Mailbag: Mother Issues and Practising Happiness

Mother Issues

One of my students emailed me the following question. Note that he has been practising concentration meditation for the last year or so.

Anonymous wrote:

Hey, I woke up today and was feeling kinda shitty but then had some coffee and felt much better. As I was about to head to the library and do some homework, my mom walked into the house and greeted me in a completely non-confrontational way and I instantly got really really pissed off.  I had the sudden realization that I frequently get pissed off when she talks to me, even if whatever manner she addressed me in is completely neutral, and this time I had this feeling where I got so pissed off I could actually feel tears forming behind my eyes (I almost never cry.) Any idea what this means, or any thoughts on it?

It’s normal. This is your “stuff” rising up. It can be worked through. I cannot advise a “general” method for working through such things, because I only have my own experience. However, I can tell you exactly how I did it.

Firstly, when the pattern fires that makes you feel upset with her, immediately relieve it using a “fall”, particularly on the abdomen and upper legs: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/basic-anxiety/#2-fall-muscles. If you have trouble getting tensed muscles to “fall”, practise a visualization in your spare time of yourself being pushed backwards out of an aeroplane.

You should feel a tingling sensation in your face while falling. There will also probably be some REM. This is suspending the old response pattern. After a few falls, particularly while interacting with my mother, I found the old pattern was eroded enough to begin building a new one. In its place you want “being happy” and “not minding her”. So, smile and interact as though she is not pissing you off, often while continuing to fall the old pattern.

I don’t know how better to explain the above; it is exactly how I did it. I was able to tangibly turn around my relationship with my mother.

I don’t know if you or anyone else will be able to copy that method. The “fall” however is one of the best interrupts I have found for digging out and destroying old patterns. I wiped huge swathes of negative responses including tons of anxiety, in many different situations, in just a few days after figuring out that tech. It is one of my best techs, and everyone should give it a huge, dedicated try if they are trying to mash up or remove old unhelpful emotional response patterns.

Secondly, to repair the relationship with my mum, I went through lots of difficult times together with her, such as my stepdad dying. Since I had already suspended the “resentful child” patterns (using the above tech), I could build new ones which related to her as a person. I think everyone needs to move through phases of relating to their parents. Ultimately you want to move out of the “child” views and come to see them as just people — then eventually come back in with the ability to choose how you relate to them. To be able to view your parents as “just people” requires suspending the old child relationship patterns. The above is exactly how I did. It takes time to arrive at a new relationship. I doubt I would have been able to do it without that fall tech though — that was the gateway to lots of rewiring, for me.

Practising Happiness

A few weeks ago I had an in-depth conversation with Vick in the comments section of my last Mailbag. It started out discussing nootropics but then moved onto deeper life issues. That thread is worth a read and provides the background for the below, where I would like to answer Vick’s final question here in this week’s Mailbag. Here are the pertinent snippets:

Vick wrote:

Normally I just feel fatigue, foggy mind, “wobbly” attention during meditation almost as if I’m drifting to sleep.
If I go out to the mall or just run errands I feel completely drained afterwards.
Even while at the gym and lifting weights I still feel mentally tired.

I wrote:

I think those symptoms are just a lack of the reward circuit being turned on regularly enough. I think this is also the cause of “ME” (chronic fatigue syndrome).

I had to completely reprogram my worldview before beginning to experience the pleasure circuit regularly, i.e, from waking onwards throughout the day. For me this came from realizations like, “This is it.” There had to come some ability to take pleasure in the most mundane aspects of reality. Even up until 7 weeks ago I was still searching for that in substances. Now I’m happy every day without them.

I think basic premises — the fundamental assumptions one makes about reality — are the basis of a happy life.

Vick wrote:

True, I don’t find much pleasure in life.

[…]

How does one find pleasure in the most mundane aspects of reality?

Again, I cannot give a general method here, but only describe exactly how I achieved this — and hope that others can apply it.

Firstly, there are a couple of mantras I picked up from PPM members. These are things I had started to realize but which were put incredibly succinctly by those members to the extent that I could begin using them as the basis of a new worldview.

“This is it.”

–Lampa

Lampa used to take lots of LSD and meditate regularly until she got the message that “this is it” — meaning, as far as the human experience goes, what you have right now is the extent of it. When it comes to running away from the present and trying to get to a safer/better/more satisfying future, this mantra stops you dead. It is also said by Ingram repeatedly in Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha.

