The 10-second Attention Rule and Meditation

How long can you hold your focused attention?

Ten seconds.  Think about when we watch T.V. or a movie.  A new action, a new flick of movement in front of our mind/eye happens at least every 10 seconds.  Are we training our minds to only be able to hold attention for that brief interval?  Binge watching (I’m guilty of it too) can create such impatience with having to wait longer or hold attention longer.  I notice that when I’m waiting for a webpage to load or even for my coffee to re-heat in the microwave, there is a level of impatience that arises.  C’mon, c’mon, let’s go!  And I don’t notice this impatient behavior sometimes.  Other times, I do and have to speak to myself to slow down, take a few breaths and focus attention within the breath/body.

Crazy, isn’t it?  These expectations we have that can go unnoticed.  Having to sit at a traffic light is sometimes the same way.  Yet, go to a doctor’s office for an appointment and the expectation is that we will have to wait and we may bring a book.

I’ve just been considering the automatic pilot or unconscious tendencies that occur and how binge-watching programs can train our mind to be impatient or less able to fully focus our attention for a longer period of time.  I now notice how 10 and 15-second meditation apps are popular.  Maybe that’s where we’ve gotten to as a general populace?  Who knows?  I am only speculating on all this.  If one does make a practice of binge-watching programs, one probably should spend an equal amount of practice holding focus and attention for longer periods in meditation.

Advertisements

Cultivating Pre-set Mindstates

Creating a Meditative Default or Preselected Option

It’s a fallback position that I’m talking about here.  Once upon a time a few years back some man lost control of his auto and slammed into the back of me as we were pulling away from a  traffic light.  I called my daughter just after this while waiting for the police to come to make the report for insurance purposes.  She commented on how peaceful and calm my voice was for just being rear-ended rather violently.  My preselected default meditative state took over without my conscious direction.

Or at least I think that’s why.  Since then it had become more conscious within me to work on cultivating that default state of being when my attention isn’t consumed elsewhere.  Sometimes, it’s repeating a mantra such as, “May I be content and peaceful, may I be happy and in goodwill, may I be protected and safe . . . “and then eventually changing the “I” to “we” meaning all beings.

When waiting for my coffee to finish reheating in the microwave, at a traffic light, while stretching before or after a workout at the gym the mantra takes over my consciousness.  Sometimes, it’s not a mantra, however.  Sometimes my attention is naming the breath activity:  Breathing in, breathing out.  This creates a dropping down into the body and into the moment and peace is naturally there.  I consider these mantras or this breath attention as cultivating a set point which can, after habitual reinforcement, become ones ‘go to’ place in good times and in … well, in times that are not so good when they arise in order to soften those jarring moments of life that can leave us in a state of shock or knock us out of a previous state of consciousness.

Default options are pre-set courses of action that take effect if nothing is specified by the decision maker or the decision maker isn’t sure what to do.  What is your default setting?   Have you consciously cultivated a positive one?

Seeing Your Mind in Meditation

We see our own mind in meditation—at least potentially.  That is if we can get past emotional debris.  Virtue or said another way, a recent unkind, impure heart limits or inhibits clarity.  The mind becomes, in effect, dirty and dull if one has been angry or self-centered.  Attachment to particular desires or having a greedy mind creates potential blockages that prevent feelings of bliss and beauty in meditation.

It is said by meditation teachers that when we meditate we see images of one’s own mind just as we see our image when we look in a mirror.  The truest image of mind occurs when there is stillness in the heart.  I don’t know about you but for me, this stillness and calmness happen when feeling most at peace with life – not resisting whatever experience occurs and most especially when feeling kindness and having good will toward others.  Most of all, feeling good will toward those who challenge my ability to maintain the highest virtues, our highest ideals.

The physically enforced retreat has been the name of the game for this past week in my personal experience.   Always, it is in divine order and for a higher purpose—or this is the way I choose to view it.  Right, so basically, even though I had the flu shot and haven’t had even a slight cold for years, chills, head, and chest congestion arrived in my life.  A meditative retreat is how it has been processed which enabled the mind to heart to be clear and deep meditative bliss and beauty enhanced.

