So long as I'm paid, whaddah I care?
Shhhh!! Whadda ya tryin' here, to ruin my REP-u-TAY-shun?!!
Word Wars IV: A New Hope...

"An image arises of a wall, a fence, a door, ... a border crossing, with the line being sharp and distinct."

Well, I only have myself to blame, since I started this by saying "no, it's more like *this* from where I'm sitting..." (though I tried to include irony in my tone of keyboard) but let's not get into universalising our own experiences ;) - I'm comfortable with you being uncomfortable with "to", so long as you're comfortable with me being comfortable with "to" - since it doesn't do all that wall-fence-door stuff for me. I don't assume any sharp transitions, but also no reason to assume it won't feel like a change of state, at least in retrospect - and I'm really way more interested in the journey anyway, since that's the only part I'm certain about :).

So by all means, you can be on the door (wherever that is), but I'm dancin' across the prairie!

I was just riffing off of your post, that's all. You see, *I* have this concern, this worry, that *some* folks will get themselves into an unfortunate bind (knot) by envisioning Dharma practice, meditation, sadhana (spiritual practice) as a journey somewhere else, when in reality the journey is simply further into one's own true nature -- or into the awareness and experience of that already existing fact / reality. Oftentiimes, folks combine this notion with the notion that they have to "get rid of" part/s of themselves -- and so they go to war within themselves. And I find this a particularly counterproductive approach to the journey. I wasn't saying that YOU were doing this. I just wanted to have my concern expressed. That's all. Your post evoked that concern, even if that evocation was entirely unrelated to your writing's intention.

Furthermore, all my chit-chat about selling my "wisdom" was nothing more than mildly caustic giggle rousing.
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I don't assume any sharp transitions, but also no reason to assume it won't feel like a change of state, at least in retrospect

Here's how I see it (But I could certainly be wrong!): I already possess, albeit in limited degree and proportion, those qualities which are the qualities folks have been calling "enlightenment". So do you, and so does everyone else -- in differing degrees and proportions.

The primary attribues of "enlightenment" are, as I see things now, (a) lovingkindness and (b) mindful awareness. Each of these, when practiced effectively and in combination, bring about more enlightenment, which is to say more of these two. And the more one has of these two the more freely this whole directional trend of growth and development (unfolding) is likely to unfold. Only when we get in the way of these two qualities of "awakeness," when we contract awareness, compassion, etc., do we apply brakes on the "journey" of "enlightenment" -- which might be better called "enlightening," since I doubt there is a terminal conclusion to the process.

Of course, my model (which I've borrowed from others) goes a long way toward eliminating the whole Worshiped Guru projective fantasy that too many folks get caught up in. It also allows us to meet our favorite teachers face to face, as -- ultimately -- equals. This diminishes all kinds of idealizational fantasies which prevent us from seeing ourselves and others in a true light.
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It caught me by surprise to have an old, old button pushed by what you wrote - the "whatever you say, it's not good enough!" button, and nothing to do with what you actually said - well, almost nothing! Since I haven't yet successfully unpushed this button again, I can't converse sensibly about this, it'll just be toads and snakes coming out of my keyboard. I know this to be so because I've just deleted a whole bayou of them.
... it'll just be toads and snakes coming out of my keyboard. I know this to be so because I've just deleted a whole bayou of them.


I know just what you mean, brother.
River, whether I agree with what you wrote or not, I'm very confident of your positive motive for writing it :).

Charlie, part of what caused this reaction in me is that because of PTSD symptoms I've been working with since last summer, I've lost the ability to meditate for more than a minute at a time for the moment, and it's clear that this makes me envious of people who can meditate, and feel easily "judged" by them. It's not easy, not being able to do something after 20 years of benefiting from it - so sometimes I throw my toys out of the cot!
Yoxi, thank you for explaining the earlier tone of discourse; I am so sorry that you have bear such frustration.

If it pleases you, I am interested to understand what aspects of PTSD are inhibiting your meditation, and also, how have you practiced meditation in the past?

And toys...I love to see toys scattered all over the floor. It usually means something was happening.
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Thanks, Charlie (me and River have smoothed over my cracking-up off grid :))

The PTSD symptoms I'm dealing with are: hypervigilance, insomnia, inability to concentrate, skin and digestion trouble, mild occasional paranoia (see above, sigh...) and are in a sense very welcome, because they heralded some painful stuff finally surfacing. They're more and more manageable, and the stuff they heralded is becoming more and more pellucid.

