Insight Meditation Houston

Howie Cohn’s Question

Insights from a Retreat

  • Insights from Howie Cohn retreat
  • Agenda
    • At some level the dharma is very simple – BUT we are all different, we are different stages of the journey and the instructions about meditation to the beginner and the 20 year meditator need to be different.
    • Meditation with “old” instructions – ask for observations
    • Share insights from the Howie Cohn retreat
    • Meditation again with altered instructions.
    • Discussion –
  • Do the following Meditation
    • Focus on your nostrils and feel the breath coming in out.
    • It’s OK if your mind winders just let go of the thought and bring your focus back to your breath.
    • Notice how you feel when your mind wanders.
    • Count each time your mind wanders. See if you can do it less than 3 times in next 3 minutes.
    • Notice how you feel when your mind wanders.
  • Howie: There are a lot of beautiful birds here.  You can focus on the sounds of the birds.
    • I focused on the beautiful and soothing sounds of the birds and it was a beautiful symphony that I could hear for hours and it really helped me focus. Meditation was wonderful.
    • Realization 1 – Any point of focus and concentration is supportive – Not just your breath. Birds
      • Caveat – at some point it might be nice to be able to focus on your breath because birds aren’t always there.
    • Q&A – Realization 2
      • Student Comment: I was told that if you focus your attention on your 3rd eye and keep it focused there your thoughts will stop.
      • My thought: “Wow, what a great idea!”
      • Teacher response: “Why do you want your thoughts to stop?”
      • I don’t like when my thoughts interrupt my meditation!
      • Realization: I can develop a different relationship to those thoughts and change the way that I feel about myself.
    • My reaction to the Q&A:
      • I have always known that we “shouldn’t” label and condemn our thoughts.
      • I also know that while meditating I am never pleased when I am distracted by thoughts. I might say to myself “It’s just a thought”, but underneath there is always a sense of disappointment and failure.
      • I thought: what would meditation be like if I was just as pleased by a thought arising as I was of the bird singing?
      • What is stopping me from responding to the thoughts with “radical acceptance”?
      • After meditation when I am trying to be mindful, I am often distracted by thoughts.
      • If I could see those thoughts like a bird’s song, my sense of self and life would alter dramatically.
    • Why thoughts are “bad”? The chain reaction
      • Negative circumstances. Red Light
      • Thoughts – Labeling and Judging – “This is bad”
      • Emotions – Anger
      • Blame – Lousy lights, Why didn’t I leave earlier. Traffic stinks in Houston
      • Physiological – adrenaline – blood pressure.
      • Reactivity – get mad enough you do something stupid. Drive recklessly when the light changes.
    • The Middle way – find this balance – Nuanced – Not simple – No easy answers
      • Radical Acceptance – Hey Dude that’s Ok you are only human!!!
        • Radically accept all of these: thinking, judging, labeling, reacting, emotions, hatred anger jealousy.
      • Right Intention – Right Effort
        • Continually do your practice on a regular basis
        • GOAL IS CONSCIOUSNESS – JUST NOTICING THE FLOW.
        • Work up to 40 minutes a day
        • You will alter your physiology
        • Stopping reactivity becomes natural
        • BUT UNTIL YOU ARE THERE YOU NEED RADICAL ACCEPTANCE TO GET THERE.
      • The middle way by example
        • You will have thoughts, don’t then have thoughts about why you shouldn’t have thoughts.
        • You will get angry, don’t get angry that you are angry.
        • The middle way is balancing accepting (not expecting to be perfect) with intentionality ( continually being striving and optimistic that you will become more and more conscious)
        • Equanimity, contentment – neither joy or sadness nor use of crutches.
      • Comparison – My experience
        • Tibetan Meditation
          • Helps beginners get focused more easily
          • Sadhana’s prayers, songs, visualizations inspirational alter your

disposition.

  • Insight Meditation
    • Cultivates mindfulness most effectively
    • Most helpful for awareness. (You can’t do mantras and listen to other people talk)
  • Rationalizing Acceptance – I thought about my thoughts:
    • Anxiety: There is within mechanisms (neural networks) created to protect me.   All the anxious thoughts are generated to protect us from “tragedy”.   Don’t those thoughts deserve to be loved and cherished?
    • Anger: The thoughts of anger are often generated based on a sense of injustice.
    • While acting on the anger could be problematic, being angry at the anger would not make things better.
    • While anxious thoughts do cause anxiety, fighting those anxious thoughts might produce more anxiety.
    • Embracing all thoughts without judgment and labeling could be called:
      • Radical Acceptance.
      • Non Preferential Awareness
    • A positive disposition
  • Sally Kempton – Meditation for the love it
    • Try different things.
    • Make meditation Fun
  • Book: “How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything: A Workbook”
    • The way we treat our thoughts are the way we treat ourselves.
  • JKZ
    • Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”
    • Aren’t thoughts , and afflicted emotions Anger, jealousy, hatred, guilt shame are all part of the unfolding of experience
    • “The path is the goal.”
  • Second Meditation
    • Pick anything that you want to focus on.
      • Your nostrils, Sounds, Thoughts, Visualize a loved one and wish them well
    • Switch to a different point of focus whenever you want.
    • When a thought arises
      • Welcome the thought with joy
      • Treat it like an honored guest
      • Smile at your dear friend the thought
      • Wish it a safe journey
      • Refocus on anything you want
    • No matter
      • what you are focusing on
      • How often you are distracted
      • See if you can feel that you are doing meditation correctly
      • Continually make sure that you are feeling contentment and equanimity
      • If you get carried away with emotions, love yourself in spite of it. Accept your emotions
    • Questions
      • Describe the relationship to your thoughts for meditation one vs meditation two.
        • Did you feel like you are competing?
        • Do you set up expectations for your meditations?
      • What are the advantages disadvantages to the new approach?
      • Which went better meditation one or two?
      • What would your life be like if you were mindful of the relationship to your thoughts all day long and really accepted the thoughts the way you accept a bird singing?

 

  • Be a lamp unto yourself? There is a middle way
    • It is different than Insight Meditation standard or
    • But It is from experience.
    • It is dangerous! It goes against 2,000 year teachings
    • Find a balance between what make sense to you and what is accepted dogma
    • When you are beginning, when you are having trouble there are some different approaches that might help you get started but at some point go back to the traditional instructions.
Advertisements