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Inquiry Unbound

I just listened to this podcast and was blown away......that may not be the right description, but it was a deeply felt sense of recognition and new found appreciation for this work. I thought John and Carla were in true form and it was the best summary and articulation of this whole process I've heard. The live audience seemed to bring this out.

It it made me look at my recovery a bit differently. I thought I could do the SDA with ease, but I didn't hold myself to as right a standard, counting ten breaths with no distractions, as John outlined. There were many points of recognition throughout, but the main take away is that my experience was further articulated, which is a profound relief in a weird way, and I know what happened to me and what is happening to me even now.

Thank you both profoundly!

Ha! Jackx, you beat me to it dude!;-) I finished up listening to it today driving around. Yes, really excellent. I felt that it was a great overall synopsis of where they currently are in this teaching. I agree, John and Carla do really well in front of a live audience. Then again, I guess most of us would since there is that energy of live interaction between people which is just more..well 'live' than only on the net. I hope they record more of these talks as they are traveling around again.

There were a couple of things that really surprised me. One was that John was saying that you only need to do the SDA a couple of months and, then, all fear will fall away. This has not been my experience and, if this were the case, why hasn't there been anyone posting on the forum, or in testimonials, that they just did the SDA for a couple of months and all fear fell away? I mean there have been people posting saying they definitely experienced benefits after several weeks, but as far as all fear falling away? I haven't heard anything like that.

Another thing that I didn't know was that, once you get to 10 one time, then you're done with the SDA. I thought I was getting to 10 sometimes, at least a few times during some SDA sessions but, like you Jackx, I feel I need to hold myself to a higher standard with that and catch the tiniest of subtle other thoughts/distractions coming in. So this was really good for me to know as well. Anyway, this really isn't so much of an issue I feel since John was saying you will definitely know and experience the results of when you really get to 10 - and I trust that will be true.

Thanks very much John and Carla for sharing this!! smily All the very best, Lex

Yeah, that surprised me too, about thee several months of recovery with SDA. I feel I'm still in the wind down of recovery, although things are waaaay better. This is great news for those paving the way after SDA was a thing.

I hope everyone in this position keeps us posted on results, as I know you will Lex.

Yeah Jack, I think the best thing we can do, not only to help spread this teaching, but to help others new to it, and also ourselves, is to share our experiences that we are having with it. All the very best, Lex

I agree Jack, a great and enriching talk.

I liked that the question of making an effort was highlighted. I have myself noticed when sitting down during attention practice, that there is a choice. A choice between watching and counting breath effortlessly, or to use more strength and determination to try to control ones attention.

I have decided to be more of an authority in my life in relation to my attention. Almost like with my to sons. They constantly try to tell me and themselves that they are in charge. Here I have found that being a kind but determined authority acctually helps them and serves the overall harmony. And it's funny, as I try to learn my three year old son to count to ten, I am now myself again on the same task! smily

It is much humor in this process too...

Good luck everybody with your practice!

I related to the lady who expressed her doubt about JOL compared to Ramana, Buddha and Jesus. It just sounds kind of silly that someone told them that those were wrong and this is right when they are venerated the world over. But there is no answer to that doubt but trying it for yourself. And it's not at all a question of individuals who bring the message, it's simply whether it works or not. It just takes time to see if it works and it seems to me it's the achilles' heel of this work.

There is no immediate revelation or benefit. In fact you may strongly doubt the whole thing years into the process. Still, something keeps you at it. And slowly you may get to see how the great ones got it wrong. Personally, I provisionally include Krishnamurti in the list as I know his teaching in detail, and I believe that he talked about the same thing, but failed to communicate how to get there. He even admitted as much at his death bed (and incidentally spent much of this his life in Ojai). But perhaps I project my current understanding to his.

Re SDA, I noticed early on that one of the issues is what counts as distraction. You can become progressively acute about your direction. It's easy to attend to breath, but harder to keep it at the feeling of temperature shift in your nostrils between inhaling and exhaling. As one person said he can't even find that sensation in his nose. Is distraction then to lose the sensation of temperature at any one point? There are depths to this simple exercise.

