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Using Your Angel Hour

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If you practice Zen meditation and you have reasonable success with it, you can use that skill to put yourself into a special supermind state that I call the “Angel Hour.” It is a state of being awake but where the conscious thinking mind is quiet—or perhaps not thinking at all. This can last anywhere from a few seconds to many minutes.

For me, this often happens during the pre-dawn hours when I’m well rested but awake. Typically, I’ve just had my early morning pee break, and I’m back in bed ready to resume sleeping. I get comfortable, relax the body, and slow the mind.

But because I’m rested, I don’t fall asleep right away. However, I could fall asleep. I’m right at the cusp of falling asleep. And THAT is when my angel hour can begin—if I want it to. If I had previously programmed myself to search for an answer to some question, or if there’s some particular problem weighing on me, that is the time it will come to mind.

The magic of the angel hour is to have that question or problem being somewhere “in mind,” but not necessarily thinking about it. Since the conscious thought machine has been slowed or stopped altogether, other parts of the mind are able to contribute images, feelings, ideas, and other thoughts that don’t require thinking.

English doesn’t exactly have a word for thoughts that don’t require thinking. Sometimes I’ll use the word smattering, which is defined as “superficial piecemeal knowledge of something.” Typically, this happens to me when some part of my mind comes up with a smattering, but at that time (because of the meditative state) that part of the mind doesn’t have access to all the speech, logic, vocabulary, and other thinking parts of the mind. Voila! I have “thought” of something that I otherwise would have never thought of.

Now, coming out of the meditative state, the conscious mind can kick in and consider the smattering that just surfaced from some normally unavailable back corner of the mind. Often, when the rational conscious thinking machine gets hold of it, the smattering will turn out to be a stupid idea. Or impractical. Or just some useless piece of mind fluff.

But sometimes, the smattering will be pure genius.

Quite often, your smatterings will be brilliant ideas. Especially after you get used to using your mind that way. You will discover creativity you didn’t know you had.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

September 8, 2020 at 3:29 pm

Fear of Being Alone

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Before we became human, we lived in trees. As we evolved, we lived in caves where we became more civilized, and we had fires to keep us warm. From way back then all the way until today, we lived in groups. We lived in families. A human living alone is more vulnerable to attacks from predators and other humans. The human psyche is programmed to want other humans nearby for comfort and protection. The fear of being alone can be considered normal and natural. But that doesn’t always make us happy.

When we are alone, whether by choice or otherwise, we must deal with the fear or discomfort that comes from somewhere deep inside our own mind. Long periods of solitary confinement are known to encourage mental illness. Thus, when we must be alone and suffer because of it, we need to develop an inner coping mechanism. We need to find a way to make ourselves feel better about being alone.

I have a method that works for me. It’s not especially easy to describe, but I’ll try. Also, I don’t understand fully why it works. But it does—for me.

I go into into my bedroom, shut the door, and darken the room. I lie down and get myself in a comfortable position. For me, this is usually lying on my side with a pillow under my head and often one between my knees. I may put something over my head to further reduce light and noise. I concentrate on relaxing my physical body as much as possible. I try to stop myself from thinking, usually by using my mind to “watch” my breath.

If I’m tired, I will fall asleep. But that’s not the objective. If I sleep, I will wake up and start over. The object is to be totally relaxed, both physically and mentally, all while being awake. When I finally get to that state, then I’m ready to go really deep. After being totally motionless for a while, I get the sensation that I can’t feel my legs and arms. Then at some point, I feel as though I can separate myself from my body. (This is also good for insulating myself from bodily pain.)

“Withdrawing from the body” is a distinct feeling that can have both scary and pleasant results. It might be scary at first, because in a way it’s like dying. But it’s also very pleasant because it separates me from the aches, pains, and fears of living in a human body. At this point, I’m really, really alone. There’s nobody else in there but me.

Voila! There’s my solution. By getting myself to be really, really alone, I get to experience the most extreme state of aloneness. Doing that, I’m saying to loneliness, go ahead, scare me as badly as you can.

Years ago, when I first did this, it scared the hell out of me. There are demons in there. Well, that forced me to befriend those demons. And that took a while, but I did it. There’s an old saying, “When you embrace your demons, they always leave you a gift.” That will also make you a better person. And more comfortable being alone with yourself.

