money is going to. You can get radio spots 60sec for 15 USD in Lagos, Nigeria which is the biggest city in Africa (around 18 Mio. people). Newspaper ads 1/4 page is 450 USD (for the big newspapers as The Guardian Nigeria, The sun nigeria etc.) and TV ads are about 1000 USD for 30 sec as far as I could find out.

If these pathways are combined so that people just now about it after the campaign, things should take their own course in that place and keep growing by itself and you then get to the next city.

And you could also involve the members/visitors to get active by collecting phone numbers (for SMS), email addresses, make facebook postings and look for contacts to media facilities etc.

Just an idea...

my situation is different but it's ok, thanks roed. I feel like this post was really just an unproductive wine. And thanks for your responses Ljazztrm, I recognise your enthusiasm having recently found this. I wish you luck with the attention work and I'm sure you'll begin to see yourself in everything before you know it...

all is well smily

Can I just say what a great comment Jaja! Thinking about it there should be plenty of densely populated places where advertising would be cheap and that is English speaking, would be very easy to reach with not a whole lot of dough, we could focus on them one by one as the funds are made available! - Let's just not forget there must be a structure ready to handle the traffic generated, maybe a new website altogether too since most people browse using phones these days.

Here's my prediction, Jim. (If our recoveries are similar). You will begin to have this odd sense that you don't care as much about being anxious.......despite being very anxious. Your anxiety ABOUT your anxiety will begin to diminish. This may go on for awhile, and it may be happening now, but after awhile, without the meta-anxiety kicking in the after burners, the social anxiety will diminish.

I still get anxious socially sometimes, but I don't really care about it, it doesn't bother me. It then fades away and I don't even know when it goes. All those built up judgments and recriminations about how you should and shouldn't feel is the meta-anxiety stuff and when this goes, and I think it will, you're left with plain old autonomic arousal which is kinda boring without all the mind drama behind it. These patterns run deep, but even these old ruts become smoother with the healing of the mind.

Look for that odd sense when you don't care in the midst of an anxiety attack.

Best, Jack

The way you describe this really resonates with me Jackx. It corroborates some things I have heard other people who have had experiential understanding of their true natures, at least to a higher degree, talk about when describing various situations that had bothered them in one way or another in the past.

I like the idea of cinema adverts. There you have people sitting in the dark fully focused on the huge screen. You can get almost every visitor to do the looking in that moment. Compared to listening to radio or watching TV that's a huge advantage. Because radio mostly just runs in the background while you are doing something else - like driving car or working - so I think it's definitely harder to get peoples attention. But I don't know how the costs are compared to radio.

"I mean, if you have been truly freed, why would you continue to attend meetings, read spiritual literature, and seek solace in meditation?"

You needn't--eventually. The thing of it is that when the fear is gone, the fear never was. So eventually the relevancy of anything to solve a problem you don't have fades away.

That the resort to further teaching, after just one look, is a waste of time is noticed by this question. Once this so called context of fear is broken, it simply cannot be put back together again. So do we skid to a halt quickly our reflexive momentum or do we bang all the way down the lazy way to the end. Either way, as you have looked at me you are sane.

Good posts, Paul. Good question by John. It's one I've noticed spiritual seekers aren't comfortable with. There's always that trip to India if nothing else works......I've saved a lot by not buying books.

Cbt

I wonder what the relationship between the looking, 'the fear' and cognitive behavioural therapy could be? I have thought about going to see a therapist to help me break out of my social fears. Also, I've been thinking lately how I am more broken than most people I've met on these forums as I don't feel like I've made any progression at all really. I'm silent in the company of others. The drugs and booze last year gave me some relief, however, I am back to square one.

Sure there will be some interesting ideas. How would it relate to the focused attention? I like to think once certain beliefs change in the brain of a 'looker' they will be changed forever. Maybe im just hopeful.

Hey Jim, you're not more broken than most people you've met on these forums. I've been in the company of many 'seeker types' for years and this is a common trait in what us 'seeker types' believe. Many times, seekers like us tend to think we're the 'worst case'...and express concerns and go through the many of the same experiences and thoughts/feelings as you. I think even John himself has this idea - Like he says, 'If it could work for me, it will work for anyone.' I think a lot of us seeker-types think that! But it is this very suffering, in many cases, that bring us to teachings like this and motivate us to 'awakening'. Seeker types, in many cases, suffer a lot more than people not interested in all this..in finding 'the Truth'. The plus side is that we can really awaken and find true peace and happiness because we have the motivation to put the time and effort in.

Since I studied mindfulness meditation previously before coming to John's teaching, I am aware of the CBT and MBCT practices and there are some good studies related to those teachings and successfully dealing with conditions like PTSD. I prefer the simplicity and intention behind the SDA exercise to these though. Several days ago, I made the intention to do the SDA practice all the time. I have usually been doing 3, 10-20 min formal sessions spread out through the day and, now, throughout my day, my intention is to always have some part of my attention on following the breath. In doing some research, it looks as though this is something Buddha himself recommended as his main practice. If you google the term 'continual breath awareness' you will find other people who have had this idea come to them as well. I was actually posting in the 'comments' section on some YT's about continual breath awareness and giving the link to John's teachings. For me, the intention behind doing something like this is all important and what motivates me, so to hear John talk about this intention makes all the difference for me. (Check John's article on mindfulness vs. SDA practice and conversation #9 on YT).

If having social anxiety when sober causes you enough suffering, you may be motivated to do the SDA exercise more and even try doing it all day the way I'm describing. If you are using any type of drugs/medications to help you, I wouldn't recommend stopping them 'cold turkey' just because you are doing the SDA exercise or other practices you believe to be helpful. (But don't do more either! You could even consider a gradual taper depending on what you are using). Being involved with a spiritual healing group for years, I saw this was a common idea for some people to take on. Like people who needed glasses or hearing aids would not wear them because they felt like, since they were doing this healing practice, they were showing faith/belief that healing would come. This isn't how it works at all. Take someone wearing glasses. When their eyes were healed, they would all of a sudden start to get blurry vision through the glasses and have to take them off..and they could see clearly. Same goes for people taking medicine. A lot of times people would ask if they should stop taking their medicine because they were doing this healing practice. There were medical doctors in this healing group and they would always tell people never to do that. When they no longer needed the medication because they were healed of the condition, they would either start to forget to take their medication - or it would start making them sick. They would then go to the doctor, if they started getting sick, and find they were healed and didn't need to medicine anymore. Extreme examples I know of were people addicted to substances like heroin and, one day, they would forget to take the heroin! Seriously - they had no desire for it anymore.. Now, imo, the SDA exercise is an evolution of the healing practice in the group I was involved in. It really does come down to learning to focus the attention on what you want. The way John describes it, like on conversation 9 on YT, is brilliant.

Jim Glover

I wonder what the relationship between the looking, 'the fear' and cognitive behavioural therapy could be? I have thought about going to see a therapist to help me break out of my social fears. Also, I've been thinking lately how I am more broken than most people I've met on these forums as I don't feel like I've made any progression at all really. I'm silent in the company of others. The drugs and booze last year gave me some relief, however, I am back to square one.

Sure there will be some interesting ideas. How would it relate to the focused attention? I like to think once certain beliefs change in the brain of a 'looker' they will be changed forever. Maybe im just hopeful.

The relationship is that all psychotherapeutic treatments recommended by the professionals are invented, tested and applied within a context of fear. Will they work for you? I don't know, but keep in mind what we are looking at here is a life from a point of view that the professionals can't possibly understand. Personally I can see value in talking to a therapist, for the sake of conversation, but I wouldn't allow myself to rely on anything other than my own experience to guide me, ultimately.

I can second that once a belief is dispelled for a "looker" it is dispelled for good, that's my experience. We talked about it before, but I'll just ask straight up anyway, are you doing the SDA exercise? Cause it's when I put all my eggs in that basked, instead of looking around for a better option trying this and that, that things really started happening fast for me.

All the best

Hey Jim. I'm sorry things haven't turned a corner for you, but I continue to believe they will. I don't know if I was more broken than you, or if anyone else was for that matter (there are some pretty horrific stories if you dig deep in the forums), but I do know the feeling of thinking my suffering would never end. There were times when I didn't think I could take it anymore and the resulting self loathing compounded the pain.

It did end, although it took time, years, and now I have a very different sense of life. When I am alone or with someone who is free of fear, life seems dense with meaning and I can zero in on details, either sound or visual textures. Time flows and life flows without a notion for being somewhere else or wanting something else and, typically, I'm free of a racing, restless mind. When I am with people, however, this can change and, while I'm not suffering internally, I am picking up their fear, discord, and neurotic vibe. I'm wondering if this happens for you. Alone, pretty chill and in flow, with others and feeling the panic of fear? It's hard to get used to and I have to recharge by being alone more frequently at times.

Hey Jim,

I think many people have social fears, including me. But that's okay. You do not need to bother yourself about it; this feeds the behavior pattern even more. For myself I can say that I do not need to be around people that much; I hang out with those people whose company I enjoy - and these are really very few - and I need not force myself to feel comfortable with people I don't want to be with. The recovery is a wild kind of ride of ups and downs even if you try to hold on to one thing it'll eventually make way for something else. You can be certain of that! Peace

Jim, I recently watched the video by Tej, which I thought was very good and thorough, and it took me back to my recovery which was long and arduous like his. He described his social anxiety well. How he was incredibly nervous in meetings, etc. I remembered that I was terrified in meetings and when ever I had to speak in public. I almost couldn't do it. I would have something like a panic attack, my heart in my throat, and voice barely a whisper it shook so much. This feeling of intense anxiety was only an elevation of the everyday normal anxiety I felt constantly. Like Tej, my recovery took a long time, perhaps because of serious pain during childhood, I don't know. Like him, I thought I was going crazy during recovery. I couldn't sleep, thought I was going nuts, thought I was dying by various ways, heart attack, stroke, you name it. My body and mind were in some variation of the 'red zone' at all times. Racing thoughts and adrenaline and cortisol pumping. It was a hellish way to live. Actually, I'm surprised I didn't have a heart attack or stroke.

So yeah, now it's all gone, five years eight months later. My former life seems like another life. I enjoy speaking in public, enjoy meetings, enjoy talking to people, enjoy solving problems, enjoy stressful situations, enjoy my life. I even enjoy the bits of anxiety i feel every now and then. There is nothing else I did which could have accounted for this tremendous change. Nothing. It will pass for you. It will. Hang in there. Do CBT, do the attention exercises, stand on your head, watch Netflix, do whatever you need to do to fill the time until it passes. I agree with John and Tej, and whoever else said it, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. I was a basket case and about as broken as you can get. For some of us it just takes a little more time. Here is the link to Tej's vid, if you haven't seen it. It's excellent.

https://www.justonelook.org/videos/video-reports.html?awt_l=E2ItY&awt_m=3bYgoqZs69A.qZC

peace.

Roed, In the context of social anxiety my belief has held very firm that something is wrong. I have managed to change that belief a few times in my life, enough to enjoy life more anyway. and I guess that those techniques are about changing those beliefs and then continually working on it. I'm hoping you are right, once it's really done for me, the belief won't turn up anymore or just won't be able to hold any ground. it will be gone (aw, that sounds too good)

I have actually started to do the attention exercise often when things are quiet, mostly because i never know what else to do with my attention in my free time these days. What to fill the void with but myself? just breathing...

Yes, I know what you mean completely. I have been with some people this year where it was intolerable to be in their neurotic conversations so I just found myself deciding to stay as quiet and calm as possible in their company. Thanks for responding, Jackx

Thank you all for your input here. Very much appreciated smily

thanks, man smily

Insomnia

Other things where getting better and better. But now stuck in a loop of fear of not falling asleep or fear of waking up to early. Any advice?