Personally, I'm reconciled to 10 to 15 years of recovery process (going on 6 now), but if SDA shortens or sweetens it, all the better. The proof to me would be finding life worth living.

Niklas

I agree Jack, a great and enriching talk.

I liked that the question of making an effort was highlighted. I have myself noticed when sitting down during attention practice, that there is a choice. A choice between watching and counting breath effortlessly, or to use more strength and determination to try to control ones attention.

Yeah Niklas, I'm finding this too for sure. I've been having some sessions where I feel like I am exerting so much effort that even my physical body kind of 'tenses up'. My mind really wants to think! But I definitely notice a difference when I exert this level of effort. I really feel like I am at a 'new level' practicing the SDA. And, again, it does remind me so closely of John's analogies of lifting weights.

Niklas

I have decided to be more of an authority in my life in relation to my attention. Almost like with my to sons. They constantly try to tell me and themselves that they are in charge. Here I have found that being a kind but determined authority acctually helps them and serves the overall harmony.

Well, I don't have kids (thank God!lol) but I do have kitties, and I find the same thing to be true!smilysmily

Seppo

I related to the lady who expressed her doubt about JOL compared to Ramana, Buddha and Jesus. It just sounds kind of silly that someone told them that those were wrong and this is right when they are venerated the world over. But there is no answer to that doubt but trying it for yourself. And it's not at all a question of individuals who bring the message, it's simply whether it works or not. It just takes time to see if it works and it seems to me it's the achilles' heel of this work.

There is no immediate revelation or benefit. In fact you may strongly doubt the whole thing years into the process. Still, something keeps you at it. And slowly you may get to see how the great ones got it wrong. Personally, I provisionally include Krishnamurti in the list as I know his teaching in detail, and I believe that he talked about the same thing, but failed to communicate how to get there. He even admitted as much at his death bed (and incidentally spent much of this his life in Ojai). But perhaps I project my current understanding to his.

I've known people who have 'sat' with Ramana.. I never was too impressed him after talking to these people. Apparently he had quite a temper and it sounds like what John says about him is very true.. He did have some great insights, but was caught up in his own spiritual belief paradigms which hampered him, and others, from going further as John says. Without getting too much into mystical experiences/metaphysics, I will say I have a very strong and direct connection with 'The Big JC'.. If people who worship him in their christian religions really knew him, they would be pretty shocked I think. He is a very hardcore dude and all about self-reliance and the power being within you. Pissed off and frustrated that people are worshipping him and putting him up on a pedestal!

I forgot about Krishnamurti - right.. These are some of the very few examples of people who 'came close' but were hampered by some type of belief paradigm, or limitation in the clarity with which they were trying to communicate the message. But it's like you know there's a lot of truth in what these people were trying to impart - just something missing. At least that's the feeling I get, but only from a very few in all the seeking/healing teachings I've studied in depth over the years.

Seppo

Re SDA, I noticed early on that one of the issues is what counts as distraction. You can become progressively acute about your direction. It's easy to attend to breath, but harder to keep it at the feeling of temperature shift in your nostrils between inhaling and exhaling. As one person said he can't even find that sensation in his nose. Is distraction then to lose the sensation of temperature at any one point? There are depths to this simple exercise.

Personally, I do not always focus on the temperature of the breath. Sometimes I do if I find it helps my focus even more. My focus is really on the counting on the outbreath and being hyper-vigilant if even the 'hint' of another thought comes in. It's like John says in the latest podcast, you may be tempted to cut yourself some 'slack' in this - but don't do that! As we've been discussing, I think we both agree, it's not about 'accomplishing the grand goal' of getting to 10.

Seppo

The proof to me would be finding life worth living.

Very well said man. I consider genuinely embodying this outlook would be one of the 'all-time' best proofs!

