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Archive for the ‘mind control’ Category

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.

There is Stress

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There will always be Stress. That is because Stress is a normal and natural part of the universe. There has always been Stress. Just the fact that we live on a ball of dirt and water, hurtling through space with gravity gluing us to its surface–is Stress. We might as well get used to it. But that doesn’t mean we have to continuously suffer from it.

The Problem with Stress is that we internalize it. We worry about it. We open our mind and allow it to come inside, where it proceeds to gnaw at us without mercy. The human mind has been doing that since we lived in trees. The answer to the Stress Problem is to NOT internalize it. Isn’t that easy?

Ah yes, that’s so easy to say, but not so easy to do. So, let’s break it down and make it a bit easier to do. “Internalizing” some external thing in our life actually and simply means “thinking about it.” If you think about it, you are internalizing it. If you don’t think about it, you’re not internalizing it.

This is where so many people say, “But not thinking about it means I’m just running away from the problem.” Thus, based on their idea of being mature and responsible, they think. And think, and think. And wear themselves out by thinking. Like a rat in a roundhouse, running around and around. Which is is a terrible form of self-torment, agony, suffering, and self-abuse.

Therefore, your clear solution to Stress is not thinking about whatever you have to worry about. Or, better yet, controlling your thinking machine so that it only worries when you want it to. I advise people to write down everything they are worried about, and then study that list for one hour at 7 p.m. Or at 10 a.m. in the morning. Or maybe for a half hour at noon. Whatever gives you the feeling that you’re being “responsible.” The rest of the time you have my permission to not think about all that stuff.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

April 22, 2019 at 10:25 am

Almost Sleeping

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Zen meditation is such a beautiful way of dealing with insomnia. Some practitioners actually look forward to insomnia if it ever happens, because that is a perfect time for practicing. More often than not, staying in the meditative state for a while will prepare you for sleep very nicely. And you may fall asleep while meditating.

But what if that doesn’t work?

There are times when you’re exceptionally stressed, and your mind is out of control. Or perhaps you’re dealing with pain you can’t escape from. In those situations, it seems like meditation just won’t work.

That has happened to me. A few years ago, I had a head injury that created a severe headache for about seven months. It was the worst pain I’d ever known. During that time I accepted that I was likely to die from it. Worse of all, the pain wouldn’t let me sleep. But during that ordeal, here’s what I discovered I could do to get some rest:

I would lie down and get in the most comfortable position that I could find and relax as much as possible. Then I would try to enter the meditative state. Some of the time it would work for a few seconds, sometimes for a few minutes. Occasionally I would get some lessening of the pain, but not always. But if I kept after it, the times I could keep my mind still would gradually lengthen. And I’d do that over and over.

During some of the periods of meditation, the headache pain would fade just a little. Then it would come charging back a few minutes later. Over and over, I’d repeat the attempts to meditate, and gradually I would find the pain would back off just a bit. Then at some point I would come fully awake and realize that three hours had gone by without my noticing it! The pain had not ever completely disappeared, but I had somehow escaped it for a while in a way I can’t fully explain. And while I might not have actually slept, it was something close enough to sleep that it gave me some rest.

I wonder if that sorta sleep I discovered during those months might have saved my life. It turned out months later, when the surgeons went in and fixed the problem, they said I might have been close to dying, indeed. Without all those hours of meditation and near-sleep, I might not have stayed around long enough to find the healthcare wizards who fixed me.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

April 6, 2019 at 4:27 pm

Can’t Sleep?

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NINE PEOPLE I know have told me in the last month they can’t sleep. During my haircut Saturday, my hairdresser Rae-Lynn was yawning so badly I worried she might accidentally stab me with her scissors. I asked why she couldn’t sleep, as I often do with yawning people. She had the same answer as the others: “My mind was racing and wouldn’t let me sleep.” What a shame.

I should do something about that problem. Because, if there’s anything I’m a master of, it’s sleeping. I can snooooze like you wouldn’t believe—I’m fortunate to have deep and restful sleep.