Hey Karl, I know what this feels like. I have had several bad stretches of insomnia and fear associated with sleeping. In the nighttime world fears are amplified. The only thing I can say is that insomnia related to the looking is temporary. It may be several months but it seems to work itself out. There is perhaps a purging effect when we go through these periods of fear, I don't know. Perhaps this is repressed, long held psychological material finding its way out and leaving for good. This is how it feels to some folks. When I wake up at night in a panic I do the breathing exercises, in fact it's one of the only times I do them anymore. It seems to have an immediate, positive effect. These should probably be practiced by day so they are automatic when needed.

I would do do a search for insomnia and sleep issues on the forum for other comments, because I know it comes up for many. Carla talked about nightmares, I believe. Hang in there.

Peace.

A lot of times people who meditate a lot report the need for less sleep. You sleep more deeply and need less of it. I find the SDA practice is having this effect on me now - I am still getting used to it though. You could also try doing the SDA practice while your laying in bed trying to sleep. All the very best, Lex

Jim, I've felt more broken than others as well. You can't be more broken than me (wanna compete? Someone's got to be the top sufferer to win this game...;)

I'm nearing six years into this also and I'm still depressed as heck at times and I still feel helpless and think about death. I can't get things done I feel I need to be doing and I feel just miserable and wasting my life. I don't feel much and hardly any pleasure. And I feel I can't do anything about it. Except SDA which does nothing much on on the spot. I don't seem to make any headway regarding my interest in life and people and things. I started to think about psilocybin for a treatment, but I'd need to look more into it. It seems that there's medical research going on in treating depression with psychedelics like psilocybin. People report becoming more social too, afterwards. It seems to me that this kind of psychoactive substances don't carry any methodology with them and might therefore accommodate our angle more readily than other therapeutic systems. However, I'm a skeptic about this, too. Thoughts about this, anyone?

Hi Karl, have you tried to intentionally look away from the fear and from the fact that you are feeling fear, over and over? I think this tactic of 'suffocating' has worked well for me when dealing with specific uncomfortable patterns and issues floating about. It's a little hard to say because the effect isn't normally immediate, so it can take a while before I come to realize that something which used to bother me has disappeared, and sometimes I looked away maybe twenty times before it stopped coming back, and at that point I don't even know what is fear and what is only an expectation of fear. No matter, focusing on the breath -as something of our own choosing- is time better spent in either case I think.

How good I am at this looking away business and declining to bad stuff, changes over time. It's just like any other skill in that when I practice it then I also do it well in normal daily life. So it has proven real useful to me after the looking, and it seems to have proven useful for many here, and therefore I think that working with attention is good advice in your situation. By the way, I've had nightmares too, oh boy, many awful nightmares, really really bad and terrifying ones. Like Jackx said it seems temporary and to work itself out over time, they have definitely become less of a problem for me lately. Hope it's not too disruptive in the meanwhile, and hope it will pass quickly! Hang in there!

"Psychological Inflammation" and Resilience

An American living in Australia I was a long-distance follower of John & Carla ~15-16 years ago but dropped out for the same reason he found was a problem for others"“because of the disease and that what they were teaching at the time wasn't working"“and because, as Ljazztrm says in his post, I thought I was the worst one, didn't realize anybody else felt the same, and believed it was yet one more spiritual path that didn't do it for me, whatever "it" was. Because I also felt it was yet another failing on my part, it never occurred to me to tell them, I just bugged out. I came back this June, totally by the most fortuitous accident, which I'll describe further on.

I took that initial one look, saw myself, began twice-daily SDA (plus whenever I need it) and I'm currently in the recovery period; I've also been listening John's podcasts and reading the discussion forums where it looks like most observations I wanted to make have already been covered beautifully by others, so I can see that I'm not actually alone in what I'm experiencing and can add nothing new to those discussions.

I did want to comment on one thing John said in a podcast that really hit home: that the disease is a kind of "psychological inflammation."

I've known I was terrified of the world from the earliest I can remember and consciously carried that fear all my life, but thought it was just me that was particularly weak and incompetent (reinforced by early years with a judgmental sibling) and because of that person's early indoctrination and my stupidity in believing that this sib knew diddly about anything, especially about my thoughts and motivations, have spent close to my whole 70 years thinking I was intrinsically flawed and obviously beyond spiritual and psychological redemption, though I never stopped searching.

And unsurprisingly in hindsight, I developed autoimmune illnesses starting with what was called a "spastic colon" in my childhood (now called ulcerative colitis) followed by some arthritis and around eleven years ago, t2 diabetes. A year or so ago I realized that these were all inflammatory ailments but initially looked to the physical causes and cures for them, some of which moderated the symptoms but none of which cured them.

I started doing qigong (chee gung) virtually daily a bit over five years ago and over time that helped me calm down a lot, but an overwhelming amount of fear was still with me and I came back to John/Carla by accident (or fate? good karma despite my many and obvious personal failings? Who can say, and since it's unanswerable I don't think it matters, I'm just glad to be back and finally have the tools to deal with life). I really felt desperate, net-surfed on "fear," and John's article, "The Fear of Life and the Simple Act of Inward Looking That Snuffs It Out," blew my wee mind. Taking the initial one look and practicing SDA set me on the road to a recovery that a lifetime of "spiritual" and psychological searching never even got close to, so I had to know who wrote this miraculous piece, and was delighted that it turned out to be John!

So I'm b-a-a-ck!

When he labeled the problem a kind of psychological inflammation, it struck me as exactly right! My take on it is that all my physical inflammation is the logical result of the psychological inflammation that has been with me, as John says, from birth. In my case, I always felt mine was with me from even before birth because my Mom wanted a boy so badly that I already knew I was going to be a disappointment even before I arrived, and I never lost that feeling even though she said having me made her only want girls after that; also being born into a post-Holocaust Jewish family who'd just lost members in it and seeing that anti-Semitism hasn't gone away did not lead to serenity [NB I'm aware and sympathetic that people in virtually all religions, races, or in whatever way they're "different" share similar fears of discrimination and violence, not only Jews. I'm only saying how it was for me around the time I was born and growing up]. It's only been a matter of weeks since I came back, so I'm also taking Ljazz's advice and not ditching my meds just yet, but I see that being continually and relentlessly terrified couldn't help but have had a damaging effect on my physical body.

Also, I've known since I was about eight years old that, regardless of any individual's race, creed, gender or religion, peace is not a permanent attribute of the physical world and no amount of reassurance from parents, teachers, rabbis, Christian ministers in our community, positive thinkers, dietitians, life coaches or anyone else could shake that conviction.

All my adult life I refused to get involved in political "discussions," because in my view they typically end as polarizing wrangles that only marginalize people, even people of good will, who differ in opinion, and because I've never believed they solve anything, but mostly out of fear and this conviction that I was a weak person, sluggish thinker and a poor debater, and most of all because I saw the historical reality of this cycle John has also spoken about and agree with him that unless some different way of dealing with them is found, another one is inevitable, that as they say in "Game of Thrones," "Winter is coming."

I can't say I'm resigned to that or happy about it, but one of my biggest fears has been less about dying than of dying a coward, that I didn't have the self-reliance to face what comes in life with a molecule of grace. I learned a couple years ago that "learned helplessness" is now a thing. And I agree because I"“not at all uniquely"“was raised to be a baby in an adult body, to look everywhere and anywhere outside myself for safety and salvation (literally or spiritually), for a savior or hero, and that just isn't possible, it's just not real and it's just not permanent. Ironically, with Just One Look, John and Carla have provided me at least, with the genuine, effective parenting few of us seem to have got, the means to really grow up, to learn to be resilient, and in my case, far better late than never. Thanks "Daddy John and Mommy Carla"! (Just a joke, I'm older than either of you and was just making a point, and for the record, I don't blame my own folks for not being able to teach what they didn't know and couldn't have known, or my sibling for the same reasons. As John says, it's nobody's fault. And as Jess Lair once wrote, approximately, "Your parents gave you life. Anything else was a bonus.")

Whew! I could make talking about this an Olympic sport, so I'll wind it up by thanking John and Carla and all of you who worked for those 15-16 years to figure this out and those who are contributing your help and insights. My only regret is that I wasn't a conscious part of the development, but at the time I left, I couldn't articulate the problem even in my own mind, let alone say it to John and Carla. But thank you, John and Carla first and foremost, but all of you, for persevering. Much love on your recovery.

Welcome back, Carla! Best wishes in your recovery and explorations.

Hey Carladownunder. Thanks for sharing all that. So I think you realize now the thoughts and feelings (and life experiences) you have had your whole life are not unusual. Especially not for sensitive/seeker types like us. Having worked in the fields of spiritual healing and seeking for years, I come across this all the time. So at least it's nice to know you are definitely not alone! I also think, for people like us, the sensitive/seeker types, we have the motivation to go to really 'high' places of wisdom and understanding. Life 'pushes' us.

I notice you mention doing Qi Gong. After my last talk with John, I got back into practicing my Pangu Qi Gong (this qi gong is based on kindness/love/benevolence) to help myself. I might be tempted to say 'help myself get through recovery' but, truly, I feel I can't say I am in 'recovery' from the Looking or not. IMO, one may be able to say that after several years have past and they look back. At least this is what I get from about the 15 or so people I've read about and/or talked to who have felt they benefitted from the Looking.

IMO, whatever makes us feel better and have a happier life is what's worth doing. Talking to John a couple of times cleared up some mistaken ideas I had about things such as the SDA practice. Now I am just waiting for the next question to come up in my mind to ask John!;-) Anyway, I sincerely wish you all the very best and more and more happiness, joy, and empowerment on your journey. Lex

Thanks so much for commenting, Ljazz. I wasn't sure how to say thanks when I got the email that you'd commented, because this is the first chat room I've ever participated in, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. Your posts have really helped me deal with all this, so I'm glad to get the chance to thank you. After a lifetime of isolation it's definitely good to know I'm not alone.

Yeah, I don't rely on qigong for any kind of "salvation", but you're right, it's a constructive activity and we certainly are not, I think, expected to just do SDA and sit in a corner doing nothing with our healed lives. I like qigong because it's a form of exercise that's engaging enough to keep me interested and practicing regularly, in addition to being easy on an ageing body. I think in hindsight, the discipline of keeping my mind on the moves and counting repetitions for five years made it possibly a little bit easier to keep concentrated when I do SDA. I'm still very much a beginner, though, which is fine, since I AM a beginner! 😂 Thanks again, and I wish you continuing success and increasing happiness on your journey, too. CDU

Thanks, Matey. And back atcha! Thanks for Helpful posts I've appreciated. Nice to feel connected with other Lookers! All the best to you, too!

Some more thoughts on recovery

Another idea recently presented itself that I'd like to scribble down. This is a thought other people have shared here before, and one that I have believed to be the case too, and even argued for because of its logical appeal. This time I want to report it only because it came to me directly, so I might reiterate what it looks like from over here. And that is that sanity strikes us immediately with just one look. The recovery period is not something real, in the way that sanity is real. Recovery is not an event that happens, it is only the name given to a period of time after just one look in which the pervasiveness of sanity is not believed to be experienced because the fog of fear is still thick. That does not mean we are not sane humans already, technically speaking. Up until now I have held other speculations. That was the scribble, cheers.

Yes!!!!!!!!

Ha! Well there's an encouraging response smily Thanks Carla!

Yep! That understanding dawned on me this morning after my morning SDA. I'm very happy with progress during the recovery period, accepting the pain (and accepting resisting the pain!) as part of the growing in understanding. But I finally got that point today, and Roed, your post supports it, that the struggling part is still in the realm of the mind, that the real me (words are tricky) is outside all this, so continuing to fight tooth and nail with issues is probably just more time wasted on the hamster wheel of fear, going nowhere. No blame, it's all too easy to forget what we got when we first had that tiny glimpse or inkling of ourselves and get sucked back into tilting at windmills, it's obvious I still do. It will all work out, though, and again, our real us/me isn't hurt or helped by any of it and when it's over it's over.