Just an aside on SDA. I get the hiccups several times a year and they usually come in cycles of about 20-30 minutes in length and then go away for several hours. This pattern can last several days. I had a spicy burrito and a beer the other night and, sure enough, right before bedtime I got the hiccups. I even slept on the couch so as not to disturb my wife. I got up in the night to use the bathroom and they came back. I lay down in bed and tried to go to sleep as best as one can while ones body jerks every 15 seconds.

Then I got the inspiration to just focus my full attention on my upper chest from where the hiccups seemed to be originating. I have been doing SDA fairly intently and I was able to bring that focus to bear on my chest and breathing, while trying to relax all my muscles in the area of focus. I think I had one or two more hiccups and then they stopped abruptly. I went to sleep.

When I got up next morning I immediately got another set of hiccups. I sat down right away and used focused attention, and again they stopped immediately. I used this throughout the day several more times, although I was at work and a little more distracted so it took a little longer as I could not focus my full attention.

I thought this was cool, but fairly trivial, until I got to wondering what else we could use focused attention on......

Jackx

Then I got the inspiration to just focus my full attention on my upper chest from where the hiccups seemed to be originating. I have been doing SDA fairly intently and I was able to bring that focus to bear on my chest and breathing, while trying to relax all my muscles in the area of focus. I think I had one or two more hiccups and then they stopped abruptly. I went to sleep.

When I got up next morning I immediately got another set of hiccups. I sat down right away and used focused attention, and again they stopped immediately. I used this throughout the day several more times, although I was at work and a little more distracted so it took a little longer as I could not focus my full attention.

I thought this was cool, but fairly trivial, until I got to wondering what else we could use focused attention on......

Jack, I'm intrigued, fascinated, and a little puzzled by this! I think it's great that you were able to stop your hiccups, but here's what puzzles me. I thought that with focused attention, we decide which things deserve our attention and which don't. It seems to me that physical issues (unless there's an emergency) are crying out to be ignored, since the more we focus on them, the worse they usually seem to get. So how do you explain what happened with your hiccups? How can focusing on something negative make it go away? I'm stumped!

I have done the same.. how I do it is to look for the location.. call it the source of them, it is somewhere around the belly/solar plexus area, a muscle around there which spasms. I try to find the exact spot, keep attention there until it relaxes and voilá - hiccups stop.

Krishnamurti rejected religion but thought spiritual important. That was was one of his mistakes. He has been accused of climbing to the roof and pulling the ladder up with him, since he rejected a method, too. I think he just found himself there, or was born there, an example of one those escaping our common faith of falling into fear context. This was paralysing to me. But it's true of all those past teachers, failing to impart how to get there. JOL gives the method, and it's purely psychological. On his deathbed K regretted that nodoby "got" him, understood really what he was trying to say and transformed themselves. It reminds very much what John and Carla went through, but pulled through in the end.

I guess it depends on the physical issue in question. Chronic pain might be an example where ignoring is the way.

Another thing about SDA which comes up here is the question of thought and attention. What's the nature of this business? Do you folks get any insights into SDA and the nature of what we are trying to accomplish; total control of our attention?

We talk about thinking and giving attention to thought. How does thought exist without attention? It seems to me it doesn't, yet they creep up somehow. So there is separation between a thought and attention given to it? Are we suggesting that there is thinking going on without us knowing, even without giving attention to it. It's puzzling.

We say thinking is an algorithm and a chain of associations embedded in the brain and thus weaken (the neural connections dying off) when we don't practise them anymore. But it doesn't explain this duality of an agent and the thoughts it attends to. Declining attention would simply be stopping a thought. But maybe this is semantics or philosophy of mind and not really relevant.

I'm stumped too. I suspect that there are issues......thoughts, pain, hiccups, that we never really look at with our full attention. They are just there in a chronic manner, in the background, like hiccups. In order to withdraw our attention, perhaps we need to first give these phenomena a direct blast of our full attention? I think John and Carla talk about this somewhere.