The reason this was so important for me is that it underlined the implicit drive behind much of human behaviour, especially in the modern world, which is one of assuming there is some other place out there — always an idealized version of reality where suffering does not exist– which you have to get to. Life becomes about escaping the place you are in and trying to flee to this grass-is-always-greener “other side”. Regular consumption of substances is a sure-fire symptom you are doing this: either the mental/emotional state induced by the drugs is the “greener pasture”, or you think they will somehow give you the skill or insight to help you reach that greener pasture. In this sense, drugs are viewed as a neurochemical key to a better kingdom. Buying lottery tickets, or pining after a special girl, are just another couple of examples of this “there is a better reality out there which I have to get to” thinking. But…

“This is it.”

It broke my heart when I started to really absorb that message. In fact, I believe the Dark Night stages of insight meditation are all connected to the dismantling and abandoning of these notions of a reality free from suffering accessible to you in your lifetime. (That’s not to say there aren’t some more amazing experiences available to you here — rather that trying to get at them from a place of fear is just going to extend an experience of fearful striving.)

When I started really, really absorbing this message, I would find myself cycling through the gloom of loss of the dream but then arriving at a mindset of spontaneous interest in the bizarre intricacies of the present moment. For example, while walking to work, I might find myself drifting into thoughts of a future fantasy-land, followed by my hopes being dashed upon remembering “this is it”, then followed by the strange mental prompt: “Well, if none of that stuff actually exists, what do we have right here, right now, then?” — followed by my looking down and taking note of a puddle at my feet in the road. Upon closer examination I might then find I could “see-feel” the molecules and all the weighty insight that made up that puddle. This was not done in a Dawkinsesque “marvelling at the wonders of science” kind of way,  and in fact there was no mental effort involved at all. This way of seeing the world was rather a natural product of temporarily giving up mental preoccupations with the future. The puddle really looked like a hologram. It tended to shimmer. I found it fundamentally satisfying, like a dream is. 

I’m not saying having strange visual phenomena is a prerequisite of happiness; but finding satisfaction with things in the present moment certainly is, because the experience of finding satisfaction is… the experience of finding satisfaction. Your experience right now is the experience you are having. With the future gone, you just have now. So experience being satisfied, and practise that. This brings me to the second mantra:

“You are what you repeat.”

–James, a.k.a. WetWaterDrop

We can take time out of the equation when speaking in non-dual about the present moment, but coming back to the human experience for practicality’s sake, an easy rule to remember is that what you experience regularly, you will tend to get more of. So feeling good regularly will tend to arise more situations where you feel good. This is a result of fractal causality. A fractal repeats, whether those repeats be in larger or smaller versions of themselves. The illusion of time arises from walking around the fractal’s edge. So the experience of feeling good intentionally may be a local smaller fractal form of a larger “feeling good” situation just around the corner.

Even if you don’t believe in any of this, on some level you probably realize that happy people tend to get more happiness, and you cannot deny that feeling good is better than feeling weak and shitty, so practising the former as a use of your time makes logical sense since the time is going to pass anyway. This decision led to my smile tech:

  1. Get in the Alexander Technique lying pose, exactly as the above.
  2. While smiling, breathe in through your nose (yellow arrow). Imagine the wave starting at your feet and pulling up through your entire body, filling your chest, and hitting the crown of your head on the inside of your skull.
  3. While smiling, breathe out through your mouth (red arrow) while whispering the word, “Ahhhhh!” Imagine the air passing out in a straight line upwards from your chest.

I began practising this for 20-30 minutes each day before going to work. I also continued practising this while walking on the way to work. This had profound effects in conditioning me towards smiling, feeling good and relaxing. It reconditions fascia into a “happy form”.

I also found this was an easy gateway to jhana. The attention is placed on the breath via the exercise of coordinating the breath in the above fashion. While doing this, the breath is naturally your “object”.

I added the “hit the crown of the head inside the skull” bit when I noticed that this, for me, triggered an Arising & Passing Away very easily. I have since gone on to begin mapping the body dynamics of each of the Stages of Insight in order that one’s experience is more customizable by using such triggers as one wishes.

This all came from just lying down to practise feeling good. There is plenty to learn from such things. And the habit of feeling good became ingrained very quickly. There is a lot that can be done in this area.