Thanks for the kind words Carlasmily I'm certainly happy if anything I said was a help to you. Yeah, I agree, I don't look at qigong, or anything else, as any type of 'salvation'. Just what makes me feel good. I've noticed that, for me, a lot of it has to do with 'energy' (I put that in quotes because I really don't know what term to use). If I can somehow cultivate better energy, I feel better and better things start to happen for me. With John's teachings, it would seem logical to me that, if we can lose the fear of life that would take away a lot of negative energy caused by fear-based thoughts. All the very best, Lex

Things are falling away...

Hi all...I'm in the throes of recovery now and it seems that practically everything that was important to me before has fallen away, at least for now: my interest in my music, my desire to reconcile with my two estranged daughters, my writing, and so on. Before this happened, I was making attempts at doing these things and judging myself as a slacker if I didn't at least try. Now I just don't care, and it's a relief. I don't do much of anything during the day except make my meals, write a few emails, and wash my clothes. Other than that I just follow what comes up or what I feel like doing in the moment. This way of living would have put me on a serious guilt trip before...haha! But I don't feel like I need to fix myself anymore. I don't even care about my bodily ailments or the fact that I've been housebound for 3 years or so...kind of weird for me, but I'm not questioning it! To me, all of this seems to indicate that JOL is definitely working (and daily SDA is a big help, too).

Have any of you experienced something similar during recovery?

Hi Frank,

I would say that yes the Looking will definitely go along with the 12 step program. I was involved with alcohol for many years and attended many AA meetings. I got the best results when supported by friends. After doing the act of Looking however this interest or need for alcohol simply fell away. I don't know exactly what happened and it wasn't really necessary that I know. The Looking along with the Self-directed attention exercise did the trick. I strongly suggest doing the latter, the self-directed attention. It will help to alleviate some of the difficulty during the recovery process i.e. any mental anguish, anxiety over leaving alcohol etc.

All good things, cheers

I can relate to this social anxiety problem. One of the reasons I began drinking in social situations was because the intense fear I felt around people I didn't know and even people I did. I don't know that there is a quick solution to this. I've been doing the looking for some 3 years now and though I am much more at ease with people (put another way, when the anxiety pops up I'm not so easily upset by it) I still in some way prefer a measure of solitude. If that's the way I am, I'm OK with it. I don't feel as isolated as I used to and when I want or need to reach others I can do so. I felt when growing up a lot of pressure to be "sociable" to be a "nice guy". All of that has vanished. The key point is really the fear which the Looking addresses directly and will eventually do away with. Another is the reaction against the anxiety itself. The self-directed attention exercise enabled me to be at ease when that anxiety arose and somehow not feeding it with your attention seems to lessen its effects. It was like, "OK, I'm anxious so that's there." Tensing against the fear only makes it worse. Some therapies speak of this but only after doing the Looking and having some ability to shift attention away from certain thoughts did I see any real change.

Cheers

Bouts and doubts

This happens every now and then, that I feel like nothing is working for a while. Right now it is like that, only real awful. Excuse me while I whine and bitch a couple of lines. It's so idiotic because I know full well I can either just endure it and shut up or take my part and go against the hateful devil on my shoulder, shoot him down, only that both these paths look totally disgusting right now, yup that's the feeling, I'm very much not interested at it feels terrible. I was out earlier and the wind annoyed me to the brim, I was totally upset about it, only felt sadness and anger. About the wind. Seriously? Here's where I normally would resort to dope or something but I'm not interested in that either, neither that or any other kind of escape has done jack for me lately. I'm just stuck in being tense and generally pissed off. No wonder, all I see is ugliness and stupidity right now. I've been trying to evade it for some days by keeping busy. How come I changed my avatar picture here today to one opposite of what I'm feeling? Seems like mockery now, LOL. Well I think that's enough for today's entry, you get the point. No vex my friends, take care of yourselves today.

Been there, brother. It seems these things have to come to the surface and be expressed......it's usually anger for me as well. Hope it gets better.

Hey roed, can you get to any of the live talks with John and Carla? They are on Wed at 7pm PDT and 11am Sat PDT. The reason I suggest this is because something has been happening with me in those talks that is more than the talking taking place. I've been having some very good realizations, usually the day after. I think there is some type of 'energetic' element happening besides the talking when we are speaking in real time - I don't really know what's going on, but that's what it feels like.

I am also starting to see some practical results from practicing the SDA. It was something John told me in one talk, and something Carla said in the next talk. I have, for quite awhile now, tried to send out/in/everywhere - the feeling of love to all people/animals/things. What has usually happened is that something will happen that will throw me off track and I will forget to do this as I go about my day. I find now, from the SDA, I am able to focus more on this technique without forgetting. For example, this morning, I was driving to the gym and was able to remember to 'send love out' to the others drivers and surrounding and, even in the gym doing heavy squatting, deadlifts, etc.. I still didn't forget for most of the time. This is very exciting to me since I usually would get distracted and forget. As you might imagine, the whole 'sending love out' really lifts my spirits and makes me feel emotionally better.

I always found that the THC in doobie effects me poorly emotionally. I've noticed this with some other people I know as well. More recently, I started using CBD oil. If you haven't heard of this, google it. It is being used in successfully treating all sorts of physical and emotional ailments people have such as cancer and PTSD even. I've found the vaping it works best. I've been using the Vape Bright company as they have gotten a lot of good reviews and I can really feel a good effect. (...) Anyway, I find all of these substances are definitely less addictive than what a western medical doctor might prescribe, such as benzos, opiates, antidepressants, etc. And they're all available online legally. For me, it's very important to stay in a positive 'up' frame of mind - and all of the things I mentioned really help me to do that.

Ok man, hope you're feeling better today and hope to see (well, hear) you on one of the talks!smily All the very best, Lex

Much appreciated

Maybe psilocybin could lift your mood if you consumed the recommended dose. I recklessly took way more than what's recommended two years ago, plus too much beer and ended up feeling nothing but depression the next day. From experience though, it does seem to change my perspective in the days/weeks that follow though, and my brother reported noticing the beauty of things more after a trip. So, yeh, I don't think there's anything to lose and especially if you took what the professionals recommend.

By the way, I sadly relate to your feelings of helplessness, not getting things done and having hardly any interest in people and life in general. You are definitely not alone, Seppo.

4 1/2 months

Hi everybody. I did the looking last April, and after about a minute of the "honeymoon," I went straight into recovery. :p The early part was mostly filled wth fear and my reluctance to drop my former spiritual studies. Once I got past that, everything began to settle into a steady pattern. Things would happen in my life--you know, the usual day-to-day stuff we all have to deal with--and I would react in my "normal" neurotic, fearful way. Except now everything was different. My reactions seemed uncalled for, and I could see that I had better choices, both in the way I react to things and how I resolve problems. During this period, it seems as though more stressful situations than usual are popping up, so this is a good chance for me to put self-directed attention into practice (I do the breathing/counting twice a day, but I'm referring to switching my attention in real life situations). To me, JOL/SDA is about growing up (it's about time, since I'm 75! lol). What I'm realizing is that I've spent most of my life trying to avoid anything unpleasant or difficult (often with the excuse "I don't feel like it"), and the result of this is that I have been stagnating here, a prisoner in my own home, for several years. It's all so clear to me now, that my behavior was because of the fear of life.

Here's another thing I've learned. If I do anything to try to escape the difficulties of the recovery period (which I believe operates automatically and irresistibly), it backfires. I'm referring to pampering myself, hiding from my responsibilities, etc. What I'm finding out is that there's no way around this...it's hard, it's unpleasant, and even scary sometimes, but I seriously just have to suck it up and get on with the work. This is undoubtedly the best thing that has ever happened to me, and my gratitude to John and Carla is endless.

Thanks for sharing that Roed. To me that posting was liberating. Being tensed, angry and sad is actually very common for me. It is still a conflict in me, and kind of hard actually, to see that I am basically sane, but still the presence of just feeling bad. It feels like a strong ache in my mind/body. But when I do something like talking to someone during the day or when I write something I see that my reactions and perception are sane. I am sane but I feel bad.

A short reflektion of my background puts this feeling bad in the right place. I have gone thrue a lot of shit. This ache is not suprising but rather expected. It has to come up to the surface as you said Jack. This ache is of course a part of the healing. It is the healing. It is my past accumulated suffering on the way out in the form of energy.

I am sorry that I stole your thread Roed and took the time to be my own therapist, but I needed that smily.

I'll guess you will feel better before you know it...

Why Self-Directed Attention Practice is Vital, from "The Carla in the South"

Carla Sherman, in a nod to GOT, aka "The Carla in the North," kindly suggested I start another Forum thread about my JOL/SDA experience to date; after struggling to tell the absolute truth about it, I finished one, but left it to gel before posting. Meanwhile, I changed my mind, and here's why and the results:

I started SDA at the end of June. I do at least two sessions a day, morning and evening, with the odd little bit if something bothers me day or night. Though it's unquestionably early days in my recovery, I've had such an improvement in my life that it would take pages to catalog it, so it's irrelevant here. I also hesitated because a) I'm still such a beginner that it seemed pretentious to offer anyone advice, and b) what I want to say on any given day depends on whether it's a day of positive results or one of difficulty.

On the whole, I'm doing great, coming from a place where, for my whole 70 years on the planet, there've been few days where I haven't struggled with fear, anxiety and depression, unable to face not just life's bigger challenges, but the small slights and annoyances few people can avoid, to a place where life's more positive and peaceful than I ever believed was possible, and I'm stronger and more resilient than I've ever dreamed of.

Case in point is the world's events. I'm not blind to what's going on, but until JOL/SDA I'd been in a state of constant terror about the inevitability of some global disaster since I was about eight, in 1955. However, since doing the first look and starting SDA, my resilience has increased, as has my ability to live in the present, to enjoy the life I have and not miss out on the decades of joy I did by spending most of my waking hours "futurizing," "catastrophizing," and "black & white thinking."

And it's all down to JOL/SDA.

So, I was satisfied being on the recovery roller coaster until yesterday, when a casual chat surprised me because the other person always seemed a pragmatic person who doesn't worry about things she can't control. Except it turns out she does, and I got slugged with the fact that while people may not mention it, most anyone who hears news reports is worried about the North Korea business.

And for the first time since I started JOL/SDA, I got swamped with stomach-dropping, sweat-inducing fear and despair. I mean, I, me, Carladownunder, could actually die. Never mind the possible end of all life on Earth, I and my beloved husband could die.

It wasn't constant , but it would hit me in waves. I managed to get through the evening, did my nighttime SDA and felt better from realizing it was the "same ol' same ol'" trick of the mind: war had not been declared, a nuclear blast hadn't yet rained death on me and mine, and I'd got sucked in again.

This morning, I did my SDA again and flashed on the truth I saw in that first look: I'm not the Carladownunder who is for absolutely certain going to die, whether from nuclear holocaust, old age (not that far away nowadays), illness or accident. But I'm lucky: whether or not the world does go completely to hell in a handcart, I still have time to put my attention where I want to to practice SDA, to breathe, to fix and eat our breakfast, for my husband and I to get tizzed up to FaceTime his sister and me to meet with a friend to work on an illustration project. To remember who I am. Instead of my mind yanking my chain.

What I don't have time for is to waste any more precious days being devastated by my mind taking me on yet one more "hiding to nowhere," as the Aussies say, only to have yet another day wasted.

So, my advice is to do The Looking if you haven't. When you have, do SDA in the straightforward, no-frills way John and Carla say to do it. Use whatever else about it floats your boat: podcasts, their writings, forums and/or online meetings if you can't attend meetings in person, because they're all priceless tools we're incredibly lucky to have. Just don't rely on them alone, or anything else external to yourself, instead of doing your own daily SDA until you can completely control where you place your attention.

