Tag Archives: mindfulness

Chuck’s Place: Strengthening The Present-Adult-Parent Self

Meet present-adult-parent self

The present self is our conscious self, the self we have forged through the years of challenge of life thus far lived. The present self is an evolving self, a self that grows as it forms relationships with parts of the self that live outside of consciousness and as it integrates long forgotten or stored away parts of life experiences into consciousness. The present self also grows as it takes in knowledge and experience from the outside world that broadens its ability to navigate life.

The present self is therefore our most adult self, the most grown-up part of our self. This is also our true parent self, the self we trust to keep us safe and secure, and to make the myriad of decisions that guide our actions each day.

The present self is essential to recapitulation. When life events trigger the surfacing of traumatic material, it is the present self that must take up the challenge. Very often the triggered material is extremely emotionally charged, threatening to overtake our calm, our focus, and our ability to stay present and in control. When triggered, we might become overwhelmed by debilitating psychosomatic symptoms, like extreme pain. We might suddenly find ourselves outside our bodies, viewing life at a great distance. We might also become overwhelmed with nausea, dizziness, and the growing feeling of disintegration.

The ultimate goal in recapitulation is to fully relive an experience with the full presence and attunement of the present self. This ability to remain fully present through an experience that once overpowered and fragmented the psyche is a major step toward stripping the experience of its disruptive power and beginning a process of integration that eventually renders the experience emotionally neutral, becoming a significant but now non-disruptive fact of life lived.

During the recapitulation process, the present self becomes the parent we never had, the one that can hear and feel the complete truth without judgment, as we identify and release our myriad of feelings frozen in the memory. Our grown-up, adult self helps us sort through our confusions as we continue to unravel what really happened in the incident under experience.

The key to this healing process is not recovering lost memory. Memories will come of their own accord, either through triggers or intent. The most important factor in recapitulation is the ability and strength of the present self to stay present and receive the emotionally charged lost memory as it arrives. For this, we absolutely need our present self to be the adult, the parent we can trust to see us through the journey of recapitulation and recovery.

Centering

We strengthen the present self through mindful practice. Mindfulness asks us to gently and persistently practice centering and returning our awareness to our place of inner calm. That place is unique to each person. For some it may be in the heart center, for others in the feet, and for still others in the vibratory sounds in the ears. Some find that calm in their breathing, others in images of safe places or in mantras and prayer. Mindfulness practice asks that we train our awareness to increasingly find its way back to our calm center as we navigate through all the events of daily life, whether taking a shower, walking, driving, eating, working, sleeping, sitting alone or in company.

Constantly, but calmly and gently, we notice where our awareness has strayed. We acknowledge what it has landed on, and push nothing away, but neither do we attach or continue to freely associate. Instead, we gently return our awareness to our calm center and engage in calmness. And, in so doing, we strengthen our ability to find home base again and again.

By constantly anchoring in calmness we develop and strengthen the ability to stay present and observant, to feel but not be submerged when infinity decides its time to present us with a golden moment of recapitulation, asking us to retrieve and free another lost part of ourselves. Though dizziness, disorientation, and emotional tsunamis may ride in on its wake, our present-adult-parent self remains fully present and attuned, tracking the unfolding storm like a keen observer, seeing the fuller picture for the first time. The present self stands by the younger self, modeling the ability to bear the full intensity of the recapitulation experience, as the fears and anxieties that have held revelations in check are dismantled and the truth is revealed.

In full awareness, the present-adult-parent self, well trained for just this moment, listens and clarifies for the younger self all its confusions about what really happened and why. Clarity brings understanding, as shame and blame are replaced by acceptance of the massive challenge once encountered by the younger self. This is what happens during a recapitulation experience when the formerly frozen, split-off younger self is securely welcomed into the arms of the evolving present self, released now to enjoy a fuller, more complete life.

Mindfully view, listen and clarify

Mindful practice is an ongoing practice that is available to the present self at any moment of the day. We needn’t wait to set time aside to practice, though that kind of discipline is also valuable training. However, for all practical purposes, we can practice mindfully throughout the day by simply bringing our awareness to our calm center over and over again.

Each morning as we arise, we might pause and ground ourselves before we start our day. As we go about our morning ablutions, eat our breakfast, plan our agenda, go into our work day, make decisions, daydream, ruminate, obsess, we might suddenly become aware of where our awareness has strayed, gently acknowledge it, and invite it back into our calm center, even if only for a moment. This is mindful practice. Each time we do this throughout our day, we strengthen our present-adult-parent awareness. Eventually, seemingly without effort, we find it fully present and ready for its encounters with infinity, as it comes beckoning us into recapitulation and evolution, enticing us always toward greater wholeness.

