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Author Topic: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)  (Read 3658 times)  Share 

Illuminatus

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How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« on: September 14, 2012, 11:06:48 PM »
SUMMARY

1) Leave the house and go for a walk.

2) Push tongue into roof of mouth, and release jaw so mouth is ever so slightly open.

3) Allow eyes to relax and come to a central position.

4) Place your attention on your surroundings, allowing whatever emotions appear in response to those surroundings to arise within your body as they wish. Maintain this kind of attention. You are now present.

Maintain this state using points 2-4 as a checklist if the state gets broken or anything goes wrong.



NOTES / FURTHER EXPLANATIONS ON EACH POINT

1) You can do this at home as well, later, after some practice.

2) Disables verbal thought by breaking the feedback loop between the speech apparatus (parts of the mouth area) and Broca's area in the brain (language centre).

3) When you "think", visually or verbally, your eyes will tend to diverge. You can often spot schizophrenics, autistics, and other mentally ill folk by their "beady" eyes (they are locked in perma-thought). Relaxing the eyes to a central position disables both kinds of thought.

4) You probably won't like this at first, if you're a neurotic/overthinking type (like most of us here). It forces you to actually experience your real, fluid emotions in response to your environment, without the fake "safety net" of thought and fantasy. However, holding this state for a long time can cause a perceptual shift whereby you become "locked in" to the sensory input --> emotional response loop (with no thought or delusion inserted as an intermediary). This may take 20 minutes when first starting out, and come right down to just 30 seconds or even less with regular practice. The signs of being "locked in" to this good state are that your emotions just happen and are felt less strongly, because there is no overthinking in between drawing attention to them. It is a really nice flow which causes little pain and many good feelings of connection to your surroundings and to other people. The key to gaining this state is to be entirely accepting of whatever emotions arise. That is not all doom and gloom, either! -- often, your "true" emotional responses to your environment will be pleasure, satisfaction, or happiness (overthinking blocks these "good" emotions, too, during its attempts to prevent you experiencing "bad" emotions).

Finally, if you find yourself going back into either verbal or visual thought (which will happen every few seconds when first starting out, or maybe even more often!) then you must simply check points #2 and #3 to make sure you're doing them, then resume #4 by putting your awareness on the environment again.

What we are doing here is retraining the type of attention you bring to the world. We are creating an engagement between surroundings and emotions. You will begin to feel a "link" between the two after some practice, which you will then be able to "tap into" quicker and quicker each time.
The default type of attention of a more neurotic/overthinking person is more like this: sensory input intermingled with thought and analysis of that input --> inappropriate emotional response (delusion) --> rejection of that emotional response plus panic ---> heightened state of neurosis (feedback loop).
I am not saying it is always like this; I'm just saying that when things go bad, something similar to this is likely what is happening.

There is one more thing. By exposing yourself to the "real" emotional response from the "real" sensory input via being present by doing this method, this retrains or "tempers" your nervous system into alignment with the correct emotional response. An example of this would be something like feeling "anxiety" upon entering a strange building filled with people you don't know. By "locking in" to the present state via this method, you would then simply engage with the emotional response (what you have been calling the "anxiety"), and "feed" off it, allowing it to "temper" your central nervous system in real-time until this environment becomes "known". This is just like how an animal would stand still, looking around, checking that somewhere is safe, before reverting to a "Status: OK" state and resuming normal activity. The more you temper yourself to new situations via this method, the more comfortable you will become with similar situations over time. This is because crowded places (for example) share similarities which are "pattern matched" by the mammalian brain. So a crowded shop for example would perhaps "60% match" a crowded pub. If you were fine with shops, it would not take you long to become fine with pubs, either. Then you could move up to nightclubs. Do you now see how the tempering works? If you were not completely okay in a small group of people, for example, you would never in a million years be able to handle a nightclub (and we are talking about doing these things completely drug-free in this post, if that was not yet obvious).

A final note on tempering. I believe this was all supposed to happen during the neurotic person's childhood, but this natural development somehow got interrupted, and derailed.  An example of this would be that I have clear memories of applying analytical thought to my situation so far back as age 4. I could read fluently by then. Meanwhile, all the other kids were running around screaming, fighting, and otherwise "tempering" themselves to human life. However, my precocious intelligence was then rewarded by teachers and parents, leading to my "prioritizing" of that mode of attention. Organic emotional tempering via purely emotional channels became stunted at this point, as ever-more analysis began to be inserted into my thinking (with rewards of praise, and chocolate for getting 20/20 on the spelling test, for example). This is just a theory. It's to illustrate what might have happened. But it sounds pretty legit, and I'm sure many of you will share a similar story.