The other aspect of this,and one that I'm having a hard time putting into words, is that the SDA exercise is not an end to itself. Much like the analogy to weight lifting, a body builder doesn't just use his or her muscles in the gym on the machines. They use their increased strength to haul in more groceries, throw their little kid in the air, build a stone patio, play another sport more effectively and with less injury. We develop a more focused, supple attention to use in life. I was astonished at how quickly and smoothly I was able to bring the beam of my attention to my chest and remain there like a laser (in the middle of the night no less). It reminded me of the quality of my attentional state while doing SDA. I wasn't actually doing SDA, I was using the more powerful attention gained from doing SDA to problem solve in life. We can apply our stronger attention however we want, right? There's no rules about our own self-reliance and how we apply our attention that I know of....

Thanks, Jack...I guess it's impossible to explain exactly how that worked for you to make your hiccups go away, so these kinds of things may very well be different for all of us. I remember now that there was something on the website about focusing attention on a physical difficulty. As I recall, the advice was either just to do that, or alternate watching the breath with focusing on the physical thing. At the time I read it, I had the same reaction...how can it be helpful to focus on something negative? I even tried it out of curiosity, but it didn't work for me. I'd be interested to hear what John or Carla has to say about it now.

Yesterday at the webinar (it was excellent, btw), John said that our attention feeds the soldiers of fear. This certainly contradicts what happened to you! So I'm still puzzled, but curious just the same. Maybe I'll give it another whirl if it seems right to me.

"The other aspect of this,and one that I'm having a hard time putting into words, is that the SDA exercise is not an end to itself. Much like the analogy to weight lifting, a body builder doesn't just use his or her muscles in the gym on the machines. They use their increased strength to haul in more groceries, throw their little kid in the air, build a stone patio, play another sport more effectively and with less injury. We develop a more focused, supple attention to use in life. I was astonished at how quickly and smoothly I was able to bring the beam of my attention to my chest and remain there like a laser (in the middle of the night no less). It reminded me of the quality of my attentional state while doing SDA. I wasn't actually doing SDA, I was using the more powerful attention gained from doing SDA to problem solve in life. We can apply our stronger attention however we want, right? There's no rules about our own self-reliance and how we apply our attention that I know of...."

Yeah man, excellent point. To go again reference weightlifting, I enjoy doing powerlifting..This helps me in various other aspects of my life. Like, in my career. I'm a trumpet player by trade and playing the trumpet is quite a physical endeavor. Sometimes students ask me about how I have a lot of endurance. When I stop to think about it, one of the things that comes to mind is that I have very strong core muscles (air blowing muscles) from squatting, deadlifting, etc.. But it only occurs to me really when someone asks me. Otherwise, I take it for granted since it's my natural state now.. I think it's the same with the SDA.. Certain things I will make the connection to the SDA practice, while certain other things I won't. Now, because I am extremely interested in seeing if the SDA exercise brings practical benefits into my life, I will say that I do consciously try to pay attention to see if there are things I am doing differently in my life because of it. Reactions, behaviors, or feelings that I would rather have than the ones I usually do. Basically more feelings of comfort in more situations and this, to me, is directly related to how much fear I have in my life. And, to this end, I am now starting to see how less fear in one's life would lead to more enjoyment in one's life.

Seppo

Another thing about SDA which comes up here is the question of thought and attention. What's the nature of this business? Do you folks get any insights into SDA and the nature of what we are trying to accomplish; total control of our attention?

We talk about thinking and giving attention to thought. How does thought exist without attention? It seems to me it doesn't, yet they creep up somehow. So there is separation between a thought and attention given to it? Are we suggesting that there is thinking going on without us knowing, even without giving attention to it. It's puzzling.

We say thinking is an algorithm and a chain of associations embedded in the brain and thus weaken (the neural connections dying off) when we don't practise them anymore. But it doesn't explain this duality of an agent and the thoughts it attends to. Declining attention would simply be stopping a thought. But maybe this is semantics or philosophy of mind and not really relevant.

