Miami - May 2023
Info on private session
अथ योगानुशासनम् ॥ १.१॥
"Now (that you are serious) I will relay to you these teachings"
We began our discussion with a seemingly unimpressive Sanskrit sloka (verse) from the 3rd century and particularly just the first word from that sloka.
"Atha" = now
The idea here was that at some point in our life, and we are blessed if that is sooner then later, we get to a point where we feel, 'now' I will begin my real work here, now I will feed my deeper purpose.
3. What is our "Now"
Then the question arises what is our "atha", what is our "now I will begin"?
Often this atha becomes clearer in moments of crises or transition. After a heart attack or a divorce or loss of a loved one we come into this terrain of refining our purpose or the things we spend our emotional energy on.
4. Cougar Footprint
I then spoke about the ways we often avoid these deeper questions, or this deeper type of intimacy with our lives. I used the example of a cougar footprint. (by the way they eventually caught the cougar on a trail cam and not only was it quite large it was also totally black. A rare male panther that had about a 200 square mile territory in Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona.)
I talked about how I covered up the cougar footprint and went into denial and repression because I didnt want to face reality.
5. Triggers and Defenses
We looked at what triggers us into this denial. Besides cougars I mentioned having to call tech support as something that shuts my system down. I suggested first finding your most common triggers. Second I mentioned finding your most common defenses. These typically fall into three categories of fight, flight, or freeze.
I mentioned that the common ways these show up for us are usually, anger, busyness, or dissociating.
6. You Cant Numb Selectively
We looked at how these three defenses are really a way of numbing and that when we numb one area of our life we usually numb other areas and begin to lose access to joy.
7. Grief and Grieving
We looked at the possibility that grief and joy; heartbreak and joy are intertwined. One unexpected access route into joy and intimacy with life is related to our capacity to actually feel heartbreak. We defined grief as "being called on to let go of something before we are ready to". It is usually some variation of grief that sends us into numbness and defenses. Thus the more we can learn to feel ourselves as vulnerable and heartbroken at times the more access we have to a kind of dynamic joy. This is the proposal and the hypothesis to be tested.
8. Liminal Endurance
As a practical way of working with this, besides beginning to get acquainted with ones triggers and defenses, we talked about beginning to increase what I call liminal endurance. And again the liminal endurance we are talking about here is around emotions.
Liminal Endurance - The ability to be present in ambiguous spaces and situations without latching onto ideology or others for comfort.
"When a person is able to remain in mysteries, uncertainties and doubts without any irritable grasping after fact or reason."
9. Two Techniques
Lastly I talked about two ways of building the liminal endurance muscle.
- Pain x Resistance = Suffering - We explored this idea in relation to me dealing with infidelity and realizing that much of my suffering was coming from resistance and therefor deciding to combat that resistance above all else. In other words I decided that it was no use pretending reality wasn't real or blaming others for that reality. Instead I said to myself, 'ok this is how reality is arising for me right now, whats the fastest way to combat the resistance that is causing me suffering."
- No Meaning Making in Liminal Spaces - Often times our attempt to "understand" liminal spaces in the moment is really a way of trying to get out of that liminal space. i.e. resistance. I gave the example of my "no deep thought" rule where between the hours of 10pm - 5am I don't entertain deep or anxious thoughts in my mind. BUT, it doesn't mean I don't engage those thoughts ever. Just not in the height of liminal times, which the middle of the night is. Why is this important? Usually right before a reactive pattern takes us over we are in a liminal/groundless state. By strengthening the muscle of being in the unknown we are also reducing reactivity. Or to say it another way, when we increase our ability to being comfortable with being uncomfortable, we begin to move out of reactive patterning and can respond more dynamically and authentically to life. From reactivity to responsiveness.
- Dedicate to 40 days a minimum of 3 mins. and then re-evaluate and recommit to another round.
- Learn to differentiate between meditation (learning stability of attention on both compelling objects and non-compelling objects) and meditative (anything which calms or regulates the nervous system).
- Gene Simmons and Richard Simmons - Begin to learn how to balance a more masculine yang energy and a more feminine yin energy in your practice. David Goggins the amazing motivational speaker and author might really struggle, I imagine, with finding his way into any of the higher stages of meditation because they require a very strong ability to tolerate vulnerability. It took me a long, long time to realize I couldn't muscle my way through meditation. I had to risk vulnerability, I had to risk letting go of control, not apply more control.
- Keep your curiosity and your discipline close together. Meditation is not always fun and it definitely is not always relaxing! But there are incredible depths of the heart and mind that await discovery. Stay curious.
- Some of us are Christian or Jewish or Muslim, or atheist or secular, etc. What ever your beliefs are you can carry them with you into your meditation practice. In other words there are a lot of different kinds of meditation, find a system or teacher that resonates with you and let yourself risk deepening.