What makes the difference is doing SDA, not reading or hearing about it. I'm sure not consistently out of the woods yet, but I'm pleased that for once in over six decades I only spent an hour or so in meltdown, instead of hours that became days, years, decades and a whole life wasted...

Thanks for sharing that Carla. It's certainly inspiring to me and glad to know the percentage of your suffering has dropped way down. Wishing you all the very best, Lex

Thanks very much, Lex. I appreciate you saying so and wish you the same. Carla

CarlaDownunder

What makes the difference is doing SDA, not reading or hearing about it. I'm sure not consistently out of the woods yet, but I'm pleased that for once in over six decades I only spent an hour or so in meltdown, instead of hours that became days, years, decades and a whole life wasted...

This is such a good point, and less obvious than one would think. I have fallen in the trap many times of thinking about it rather than doing it, which is a total waste of time. It's like the remnant fear doesn't want me to do it, trying to trick me in ways, so I need to apply a certain measure of force I have learned. Once I do that the difference between thinking I'm doing it, and actually doing it is like night and day.

Yeah, Roed. You definitely know what I'm talking about. And the tricks used by the mind are pretty low-down. In my SDA this morning, though I didn't get sucked into dwelling on it until after the practice was over, I later asked myself why it was important to chase stray thoughts and wrestle them to the ground? Answer: it isn't! It's the mind that makes me think that the subject of the stray thought is important. A hard lesson to take on board and act on, but one I intend to keep on top of"“by doing the SDA. Thanks for commenting, Carla.

Something else occurred to me after writing this: distractions, for me, are still annoyingly frequent in SDA, especially being new to the practice because my ability to control my attention is improving but not yet under my full control; I do believe that will come in time but for the moment it's been frustrating. One helpful thing occurred to me after a practice session was suddenly asking myself why these distracting thoughts were so important, what was so great about them that I had to jump when they said jump. The answer's almost laughably easy: I think they're important because my mind tells me (and sometimes yells at me!) that they are! That doesn't mean I've instantly become great at SDA, and breeze to ten unimpeded anymore, but it's helped me better distinguish those things that, as John put it, that really require my immediate attention and those that don't. And thanks to you all who've liked my posts. Still not sure if I'm supposed to acknowledge them individually or just quietly be grateful to each and every one of you, as I am. Love to you all, Carladownunder

Thanks for sharing that Roed. To me that posting was liberating. Being tensed, angry and sad is actually very common for me. It is still a conflict in me, and kind of hard actually, to see that I am basically sane, but still the presence of just feeling bad. It feels like a strong ache in my mind/body. But when I do something like talking to someone during the day or when I write something I see that my reactions and perception are sane. I am sane but I feel bad.

Thanks for that - I was really strengthened by your post. It has been hard for me to accept that life is up and down, I see that has always been hard for me. I've sought comforts when things are down, and I'm a master at putting on a happy face, and without really reflecting on it, which is OK too I suppose, but I can't help to think there are lots of suppressed feelings too. I wonder if it takes less energy in the long run to confront the feelings and let them weather out, it sure feels better... if that is even possible to control at all. In any case I believe something was learned from this and things are settling down slowly. I still feel tossed back and forth between clarity, madness, sadness and joy, but it all feels more okay too, whatever it is.

Haha! I stole it back now for the same purpose, Niklas! ;) Just kidding, you only add. I appreciated your post immensely, it has just taken some time. Thanks again.

Hey guys, what do you think of the idea of never suffering no matter what happens? This is what I was talking about with J+C on a few of the past live conversations we were having. He was talking about this teaching not being about feeling better. You still will experience pain, grief, etc.. all the ups and downs of life, which may be mitigated or intensified depending on other things you decide to do, but there is no mental/emotional suffering attached to it. There are a couple of clips where John talks about a very serious food poisoning he had and, while no one would want to go through that including him, he was pointing out how there was no suffering on his part that went along with the physical illness. And I was talking with J+C about how no matter what happens to you - physically or emotionally - you don't suffer from it.

What is your opinion of this? If J+C have been able to get to that place, then it must be possible for all of us. Maybe practicing the SDA would accelerate getting to that place? I've been practicing the SDA since April and, while I'm much better at it from when I started, I still feel like I have a long way to go to where I have that degree of control over my attention.

John points out that the only thing we can gain control over in our lives is where we place our attention. I still haven't gotten a clear answer from J+C about how long it might take to get to the point that John is describing of no suffering, but I think that's because it's different for everyone. That being said, we are all human beings with the same general make-up..so there must be some type of general time frame that, perhaps, we can figure out if enough people reach that place of non-suffering through this teaching.

It seems like your pointing to this state of being roed: "I still feel tossed back and forth between clarity, madness, sadness and joy, but it all feels more okay too, whatever it is." And it's like we want to get to the point where we're completely okay no matter what happens.. The word 'okay' being defined in this instance as not suffering.

I believe I understand what J & C are saying... My suffering has diminished so much that it's as if it doesn't happen. If I do suffer, by this I mean neurotic rumination that has no purpose or isn't solution driven, it is usually short term and temporary. My challenge now is to find and stop those things, habits of the mind and body, that lead to suffering. For me this is certain foods, alcohol, too much time spent online, and hanging out with 'toxic' people. I have noticed diminished suffering allows active engagement with life and constructive use of time and attention. Another thing that went away with suffering is boredom. I'm rarely bored.

Thanks for expounding upon this Jack..It's definitely helpful to me. Yeah, I know what you mean about hanging with 'toxic' people.. I think I'm lucky in that regard as I usually hang with artists and/or people interested in raising their consciousness - so I don't come across it too much but, when I do, I really extricate myself from that energy as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I've lost a couple of good friends by doing that, but I felt I had no other choice. I would of lost them regardless of what I did anyway.

Not surprised about the alcohol as it's a depressant. I find only substances that are stimulants, that elevate and energize me and bring my mood up (without too much of a crash..which, obviously is a 'downer'!) are what I utilize. Whatever keeps me in an 'up enough' state to feel positive and motivated to do things like the SDA and to just have a more positive outlook on life - even if it's just a good cup of coffee!smily

Arrggh!!

After doing the looking, I've been doing Self-Directed Attention since 21 June 2017, with ups and downs that I'm usually able to handle/work through. But this one's giving me trouble and I wonder if anyone's got advice/suggestions on to deal with it: If, especially right before I start my SDA, I get upset, especially angry, about something in my life"“what it is doesn't matter"“I completely lose the ability to count breaths at all. I can sometimes just breathe, but too often have to distract myself completely by doing something else and coming back to the SDA later, and then feeling guilty because I couldn't tough it out. When I get calm again I can see how much better I am at dealing with "stuff" since starting SDA, how much less anger I have, how little really gets to me by comparison to life before JOL/SDA, but this still gets me, hurts so much both emotionally and physically (tension) that any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Hey Carla, I go through the same thing sometimes. I still do the exercise when I feel this way, even if I can only make it to 1 or 2. Imo, it's not all about getting to 10. It's about focusing your attention in any situation. So, even if I can only make it up to a 1 or 2 without a distracting thought when I am emotionally overwhelmed, I find it to be a very powerful time to do the SDA exercise. I look at it as a beneficial opportunity to focus my attention. Hope this helps. All the very best, Lex

Carla, I just wanted to add a couple of things I thought of besides what I wrote last night. First, thank you for sharing this because it was helpful to me to know other people are going through the same issues I have been experiencing at times. I think the whole idea of focused attention is extremely powerful, not only from what J+C teach, but from other practices I have been acquainted with over the years. Practices involving alternative healing and overall psychological well-being. In the ones that are truly effective, focused attention is consistently emphasized as a key element in one way or another. For whatever reason, J+C have come up with the most powerful and efficient way of learning to develop ones focused attention through the SDA exercise - at least in my opinion, and I've had a lot of experience in this area.

I do think this is a 'long-haul' practice. I started the SDA exercise at the end of April. Besides the way J+C speak about it, like I mentioned above, I know from all my other experiences with focused attention, that this is a key skill to develop. So this is why I'm so motivated to continue to practice it. I feel it's only fair to give it a really good chance to see if it will make a really tangible, practical difference in my life. Obviously, it will depend on my own lifespan on the earth, but I kind of made a mental commitment to do the SDA practice 1-2x a day (as J+C recommend now in the instructions: https://www.justonelook.org/texts/di...attention.html) for a year to see what results I get. I think this is a fair amount of time to assess the efficacy of this practice and to see if it truly makes a tangible difference in my own life experience. Wishing you all the best in your own continuing journey Carlasmily Lex

Wow, Lex, thanks so much for commenting"“twice even! Your first one was really comforting because it was tangible help in making me feel less like the only one who's ever been so pathetic. Also, it supported what actually happened to me later that day after I whinged. I did manage to stay with what turned out to be the first practice of the day for a little over 7 minutes (I wasn't clock-watching during the practice, but when I shut my timer off, I noticed). Later in the day I felt really crook and when I went to lie down to wallow in being really miserable, I managed another 10-minute practice, even though it was almost all on counts of one or two. Then I realised I was coming down with a cold, because of life stress, so of course I wasn't doing well at anything that day, and by the time it was time for my usual nighttime SDA practice, I managed to stay the whole time, again, coming back to only one, two and sometimes three, over and over, but was happy about it because it meant I was back on track, because as you, me, J&C and everyone else getting this, says, it's not getting to ten that's important, it's the coming back, the taking control of our attention, even under challenging circumstances. And that's when practice is really important. Most anyone can do this when life's being easy, but it's when it's being a bugger that the time and effort with SDA really pays off.

Your second message was also spot-on. I'm glad you took the trouble to share an insight based on your life experiences and previous studies, because I find that my past experience with spiritual and psychological teachings that I never quite took on board have been clarified and refined since rejoining J&C. I guess I felt bad yesterday because having figured out pretty quickly that focused attention is the important thing (and even chatted about it), I still blew it. Of course, since returning to J&C I do know that these difficult periods are part of the process and even having them, things are better than they ever were before I started doing my twice-daily SDA.

A little more gratitude on my part wouldn't have gone amiss, either, because back when I was enmeshed in spiritual and/or psychological practices, I never sat for more than a minute without getting completely lost in thought or so upset at those thoughts that I bugged out, and that I was never able to sit for any daily practice for more than a week at a time at most, not in over 40 years of trying, and now, despite the occasional difficulty, have actually not completely missed a day in over two months. A year sounds like a good rule of thumb, but I'm trying not to set any time-limit on myself. I figure I've practiced not focusing my attention for close to 70 years, so since I won't be in this body another 70, however long it takes means I'll still come out ahead.

So my heartfelt thanks for you sharing your insights and wisdom, Lex. It really helped, as have your replies to others in their tough periods. I likewise wish you all the best in your journey. The Carla in the South

Further updates about cancer ,once one's cancer is suppressed there always remains the possibility it can come back . The immune system must be strengthened in order to fight off new attacks of cancer cells. I feel the same thing about fear of life (birth-death etc. ) . One has to keep constant vigilance on the ''cause of the diseased mind'' which is obsessed with its past history as well as being constantly 'worried about the future ' . The way to keep vigilant is to turn up the light of awareness to its max and then maintain it ,sort of like using high beams when driving a car at night .Just flip the switch in your mind and soon it will be effortless. I recently rescued a tiny hedgehog a few nights ago on a dark road ,while other cars ran directly over this 600 gram aninal ..just missing killing the cute little fellow . I got out of my car ..stood in the middle of the road and waved my hands so I could retrieve the prickly creature ,which stung my hands .Sometimes its mind over matter in getting things done ,sure it painful holding a creature that has spikes all over its body ,but when one has a firm intention many obstacles can be over come .

