Saturday, 10 May 2014

Past, present and future meditation - Trigonos part III

I would hazard a guess that almost all of us have things about ourselves that we don't like. They may be buried - some people seem remarkably pleased with how they are, at least on the surface - but I reckon they are there. For other people, we can know quite easily what these things are, if we tune in to them. Good friends will sometimes tell us. And there's always guesswork...

Since we're all amateur psychoanalysts these days, sometimes we locate the cause of the bit we don't like in a past pattern of events, experience, trauma. You know the stuff.

The past existed, and a version of the past still exists in our heads, supported of course by documents, photos, music, film clips etc etc. 

The future doesn't yet exist, however much we plan and worry about it.

There is a sort of understanding that inhabits you, rather than just staying on nodding terms with your reason. What I understood much more clearly at Trigonos -  is this: the past and the future can only exist in the present. There is no-where else they can exist.

How blindingly obvious, you may be thinking. I agree- but how difficult to realise in your mind that it is so, and live in that realisation. It takes, I found, work.  Meditation work.

A basic task in meditation is to note and accept what we're thinking, to "be with" it, as the tutors said, without judging it. Just noting it, observing it.  It is possible to "be with" the things about ourselves that we don't like, and expand our consciousness around them, broaden our attention. 

So it's not, for example, "my disrupted childhood, which has made me so clingy ever since," as an eternally fixed thing about oneself, to regret and dislike.  Not a unique, unalterable bad thing, more a pattern of thought. (I made this example up, by the way...) 
  It's more to do with letting one's attention be with such thoughts whilst we realise they are only thoughts, now, in the present. We can alllow them, note them as part of the present and nothing more.

This work, involving something closer to accepting and letting go, I find so much more useful than trying anything else about negative self-perceptions, really. Striving doesn't help, trying hard ditto. 

This stuff - mental states, states of being, kinds of attention - is so hard to write about; I salute those who do.

I understand that neuroscience may support what I'm trying to get at here, because it seems to suggest that we don't recall memories unchanged, pulling them out from a big filing cabinet. We remake them continually, and we change them to fit what we want from them.

So sure, if you get some jolly from thinking you are, say,  unalterably clingy, always have been, with a deformed sense of self, then you will. Or you can get doing some meditation work.

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