In short, we are now playing catch-up.
Regular practice of this method is absolutely vital for long-term retraining/tempering of the central nervous system.


So, this is very similar to some of the things I said in The End of Social Anxiety, but I have significantly reworded parts of it. Also, the addition of points #2 and #3 in the guide above have made this method far more easy to get going correctly with, and maintain. Now, you simply have a checklist to look at for when things go wrong: "Is my tongue pressed into the roof of my mouth?", "Are my eyes relaxed and in a central position?", "Am I looking at and engaging emotionally with my environment, from a position of non-judgment?" (that last one's kinda long, but you'll get used to it ;)).
« Last Edit: September 14, 2012, 11:25:35 PM by Illuminatus »

AJM

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Re: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2012, 09:32:07 PM »
I tried this in front of the PC just now and immediately started spontaniously laughing as a result. I think I came present too. :)

Clarification for steps 3 and 4. I guess in step 3 you mean let the eyes relax like they do in meditation so you're a bit crosseyed and then in step 4 you focus on something in the environment and look at it. At this point eyes are no more relaxed as in step 3.

Actually at one point I noticed if I look at the overlay and then look at the environment I would come present quicker. When you look at the overlay eyes become centralized. But the benefit was not so radical I would do it every time.

Illuminatus

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Re: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2012, 12:22:43 AM »
I tried this in front of the PC just now and immediately started spontaniously laughing as a result. I think I came present too. :)

Clarification for steps 3 and 4. I guess in step 3 you mean let the eyes relax like they do in meditation so you're a bit crosseyed

"Cross-eyed" is a step too far.

Imagine right now you are stood in a field. In front of you is a pole sticking out of the ground, about 10 metres or so away. It is dead centre in your field of vision. Imagine what it would feel like to simply look at that pole. Your eyes would be relaxed and centralized. They would not have to strain to focus, because the pole is in a position whereby the eyes are focused on it in their natural state of relaxation. Compare this to an object half a metre in front of you -- your eyes would have to diverge in order to focus on it. This sensation will be familiar to anyone who gets locked into long trains of thought and fantasy -- because the eyes diverge when you fantasize. Try it now, if you don't believe me. Then, try fantasizing with the eyes in the "soft, centralized focus" (like when looking at the pole 10m away). You will find that you cannot fantasize -- and, indeed, if you are able to fantasize, then it is because your eyes have in fact diverged!!

So, the soft, centralized focus is what I'm talking about. It means you are gazing at something rather than staring at something. Neurotic people tend to stare at objects, whereas "present" people simply gaze at them. Cultivate softly gazing at your environment rather than staring at things.

Quote
and then in step 4 you focus on something in the environment and look at it.

Not really. Step 4 is more about putting your awareness on your general surroundings. It's all about cultivating an awareness of what's going on around you -- and not just in the centre of your field of vision, but, in fact, the periphery as well. While "softly gazing" (step 3), you will find that much more of your peripheral vision comes into your awareness. (This, of course, is directly activating the right brain hemisphere, and this entire method effectively causes hemispheric balance).

Now, during this "wide field awareness", if something suddenly catches your attention, you would then turn to look at it, exactly like an animal would. Once you had inspected it, and allowed your emotional response to arise, you would perhaps lose interest in it, or look at it some more -- whatever your emotion told you to in the moment! Again, just like an animal would. This is what presence is all about -- getting back to a state of natural awareness.

Quote
At this point eyes are no more relaxed as in step 3.

Actually at one point I noticed if I look at the overlay and then look at the environment I would come present quicker. When you look at the overlay eyes become centralized. But the benefit was not so radical I would do it every time.

I've tossed out anything to do with overlays, now, regarding this particular presence method. Consider this entire post as replacing the "presence walks" chapter in the book. Steps 2 and 3 above eradicate overlays completely, and that is their design (and they work, and have had so much field-testing by myself now that I would basically guarantee it). If you are experiencing overlays, it means you're not doing either step 2, 3 or 4. Practice is essential, of course.