Hi, Jazzrascal. I hope I'm not repeating myself but I want so much to be sure to thank you for what you wrote. As you'd know by now, I'm "only" 70 but have gone through pretty much what you describe and it's good to hear from someone in my age cohort because it's reassuring to know that age doesn't stop a person doing this. And one thing I have celebrated is just what you mention, that despite my recent upset (am so obviously still in recovery), I have been so happy I can't tell you that better choices do suddenly appear in my wee brain, sensible (even wise), appropriate options I could never willingly/consciously access in all my previous 40-odd years of trying. I was just so sad and tired of behaving like a well-meaning idiot, and since doing the looking & SDA so much of that is just gone. Anyway, thanks for sharing that so generously. All the best, Carladownunder

Hey Carla, if anything I said helped you, it is my privilege. I know what you said definitely helped me and I am very grateful to you for opening yourself up and sharing like that. And I think that supporting each other as we experiment with this very new teaching can motivate us in positive ways. Wow, well I certainly don't think your pathetic! Actually, I think your very strong. Think about it. Many of us here have probably been motivated to undertake practicing a teaching like this because of immense suffering and we are willing to try this because we are motivated to feel better. I think we should just give ourselves credit for staying alive on this plane, when, logically, it might not make too much sense to do so. And, yes, I agree with you, it is training through the emotional trials that builds the greatest strength. Obviously, we want to get to the point where we're not suffering through whatever life throws at us.

I just don't think you can 'blow it' because you missed a few times of SDA! And the fact that you know that the difficult periods are part of the process confirms to me the way I also personally feel about my own personal journey with this teaching.

I think you have a very positive outlook knowing that you will come out ahead no matter what. I feel the same way about myself. The fact that you were not able to sit for more than a minute except for doing the SDA exercise, I feel is a testimonial to the efficacy of the exercise. Going back to my studies over the years of alternative healing and methods of attaining much more balanced psychological well-being, I have always found that the simplest methods are the ones that are truly effective. The fact that John pared down the SDA exercise to it's very basics is one of the things that I think makes these exercise the most powerful for developing focused attention. IMO, he figured out what the Buddha was missing, as he so eloquently explains in this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19WFjc2QxaU I always love to share this clip with my serious meditator friends. And I used to be one of these serious meditators who would got through periods where I would meditate for hours, with nebulous results. John shows much of the approach is about our intention.

J+C are out on the road now bringing this message directly to the people. So I feel it's up to people like us to share benefits we receive online from these teachings, if they actually make a tangible, practical difference in our lives. This is a brand new teaching, and I consider people like us to be the pioneers. I consider people like us and a few others here to be the true strong ones, even if it is tremendous suffering that has brought us here to try to save ourselves. So even if you are an Aussie wandering around the Outback and I am a New Yawker wandering around the jazz clubs of Manhattan, we are connected in this - as are all of us undertaking this endeavor. Please keep sharing if you notice any other notable shifts in your practical life, or any issues that come up, as will I. You made me realize it's very helpful to share these things for others who are on this same journey. I believe we have to support each other to make a very difficult task as easy as possible for each of us. All the very best, Lex

Thanks for your kind words, Carla!

Fantastic, Lex, but it's after 10 pm down'ere so I'll have get back to you, 'cause your posts are always so helpful and generally are thought-provoking! 'Night, Carla

You write with such compassion, Lex, and what you write has the ring of truth that shows it comes from a person who's suffered much and long and finally came out the other side. We often forget that the unhelpful things we've tried are simply a matter of us doing the best we could to keep ourselves going. It's such an old habit to focus on the negatives and not give ourselves credit just for surviving.

I've come to see that a lot of the negatives/difficulties I experience in doing the SDA are just the same ol' same ol' stuff I've always had to deal with (sorry if I'm repeating myself from my other posts). It seems like they won't go away until I learn to recognize a lot quicker that it's just "same ol' same ol'" and be quicker at returning to SDA, no matter what, because (to adapt the old USPS creed): "Neither worry nor fear nor boredom nor gloom of mood stays these Lookers from the ultimate completion of their Recovery."

I also agree that John having reduced the exercise to the basics is the genius of what he's done.

One other thing that has occurred to me is that maybe another way to get stronger, better at focusing my attention where I want it to go, is to practice it. Not necessarily to practice more SDA throughout the day, as (I think I remember John saying not to do that) but if, for example, I'm washing dishes, then it's good to be just washing dishes, not to be daydreaming, worrying about the future, reliving the past as if that would change it. Just be washing the dishes. Yeah, I know, "mindfulness by any name..." is still mindfulness, but coupled with John's reason for us doing it, it just makes sense to me. It's understanding why being mindful, whatever terminology I use, being present, putting my attention on what's happening in the here and now is important and valuable. And yesterday I realized (yet again) how easy it is to get sucked in. It was almost 2:30 in the arvo here, before I realized I'd been doing housework and visiting with people all day, but instead of being focused on and happy with that, my attention had been on figuring out how and when I could nip to the shops to buy a trivial little something I'd set my wee mind on the day before. Not in any way important or urgent, but I didn't see that my mind was controlling me, not the other way around,

And I better wrap this up and post it before time gets away from me again. But thanks, Lex, you share real courageously, too, and I know I for one, am the better for it. You really help, and not just me, so you keep sharing, too. Carla

Wow Carla, thanks for the very kind words. I just feel it's important to share because this is a new development in what I would call the area of 'psychological healing' right now. I would say being free of the fear of life is extremely rare right now for all of us humans. I think it can be very helpful for those of us using this practice to share our experiences and trials as we undertake this. John has repeatedly reminded me in the past that this process is unique for each individual, and I'm glad he did this because my tendency is to sometimes 'pigeon-hole' teachings into a sort of 'one-size-fits-all' type of dealee. That being said, I think there are certain general characteristics that we all might go through undertaking the SDA practice. Kind of like lifting weights, everyone's individual body will respond differently to lifting weights, but there are certain general things that are applicable to anyone, such as rest and recovery periods and diet - just certain general parameters. When you mentioned about your challenge with staying with counting the breaths during times of emotional turmoil, it made me realize like, 'Hey, that's what I experience too.' And, in talking to our friend 'JazzRascal', it turns out it's the same for her! And, although SDA isn't meditation, it is the same basic construct as samatha meditation (but, of course, the intention makes all the difference between samatha and SDA) and these issues come up a lot and are discussed by meditators.

Yes, I agree about returning to the SDA no matter what. And let me repeat myself from other posts: All my experiences in alternative healing have shown me that having strong focused attention is a key element to true, non-invasive healing, whether physical or emotional. And, again, to repeat myself, this is really what has motivated me to adopt this as a daily practice - even though J+C are very passionate about it and totally believe in its efficacy, they are only 2 people... When you know there are others throughout history who have been successful in alternative healing and stress focused attention, that makes it even more convincing, at least as far as I'm concerned.

The mindfulness practice you are referring to is emphasized heavily by the wonderful Buddhist writer Thich Nhat Hahn, who is probably the best-selling Buddhist author in the USA. Of course I can identify with what your saying with your attention wandering throughout the day. Here is one of the ways the SDA practice is starting to help me in my practical life: One of the alternative healing practices I do is to practice being thankful in all things. There is a terrific book called, 'From Prison To Praise' by Merlin Carothers. If you Google it, you can find it for free on PDF. For me, his is the most powerful description of this practice and ways to implement it. This book is of a decidedly christian-bent, but I look at all that belief stuff as a metaphor and just go for the 'meat' of the practice. I am finding, because my focused attention is getting stronger, I can more easily remember to do this particular practice throughout the day. There are other areas of my life, such as my music when I practice certain things, where I am also starting to see the value of having stronger attention. But I mention this gratitude practice, specifically, because it relates to what you are speaking about with the mind wandering. And I actually only realized this after reading what you wrote! But I find that from doing this gratitude practice, my mind automatically stays more focused in the present moment. Now I find, much more than before, when I'm washing dishes, I am more present with just washing the dishes.

J+C have talked about using the focused attention on different things in your life that you want to. So I feel this is what each of us is doing in the things we particularly are interested in. I do want to emphasize that I really feel I am just at the beginning of starting to touch on developing my focused attention. Yes, it's definitely easier for me than when I started in April, but I strongly feel I have much more to go in strengthening my attention. I mentioned that christian book above and, while I'm not specifically christian or of any particular belief system anymore, I have had numerous mystical experiences with the being most commonly known as Jesus. I mention this because one of the things he emphasizes is that this is a 'narrow path' that few are able to walk upon. Now it is of my opinion that, at this time in are history, more people than ever are getting on this path. And that's why we have people like J+C out there now presenting this teaching in a way that's the clearest I've ever seen. But I still find the whole process tremendously difficult, which is why I appreciate convos like this!smily I just take it one day at a time now and I feel I'm 'easier' on myself too. Even if I cross over tomorrow, I feel like that's ok because I really have done the best I could and have made some pretty darn good progress in this lifetimesmily

The looking works!
Lookers tell their stories
New Hope
Everything is different now
burning question

Hi all, for a couple of weeks now i have this burning question that keeps rising, and i hope you can all help!

Why does the sda have to be on the breath? why can you not sit 10 mins 2xday and look at the feeling of me?, or, put the attention on the inner body? would this not bring the same results. I seem to really struggle with the sda on the breath at times because i have constant pain in my teeth from dental damage, and because the breath is close to that area, it intensifies the pain, so sometimes i put the focus of my attention on the inner body and it seems to bring about the same effect. so as you can see there is confusion within me, and this question keeps popping up for me.. please please can somebody clear this up for me.

many thanks

Yvonne

I'm ba-a-ck!

Hi, John & Carla, and my fellow JOL/SDA Lookers,

I started this about a week ago but kept either getting sidetracked or changing what I wanted to say...

Although I've been silent a couple months, I haven't bailed on y'all or the practice. I got sidelined from communicating (only a very little from practicing SDA) by family and ongoing health iss-ewes that require time and attention, and life in general. I also lost contact with the online meetings, maybe because it got confusing when the US went off DLS a couple weeks after Oz went on instead of happening the same weekend as it used to, took a while to get the time right, and then US Wednesday evening/South Oz Thursday mid-day meetings seemed to have stopped.

And honestly, I also felt I needed to practice SDA more than I needed to talk about it, 'cos I love talking about it, and needed to to remember that in my regular life I need to improve putting my attention where I want to it to be rather than practice during "formal" SDA practice but let it run wild the rest of the time like I have for all of my life previously. Apologies again now I'm ba-a-ack. Maybe not to talk so often, but just to let y'all know that my silence is not because I've bailed or that I don't care about how the rest of you are doing.

I do know that this works like nothing else I've tried in my previous 70 years of misery, but at least in my case, wasn't an instant Road to Damascus awakening (though my First Look felt a bit like that); no miraculous glittering gold fairy sparkles poured down on me from on high, I wasn't transported to celestial realms, and that's never going to happen! Peak moments isn't what this is about.

This practice takes some work, some diligence, some persistence, and how much probably varies from with each of us, but there really is no such thing as a free lunch. (And for me, it's part of finally growing up and taking responsibility for my own self, rather than expecting a guru to save me.)

As John said, in terms of learning to be able to direct our attention where we want to and not be at the mercy of every tiny thought that crosses our wee minds, the SDA is like building strength when we lift weights: we have to do the regular practice of bringing the mind back to counting the breaths; it's not the straying that matters so much the coming back. Coming back whether it's fun, boring, whether we can perceive any change or not. Or as a teacher said to me when I whined that I couldn't relate to the technique I was learning then, "Don't relate to it, just do it!"

And that's it from me for now. Glad to know the online meetings will resume at some point. No pressure.

Love, Carladownunder

Great to see you here! The Online Open House Meetings are now on Wednesdays at 11 AM PT(UTC/GMT -8).