When one is able to look directly at one’s own mind in this way, it becomes clear what needs to change in one’s daily life.  Speaking only kindly, practicing generosity and good will toward others and in other words walking the world with a pure heart being kind and gentle toward one’s self and others.

I have always known this (and taught it in the psychic development course) that virtue is an essential ingredient for success in receiving insight and guidance in meditation.

When one is able to see directly into one’s own mind—beautiful light and blissful states blossom.

This past week of retreat has been a reminder that a beautifully peaceful life enables a beautiful mind and easily successful meditations.

The Body Intelligence

The body intelligence is the name of this bit of writing; best that could be for the moment, this day and time.  Anyway . . .

The flu!  The wretched thing!  Seems a few years now since even a head cold entered my bodily private domain.  Yet, it gives time for writing, contemplating and if my energy holds up later maybe even painting (pastel artwork).  Sometimes, however, it can be good to practice death. No, this isn’t me being overly dramatic—just listen a moment.  You can’t turn from it even though you would rather not be anywhere in its shadows, yet inevitably the body will shut down sense organs one after another.  NO wait, don’t stop reading.  Because oh, but what a gift close encounters, even if they are not our very own (family, friend or foe who may be sick or in a phase of transition—but no, let’s say the really scary word, death!) . . . like I was saying, any encounter with the endpoint from any distance offers us a gift if we keep our eyes open!  What gift?  Embracing the opposite of course – Life!  A deeper and more joyful appreciation of good health and the ability to do something, anything, which comes from our ‘creative-will’ our personal expression of ‘life’ – even if that is only a pleasant conversation with another.  Any expression of being alive on any level that is possible can potentially become a truly joyous event.

The local hospital has accepted me as a volunteer and promoted me to be the top person for patient relations.  The job is not as impressive as the title may sound.   Actually,  it only involves offering a smile, a hello and passing out a card from the auxiliary and offering magazines, newspapers, crossword puzzles and the like.

Yesterday here at home, life played out with chills and fever next to a pile of Kleenex feeling as if my throat was on fire was another glimpse, another close encounter – another good practice for the last page in the last chapter of this life as I know it to be now.  And my thoughts wandered to the hospital patients as it does now writing this.

And, of course, as one could expect, with fever back to normal today, am gifted with a deeper appreciation of life and the ability to affect the lives of others and my own in a positive way.  To create, to play, to appreciate, to breathe life into this body deeply and with more gratitude for the vehicle that enables my stay here upon the good earth.

People who know me or follow my posts are familiar with the mention of the history of losing consciousness; yep, I’m one of those “fainters”.  Physical or emotional overwhelm and out I go!  I realize how this is like a mini-death of sorts and one of the last times (in the hospital ER with an acute bladder infection), there was this awesomely peaceful kind of limbo state, vast and not-empty but full somehow.  No words can describe it.  Voices were calling me back into this world and I did not wish to return.  On another occasion, when I lost consciousness due to a gall bladder issue, a “code” was called because I could not be revived after losing consciousness.  That time, however, I didn’t recall the blissful openness and fullness as the time before.  My point here?  Forgive this writer still under the influence of Nyquil cold and flu medicine.  Well, I guess, my purpose in writing this has to do with me being grateful for these moments in which the body and I get to practice our final act.  Meanwhile, there is a turning toward life with eyes of gratitude.

One final thing.  It’s floating around in this woozy head and I’d like to try to grab at it the next time if floats by.  Here we go.  It has to do with the shutting down part.  How to say it?  Like yesterday, the focus was deeply inward – the body seemed very busy focusing on itself – dealing with the invader flu.  I guess in the death process (oh, this is how the Tibetans tell it and in the Book of The Living and The Dead), how the various bodily senses begin to shut down.  The body, I’d assume, is very preoccupied doing this – and there’s not much energy for anything in the external world.

