Just One Look Forum Archives
Recovery and Rehabilitation
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 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 Carla.
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
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
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! 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 lifetime.
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