From that calm center,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Practice Inner Silence

In meditation we learn to master our awareness. The mind is a powerful thing, a think tank that never stops. When we meditate we are confronted with the products of this ceaseless mind engine: thoughts.

Thoughts approach our awareness like vendors selling their wares on Black Friday, sales people lobbying for our attention. And just like the freedom we exercise to buy or not to buy, we have the inner ability to attach or not attach to a thought. If we attach we spend our inner capital, our energy, on the thought by giving it our attention, letting it unfold and journeying with it wherever it may take us. If we don’t attach we store our energy in deepening silence. When we surrender our awareness to the activity of the mind, we drift along on a current of free association, floating from thought to thought, our awareness completely captured by a mind-constructed world of thoughts.

With mindfulness we learn to exercise our innate freedom to attach or not to attach to thought. We learn to simply notice the inner lobbyists of thought, and choose not to attend to their wares. We decide to bring our awareness instead to our bodies—to our breathing, or to the sensations we notice as we scan our bodies in this moment.

When thoughts of varying intensities vie for our awareness, we notice them. We don’t struggle with them; we simply bring our awareness back to our bodies. In an instant we feel the vibration in our fingers or lips, or hear the sound of energy deep within our ears. We breathe; we are present. We judge nothing; there is nothing to judge.

Judgment engages the mind. It quantifies, rates, categorizes, etc. With mindfulness everything is equal, the same—no judgment, no distinction. Everything just is and we are fully present with what is without attachment.

Mastering awareness is staying present with what is, and freely, consciously, choosing where to place attention. We are no longer adrift on the sea without a paddle; we volitionally place our awareness where we want it.

If we are eating, we are not reading or watching—we are fully present in eating, in chewing, in tasting, with awareness. If we are walking, we walk without purpose or destination—we are fully present in our bodies, slowly feeling the sensation of connecting to the earth beneath us.

The shamans of Carlos Castaneda’s lineage practice magical passes to achieve inner silence. Fully mindful in their bodies, they engage the intent of inner silence and move in patterns discovered by shamans of antiquity during dreaming. These shamans don’t worry if they are doing the movements correctly. They suspend judgment and mindfully move. They know intent alone will correct the movements; they don’t fall for the tricks of the cogitating mind that seeks to interfere with the flow of silence.

Practicers of mindfulness and practitioners of shamanism alike are gentle but persevering in their practices. They know, as the I Ching so often states: perseverance furthers. Eventually, the mind desists and we become masters of awareness, fully engaged in our journeys. Without mind we experience total freedom.

Silence the mind, journey in infinity!
Chuck

Inviting Recapitulation

Often we are dragged into recapitulation, a shamanic term for revisiting memories, by the usher, the moment of collapse of one reality as we enter another. The usher shows us something of cataclysmic proportions, jolting us out of our complacent and compliant life, and asks us to do inner work. We can also do recapitulation volitionally, by choosing to mindfully investigate something about ourselves that constantly needles us, that just won’t go away yet does not interrupt the flow of our lives. Such needles are often the first awakenings that we have deeper issues to resolve.

Not all recapitulation involves memories. It may also involve habits and behaviors that we do automatically, without thinking, though they may in fact be keeping us from evolving and growing. The following quote, from Full Catastrophe Living by John Kabat-Zinn, offers a gentle approach to mindful recapitulation, a nice description of a process that will, as we persist in its practice, aid us on our journey of change. Here is what he says:

Like the cat, be mindful and alert

“The way of mindfulness is to accept ourselves right now, as we are, symptoms or no symptoms, pain or no pain, fear or no fear. Instead of rejecting our experiences as undesirable, we ask, “What is this symptom saying, what is it telling me about my body and my mind right now?” We allow ourselves, for a moment at least, to go right into the full-blown feeling of the symptom. This takes a certain amount of courage, especially if the symptom involves pain or a chronic illness, or fear of death. But you can at least “dip your toe in” by trying it just a little, say for ten seconds, just to move in a little closer for a clearer look.”