Sure, I had sleep problems caused by stress when I was in the military. Which was understandable, because back then I was certain that people were trying to kill me. But, an old Tibetan monk taught me how to calm down and go to sleep even when I was scared out of my wits.

Now, I can go to sleep under extraordinary pressure. So, I should teach my insomniac friends how I do it. I imagine that if I put some effort into it, I could do damage to the sleeping pill industry.

The trick is mind control: Learning to stop the thinking machine. Another word for that is meditation. I’ve been doing it so long that I can’t remember not being able to do it. It’s so easy.

Not long ago, I sat down and wrote everything I know about Zen meditation in a book. It’s called Original Zen and can be found on amazon.com in paperback. It is also an ebook you can download to your device. If there is anything in the book that doesn’t make sense, send me an email. I will do my best to explain it.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

January 24, 2019 at 12:24 pm

“Ultra” Meditation

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This is a meditation technique I discovered on my own. It might have been discovered thousands of years ago and documented in some ancient text. But I’ve never heard of it (yet). If somebody has read about this, please let me know where.

renPlaya_2x2Here’s how it works: After I’ve slept a while and I’m well rested, I might drift into a kind of meditative state that takes me much deeper than usual. I never know when this is likely to happen. I’m lying in bed ready to resume sleeping, but I’m not sleepy yet. I put my body into a position where I have minimum or no stress on any joint, and I don’t have any limb resting on another. Usually this means lying on my side. It’s important to note that I have to be well rested when I do this.

As you may know, I don’t advise trying to meditate lying down and especially not in bed. The chief problem is you’re more likely to fall sleep. But if you’ve just slept and you feel rested, this may work for you.

Scan your body and locate any body part that is uncomfortable, and make whatever adjustment is necessary. Stop all thought and use the mind to watch your heartbeat and breathing. Eventually, the heart will slow down and the breathing will get shallow.

After a while, as I lie there in the meditative state, I gradually sink in to an ever greater, deeper Zen state. The feeling is like separating from my physical body. During that time, the body seems to sink into an insignificant puddle of inert matter lying in my bed. It is no longer “me.” I’m sure this is what some people call an out of body experience.

I have the feeling that optionally I could return to my body. Or, if I wanted, just not return. I get a peculiar feeling of exhiliarating power, in which I could continue on farther away from my body—or onward to the pure spiritual state if I wished—or else return to my body.

Thus far, I’ve always come back. But if I were to proceed, would it really work? Would I actually transition? I don’t know. Aside from that, I’ve always returned to a super peaceful and ethereal state of mind afterward.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

November 2, 2018 at 11:47 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

How I Go To Sleep

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SleepingGirl

So many people have difficulty getting good sleep. I’m astounded at the huge industry of sleeping pills and other aids. I’ve never used sleeping pills in my entire life. You might think I’m just lucky. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Typically, when I go to bed at night or take an afternoon nap, I fall asleep in about ten or fifteen seconds. People have asked me how I do that. So for the last few nights, I “watched” myself during the process just so I could describe it.

Oh by the way, a short answer to that question is: Many decades of regular meditation practice and training my mind. But a thorough answer takes a few more words.

When I’m headed for bed, I usually start my mental “falling asleep” process well before I actually hit the sheets. I might be brushing my teeth or taking my clothes off, but I’m winding down the thinking machine. I’m telling myself, “Okay, now is not the time to be worrying about things. Let’s slow the mind down. Just quit thinking.”

That is the first part of my secret: actually preparing the mind for sleep well before bedtime. Maybe it’s the decades of self-training kicking in, but as I slow the mind down, I can sense the heavy feelings of tiredness, fatigue, and low energy flowing downward into my whole body. Thus, with my thinking mind very near to stopping and the body already aching for rest, I’m close to falling asleep by the time I slip into the sheets.