Many of my readers are already familiar with this practice. We call it Zen.

Use Your Loneliness

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I hate to feel lonely. Don’t you?

Believe me, I have had some long stretches of loneliness in my lifetime. But in recent years, I’ve managed to solve that problem almost entirely. I say almost, because I’m not a hermit, and for my own mental health I need to have people around me some of the time. Or maybe a lot of the time. And, I especially need a life partner for several reasons—but now is not the time to discuss that.

What I discovered was How to Use Loneliness. And how to stay emotionally stable and even happy when I am lonely. It was a stepwise learning lesson for me. Here, I’m going to describe the first level of how I escaped the pain of Loneliness and its twin problem: Depression.

My huge discovery was using writing alternated with meditation. It was huge for me. It might not work for everybody, but it should work for most people. It’s so simple. I should have thought of this fifty years ago. Here’s what I do when I’m lonely.

Step one, believe it or not, is actually recognizing that I’m lonely. Sometimes I’ll mope around for a while, not feeling very good about life, then I’ll have a eureka moment. And recognize that I’m lonely!

Step two: I grab a pad of paper and a ballpoint. I start writing about whatever is on my mind. Or whatever in life is troubling me. Or maybe, I’ll just start writing about a favorite topic that energizes me.

Step three: When I reach a point in the writing where I can’t think of what to write next, I stop. I grab a favorite cushion and sit in Zen meditation for a while. That usually lasts no longer than twelve to fifteen minutes. Sometimes it will last longer, especially if I’m having a bad case of the blues.

Step four: Repeat the writing and meditation until I feel better. Or it’s time to take a shower and take a walk. Or read an interesting book. Or maybe treat myself to a healthy lunch. Or have a date with a special friend.

Why does it work? Writing is an excellent form of self-therapy. Writing will often let one part of your mind express something that another part of your mind didn’t know. Then, the meditation will let your mind process that knowledge and help heal a part of the mind that was hurting.

Another benefit of this process is that it turns loneliness into aloneness—which is being alone but feeling better about it.

Let me know if this works for you.

Become a Master

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ChablisBuddhaThe definition of a “master,” that is, a spiritual master, is a person who has had several enlightening experiences, at least two or three.

Second: In order to have enlightening experiences, you must learn to enter the true meditative state, which means sitting still and being awake, alert, free of drugs and alcohol, and most importantly without conscious thought (aka the Zen state).

Third: You must practice Zen meditation for 10 to 15 minutes every day. (Do it forever, which means at least until you die.) More than 15 minutes is okay, but not necessarily of value.

Fourth: Practice Zen faithfully and purposefully, learning over time to take your meditative state deeper and deeper.

Fifth: Sooner or later (and nobody knows how long you will need) you will become enlightened.

How to know if you’re enlightened: You will know. There will be no doubt. It is a euphoric event like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. You will discover your self-nature, meaning you will know who and what you are at the deepest level of your being without the masks and delusions created by your conscious mind. You will know your purpose in this life. You will experience profound inner peace (but only periodically, because you are still a human being).

Note: Please forgive the brief, terse way this is written. My goal was to impart the most important things I’ve learned, but in the fewest possible words. And in terms that are least likely to be misunderstood.

Namaste, ya’ll.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

October 3, 2019 at 5:02 pm

Why Seek Enlightenment?

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Many of us to want to know more. We want to understand more about who we are and why we are here. Is there a god? Most people want more knowledge about life after death. All these are reasons why religions were created. As human beings, we have a driving desire for answers to those questions, even if we suspect the answers aren’t really true. Enlightenment provides answers to those questions without the need of accepting Belief.

The differences between Enlightenment and Belief are huge. Enlightening knowledge springs from within. It is pre-programmed knowledge that comes already built into the human mind. On a physical and neurological level, it is primordial knowledge. It was already there at the time of birth.

Enlightenment doesn’t require any outside source. It doesn’t require trusting any other person. It doesn’t require the bodily senses to receive the information, and it doesn’t require the mind to interpret its meaning. Enlightenment is fully pre-packaged and already comprehended.