My meditation practice for the last 20 years (the "official part" as opposed to the just getting on with it during the day part) has been contemplation of my breathing, cultivation of loving kindness, and a visualisation practice, as the "sitting still with closed eyes" practices, and alongside of all that a lot of walking meditation.

What I've found since last summer is that even if I'm somewhere really safe on my own, sitting still with closed eyes means just listening to an inner voice repeating "this isn't safe! this isn't safe!" - and that's without the panic and lack of concentration issues. Sitting even in a house that I know someone else is in is not a goer.

However, I've discovered over the last few days that instead of "trying to meditate" - you know, that thing I know I can't do - I'm just catching my attention every so often during the day, and welcoming mindfulness or loving kindness as I need it. This is opening something up, which is both painful (which is why my mind wants me to avoid it) and a relief. So in aggregate I'm doing okay, and getting some new confidence in being able to work creatively with my mind in difficult circumstances. Meanwhile, I'm not too bad at apologising :-/
In case anyone is wondering, Yoxi and I "met" here in this forum a couple of years ago and have been communicating regularly throughout those years. He lives in England and I live in the U.S., so we have had to make do with words where often hugs and silence were called for. They've been very good words, and I count Yoxi among my dearest of friends, ever. ... Well, this explains our taking our conversation "off grid" from time to time.

I'll have something to say about meditation sometime soon. Well, I'll say this much for now.: I sat only moments ago. That falling through space thing happened and I maintained awareness of my breath right through it, so it wasn't that worrisome. I discovered I could welcome this sensation with ease and without fear(!). So ... Yay!
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What I've found since last summer is that even if I'm somewhere really safe on my own, sitting still with closed eyes means just listening to an inner voice repeating "this isn't safe! this isn't safe!" - and that's without the panic and lack of concentration issues. Sitting even in a house that I know someone else is in is not a goer.

Hi Yoxi,

{{{Hugs}}} for what you're going through.

Would this help...............

Part of the training and understanding of meditation is the ability to disconnect and be the 'observer'. This 'observer' is the TRUE self. It has the capacity to observe, acknowledge these thoughts and emotions as being present but NOT ATTACH to them. I'm sure you understand this ?

The 'observer' can take the thought/emotion of "this isn't safe" and simply note is as "interesting". An "interesting" little chemical reaction taking place in our brain that has OBVIOUSLY no connection to reality. It's fine. Two tbsp of water, 3 of vinegar, one of lemon juice - this is what you get ! :) A "thought" made of nothing more than vapor. Interesting formation - but no real substance.

Practicing this skill and understanding is how we reprogram our brains to chemically balance the way they are supposed to. It's a little slow at first sometimes but can snowball pretty quickly. First thing we know, we look back and say "Wow - that used to REALLY bother me - wonder when exactly that stopped" !

Best wishes to you and keep focused.

Actually, this doesn't really help (though I appreciate the spirit in which you've offered it) - and the reason why is that body and mind are not separate, but mutually causal.

One of the things that goes on with PTSD is that the part of the brain that is active when cultivating mindfulness is exactly the same part that does hypervigilance in PTSD. It's a well recognised issue for people with PTSD who also want to meditate, because they pretty much can't do it - it's not just me :) - the biomachinery is too locked in 'safe mode'.

So in a certain sense, when I read what you wrote it felt a bit like being told "Broken leg? You just have to set it and let it knit and then it'll be fine" - true, but not at all relevant to dealing with being someone with a broken leg right now. For sure, as the 'observer' you can be unattached to the pain, but that still doesn't mean you can walk on it. I can know full well that the panic I experience is a product of neurochemistry, but I still experience it fully and somatically, because panic of this kind is designed to function on the amygdalic level and get you out of fatal danger before your 'reason' gets you killed by hesitating. In practice, what happens when I sit with my panic is that I become more aware of it, and it increases (like listening to your tinnitus).

Now I know that's not what you were saying, that's just how I responded - but it's kind of like those Balans office chairs that are only good for your back if your back is already pretty healthy. Your advice would be useful if I were dealing with much more attenuated symptoms than I am (a charley horse instead of a fracture :)).

