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Frustration

I'm in and out of this thing we are all attempting.

Initially the act of doing the looking really helped. Now, well now I'm not sure where I am or where I'm going... I could do with a little boost! I'm not currently feeling it... but I shall persist!!

Hello

Well, according to John the first look does it all, so you don't need to stress about whether to continue looking or not. However, I'd advise against treating this like instant pain-relief, the effects come quite slowly. I'd recommend training your attention as it has helped me tremendously. You're probably in what John calls recovery period, which for some is very hard, but is supposed to ease after a while. Good luck.

Your comments are much appreciated... I think that trying to train my attention to where it doesn't want to go is very frustrating but it does feel a little easier in that place... Thanks again.

Thank you, I agree.

Think of it this way, You are attention. Attention is always somewhere. Where IS it? It was natural as a child. You didn't question whether it was YOURS or not. You followed IT and ATTENDED to whatever was presented; whatever appeared. There was no separation between you and Life. It's the most natural thing and to me that is the greatest JOY, to be one with my Love again. One with Life, equal to and not opposed to(or by) any of it. What freedom to stand on common ground with all of it.....unthreatened.

Thank you for that, I suppose. it's just a question of keeping the hope alive, of letting it grow. of helping it grow... of not allowing myself to get as scared as I have been in the past. Thank you for your advice..... your words are much appreciated.

Thank you Kathe, I did send you a post a week ago. Not sure why it didn't reach you. Thanks

It's so frustrating being a human being. This cloud of doubt and fear descends on us like Alice in Wonderland, around the early teens and we wake up and we have to try and find our way out of this rabbit hole. When you're a kid you don't feel like this. Anyway here's to hope and putting your mind on the sensations in the body, which, if we manage to wake up, will show us, what? Something new, hopefully!

Hope is not needed, and not really worthy of your attention since it either is present or is not. I know of nothing that will create the experience of hope other than misery, which is just as likely to create hopelessness as hope.

The key to it all, once the act itself has reset the mind, is to work diligently to develop and use the power you have to decide for yourself what does and does not need your attention.

The practice of focused attention is what you should concentrate on now. This practice can seem difficult, and even pointless in the beginning, but the longer you work to strengthen your control over your attention, the more you will see for yourself its power and value.

And just to be clear, the cloud of doubt and fear are the products of the generalized fear of life. If you have done the act of looking, you have already done all you can do to breathe free.

Your fate is now in your own hands. Learn to be skillful and intelligent with your innate ability to use your attention, or not. Either way, you will see in time how different is your relationship with your life. All that's needed now is to learn what you can actually do as a human being, and get good at it.

In the end, you will find yourself with a panoramic view of the contents of your mind "“ which is your life. You will also be aware of the feel of your attention at rest, and the presence of your ability to choose for yourself what is and is not worthy of your attention. If, that is, you are willing to take authority over your own mind, beginning now.

You are already awake. You have been driven by the fear to pull the covers over your eyes and call that the rabbit hole.

It is good to see you here willing to be in conversation about these matters. Please let me know how you are doing by posting reports here in the forums.

John

The putting my attention on the sensation of breathing is difficult, because as you say, it seems pointless, but in the last few weeks, minor dramas have or seem to be less dramatic, simply because I have been turning my attention elsewhere... yes, it's about tapping into that source that we've lost touch with... talk about resistance!!

And you're right John, nothing works and I've tried!!

Thanks for the insight.

John,

Your post is very inspiring with "learn what you can actually do as a human being, and get good at it". That's brilliant. I'm not yet quite clear what it is we can do, and how, but practicing focusing of attention seems crucial somehow, as attention is the foundation of our experience. What can I do with it? That's the big one. It seems not only being a matter of strengthening it but also learning about the whole issue while (and after) practicing. I keep coming up with questions like "is having an insight while trying to focus a distraction? What is a distraction and what it is not?" We are aware of our surroundings all the time (while awake) and it's a kind of distraction. It's hard to practice focusing while sitting in a bus, for example, as I do. But I guess the work gets done all the same.

Can you expand on "the panoramic view of the contents of your mind"? That's very interesting. Do you mean that one eventually gets an overall picture of all the projects and traits and tendencies in one's life and can chose which one to focus on?

isn't it all about reclaiming your life back, once and for all?

Dear John,

What caught my attention in your response was:

If, that is, you are willing to take authority over your own mind, beginning now.

For me, this is a key point. Am I being the author of my life or am I living conditioning's script? When I say yes or no to a tug on my attention, do I really mean yes or no. A certain amount of courage is required for me to embody and act from my own authority, but if not mine, then whose?

Lera

I don't know if this is relevant either, but I kept thinking about this today regarding attention and thinking: Does a thought go on if one doesn't pay attention to it? Removing attention from a thought seems to be stopping it. It doesn't continue, does it? I can come back but it stops there when you move it to your breath. So there's no thinking without attention?

But the thought and the attention it needs seem to be kind of separate things and have separate origins (?). Thoughts are made with a kind of generator working according to its own laws of associative triggers and is quite mechanical in its basic operation, although it can generate really creative associations. Attention can be seized and moved away from those. Now, I find that it is kind of disruptive to halt that river of automatic flow and move my attention to breath. There's a feeling of removing myself from a natural flow. Except when the flow is frightening or otherwise uncomfortable. Nevetheless, I find myself doing the focusing more and more often, sometimes quite spontaneously. Recently I've done it before going to sleep and seems to give me better sleep (and put me to sleep faster and easier, haha...)