One of the first benefits is discovering your self-nature. That is, who you are and what you are at the deepest level of your being, all without the masks and delusions of your conscious thinking mind. That in itself is an extraordinary gift.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

January 28, 2019 at 3:49 pm

What’s Holding You Back?

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What is holding you back from attaining genuine peace of mind? What denies you the ability of staying calm and centered? What’s keeping you from achieving the true YogaGirlmeditative state? Why haven’t you had spiritual learning experiences? And most of all, what is holding you back from receiving Enlightenment?

You might guess that, because I’m asking these questions, I think I know the answer. Well yes, I actually do have an answer. Other people may have other answers, for sure. I can only offer you what I’ve learned from my own experiences and perceptions as a meditation “teacher.”

The answer is in one word: Stress.

Of all the millions of people who want to develop a useful and rewarding meditative practice, the primary reason that most of them can’t get there is Stress. When they sit down to meditate, they close their eyes, and they are immediately bombarded with unwanted thoughts and images. The underlying cause in most cases is stress. They want to achieve a quiet mind and instead, the energy boiling up from stress makes their mind sound like Radio San Juan. A non-stop series of staccato car commercials.

Many masters and teachers over the centuries have known this. Recent studies show that over two thirds of people in the U.S. suffer from a specific type of stress, namely: Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). That is stress caused by earlier injury in life, injury that has not healed.

My take on this: A person’s meditation will always be limited to some degree by unhealed trauma.

Some teachers claim that meditation can overcome PTS. That has not been my experience. Meditation is often useful for discovering (i.e., remembering) earlier unhealed trauma. And while meditation may give the student small periods of rest and recovery time, it rarely cures the problem.

So yes, by all means meditate regularly. But keep a journal of everything that disturbs your meditations. Then go back and read your notes now and then. What you have written may point you to things you weren’t consciously aware of. And when you find a persistent blockage, rejoice! Because what you’ve found may be a huge prize. It might be the key to great forward progress in your spiritual development.

First and foremost, be aware that it might scare you. Coming up against an area that blocks you is usually frightening. You may not know exactly why it scares you. But there is something behind the blockage that wounded you in the past. And it hasn’t healed.

That has happened to me three times in my life. Maybe more than three, but I remember three very clearly. In every one of those cases, I used another person to help me get past the block, find the traumatic event, and then resolve it. In one case it was a hypnotist, in another it was a close friend, and the third was a shrink.

I learned many decades ago: Explore inward until you find the monster. Then, embrace the monster. It will no longer frighten you, and it will always give you a huge gift.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

December 15, 2018 at 2:06 pm

Looking for The Answer?

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Finding the right path to take when searching for inner peace and Enlightenment can be difficult and confusing. Almost every possibility means giving up one set of beliefs and adopting another. The best advice might be: Don’t adopt any belief system. There’s no need for it, and besides, you’re vulnerable to being led down a wrong path.

The old monk Bodhidharma decided to ignore everything the world wanted him to believe. He believed in No Belief. Instead, he sat alone in a cave and stared at a rock wall. It worked for him. Now he’s known as the world greatest Zen master. He went to heights of spiritual experiences that we can only imagine.

Why did it work? Because his conscious mind shut down now and then, and let deeper, more powerful parts of his mind take over.

You don’t need to sit in a cave. You just need to sit all alone in a quiet place and stop your mind. That’s called Zen. But if you can’t stop your mind (yet), then just watch it and make notes about everything it does. That’s called Mindful Meditation, and it’s the main path to Zen.

You don’t need any gods, dogma, disciples, preachers, scriptures, prayers, or belief system. Absolutely none of that stuff. And you don’t have to do any ritual whatsoever except sitting in your quiet place—just for a little while, most every day.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

November 22, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Looking Inward

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As a writer and student of Zen, I’ve struggled for twenty-two years to find the simplest worS'tatue2ds to describe the Zen experience. That little “chore” was handed to me early one morning in 1996 in a flash of knowledge. So I wrote and I wrote, trying to compose the language that might help other people coming along the same path to understand exactly what Zen is. Along the way, I learned that language is woefully inadequate to describe some things.