Regarding overlays, there is only one meditation I do now whereby I am even conscious of them, and that is the sitting breath meditation. I keep my attention on my breath, and as overlays arise, I simply allow them to detach from me, and I let them go. This is probably the most powerful meditation of all for general psychological well-being and a clear mind, because, once "let go", the thought really can just disappear into the aether and not bother you again. This is currently the only sitting meditation I do. It takes some practice before you can consistently let thoughts (or "overlays") go like this. Additionally, some thoughts are "sticky" in that they are harder to let go, and can take several passes. This is more true the more the thought touches upon your most basic biology. E.g. a hunger thought would be very difficult to let go. Intense love for a woman is hard to let go. Yet, they can all be let go. Development of the skill is completely reflective of the time you spend practising. Personally, I do 30-60 minutes breath meditation most days.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 12:35:20 AM by Illuminatus »

AJM

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Re: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2012, 09:01:14 AM »
Thanks for the clarification. You even answered some questions I was about to ask just now. :)

I've actually replaced the sitting overlay meditations with the PPM breathing meditation. I do this mostly when I wake up in the morning for 10-15 minutes and then if I have time also after work. Although my general meditation practice tends to look something like this now:
Wake up
Cold shower and immediately afterwards PPM breathing meditation for 10-15 minutes.
Go to work.
At work doing the 6R mindfulness method, stack-sitting and sometimes a little standing TRE if needed. Although I have to revise this now to include the new presence method, equinimity and diaphragmatic breathing when needed.
Get off work
About 3-4 times a week I'll do the full TRE method with vocalizing and then go for a presence walk or do the PPM breathing meditation or both. Depending on how much time and motivation I have.
I should add some equinimity meditations, diaphragmatic breathing and happiness meditation from the book here.
Before going to sleep
Not doing any meditation at the moment. Maybe I should do a 15 minute PPM breathing meditation.

Stratos

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Re: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 12:38:01 AM »
Wow this is actually harder to do than it sounds. After a few seconds most of the time thought intrudes or distractions. I was able to do it on my couch and have it turn into convulsive TRE's from my midsection upon combining all the stops. Even just combining a few of the steps can be a challenge. However if I "hold" it for a while it feels like a release and lighter sensation similar to after TRE's.

aelephant

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Re: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2012, 01:24:01 PM »
I've posted this before (maybe multiple times) but I've found that humming or sighing or moaning also helps to turn off the sub-vocalizations. This doesn't have to be audible; it seems like you can even "imagine" the humming sound & it will override sub-vocalizations.

What I will do is sort of moan on in- and out-breaths "mmmmmmmmmmhm".

AJM

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Re: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2012, 04:32:28 PM »
I have to say after one day at work and then after some grocery shopping this method is simple yet very effective. Truly life changing stuff. Can't thank Illuminatus enough for putting this up! :)

Illuminatus

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Re: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2012, 05:17:52 PM »
I've posted this before (maybe multiple times) but I've found that humming or sighing or moaning also helps to turn off the sub-vocalizations. This doesn't have to be audible; it seems like you can even "imagine" the humming sound & it will override sub-vocalizations.

What I will do is sort of moan on in- and out-breaths "mmmmmmmmmmhm".

This is true, and I believe humming releases opioids. Humming features in many meditation disciplines (e.g. "Ommm").

I have also noticed that many nervous people hum audibly to relieve their own tension.

However, this is a crutch. You do not want to be humming all the time. And you don't need to. The method alone will have you process anxiety/nerves in the correct way (allowing the exposure to the emotion to temper your CNS and desensitize it over time) so you do not need to apply band-aids such as humming any more.

Hell, eventually you won't even need to do this method much. It will be largely automatic.

Nihanobac

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Re: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2012, 07:41:09 PM »
Just went for a walk and tried this. Steps 2 and 3 really go a long way to removing thought, but I still found myself thinking random shit or playing songs in my head over and over again. I guess I need to put more focus on step 4.

Do you actually focus your eyes on things that happen to be in the center and far enough away, or do you just gaze into the center and perceive whatever happens to be there?

Illuminatus

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Re: How to Become Present (Ultra-Quick Guide)
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2012, 07:59:22 PM »
Just went for a walk and tried this. Steps 2 and 3 really go a long way to removing thought, but I still found myself thinking random shit or playing songs in my head over and over again. I guess I need to put more focus on step 4.

Do you actually focus your eyes on things that happen to be in the center and far enough away, or do you just gaze into the center and perceive whatever happens to be there?

Well it's strange and hard to describe but I've found that the eyes just kind of naturally adapt into a "gaze" focus whereby even if something is up close they can still see it perfectly well without straining or doing an inspecting "hard focus". Really, I slip into this state so readily now, that I tend to let the eyes do whatever they want. They generally just look at whatever's moving in the visual field, or at new scenery which takes their interest.


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