Body intelligence is pretty amazing.  Think about it.  The body knows how to keep its balance, digest food, breathe – oh, so many things – without your or me consciously telling it to!  A good thing too, I’d say!  The body knows how to get a spoonful of food into the mouth straight away without us having to give directions—a little to the left, no down a little—in other words, the food doesn’t go into our eye or nose; the body knows what to do without our conscious mind directing.  Recovering from illness or shutting down to go into transition, it’s the same way.  The body and soul know what to do.

No big summary ending.  There’s only me picturing the self in the act of sorting through my pastel colors and placing them in trays according to color and hue.  So off I go with my box of Kleenex and a project to do, celebrating life all the way through!

Meditation Considerations for Receiving Insight and Developing Calmness

I’m writing this after returning from the gym and thus recovering from a high-intensity athletic training class.  The body was content to settle into meditation and then to write this.  I’ve learned that no one starts out as a perfect meditator and that each session is different.  Sometimes it is peaceful; other times frustrating because the mind wants to wander; yet, either way, there’s still so much to learn about my own nature. 


When insights into problems that affect my happiness enter during a session, the effort seems well worth it. .  Sometimes, there is only calmness and that’s alright too—having expectations becomes a hindrance to the process.  Silent present-moment awareness that is highly acute and wherein thought is abandoned opens the door to the cosmos on such a level that the body awareness dissolves and thus the self merges with the beauty of silence.   A bit of an awkward sentence as my words can sometimes be when writing about my meditation experiences.  Yet, at times during meditation, I feel restless.  >>Read More

Channeling Insight in Meditation

 

Have you ever felt like you were stripped of control yet at the same time fully awake?  This describes a deep state of meditation. It also describes a mind level in which channeling insight can occur.  There is no “doer” in this state—the self has, for the most part—dissolved.   Only the “knower” is fully functioning and there is no volitional thought.  It can feel much like being frozen and one’s identity is no longer part of the consciousness scenario.  There is a calmness in which insight arrives in this state.

Meditation, for me, is different each time.  I do not expect to reach such a deep state each and every time I sit for meditation practice.  I’ve learned to work with the right meditation and the right time and to let go of expectations of some type of progress or achievement. 

>> CLICK HERE to Read More  



Evolution of my Psychic Medium Perspective

 This is a personal viewpoint 

I have NOT stopped believing in our connections to other realities and the world of spirit containing spirit guides and/or deceased relatives. YET, at the same time as making that statement, it is clear to me that I don’t “go there” so much these days–at least not for myself anyway.  Why?  I ask myself this very question and hope this bit of writing will help sort it out.

Maybe it is because the clear advantage of being spiritually responsible for my own evolution in the here and now (which happens to be planet earth in this body/soul/consciousness) is my primary focus these days.  And I’m aging (like everyone is!) and as I get closer to the possibility of the ending of this form, this physical body, priorities change.

Maybe this happens to everyone and not just me — this I cannot say.  I haven’t taken a survey nor is there any interest on my part in doing so.  What has happened for me anyway is that I’m much more aware of what I’m supposed to do here — and one biggie has to do with remaining in a state of peace despite emotional challenges.  Can my departed parents or a spiritual entity in another dimension do this for me?  Spiritual evolution is personal — not that we can’t receive assistance when heartfelt and earnest request is made; but I’m here and while my parents and guides, et. al. are near and dear, I alone make the determined choice and effort to manage my own psyche with both feet on Mother Earth, here and now.

The last two words are key in what I’m attempting to express.  Here:  Earth Dimension  Now:  As I sit at my desk, in front of this keyboard in my living room.  It will do me no good to go talking to my deceased parents or a spirit entity right at this moment–in fact, it feels somewhat like co-dependent escapism to some extent to do so.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t believe loved ones can communicate with us here upon Earth through someone who is open and receptive.  Yet, I think of it this way — my parents or spirit guides cannot live in this body with me and actually if I’m not careful,  their communication can become (if my focus is off) a huge distraction.

That said.  I’m aware that we are all at different points of consciousness evolution — none better than another.  To be clear, I’m not expressing that one person’s evolution in one direction is more or less advanced than another’s.  One thing that Soul Astrology has taught me is that we are all on particular paths with different karmic pasts.  Like snowflakes, we are all alike yet so very different, unique.