Settling into bed, I’m letting my body find the most comfortable position for sleep. For me, this is already a well-practiced position that minimizes pain and suffering from my old body and a few old injuries. Everybody needs to know his own body and how it can best be positioned to minimize aches and pains. So, unless I’m dealing with  unusual bodily stress, getting myself positioned for dropping off to sleep takes me only a couple of seconds.

And now, it’s time for my “mini-meditation” that I use for going to sleep. Once again, this is where the many years of meditation practice pay off. My mind does a relaxation scan in one or two seconds, and I can feel my body going limp from top to bottom. At this point, the world around me is beginning to disappear. Sleep is near.

Now I focus my remaining consciousness on watching my breath and my heartbeat. The breath is already slow and relaxed, and now it is gradually slowing even more. I can feel my heart beating in my chest, and I also notice it in my fingertips and my temples. The heart rate is also slowing, and I can detect a lower blood pressures. And that is usually the last thing I’m aware of. I am asleep. It is a deep dreamless sleep.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

September 14, 2017 at 11:31 am

Torment of the Mind

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Almost everybody I know suffers from an overactive mind. They tell me they can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, and never get any real rest from all the stuff they worry about. Yes, I know the problem.

More accurately, I knew the problem all too well–until I learned a certain skill. Decades later, I wrote a book about it. To me, it’s the most important knowledge I’ve gained since I was born. But judging from the apparent popularity, it’s the most boring subject in modern civilization.

If it’s not too boring, read some more about ending your torment: Original Zen.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

July 2, 2017 at 11:59 am

The Animal Inside You

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A few weeks back, we introduced and discussed the two main “actors” on the stage of your mind: the Boss and the Thinker. If you remember, the Thinker is your good old conscious mind that wants to think non-stop when you’re awake (and even sometimes when you’re half asleep). The Boss is the higher you that tries to gain control of the Thinker whenever you want to get into the meditative state.

EdonVortex

Sitting on a Sedona vortex

With that clearly in mind, it’s time to introduce the third major player on the stage of your mind. I call it the Animal. Indeed, it is the actual animal within you. Physically, the Animal lives in the lower part of your brain known as the Limbic System. Although chiefly concerned with your survival, that part of he brain is also the center of your emotions.

Most of the time you’ll find that in a normal, mentally healthy, well-adjusted person (hah, how many people like that do you know?) the Animal stays mostly in the background. Thus, under most circumstances you don’t have to worry about the Animal during meditation. However, if the Animal is aroused and agitated for any reason, it may render you incapable of getting into the meditative state.

The Animal is so powerful that it can completely paralyze both the Boss and the Thinker—and do so very quickly. It can hijack the entire mind/body and take total and immediate control. That’s not entirely bad; it is an important feature that helped us survive. But it can be very bad if the Animal takes control and keeps control* to the extent that a person’s mind is unable to function as it should. That situation can be identified as one or another variation of mental illness.

For instance, if you have a fight with your lover, your Animal may be out of control for a while. If a loved one dies, the Animal howls with grief and prevents you from thinking or meditating for a while. If I tried to list all the possible situations in which the Animal can create havoc in your mind and keep you from achieving inner peace, this would be a very long (and boring) post.

From my experience teaching meditation, I know that trying to learn it while the Animal is loose and raging, is futile. To meditate, the Animal must be calm and resting comfortably—aware but not fearful about what is going on. Which might mean that, before you find a meditation teacher, you may need to see your therapist first and see what can be done about that snarling, pacing, agitated Animal that sometimes runs your life.

The good news is that, once your meditative practice is well established, oftentimes you’ll be able to use your meditative state to calm the Animal. In my own case, it took me at least ten times as long to learn to control the Animal compared to the Thinker. And even now my control of the Animal is not 100% guaranteed. But at least now I can usually hold the raging Animal on his leash and, after reminding him of his limits, let him loose to snarl a bit.

*Bad experiences in your previous life might have created trauma that left the Animal in you in constant pain and unconsolable suffering. That is called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which usually requires a special type of body therapy for successful treatment.