It will be this day and time for a while. We change the day and time periodically so people in different areas of the world have a chance to join in.

Love,

Carla

Lovely, Mate, very kind, fair and much appreciated by all of us outside the continental US. Thanks so much; I'll keep it mind next time I have trouble finding it. Love, Carladownunder.

Yes, it's a good idea to check the day and time every time you want to join us.

We put the up-to-date information about the Open House Meetings on the top of every page here in the forum.

You can also check our Calendar of Events by clicking on the CALENDAR link on the menu at the top of this page.

And you can go directly to this page on our website: https://www.justonelook.org/events/open-house.html and click on the link there to join the meeting.

Hi CarlaDownunder, really nice to hear from you! I love this: "Don't relate to it, just do it!". I will try to keep that in mind smily

All the best,

Roed

Thanks, Roed, that hit me again this morning. I'm an intermittently poor sleeper and last night wasn't real good so after I finally got to sleep I didn't wake up for good until much later than usual. I realized I still had about 15 minutes before I had to get on with my day, so I did think of my morning SDA practice, only my "spoiled baby mind" started giving me the old whiny litany of objections, "I don't want to!", "It's boring!", "I hate this!", "It doesn't work!", "I'll do it later!" (Yeah, right!), etc. After that I still had 12-14 "free" minutes left so I did the SDA practice.

Much later I remembered that this only works if you do it (am I a genius or what?). There are a very few legitimate reasons not to: 1) you're done and unwaveringly know who you are and really have control over where you put your attention, 2) serious illness (like being in a coma?), 3) whatever else is truly important, but definitely NOT the lazy ones in my first paragraph.

The only way to get better at anything is to do it when it isn't fun or still a novelty. If we can't do it when these small intrusions happen, how are we ever going to get better at it, or stronger, or be able to take control of our attention? To paraphrase John, doing it only when it's easy, pleasant and interesting won't build our psychological (for lack of a better term) muscles any more than lifting weights only once in a while when we feel like it will strengthen our muscles. Not that I'm never going to have a slack day, but it can't be allowed to become habitual, or as the Aussies say, it's a "slippery slope" to being back to the "same s- -t, different day."

All the best back atcha, Roed

BUT I should have added, BE KIND TO YOURSELF, gentle forgiving while being persistent. If you fall of the SDA horse, then as the old song goes, "...Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!" This practice can be so forgiving if we let it. "And we're worth it!" Love, CDU

My current state.....

I've been trying to put my finger on the changes that have happened more than six years out from the first look at myself. I don't want to be one of those people that goes away and never reports back to this work as I think the community is important.....however I do understand the impulse to get pulled, subsumed, into this wondrous life without taking the time for reflection. Self reflection and trying to figure out what went wrong seem almost habits of the fear and not necessary now, a habit that lingers. I also know that I greatly desired word from the other side when I was in my long recovery.....

I now somewhat understand John's loss for words when trying to describe a life without fear. I have a taste of this life. The neurosis and anxiety has calmed down for some time now.....when all that is gone, now what? I am going to call it the startle phase. It started with noticing that I am a little more jumping and easily startled by sudden movements or sensations. I've never been jumpy, perhaps a cultivated, cool exterior, perhaps a deadening to the world around me to counteract the craziness inside. Anyway, I became jumpy and easily startled, even though I'm calmer than ever in my life. Hmmmmm. It's taken awhile, but I've realized this startle instinct is a deeper response to the inrush of life. The richness and 'magnificence' of life as John talks about before he trails off at a loss for words. I'm wide open, or wider open, and can feel things like never before, with the paradoxical sense that they don't affect me or hurt me. I'm raw and safe simultaneously. Unmoored, yet anchored. Life seems a balance of continuity and freshness. We maintain our sense of self, our memories and history as the world is reborn in each moment. It seems I am holding onto less and embracing the freshness more.

As the filters and barriers come down I am less and less in the deadened inner world of the habits of fear. The world around me is enlivened and endlessly fascinating. There is a feeling of rightness, even when there is something wrong externally, and of course much is externally wrong with the world right now, as ever. This feeling of rightness is deep and pervasive from the surface to the bones of me.

Anyway, that's my best shot at describing the changes brought on by this incredible act. Please hang in there if you are feeling lost and overwhelmed by the recovery. Look for the subtle changes and movements internally and externally. I am one of the many who can say, "if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone."

Peace out.

Thank you for this post, Jackx! This is an excellent description of a life free of the fear of life. And you are correct, once the fear is gone and we start settling into our lives there is a tendency to disappear, to not come and report back. But reflecting on what the experience of life was before and after the looking and what has changed in the process of recovery is very helpful not only to the person who is reporting but to everyone else who, like you did at some point, "greatly desires word from the other side" while they are in recovery. We encourage everyone to come back and post their reflections and impressions of their own process of recovering from the fear of life.

I had the first experience a couple or so months back. Changes are subtle but significant. I have not been writing because I am in loss of words. Thanks John n Carla.

Hi, Jackx, I'm so glad you mentioned the "startle phase," a good name for it (because considering it a phase instead of a permanent situation makes it more workable), that you've given it serious thought and found a reason for it that makes sense to me. I've noticed in myself and couldn't figure it out. As kids, my sister and I used to sneak up on each other and cause each other to jump and shriek until Mom stepped in and made us stop. For decades anyone coming up behind me would evoke a startle response, and going by what you've written and reflecting on what John has said, I think because I was never in control of my attention and regardless of what I was doing, my mind was constantly somewhere else, daydreaming or whatever, so I was never aware of anyone nearing my personal space and would react with surprise when they suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere, but this is different and worse. I am way more engaged with life since JOL/SDA, though it's only been a few months, am far more present, so seeing it as a regression was confusing and disappointing. Since I started JOL/SDA, even a loud bang on a tv show or film has made me jump right out of my chair, and I've told my husband I couldn't understand because I'd never been that much of a coward before. This new jumpiness was so paradoxical because in so many ways I'm growing stronger and more resilient and even a bit braver than I've ever been. But your take on it, Jackx, nails it. Will that make it stop? Possibly not, but now it's just another stage to work through and mine for its lessons, part of the fascinating journey. Thanks for all the help you give, and best wishes, Carladownunder

Thanks, Carla. 😉

Jackx

The world around me is enlivened and endlessly fascinating. There is a feeling of rightness, even when there is something wrong externally, and of course much is externally wrong with the world right now, as ever. This feeling of rightness is deep and pervasive from the surface to the bones of me.

Hey Jackx, thanks for your detailed follow up of your experiences with the lookingsmily There is one thing I am curious about and wondered if you could elaborate on it, if you are able. I have had a couple of mystical type experiences after deep meditation of this. Sensing that everything is perfect just the way it is, and nothing needs to change. But, 99.9% of the time my outlook is that things need to be healed and suffering needs to be ended. I think I was tapping into some higher wisdom in those experiences though. J+C certainly are devoting their lives to trying to help people end their suffering. Is it that you are you saying that you have a feeling of rightness about the world even when you might be trying to change it and alleviate suffering? Thanks and all the best, Lex

Yeah, I guess so.....I am no longer looking for salvation or the answer to the end of my suffering. I'm simply not suffering. Therefore what is in my life is fine. I do like to tweak things though. Lately I have been interested in plant based eating and healing effects of mushrooms. I have stuck to a wonderful plant based diet and have relished the challenge of cooking vegan and making it taste great. This is just texture and richness with no desperation or need for something to be different. It seems like when we are living a fear based life we have little or no control over our circumstances, however when we live without fear we can have more choice, more freedom, more agency. I think this is what John means about gaining facility over our attention. It's like I know where the line is and that if I cross it I will suffer. If I eat a poor diet, drink too much alcohol, aren't attentive to my relationships, etc I will suffer. So I simply don't cross the line, whereas in the old days I was zigzagging all over the line constantly. Then I direct my attention elsewhere, follow my curiosity.

My world is right and true, but the larger world is suffering immensely and needlessly. I don't think I can save it and have very little effect over it, even though I work with kids with emotional and learning issues every day, there is not much I can do to make things better for them. While I have greater agency over my life and enjoy it immensely, I don't seem to have the same effect in the larger world, and this causes some sadness and a world weariness. I don't know if this is answering your question. What's weird is that there is nothing special about this point of view, even though it beats the old way of living, it feels very ordinary, but of course it's extraordinary.

Hey Jackx, thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, it's answering my question. Having studied spiritual healing for a number of years, I do think one person can have a huge impact on people at large, but I think you have to be at a very high place in consciousness. The qualities of the few very effective healers I know of that have been able to have a mass effect on a large portion of people in helping them to end their suffering has always included a lack of the fear of life. I definitely think that is a step in being able to have more and more of a positive effect in the world.

Even if, right now, you can't actually physically/emotionally heal the children you are working with, I am sure your current experience of life, where you are at right now in your consciousness, has a very positive effect on them.

Going back to the healing thing, being involved in this world, I have seen and/or read many people healed of addictive tendencies. The desires they used to have simply fell away. I knew a lady who was healed of heroin addiction. She got up one morning and forgot to take her heroin! And suffered no withdrawals. This is just one of many examples. I bring this up because of what you said. I'm curious if you feel you are using your will-power to not eat a poor diet, abstain from too much alcohol all at once, being more attentive to relationships, etc. - Or, rather, is it just now your natural inclination to behave in this new way? Thanks and all the very best, Lex

The neurotic mind ..how to better deal with it ?

John often gives talks connected to SDA saying it will reduce the period of recovery. In reference to mental problems. I found that directly struggling with one's inner problems leads to the continuation of the disease. Likewise just letting the neurosis be and giving up by ''making friends'' with ones affliction, also leads to many years craziness because of the sheer exhaustion that pulling around a heavy load creates. So, what can one do to solve the eternal problem of living with the disease while the meds work or running away from the whole gig, which by experience one clearly sees neither action doesn't work!

On the flip side... The mechanical nature of SDA watching the breath leaves me with a subtle feeling of restlessness, perhaps because there is an element of time in relation to the cure? Of course ''time is a illusion'' we tell our mind in order to live in the world.

Final question:

How does one overcome the remaining disturbances (Japanese soldiers) that are endlessly dancing around in the darkness while the process of healing takes place? Is there anything else one can do to close the curtain on this show, one more 'final bomb' that can be dropped to flush these sneaky enemies into the open, so one can make the final peace treaty?

I suppose the answer is obvious to one who has crossed this line? Implementation seems complicated until the fear completely goes away. It's my experience to be constantly attacked by the mind late at night when the guards are sleeping.

Isn't there some kind of trip wire one can install that will automatically go off if the safe zone gets breached ?

Another great question. Let's be clear, I had a binge eating disorder. I spent most of my life eating enormous amounts of food, in periodic cycles, to manage my emotions. This made everything worse, obviously. I'm not addicted to alcohol per se, but I have an addictive personality and alcohol use led to binge eating, as did other substances. So will power didn't work, not did any of the other spiritual/psychological things I tried. I think it was a combination of knowledge......I have a vast amount of knowledge about nutrition and brain research, and having it simply fall away. I read a neurologist's account of her research into sugar and how, for some people, sugar can't be handled in even small amounts. It's like alcohol to the alcoholic. Once I understood this wasn't a character flaw but my neurology and that I simply can't eat even a small amount of sugar, I haven't touched it. (I enjoy fruit and dried fruit and natural sweet Whole Foods).

But the context of psychological fear and my neurotic depression and anxiety is gone, so that gave me breathing space to understand and manage my addictions. At some point I simply chose not to start them and the downward cycle became an upward cycle......the more I indulge in healthy food and exercise the better I feel rather than the opposite, and the better I eat.