Regarding the future, my mindset has mellowed now. I have thoughts of an enjoyable future because creating such things is part of our experience here. However, the difference is I am not doing it from a mindset of fleeing and trying to get to somewhere better. I’m happy with the present moment and the future is more a series of “What if?” questions, which is the way it’s supposed to be.

The above is exactly how I answered the question, “I don’t find much pleasure in life. How does one find pleasure in the most mundane aspects of reality?” It is a choice and that is how I made and executed the choice. I hope it helps someone!

 

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11 Responses

  1. Danny says:

    Great piece. Superb tech, especially useful at this time of year which tends to bring up all kinds of emotional stuff to deal with.

  2. Nick says:

    The ‘falling away’ tech that you described sounds really interesting. I’ve let go of a lot of patterns of tension by visualising a stressful situation and using my bodily tension as the object of the jhana as you once suggested. It works well, sometimes quickly, sometimes after a couple of weeks. I really like the idea of basically practising feeling happy, it makes sense. I don’t know if you have ever tried Zhan Zhuang. It’s a standing meditation posture. It was used a lot to prepare students for the martial arts. The goal is to relax as many of your muscles while still standing. All the weight goes into your legs. It’s very hard work, and it’s not unusal to sweat. I do it first hing in the morning, it really strengthens the will, and increase awareness of where your holding on in the body. This is a good introductory text. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Way-Energy-Mastering-Internal-Strength/dp/1856750205/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450786607&sr=1-1&keywords=the+way+of+energy.

  3. Vick says:

    “an idealized version of reality where suffering does not exist” but there is.
    Mentioned in IIH and by Rawn Clark and Robert Bruce (somewhat famous legit sources IMO), you can astraly travel to realms that feel more real than this reality from which you won’t want to back, and if you’re experienced enough you can not come back.

    Also the fact that this is a virtual reality(illusion, maya, human game whatever you want to call it) basically doesnt help much.

    But you’re right, we’re here right now, and there is no point in feeling like shit and resenting reality as it will bring more shit experiences.
    I’ll try the smile tech for a few days and report the results, BTW the regime I’ve been doing since the beginning on the month really helped a lot.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Vick,

      I feel rather like a grandmother being taught to suck eggs, here.

      “Mentioned in IIH and by Rawn Clark and Robert Bruce (somewhat famous legit sources IMO), you can astraly travel to realms that feel more real than this reality from which you won’t want to back, and if you’re experienced enough you can not come back.”

      I’ll deal with the most obvious problems first. If they have experience of being so skilled that they “cannot come back”, how did they come back and write about it? If they heard it from some other entity while there, that information is not part of their own experience so doesn’t count.

      Now I will get into my understanding of things thus far. This is all from my own personal experience. Firstly, you are the Universe. The Universe is infinite so can create infinite subjective realities, where each “sub-experience” has power over the whole, and also has a causal experience where each moment flows into and shapes the next (fractal forms dominating here in the material world). The Universe is infinite so all of these sub-experiences can still “sync up” — they can find themselves interacting with one another in what comes to appear as an objective reality.

      The most basic law of the material world seems to be contrast. So, one thing is always defined by another (even if that “another” is simply the absence of that thing). So, darkness requires light in order to be defined, and vice versa.

      Infinite pleasure is not pleasure as it requires a contrast in order to be defined, e.g. absence of pleasure, or pain, or some other emotion. Similarly, momentary states of satisfaction require a prior state of dissatisfaction in order to be recognized.

      In short, if you astrally travel to another plane where there is no suffering, you are no longer playing the game here in the material world. Perhaps I need to highlight this somewhere on my site, but all my writings and advice are meant to apply only to the material realm.

      So, as soon as you are talking about going off to another realm, you are no longer within the remit of discussing “this lifetime” so what you’re talking about disappears from the scope of this website.

      Now, you can escape to states of great peace, bliss, rapture, and indeed any state you wish, for as long as you wish (with practice), and this is called jhana. Reality is extremely malleable while in jhana. After a particularly bad week, for example, I went to bed and made a resolution to experience 4 days’ sleep that night. I made the intention, entered jhana, then let myself fall asleep. Subjectively, 4 days passed in the course of about 7 hours “Earth time”. I would wake up every couple of hours and reflect on how I had subjectively just experienced an entire 24 hours in bed. Reality is particularly manipulatable in this way during sleep states due to the detachment from the body (your anchor to the material world).