To what extent can I take authority over my mind, and how? It's an exciting prospect.

Hi John,

in your post above you say "You will also be aware of the feel of your attention at rest". What do you mean by that?

Attention is always present. When focused on an object, we call it "attention"; at rest, we call it "awareness". Attention at rest is indistinguishable from the feel of your presence, which we also call "me".

Seppo

Does a thought go on if one doesn't pay attention to it? Removing attention from a thought seems to be stopping it. It doesn't continue, does it? I can come back but it stops there when you move it to your breath. So there's no thinking without attention?

[...] Now, I find that it is kind of disruptive to halt that river of automatic flow and move my attention to breath. There's a feeling of removing myself from a natural flow.

I feel thoughts arise without me having control. However, I can then decide whether they continue and grow. I imagine a pet that desires attention, for example a cat. If ignored, it will go its way and try another time.

I also wonder, what will arise as motivation if fear-based reasons are no longer operating? Maybe, what you call "natural flow" is just old habits, nothing worth saving. Then, after the looking, there is the freedom to guide attention. However, as you point out, the guidance can feel abrupt. Eventually, this abruptness might go away. But instead of pondering about all that, I decided to just go on and see, and use the new power of moving attention if I feel it makes sense. Bruno

Hi Bruno,

Thank you for commenting on my post. Thoughts are not under control. Something else determines their occurrence and as it is out of our control it feels like it's natural and how it should be. Perhaps the reason why seizing control feels awkward and "wrong" is that one never took control before. It's new.

Yes, one can also ask how natural is the flow if it took it's course and momentum from a false context? Thoughts flow on their own following whatever random or logical course they take, but just withdrawing from it feels like tearing oneself from it and putting a distance between one and life. I suspect this is a remnant of the old and might go away eventually. Also, attention training feels quite weak and futile compared to the force that pulls one to attend whatever moves in the mind. Will this change over time? Will it ever feel like a real factor in the game? A tool that actually makes a difference? I suppose I'll find out.

If it's just old habits that feel like "natural" flow of life, what will the new flow be like? It's interesting that you say that freedom from the old will guide attention. What would that be like, then? The panoramic view on one's mind and life John mentioned?

It is as you say, you just go and see where the ride takes you. Wondering about these questions while you go. There is one difference though; these days there's a growing confidence and trust in the process, and one's ability to handle it's course, where before there wasn't.

I seem to be able to dial into my thinking like I used to after long mediation sessions. It's not consistent or reliable, but it is available when I think of it. My thought stream slows enough for a quick analysis of content and usefulness.

( I had to try out my new super power, real time posting.....)

Hi Seppo, John once mentioned (I think it got it from a 2012 retreat video) that everything that is truly therapeutic feels wrong initially. This makes sense to me: if there would have been a way out of problems/disease that is intuitively accessible, we would have found it on our own. Similarly, controlling attention may feel strange initially - it interrupts habits and thus goes against worn-in neuronal connections in our brain. Despite this deliberate alienation from the "natural flow", I enjoy that I can choose not to attend to certain thoughts. With time, these thoughts loose power over me. As many of these thoughts were not mine but came from other people, the society etc., this is a relief. I speculate that by continued control of my attention, over time, I will also reshape the "thought attraction field" that affects what thoughts will arise in the first place.

Jackx, it sounds good, having your thinking slowing down a bit for analysis. I'm not there yet. What are mediation sessions?

What comes to usefulness of thoughts, I'm not sure I have a mission to compare them against. I feel a bit adrift. I have some ideas of what I want to do (actually, quite few of them) but I don't seem to be able to get going. It's frustrating, but I don't blame myself much. Some kind of energetic spark is missing.

I used to meditate for 40 minutes at a time, sometimes twice a day. I haven't done this in years, but focused attention feels like the perception I had when I meditated for long periods. Thoughts kinda slow and easy and a peacefulness about the body.....it just took too much time and focus to carry out this practice. As far as usefulness, I guess I mean thoughts that contribute to constructive wellbeing in me and those around me. Negative thoughts don't feel useful or constructive in any way. As I said, this perception comes and goes and much of the time I feel I'm just bumping along in the back of a pickup truck with my thoughts. Drifting comes and goes for me, as does energy. I think these are somewhat natural cycles of the body and mind irregardless of the looking. Not sure though, the fear clouds the natural life.

When John says..."And just to be clear, the cloud of doubt and fear are the products of the generalized fear of life. If you have done the act of looking, you have already done all you can do to breathe free"...this is a visceral response. Whatever continues going on in the mind, the body is oriented to breathing freely in life. I like what John says, no matter what your core notion, Look at me whenever you want, but look at me once. It is clear to me that anyone who has read this page is already breathing freely, no matter what they think.

John says..."The key to it all, once the act itself has reset the mind, is"...to live, which is what you are doing presently in the midst of all who have done the looking and commenting here in these forums. And when John says..."And just to be clear [from] the act of looking, you have already done all you can do to breathe free"--well you cannot not be more free than breathing freely. And while frustrating thoughts may continue to arise, so what--diarrhetic thoughts are the fever passing. Just remember, we are here together in this looking at me, ordinary and simple. Take heart and continue to say hello.

 

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