Hey Seppo, the way I currently understand this area is that thoughts 'automatically' come to us due to our conditioning. To keep things simple for this discussion, let's just assume our conditioning starts in the womb. It may feel like I am thinking my own thoughts as I go about my life but, really, I feel that my thoughts are automatically 'coming to me' directly from my conditioning. And I think a lot of this conditioning is based in fear. This is why I don't think people truly have any free will, even though it seems like we are choosing every second. But jackx brought up an interesting point, and it's something I have thought about for several years now. If we lose the fear of life, if we lose all the conditioning in our lives that have come from fear, perhaps then we actually do develop free will since our thoughts are now 'our own' and not products of our fear-based conditioning.

BTW guys, be sure to check out J+C's latest webinar.. Really great! A lot of clarity on the SDA.

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8549000163089646086

Getting back to Jack's hiccups...in the new ebook, The Just One Look Method, there's a description of the approach he (Jack) used. Here's the quote:

A disturbing thought may be connected to a body sensation. This movement of attention can also help with disturbing body sensations. Move attention to the sensation and experience it directly, without naming it or trying to get rid of it. Just feel it completely for as long as you can. You can alternate between moving attention to the sensation of breathing and moving attention to the disturbing sensation in your body.

As I mentioned before, this confuses me because it seems to be the opposite of what SDA teaches...that we should turn our attention away from unwanted thoughts/things. I'd love to hear some input and more explanation about this from John or Carla. Meanwhile, since it may not matter whether I understand it or not, I thought I'd give it a whirl. I'll let you all know what happens. smily

I've used this technique before and it can be quite powerful. Attention is powerful. We can bathe our bodies in attention and then move it away....the movement is powerful and fluid. There is something about focusing and moving ones attention that can be quite energizing and relaxing.

Thanks, Jack. I've been doing it and finding that to be true, although it still remains a mystery!

Jack said:

I've used this technique before and it can be quite powerful. Attention is powerful. We can bathe our bodies in attention and then move it away....the movement is powerful and fluid. There is something about focusing and moving ones attention that can be quite energizing and relaxing.

Hey Jack! I finally "get" it! I remembered that I had saved this quote from John on my Kindle, because it struck me at the time (it's from the forum):

Seems to me that the best we can do is decide an experience is worth attention or not, and if it is not, move our focus elsewhere. And judgement of states already present strikes me as an excellent example of something that cries out to be ignored.

The thing is, though, that I had misinterpreted it. I had decided that "bad" experiences weren't worth our attention and "good ones" were. Boy, was I way off. In fact John says that it's the judging of experiences that needs to be ignored! I think this is a very important point, and so helpful for putting SDA into action in our daily rounds. It truly is self-reliance, and I can see where I was still following what I'd been taught instead of relying on my own sense of things.

So Jack, I now see how focusing on some part of the body could be very helpful...why not? Maybe it wouldn't be for some people, but that's OK, too. In any case I'm glad I finally "get" it!

jazzrascal

I had decided that "bad" experiences weren't worth our attention and "good ones" were. Boy, was I way off. In fact John says that it's the judging of experiences that needs to be ignored! I think this is a very important point, and so helpful for putting SDA into action in our daily rounds. It truly is self-reliance, and I can see where I was still following what I'd been taught instead of relying on my own sense of things.

I've told you JR about the few experiences I had after some long meditations where I got to this state where I felt everything was perfect just as it was and nothing needed to be changed. There was no 'good' or 'bad'. They left a very memorable impression on me since they were so different than my usual thoughts/feelings. If it were possible to live that way all the time, I think that would be a wonderful way to exist. Just choosing what I want to attend to, without the influence of fear conditioning, and not judging anything as good or bad. More just what is helpful and what is not. As we were discussing in another thread, I am now wondering perhaps that we may be 'guided'/'led' to make better, more helpful decisions, that cause less suffering in life, as our fear falls away. Perhaps it just 'happens' as a consequence of dropping the fear. Right now I'm just observing my own reactions as I continue with the SDA.

Seems to me that making choices that are more useful for us will naturally happen more and more as we become more sane from doing SDA! And I'm thinking that dropping the habit of being judgmental is a natural outcome of this work, too...

Nice....Yeah, we can use our attention as we like. Of course we will make mistakes, but attention and intelligence can be quite self correcting, it seems, without judgment and fear.

 

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