      So, you can in fact have as much escapism, pleasure etc. as you wish, via the act of suggestion alone. A jhana can be seen as a strong and well-practised auto-suggestion for bliss, escape, etc. I recommend people learn how to do this because taking a break from the material world in this way is a welcome relief and knowing one can do it makes “getting down to the business of reality” more enjoyable when you return to the material world.

      So, let’s bring this back to the Universe and what it’s “trying to do”. You are it, experiencing a material existence, as Vick. You are also still just as much the entirety of the Universe. This stuff becomes more and more clear, and is demonstrated to one in more blatant (and often impressive) ways, the more one digs into it (via meditation or whatever). Non-duality experiences are the name of the game, here.

      It’s pointless to try to ascribe traits or “desires” to the Universe as to do so is always — eventually — filtered through human impulses at the end of the investigatory chain. But, you might say, the Universe “wants” to experience contrast, so it allowed a material world to form through causal mechanisms (but fractal causality, of which linear causality can be derived but not vice versa). The “goal” is for Vick to actually have an enjoyable experience here — one where he feels he has enough control to stop it going completely off the rails, but while relinquishing enough control to still keep it exciting/unpredictable. Those are Vick’s goals. However, he is also the entirety of the Universe at every moment so when he makes such goals the Universe is making such goals. (These kinds of explanations only really make sense when one has had strong, consistent non-duality experiences. To everyone else they sound like New Age gobbledegook or solipsism.)

      “Also the fact that this is a virtual reality(illusion, maya, human game whatever you want to call it) basically doesnt help much.”

      It absolutely helps because you only have to truly see through it properly once to have your experience transformed forever. Once you have two or three looks through it, you can begin sitting back and relaxing and enjoying the ride a bit more. (Drug experiences are hit and miss in creating such shifts in mindset because the little nagging voice of doubt can always say, “It was just the drugs!”, even if you can barely hear that voice. Achieving peaks behind the duality curtain without drugs is, in my experience, the only way to get real permanent shifts.) Once you have regular looks at non-duality, the importance you attach to objects and events here in the material world reduces drastically because you now know it is “just a game”. Also, fear of death reduces drastically because one realizes there is no such thing as void since your “consciousness” is everything and will certainly flow into some other experience afterwards, whatever that may be. Well, that’s what I took from it, anyway.

      “BTW the regime I’ve been doing since the beginning on the month really helped a lot.”

      Good, stick with what works. Figuring it out yourself is the way to make the permanent shifts.

      Re the bad moments, you can just remember that they provide the contrast which defines the good moments. This is where a lot of the pithy little mantras from all the religions come from.

      Contrast is also most famously represented visually by Yin & Yang. It is a fundamental concept.

  4. Vick says:

    “I feel rather like a grandmother being taught to suck eggs, here.”
    lol Thanks for the detailed reply!

    “if you’re experienced enough you can not come back.” I meant can stay there, as in can – “not come back”. It was from their personal experience but when Robert Bruce was in such realms he was shot back into his body.
    That comment was directed to–: “The reason this was so important for me is that it underlined the implicit drive behind much of human behavior, especially in the modern world, which is one of assuming there is some other place out there — always an idealized version of reality where suffering does not exist– which you have to get to” – I didn’t realize you were strictly speaking about the physical plane.

    I read a lot about it, how reality works etc but without the experience it didn’t completely “click” and convince my mind as much as I want to believe it.
    As you said doubt creeps in about how maybe I’m just fooling myself. I mean some people are convinced and “know for a fact” that the earth is flat.

    “I went to bed and made a resolution to experience 4 days’ sleep that night” I’ll have to try that.

    I notice more and more my suffering is self made, I try to keep negative chatter to a minimum and collapse meanings I gave to events, sometimes the mind won’t have it lol.

    Anyway, I’m not writing in a depressed tone, just trying to figure it all out.I think until I experience non duality and actually go to the astral\mental planes by myself it will keep bugging me.
    And I’m working on it.

    Also I’m writing this stuff here because I can’t really talk to anyone I know about this stuff, I have a road map and know what I need to do so I’m not complaining (much :D), it’s just nice to talk about it sometimes.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “I mean some people are convinced and “know for a fact” that the earth is flat.”

      Remarkably, the Earth IS flat for them (for their sub-experience). And it’s just as valid as anything you know to be “true” as well.