I'm sure I do have more of an effect on the people around me than I realize. I've told some kids about the looking and have done group relaxation exercises where I incorporate the looking. They also have an effect on me......and it seems so unfair and unnecessary when I see kids (and adults) suffer and spread their misery around like a never ending flu epidemic. So, yeah, I've told a number of people about this work and I'm always thinking about better ways to spread the message. I may teach adult relaxation classes and insert this into the class during focused breathing or something like that.....not sure, yet.

Just wanted to concur with what you said about Jack having a positive effect on the kids he works with...it's not so much about what we do or say, but about who we are. Call it your "vibe," or whatever, I'm sure the kids feel it and it helps them.

Hey Jackx, that's really wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I can definitely identify. A big cause of addiction can be anxiety and/or depression so, if that's not addressed, then it probably will never be a 'complete cure'. Some people talk about intuitive eating - or just being intuitive about whatever you put into your body - and it sounds like that discernment is at a high level now for you.

It certainly makes sense to me that the less depression, anxiety, fear, etc. you have in your life, the more you are able to exude a positive energy and not respond from a place of fear...even unconsciously. I believe a human being's nature, when fear is gone, is to come from a place of love/compassion. I think it's fear and insecurity that cause such huge distortions in human behavior.

That's been my experience too jr.. Being involved in spiritual healing for a number of years, I go into all different types of places where 'unconventional' healings occur. I've met some 'born-again' pentecostal type christians who are able to effect healings and, while I don't subscribe to their belief paradigm, I certainly respond to their energy of love and compassion in a very big way. I've had several experiences of my own in these paradigms of 'falling out in the spirit', spontaneous glossolalia going on for a month in my head, and other similar type experiences. Each time, I was always shocked it happened to me because I don't share those people's belief paradigms and approach those things with skepticism. So it goes to show me, something else is going on despite what people may intellectually believe. To be poetic, I think of it as 'living from the heart'.

The reason why some of the ideas that J+C talk about are so appealing to me is because they are stripped of belief paradigms and the term 'spiritual' doesn't need to come into play. As we've discussed before on this forum, the term 'spiritual' can have too many connotations. Psychological and 'self-reliance' feel much more stable, clear, and powerful to me in most cases. Depending on the teaching, or person/people I am speaking with, I am comfortable using terms such as spiritual, God, etc.. but, really, for me, it is all about improving practical experience in this life. These days I only concern myself with matters beyond this life, if they are of practical benefit to me IN this life.. and that's really rare (but you know specifically what I'm referring to jr;-)

Ok, great discussion here guys and gals!smily

Yes, it certainly all starts with fear......that's a good way to say it, distortion! The loss of fear means seeing more clearly, I suppose.

If you had taken on the practice of SDA as you promised in our last phone call, you would know exactly what to do. From what you said here, it is clear that you have not done that yet.

John, let's be clear . I have practiced SDA for some time now. I still continue to do so in the manner you prescribe (but without number counting). My comments are not a matter of failure to understand nor lack of practice. The problem I feel is more about the mechanical nature of SDA. I am tired of all these mechanical dry processes (spiritual or non spiritual) which involve number counting; do this do that etc. Which to me are a bit like mantra repetition and praying to some idea in the head about 'God'. Otherwise, I have stayed the course. I have attended talks for years where you repeat this point over and over. This is why I am hanging back from going to the meetings. I get it about having control over the attention in its connection to suffering. No need to review it again, as I can always play back instructions on youtube, but thanks.

Hey Roger .Something else I have been having a lot of success with lately is actively practicing loving Life. In some of John's videos he talks about how much he loves and appreciates Life itself. Also, he points out how the one thing we, as humans, have control over is our attention. So I have chosen to place my attention on actively loving Life. What I have found that the SDA exercise does is to help me strengthen what I choose to put my attention on. So I would suggest, for the next few days, try to actively love Life as much as possible all throughout your day and night just as you go about your daily activities. See if this doesn't help you feel better.. I mean, what do you have to lose? smily Wishing you the best, Lex

Hi Roger,

Self-Directed Attention is not about struggling with any neurosis nor is it about letting the problems be.

By not giving these issues your attention when you do SDA you will over time weaken the power these kind of thoughts have and they will vanish. They feed off the energy you give them by attending to them.

I do the SDA exercise whenever I feel overwhelmed by certain thoughts although I will say that these thoughts have become less and less problematic until now they are just wisps of cloud briefly dimming the sunlight and then they are gone. They really have no impact on my life at all.

This is the direct result of doing the SDA over time. Problem thoughts are simply not a problem anymore. You could try doing SDA whenever you feel overwhelmed but make sure you are doing it exactly as John instructs. Personally I found that doing SDA for brief periods throughout the day to be more helpful than sitting for long periods but that's just me. I would follow John's advice on this though.

I hope his has been helpful..

Yup, I second Antony's view on this. My relationship to the practice, how I feel or think about it, is of no consequence to its results.

The actual doing should prove this to you with practice and repeated everyday application.

I mean going to the breath with determination, every time - rather than feeding doubts or any of the other mischiefs of the mind.

The feelings of restlessness and thoughts of complaint etc. are normal I think, but are actually of no consequence. It is merely a thought about a thought (or a feeling about a thought) that John and Carla promises safely can be ignored. To do so is very sound advice in my opinion, and probably is the closing of the curtain that you are after. But you have to grind it to get there, or at least thats what I had to do.

Good luck, and the best to you Roger.

Live help is available free of charge

If you are having trouble with the Just One Look Method (the act of looking at yourself and the practice of Self-Directed Attention), John Sherman is online every Wednesday from 11 AM to 12 PM PT (UTC/GMT -8) to provide help and answer your questions.

Free of charge. No registration required.

More information here: https://www.justonelook.org/events/open-house.html

Hi Roger,

If you are experiencing frustration with the SDA I would recommend leaving it for a while. Lay back. Take it easy. Changes are happening and driving yourself nuts with SDA won't speed anything up. I agree with Ljazz on this. Enjoy for a while. You seem to be pushing too hard for something to happen. Let it happen and it will.

Sorry you are still struggling, Roger. It can simply take awhile......that has been my experience. One thing that pulled me through was to look for small changes and think about how different my life is pre and post looking. No matter how bad it got it was never worse than before the act of looking and there were many things that improved. I have kept a journal during this time which I find helpful to go back and look at.....how I used to be and realize that many changes took place without my noticing. Many changes. I still have days where I feel nothing has changed, my latest symptom is to feel flat emotionally, not bad, not great just kind of blah......like I can't get excited about anything. I can get depressed about this or mildly annoyed, but then the next moment I am throwing myself into something I really like and get all involved in a new curiosity or pursuit. Any more, if I feel nothing has changed, all I have to do is think about the hell I was living in every day before the looking.... it takes a split second for me to realize so much has changed even though I may not be where I want to be at any given moment. The mind is a tricky thing and needs to be held accountable sometimes.

So, I would suggest writing it out......think of all the positive changes that have happened. Think of all the things you are grateful for. Write them down. Share them with us, I'd love to hear them.

Thank you for this thread ❤. Really timely along with John's latest podcast "The worry monster".

Life has been very challenging lately and I seem to blubber all the time and have forgotten painful memories suddenly pop into my mind. The not paying attention mentioned above and in the podcast seems to be a must. I admit to finding it difficult - the more I try to ignore the more I seem to give thought attention. In the day it is fairly easy to distract thoughts. During the night is pretty tough. I feel motivated to keep up the SDA from your comments. Thank you.

"I have practiced SDA for some time now. I still continue to do so in the manner you prescribe (but without number counting)."

Hi Roger, actually the number counting, although it may seem dry and mechanical, is the vital part of SDA, otherwise we're just watching our breath. Counting helps us to catch ourselves when the thought drifts, and brings us back to the beginning to start again. It helps keep us focused, because we're trying to reach 10 without sliding into a lot of mind distractions. Seems to me there's not much point to it without the counting.

An update on me

Hi everybody, a lot has happened since my last update here. I had done the looking last April, and quickly went into recovery, without any "honeymoon." Since then it's been a long struggle trying to let go of old spiritual beliefs that I now believe not only didn't help me, but actually hurt me over the years. I have been dealing with chronic physical problems for many years, which I have suspected are psychosomatic, and since I hadn't found any relief, I got into a lot of psychological stuff digging, too, which messed me up even more. At the time it seemed that JOL and SDA couldn't possibly be enough to resolve these complicated mental and emotional traumas and difficulties, but now I finally get what John has said about there being no need to delve into all of that, because the root cause is the fear of life. So it always gets back to that one basic thing. I'm glad that during all of my periods of vacillating and doubting, I kept up pretty well with the SDA. I discovered that if I tried to stop I'd feel even worse, so that was motive enough to keep going! smily

Anyway, I feel now that I've made a definite shift. I've finally dropped all my fruitless searching for ways to "fix" myself, and I'm just living my life, observing what comes up during recovery, learning a lot, becoming more self-reliant and focused, and actually starting to feel some genuine satisfaction with my life, even though I'm still somewhat disabled and basically housebound. I can feel myself improving, though, without any special effort on my part. I'm able to do more things than I could a couple of months ago, which is a good feeling. But the important thing is that I'm not bothered by my symptoms and limitations anymore...they seemed to have moved into the background.

I'd love to tell everybody just to give JOL a try, but I hold my peace about it. If somebody asks out of curiosity (I put a JOL banner up on my Facebook profile), I'll be happy to say a few words and then steer them towards John and Carla's website.

Oh, something I forgot to mention. A lot of my recovery seems to go on in my dreams. They're not nightmares, but are very dense, busy, and kind of claustrophobic, and I often wake up in the morning feeling exhausted. Has this happened to any of you?

Yes! For many months and years. They started as nightmares for me and I had intense insomnia, then they moved to the kind of dreams you describe. Now they are just rather amusing, inane dreams. Not sure what it means other than we work things out and change conditioning on many levels? Ultimately we do heal.

It was the same for me and for John. Really weird, surreal nightmares for a few years, then it all calmed down. Insomnia too. Over time I learned to not pay attention to them. Just like with any other disturbing thought. Many people here and other places have reported the same thing over the years.

Yarp - weird, surreal dreams..Last night/this morning it felt like I would imagine it would if I were to take LSD or something - Extremely strange.. Sometimes I'll wake up yelling at something.. But I forget it all soon after.. Just really surreal and strange!

Thanks, Carla and Jack. I am also experiencing insomnia, nearly every night. I figured these things were probably part of the recovery. Glad to hear you find the dreams amusing now, Jack...humor is always a life saver for me!

Hey jr, you know I just realized I think there must be a direct correlation between SDA practice and dreams. After you wrote me last week about your current experiences with JOL, I decided to 'update my game' and go back to doing the SDA 2-3x a day. And that's when these dreams started and got even more intense and strange than usual! To me it's a good sign because it means there's some movement/activity happening in all of this...especially dreams, which can be associated with releasing 'pent up' emotions/feelings..

Katielooking

Thank you for this thread ❤. Really timely along with John's latest podcast "The worry monster".

Life has been very challenging lately and I seem to blubber all the time and have forgotten painful memories suddenly pop into my mind. The not paying attention mentioned above and in the podcast seems to be a must. I admit to finding it difficult - the more I try to ignore the more I seem to give thought attention. In the day it is fairly easy to distract thoughts. During the night is pretty tough. I feel motivated to keep up the SDA from your comments. Thank you.

If what John says in 'The worry monster' is really true for everyone, than that would be an amazing freedom. To not to be able to pay attention to even the most traumatizing memories that cause us the most suffering seems incredible to say the least. I think I may actually already be doing this to some degree. Even though my decisions to take certain actions based on past memories has not changed, the feelings of suffering that these memories have caused in the past, do seem to be less..I do notice I am able to pay less attention to them for longer periods of time. As you say, during times where we may be alone, sober, and quiet..like certain nights, etc.. are when they are the most likely to bother us.