However, the Zen state is a remarkably simple state to be in. Simply stated, it is being in a relaxed body and having no thoughts. I’ve said that and written that a hundred times. And for some, it’s a lot easier to say than it is to do.

I’ve searched for simpler and more accurate ways to describe Zen over the years. Just recently, a short, simple sentence came to mind that might resonate. Here it is:

Zen is looking inward and saying nothing.

Yes, actually that is entirely accurate from my experience. Does it make sense to you? Does it make the concept easier to grasp? Of course, your next question might be: Okay, but why should I do it?

Let me think about that…

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

August 28, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Mindfulness Makes a Better Person

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We all want to become a better person.

Right? Well, perhaps I should say most of us want to be better people. It seems clear to me that people who read my stuff must be motivated by self-improvement. The topic on my mind toMeditatorInTwoPieceday is exactly how Mindfulness can make you a better person.

First, a simple and accurate definition: Mindfulness is learning to become an observer of your own thoughts and feelings. Many people who want to learn meditation, start first by sitting in a meditation position with a pad and pencil by their side. And then stopping now and then to record what is going through their mind.

Most people rarely stop to think about what they’re thinking about. And then, also rarely, to ask themselves why am I thinking about that. This is a very important step in learning to control your mind—instead of letting it control you. Of course, the next step beyond Mindfulness is learning to stop the mind, which is the very definition of the Zen meditative state.

So how does this make you a better person? Easy. By observing your own thoughts (which is accomplished at a “higher” place in your mind), you can actually witness your own beliefs and values in operation. That higher place in your mind is often free from much of the judgment and indoctrination by belief systems that control what you think, say, and do. Mindfulness permits the practitioner to think free–at least for a short while. Mindfulness gives your mind an opportunity like a breath of fresh air.

So many of us are not aware how strongly we were indoctrinated. We were “trained” by parents, teachers, preachers, and mentors. All of them authority figures who instilled our values and beliefs. We didn’t have much of a choice then. And now, you are at the mercy of the beliefs of all those people. But wouldn’t you like the opportunity to step back and examine for yourself the basis of all your values and beliefs? Wouldn’t you like to have a say in what kind of person you are? And don’t you want to become a better person as a result?

Get a cushion to sit on and a writing pad for making notes. Go to a quiet place, sit on the cushion, and watch that mind of yours. Just let it run free, and see what comes out.

 

 

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

December 20, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Why I Love Sunday

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Sunday is a great day for several reasons. It’s especially nice because most of the true believers are in their churches and we non-believers have the world to ourselves. Well, mostly.

What’s wrong with that you ask? Nothing, actually. Most of us are doing what we want to do. As for myself, I make a point of sleeping late on Sunday. I hardly ever wake up on Sunday without having at least a fleeting thought about the people kneeling and praying in their churches. And appreciating my own freedom to roll over and take an extra snooze.

I can’t imagine living in a country where the government is a religion, and a religion is the government. That is true enslavement, and it is a genuine justification for revolt.

One thing I’ve noticed about religions is they all have stories to tell. When you pick a religion (or if you were indoctrinated when you were young), you are taught that religion’s stories. Each religion’s stories are a little different.

They have books of stories. And they sing songs that tell their stories. And for emphasis, their preachers will shout and rant about their stories. Whether or not their stories are actually true doesn’t really matter. They encourage you to believe them. Because Belief is how you create Faith. And Faith is what gets you into Paradise later. That is, if you choose to believe all that.

In truth, Belief is the easy way out. Show up for church now and then, put some money in the offering plate, and you’re covered. Oh, and quit reading sacrilegious stuff written by heathens like me.

When you step way back and take a hard look at all the possible stories offered to you, you might discover one very crucial fact:

All of the stories in all the religions of the world are merely what other people believe about God. Bottom line: Every religion wants you to accept and believe what other people believe. None of them encourages or helps you take a path of learning for yourself. None of them encourages spiritual self-development.

Compared to just signing on to an organized religion, Zen might be a harder path. You actually have to do something: Practice meditation. Open yourself to your own inner knowledge. But there are no belief systems in Zen. It is a path of seeking the truth. That makes it a very rewarding path. If you stick to it.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

October 8, 2017 at 12:38 pm