So. I'm doing what I can to retrain my mind/body chemistry out of the PTSD behaviour it's got into (bearing in mind that it has a 42-year head start on me, since that's when the situations that brought this on originally began to program my mind and body); but in the meantime, I'm having to find a completely different approach to getting around on mind-crutches, and this recent approach I mentioned above seems to be bearing fruit. This is a creative development for my meditation in any case, so I'm happy with what I've got, since it's way better than nothing, and way better than trying to sit with the panic and getting overwhelmed by it. I am confident that what I'm doing will aid my other approaches to overcoming the PTSD symptoms. And my background of practice and way of living in general has enabled me to contain the worst excesses of what the panic wants me to run towards/away from. Even at its worst, it hasn't been a complete nightmare, just the best part of one - and it's eased off a lot since its peak in September, when I spent a month feeling like I was on bad speed.

If this sounds a little defensive/aggressive (I can't tell if it does, but knowing what I'm like at the moment, it seems pretty likely :(), then don't take it personally, please! It's just that since all this really kicked in last summer (and since I realised I've been living with PTSD Lite for decades already), I've had a lot of well-meaning advice from people who have never experienced this, a lot of which boiled down in the end to "you should just do whatever my favourite theory/practice is, and you'll get over it" and has been given to me by people who are largely uncomfortable with what I'm going through and haven't been able just to sit with the reality of it with me, instead of trying to "fix" it. And since that also describes my own relationship to it until recently, I've tried to follow their suggestions and just got more alienated instead (and felt worse for 'failing'). So I'm keeping a certain safe distance from others' suggestions thee days, since my own creative approach is still a delicate sapling at the moment.

I'm very lucky to have a good friend who has been dealing with worse PTSD symptoms than me for over 20 years now, because we both "get" each other's experience, and can help each other negotiate it when we get too overidentified with one particular aspect of it - without competing, and without trying to fix each other.

To me, the middle way, then, is to be able to experience what's really happening: to neither push parts of it away (try to fix the parts I don't like) nor get swamped/overwhelmed by it (overidentify with just one part of my experience). The "what's really happening" is that my neurochemistry has me in a state of constant mild-to-medium panic, and I can't turn that off, and I need (and now newly have) something good and spacious and loving running alongside of that experience, as and when moments arise where I'm able to cultivate that. Good enough :).
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Thanks for sharing all of that, Yoxi. You have me wanting to dig in and read a lot more about PTSD.

Apparently, your PTSD is more pronounced at present than at earlier times, which is a curious thing. Have you any thoughts about why? (I said it seems more pronounced recently because you'd been more successfully practicing meditation at earlier times [right?].)
Yes, it's like it was rumbling along at an almost unconscious level for decades, informing how I reacted in certain situations (like sharing rooms/space, and sex, and, well, any situation where I didn't have 'control over my environment'), but last summer it jumped several levels, in terms of both intensity and of my being aware of it, and the familiarity of it has made it really obvious in retrospect how much it's been present all along, and steering me around.

Meditation has never been easy, but my strongest motive for doing it the way I was doing it was (until fairly recently) that of wanting other people's approval, so that weighed much more than my own self-preservation. I can remember numerous occasions where I didn't want to do it but was following the crowd. And my 'best' meditation experiences have always been when I was on my own. So in an ironic way, this recent uprising of the PTSD symptoms is an indicator of me being much more connected with my own well-being than with others' approval, at last :).

Also, what was going on until recently was way less biochemical/limbic, so it affected me more emotionally and much less physically. I'm inclined to say I have PTSD symptoms rather than "I have PTSD" because it's just a label and I don't particularly want to get entangled with it. Sometimes it's more straightforward (or handy shorthand) just to say that's what I "have" - but all I really have is a set of symptoms with a set of causes, and that's what I'm interested in - the causes and how to undo them, the symptoms and how to contain them.
There's much you say I can resonate with -- e.g., the part about putting other people's approval over one's own deeper, truer needs. And I think I probably have a milder case of some of those symptoms you speak of. (I never knew when my mother was going to hit me, so I flinched whenever her arm would move -- and it started leaking out into the wider world so that I'd flench when other people moved their arms! Etc.) [flench or flinch? hmm.]
Jack Kornfield was just quoting Mark Twain in an online video I was watching.... I decided to share the quote.:

"My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened." -- Mark Twain

Make with it what you will.