I am able to (somehow and I don’t know precisely how) connect in with the energy of persons, places and things whether here on Earth or elsewhere — most of the time if the need is great enough and I am clear enough at any give time.  Intention and compassion on my part to help another enables the clarity.  Yet,  it has become a lesser focus and direct mission in my life.

Rather, my own heart is drawn in other directions — more specifically in taking personal responsibility for my own energy and evolution.  This is a bit difficult to express and I am using this blog post to sort it out as I said.

Maybe I feel that I’ve exhausted that direction or gone as far down the path of psychic and medium types of personal seeking and have doubled back now to the main path — something like this anyway.

Once we discover a truth, there is no need to keep on; it becomes redundant.  In another way of saying that and being very, very blunt (but not unfeeling) about it, it becomes like this:   So what?  Our loved ones remain with us and can communicate and entities from other dimension exist and also communicate–all in helpful ways at times.  So what?  And while I realize that I am not really a separate entity apart from ‘All That Is’ and that in essence, this person (personality) called ‘me’ and this physical body doesn’t really exist apart from everything else on an ultimate level, they do conventionally.  Non-self is a helpful view to have while maintaining a conventional view in balance.  We exist, yet we don’t — if you will.

The question then becomes something having to do with questioning why conventionality exists in the first place and why challenges and difficulties exist here on Earth and what we do about them — are we to escape and ignore them or do we use them to help ourselves and others evolve in such ways that spiritual responsibility is taken for growth and evolution?  And how do we use the body and the mind-consciousness in such ways that enable us to realize a greater truth?  What truth?  Remaining in the ‘Here and Now’ while achieving and arriving at the Field of Peace while in this physical body/mind.  When one compares that goal to one that has already been reached which involves talking to the deceased loved ones or spiritual entities or guides . . . well, you see my point maybe?

In the end, through divination what are the angels and guides guiding us toward but back into our own self while understanding the non-self so that we can function in a peaceful way upon the Earth–that’s what it’s about for me now.  And while we are here helping others to do the same perhaps through example or maybe even through something like this rather long laborious blog post, its what we’re here to do.  Here and now.

Thus end my thoughts about this topic for now.

Nimitta – progress signs of Samadhi Meditation

I am going to post this on each of my website blogs as well as my newsletter.  Why? Some information that recently crossed my path explained many of my meditation experiences of the past and currently as well.  Many students of the psychic development class and those interested in spiritual and psychic/intuitive development may have had similar ‘signs’ of their spiritual progress or evolution.

Before I go into what those are, it’s probably best to offer the disclaimer that if one looks for these signs or tries to manifest them, they will be blocking their energy and possibly delaying further consciousness expansion in some way.  My teachers have always guided me not to get “hung up” on manifestations and to take with a grain of salt.  It is just the natural process of the mind—don’t be overly concerned, they’d say.

If you have read much on my website (www.psychicjoystar.com), you will see that I’ve mentioned mysterious occurrences that came about as part of my meditative absorption over the years.  Those were a total and complete mystery to me until this past week!

The history of experience for this life has always evolved in a way that much later explanations arrive that validate occurrences and I’ve always been grateful for that as it assures me that there was no conscious influence on my part.

As many readers may know, my tendency is to reach toward eastern philosophy my deeply personal effort to understand life, the mind, and of reality itself.  My studies and meditation time have not been in vain and have helped me to cope with some very difficult life circumstances.  Yet, there were always those mysterious events lingering in the memory of my mind.  Up until now, there were not fully explained in any kind of satisfactory way.