I've turned a corner

I never thought this would be easy. After all, I'm 76 years old and have been housebound for over three years, not to mention the 20+ years of suffering that had gone on before I was confined. After doing the looking last April I went through a lot of turmoil over my spiritual attachments, and was only able to drop them entirely quite recently. During all that time, however, I continued to do SDA fairly consistently.

These past few days I feel that I've turned a corner, so to speak, and I wanted to share my experience here in the hope that it might be helpful to someone.

It came to me, as was suffering with numb legs and difficulty keeping my balance, that it was time to be honest with myself. I had been a Christian Scientist for 45 years, and one of the key concepts was "denial." In other words, never admit that you're sick, old, disabled, whatever. And this was supposed to help heal you. But the thought came to me: Don't you know yet that there's nothing you can do to "fix" yourself or your life? This is beyond your ken.

Right then I realized that I had been spending most of my time examining my past or fantasizing about the future, neither of which was doing me any good. Then I remembered what John and Carla have said about self reliance, and it occurred to me that I could stop focusing on the past and the future and see what I could do NOW. So I asked myself, "What can I do?" It came to me that I could sweep the floors. So I swept them. Then I thought I might mop them, too, so I asked, "Can I do this?" The answer was yes, I can. So I did all of that, and an idea for an exercise for my legs came to me as well. I started doing it right then, and there has been a lot of improvement in my walking in just two days. I also felt a lot more energetic from sweeping and mopping the floors. I was very tired at the end of the day, but it was a good kind of tired, not the kind I often feel after a day of sitting on my bed with my laptop.

I've been doing SDA twice a day, and I'm convinced that what changed in me is because of it. I was able to focus on something worthwhile and productive, instead of dwelling in the past, dreaming about the future, or bitching about the present!

I went through a lot of doubts about JOL during those months when I was still vacillating about my spiritual pursuits. I was subtly trying to find fault with it, comparing it to other teachings/methods, and so on. But the truth won out. I actually had a brief glimpse yesterday of what it's like to feel "normal." I haven't felt this way in many years"¦in fact I doubt that I've ever really felt normal because I was still living with the fear of life.

This is not to say that I'm done with recovery. It took me a long time to get into the mess I'm in, and I know it will take patience (and lots of SDA!) for the "foot soldiers" of fear to finally give up their efforts and leave me for good, but I feel greatly encouraged by what has happened to me these past couple of days, and I no longer have any lingering doubts about the efficacy of JOL/SDA.

I had a funny image of how SDA/JOL operates. It's like when you cut off a chicken's head, the chicken still runs around for awhile until it finally gives up and drops dead. Kind of macabre, but amusing nonetheless! :p

Great update, Amy! That's so beautiful, keep sweeping and mopping.....

Heheh...I will. Thanks, Jack!

It's wonderful JR! smily As you well know, I've had the advantage of knowing about the power of focused attention before J+C and, now, with the specific SDA exercise in place, I am seeing what could be possible with actually implementing active focused attention - not yet in my actions, but I do notice it in my thoughts and feelings sometimes. I just now read an excellent article by John - really fully of a lot of clarity! https://www.justonelook.org/natural/.../expectations/

Congratulations. This is quite encouraging. I dropped my Buddhist practice (the studying, the organization, and the practice) as soon as I did the looking and that was about 2 years ago. The hardest thing about Just One Look is doing the Self-Directed Attention. Its so easy to start your day and forget about it let alone counting your outward breath to 10 without being in autopilot mode!!! Thanks for reminding me. All my best from Cadiz!!!

Hi Mischa, and thanks! About the SDA, I've found that it's easier to do it first thing in the morning before you do anything else and before your mind gets cluttered with all your daily thoughts and activities. On the other hand, sometimes I like to do it a little later just to challenge myself! And I do it once more in the evening, which is always a challenge. smily

When I'm having a hard time with it, I find that it helps just to concentrate on one breath at a time instead of just letting it roll along in autopilot... you now, like "OK, this is the breath I'm focusing on" sort of thing. Not that you actually say or think those words, but it's an attitude of OK, I'm here, this is what I'm doing, and that's it. Best to you from Rio de Janeiro!

Hey mischa. Yeah, I find the SDA slowly builds efficacy over a long period of time. I started in April and, except for a few short breaks, have been doing it at least 1x a day. I usually now do it 2x a day because I found, for me, doing it more, brings up too much emotional stuff too quickly for me. It's only in the last couple of months or so I would say I've noticed that thoughts and feelings that cause me to suffer come up somewhat less for me. This still hasn't effect the actions I take in life though, although I expect it will. Besides J+C's deep sincerity in their belief of the efficacy of SDA, I also know that the most prolific healer in recorded history, greatly emphasized the power of focused attention in his teaching. I consider JOL/SDA to be an evolution of his teaching. So all this has motivated me to continue this practice.

As far as Buddhist practice, I have had a lot of experience in this as well in my past. A couple of weeks ago, I had sent JOL/SDA instructions to a friend of mine who is really into buddhism and nonduality. In regards to the SDA practice, he wrote to me saying, 'What's the big deal about this? It's exactly the same as Buddhist anapanasati!' But, then, I sent him the video clip where John discusses the difference between SDA and mindfulness. After seeing that, he really understood where John was coming from and that having this type of intention behind the SDA could be much more effective than the traditional Buddhist outlook. Also, I had told him he would find the looking exercises John has to be the same as traditional Advaita Vedanta exercises but, again, the difference is how John 'pairs down' all the 'clutter' around the looking and reduces it to its utter simplicity without the different 'belief paradigm overlays' that people surround the looking exercises with. I really do feel having the right intention/outlook behind all of this is very key and why I think it was really wise of John to avoid 'pigeonholing' JOL as something 'spiritual' or something with a label.. JOL is unique onto itself and he wants to let the person doing it have their own unique experience.

Perfect Amy! Doing something practical is very helpful, every time. Thoughts wont help us. Action does. Go for it...!

All the best,

Niklas

"Thoughts won't help us. Action does." I LIKE that, Niklas! Thanks!

After 10 years

Hello, I started my search for awakening, enlightenment, spiritual growth, etc. over 20 years ago. I never was a guru groupie, but I was a guru addict in that I would download whatever I could get on guru's speakin. It started with Depak, wayne, adyshanti, gangaji, eckart, [excuse my spelling], that other guy,Osho? Sorry it's been a while, nich ta hann? OK, these guys are going to start haunting me if I go on brutalizing their names. There were probably a few more. I mean I had at least 2 full computer screens of live recordings of each one of them, I listened to them all.

Enter John Sherman, circa 2006. The first thing I noticed was that I felt I had hit the basic truth. The 2nd thing I noticed was that the search was over. I don't know why but I finally saw that I was chasing some phenomena that I thought would fix me or make me whole and at peace, plus I'd be totally cool and everyone in the world would want a piece of me, like Echart said.

Uhh, that never really happened. So I did the looking, went through all the newbie stuff that I heard most seekers did, "Am I doing it right? When will it work? why is everything the same, I need to do it more..." Finally I just relaxed and said whatever... John says it will work and I'll just do it from time to time when ever I think of it. All the time religiously listening to all of John's seminars and telephone events. Then I even quit doing that. Now I still glance at an email I get and browse the topics to see if anything new has come up. So I'll try to describe the changes if I can and where I am now.

At first as I said there was nothing, as time went on I guess I noticed the end of the search and that I was more present in time and more OK with my life. I don't remember any thing really dramaitic happening.

I still don't know for certain that anything happened at all besides the ending of the search. I remember quite a bit of what John said, and the truest thing for me was "it's like a humming in your ear that has always been there, and you never notice it, until one day you notice it is not there anymore, and you say, hey, when did that go?"

Soooo, here I am age 65 in my life, I can't say the looking transformed me, that I am full of joy, etc, but I guess I am more present and OK in my life, ok, and maybe a little happier, and to quote Jack Nicholson:"I'm just not the type of guy that goes around being happy."

I guess my sense of anything wrong now is that I don't really feel anything in a strong way, I'm not unhappy but not really happy either, which is sort of the way I have always been.

I remember a caller saying they did the looking and all was great but Where's the juice? The juice to life, the zest, spice. And I remember as my ears really pricked up at this, John just sort of laughed and didn't really have an answer to that. I guessed that a lot of the "juice" to life is fueled by the fear, so when the fear is gone, then all that "juice" will dissipate as well.

I guess I'm wanting some new "juice" to appear for me, and maybe it will. My daughter had a wedding and I remember dancing like a lunatic all night, that was a first... My grandson said I had some moves...yo...

Anyway, I thought this might be interesting as this is my first post or any communication after 20 years, that some other oldschoolers may have had a similar experience and may make me feel I have some company.

Thanks to John and Carla.

Yarp. I do it in the morning and I make sure I find time to do it before I go to bed at some point no matter where I am. And I do it no matter what state I'm in. The way I look at it is that practicing it when we feel tired or overwhelmed is 'extra-good' practice - like training with extra-heavy weights. There are plenty of times when I have to do SDA with my eyes open so I don't fall asleep.. Sometimes I even have to do it standing up.

Thanks for sharing all that dajmosmily Curious, would developing your focused attention even more provide more 'juice' to your life? Meaning you could focus on the things you personally really enjoy with more effectiveness. Just speculating... yo.. ;-)

A technical question: why cant I like posts? The like button isnt avalible to me. Maybe you can help Carla?

I can relate to what you're saying, dajmo. I too feel sort of flat and 'where's the juice?' To be clear, this is far more preferable to how I felt before the looking, which was one long depressive, anxious road that never ended. I do remember having more highs with the lows. I guess if you are feeling the lows some high mood is inevitable. So, while I certainly prefer this way of being, I do wonder if I'll begin to experience more joy at some point. It may also be a function of our age, I'm 56......

I personally believe that the looking is simply a reset that takes away fear and much of the madness, but after this we need to add software and programming on our own. Lifestyle changes become easier and more intuitive and may promote more happiness and positivity. Exercise would be an example of this, or healthier eating, etc. SDA exercises help as well. I experience more times of 'flow' which is an immersion into whatever I'm doing. This is not necessarily mood expansive, but rather a richer experience than typical where time seems to stop or slow down, or become irrelevant. I guess this could also be described as being present or in the moment, without distracting neurotic thinking about the past or future. Do you have moments like this?

Thanks for the reply Jackx, I have experienced what athletes call "in the zone" which I believe you to be referring to, but very rarely. I think it is what drives the mountain climbers to do what they do.

Also soldiers in battle have said similar things. It is good you don't have to put yourself on that life and death edge to experience it.

I think you are right that we are responsible to get or create our own juice, a good point , and I feel a little foolish , in that I still look outside myself for that.

thanks for the reminder. This will be helpful to me, maybe in another 20 years, I'll be like Eureka! I've got it!

Thanks for telling us your story, dajmo. Here's my take on the "juice." The way I see it, we can direct our attention where we want it to go, so I'm directing mine towards experiences that have the "juice"... in my case, musical projects, since this is what I do. Even though I can't take part in these projects as fully as I would like to at this time because of some physical difficulties, there's still a lot I can do, thanks to modern technology (i.e. hooking up with musicians in different parts of the world). So I guess I'm saying that the joy doesn't just "happen"... we can choose things that we enjoy and that make us happy. Also, I don't think age has anything to do with loss of joy or less joy, unless you choose to believe it does. I'm 76 years old... so the earth went around the sun 76 times... so what? smily

Don't know why... I'll look into that.

Hi Niklas, I find that if I have the font set too large on my computer that the "like" button disappears...don't know it this is your case, though.

Thanks for sharing these insights guys - very helpful to me smily

Yeah Niklas, well said! smily Have you checked out John's latest podcast? At least I think it's his latest - A LOT of clarity there! https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/being-human-the-john-sherman-podcast/e/45385708?autoplay=true

Thanks Carla! It works now..