      This really blows things wide open when you come to realize that things you believe in exist as part of a causal chain and can be changed (i.e. they were handed down to you as part of a causal chain; have you actually been to space and witnessed the round Earth??). Deconstructing “fact” is a major part of this whole thing. Starting to get control of such things is another. E.g. you can find that you think X about something but then shift the experience so that you think Y. With skill you can do that quickly — so quickly you can notice the staggering difference. I’m being intentionally vague there because I don’t want this reply to be about tech (and all techs’ purpose is to do what I just described).

      “Anyway, I’m not writing in a depressed tone, just trying to figure it all out.I think until I experience non duality and actually go to the astral\mental planes by myself it will keep bugging me.”

      I just wanted to say, and I think I should write a post about it sometime, that most of my major realizations happened while in “the material plane” — just normal scenes — usually while being “present” (which, for me, means “placing a jhana” over the whole sensory field). I also had some while just living normally. Point is, weird woo-woo like Daniel Ingram’s jhanas aren’t necessary for such shifts. However I think I should probably write about these “jhanas over everything”. This is where you can look at a scene, i.e. the reality you are in at that moment, e.g. walking to work, then make the entire visual field into the “object”. Everything can then suddenly drop into the middle. My vision becomes extremely clear (whereas usually I have a high prescription). Things take on a holographic look (knowing that only after looking into holograms). It was in those states, which I enter literally every day, that most of these “non-duality” experiences occurred. There are plenty of exceptions to that, e.g. various trances from sitting meditation or whatever, but most of the realizations were made in the everyday world.

      I think you can get a glimpse of the “holographic world” by just taking time to look at your surroundings and trying to get a sense of how they are kind of projected into your awareness. My best comparison is the first time I played a game with really good graphics, which was Unreal. Playing that game was like stepping into another world. It turned out that feeling was available for the everyday world. Look at it in that way. It really is bizarre. If you can do that whenever you want, you will never be short of wonder at the world. This is also what Eckhart Tolle was talking about when he said he sees objects with “space around them”.

      • PsySeducer says:

        When perception isnt’ interfering with sense of self so awearness works by including objects in area of attention not by identyfing with them…that’s just beeing mindfull. Why you always hesitate to call it by name ? 🙂

        • Illuminatus says:

          I have no idea what you just said but it seems like you reduced my experience down to some label so you could wave it in my face like that makes it an attainment. Not interested in that or labelling systems generally. It’s the left brain’s way of tricking itself into thinking it understands the world.

      • Vick says:

        “e.g. you can find that you think X about something but then shift the experience so that you think Y. With skill you can do that quickly — so quickly you can notice the staggering difference”

        I experienced it a little, I read about how the earth is hollow, and there is an advanced civilization living there.
        People said they visited it (astrally), gave a detailed description and even wrote down interviews with the entities there.
        I thought well shit might be true who knows, even if its not entirely in the physical.
        Then I read about how the earth is flat and it’s all just a conspiracy and they had their own evidence. maps and documentaries and explanations for everything.

        I felt when reading both that I was almost being convinced, than I thought I can’t really know anything.

        Also a similar thing happened when I read some alternative news and conspiracy stuff etc. Those people truly believe what they’re saying, that’s their reality, when an event happens every “group” explains it perfectly for it’s own agenda, and it makes total sense, from their point of view.
        There was a point where I felt a bit” overloaded”, reading different points of view one after another and started to question my own sanity a bit lol.

        “I just wanted to say, and I think I should write a post about it sometime, that most of my major realizations happened while in “the material plane” ”

        Yes, because you can enter jhana in pretty much any situation, that changes the game quit a bit.
        Recently I’m having trouble entering jhana even during 1 hour meditation sessions, hopefully it will pass as it already happened before.
        I don’t think the things you experience are available to people who didn’t master the jhanas and\or fruition, so the way you see reality is probably completely different.

        That’s why I want to go through IIH, it seems like a good system for awakening (+you get awesome siddhis and visit amazing realms) and some people who reached the last lessons claim that all he says in the book is true, and I want to believe it.

  5. PsySeducer says:

    When you label and categorize jhanas, it’s also a left brain perspective that helps to make a map, it’s not all 100% instinctive right brain functions.
    So when you said to look at world like a pc game or like when Tolle talks about presence,stillness and space around objects…these are all left brain by the book mindfullnes frames.
    My point is that you kinda disregard them in your explanations. It’s difficult for hard cases to acces a meditative state if theres no left brain mental space created ( mindfulness/presence etc.) to start and fuel them.
    Btw im still playing ut2004 in multiplayer when have time. Happy holidays thals.

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