Then this past week there comes the information that does so!  I simply must share it.  It will be a brief outline and I will paraphrase some of it while keeping true to the text.  I will add some personal notes in parenthesis.  I hope this will be of use to others.
The signs of meditative concentration are known as “nimitta” and include the following:

  • For beginners, it is usually grey smoke color appearing in front of them.  When this occurs, the instruction is to concentrate on the natural breath; and gradually then, the breath and nimitta will become one.   In this stage the mind usually stays automatically will become one.  (Personal note:  when I would go hiking and be breathing more heavily, I would see more of this grey smoke in front of me.  By the way, it started out looking like black ink in the atmosphere, as if someone dumped a bucket of black ink in the sky.  I could see around it and through it and then gradually it lightened.)
  • As meditative concentration develops further, the gray smoky nimitta will change in color to white.  (This is exactly what happened to me.)  This is given the name of “the learning sign”.  As one continues to concentrate on the learning sign, the white form nimitta will change to a transparent nimitta and this is called “the counterpart sign”.  (I was in Sedona, Arizona atop a mountain at the time this occurred.  That was sometime in the late 1990’s.  I was still working as a Physical Therapist at the time.)  The instruction in the text is that one should concentrate on the transparent nimitta until a state of full absorption is reached.
  • The text says that unless one sees the counterpart sign, the meditative attentiveness or concentration is superficial.  (Again, I did not have any of this information until a few days ago and therefore did not know of the instruction to concentrate on the transparent nimitta.)
  • (In the eastern philosophy, the word used to describe these stages of meditation is called “jhana”.  I did not know that word until this past month actually.  And there is the discussion on audios that I’ve heard about maintaining states of absorption for 2 and 3 hours at a time without interruption.  This I was able to do when living alone in the mountains many times.  Since I’ve moved from the seclusion of the mountains–for approximately the past 6 years—that is rarely the case.)
  • The text says that once a person’s meditation practice is very clear they will, one day, see small particles, called “kalapas”.  When one see’s kalapas, they have reached the last stage of samatha(serenity/calm/tranquility) and the beginning stage of vipassana (insight/seeing things as they really are).   At this stage, one understands reality as small particles.

I must pause here to explain that this next part totally blew me out of my seat, so-to-speak!  I wrote about this on my website eons ago and this occurred, also, in the late 1990’s just before I moved (from Florida) to the mountains of North Carolina.  Here it is nearly 20 years later and it is only now that I understand what all of these experiences were about!  The book in which this information is contained was published in 2008, ten years ago.  Yet, it has taken me nearly all of the past ten years to adjust to the huge transitions in my life and to release a significant karmic relationship connection.  It hasn’t been until recently that my personal journey has directed me back to seek deeper levels of meditation, reaching for Samadhi again.  Anyway, this light, so white and so bright and it occurred when I was meditating on a star in the sky at twilight one evening.  I felt myself moving toward it and then the white brilliant light sort of frightened me.  It was everywhere I looked and lasted a good chunk of time and it faded finally as I looked at a large pine tree.   I’ve never seen it again all these many years.

  • The text says that there is a visual-like nimitta which is ‘the best one’.  (Again, the word nimitta means sign/mark/appearance.)  It is not seen with the physical eye.  It is purely a mental phenomenon.  It appears as if it is like a headlight in front of you, incredibly brilliant, so much so that you don’t think you can stare at it any longer.  (At the time I thought perhaps I drew the star right down in front of me – I’d been staring at a star during meditation at the time.)  This is not a visual thing at all and even though it is like looking at the sun, it is quite safe, because it is a pure metal image—according to the text.

If one tries to have any such experiences as described, the effort actually blocks the meditator’s tranquil absorption.  Actually, I recall trying to stare at a star again at various times in the past and could not reproduce that event –or any other unusual experiences of my past for that matter.
I wanted to put this out today so that it may be helpful to others.  Maybe I will save someone 20 years of wondering and never really knowing what those signs are really about!

The text that I’ve been referring to is called “The Experience of Samadhi” by Richard Shankman  and the specific information at nimitta were from interviews with Pa Auk Sayadaw, the abbot of a Forest Monastery in Burma and Ajahn Brahmavamso, who studied with Venerable Ajahn Chah and is the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery and Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society in Australia.
I am so personally grateful to them for the information shared in the text which has helped me considerably and renewed my meditative effort.

May it be that this information reaches the right person for the right reasons and be of the highest service.


CLICK HERE for complete list of all past newsletters