Be courageous. Change your world. Change the entire world

A Day in a Life: On the Road to Mindfulness

The world has grown larger in the past couple of centuries as we have gone beyond our villages and towns, beyond our states and countries, as we have sailed and flown to foreign parts and discovered other villages, towns, and countries. Hopefully, we have learned that the people in those other countries are just like us; flesh and blood, with feelings, emotions, likes and dislikes; that they also love certain things about life; that they love their children, husbands and wives; that they too are fallible and make mistakes just as we do. Hopefully, we have gained a broader view of humanity as a whole and now understand the greater interconnectedness of all things and that we are all responsible for what happens on our planet no matter where we live. Hopefully, we have learned that we are all the same in so many ways, because now may be the time for us to return to our villages and towns and countries, taking with us all that we have learned. Now may be the time for us to utilize what we have learned, for all humanity.

With the crisis in Japan the world has changed. We must accept this fact. We must figure out how we want to live now that we can no longer rely on trade with Japan to support our abundant lifestyles. Our cars must come from within our own borders, our food must be local, our responsibility to the entire world rests on us all making changes that are good for the Earth. We must not only change our personal lives, but we must pressure our governments to change as well, to be a part of the greater world without a doubt, but to make decisions that take into consideration the larger global picture that we have a greater understanding of now that we have all become world explorers. But it is time for the explorers to take what has been learned and, with that new knowledge firmly grasped, return home and change.

So how can we personally change? How can we as individuals make progress toward changing the way things are done? We can start with mindfulness. In the Buddhist sense, mindfulness is staying present in the moment, in as many moments as possible throughout the day. It is being mindful of how we walk, how we eat, how we talk. It is being mindful of how we drive, how we spend our time, how we think. It is being mindful of how we love, how we give, how we receive. It is being mindful of what we choose to look at, read, and allow into our bodies. It is being mindful of our thoughts, judgments, criticisms of our self and others. It is being mindful of our intents, our prayers, our desires. In essence, being mindful is being aware, and being aware of ourselves in the world is how we can be mindful of how we can change.

In practical terms, we must first accept that we are all living in Japan now. Our world has changed. That is the first thing we must take into consideration as we turn and study our personal responsibilities to this changed world. How can I mindfully be present and aware?

“Most of the time, we are lost in the past or carried away by the future. When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love.” So writes Thich Nhat Hanh in The Long Road Turns to Joy, A Guide to Walking Meditation.

I propose meditation in everyday life, in constantly reminding the self to be present, as the means of gaining greater awareness of ourselves in the world and greater awareness of what we must do to change and flow with the energy of nature, now guiding us in this process of change. This does not have to be anything more than reminding the self to focus on each task that we do, to do it mindfully. Personally, I try to be mindful from the moment I wake up. I am not always successful, since it is impossible to be mindful every moment of every day, but the more often I pull my thoughts back to what I am doing the more I am able to be present. Each one of those tiny moments of presence, of awareness of the moment, adds up. Being mindful throughout the day is really very simple.

When I get out of bed and put my feet onto the floor, I say to myself: I am putting my feet onto the floor. I feel the floor under my feet. I am walking, walking, walking. I am waking up with each step. I am noticing the morning darkness or the morning light. I am walking.

When I make my morning coffee, I say to myself: I am making the coffee. I am running the water, measuring the coffee, thanking the earth for the water, the coffee plantations for the delicious coffee beans. I am staying mindfully focused on what I am doing, turning this process into a mantra as I awaken to a new day mindfully. When I drink my freshly brewed coffee, I say to myself: I am drinking this coffee. I am drinking and feeling each sip I take. I am mindfully drinking my coffee.

As the day goes on, I continue to remind myself to pay attention to what I am doing. When I eat, I say to myself: I am eating now. I am eating this delicious food that someone else has grown and tended and I thank them for it. If I keep thanking and focusing on what I am doing other thoughts easily leave, but they come back quickly, so I must again remind myself of what I am doing. This is practicing mindfulness.

In accepting that we are all personally responsible, as citizens of the world, we can turn to the small things in life as the place to begin making the most changes, having the most impact. As we mindfully go about our day we may discover where we are sloppy with our time and thoughts. We may discover that, as we pay attention to each task, we slow down considerably and in so doing gain not only peaceful moments of calm, but discover that we don’t really need to hurry at all, because we see that in slowing down mindfully we have plenty of time for the things that really matter. And that is the crux of what our world is asking of us now. What really matters?

Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment

“The First Noble Truth,” writes Thich Nhat Hahn, “taught by the Buddha is the presence of suffering. Awareness of suffering generates compassion, and compassion generates the will to practice the Way.” If we are to practice the Way, live mindfully in balance with nature, inner and outer nature, we must be aware of suffering. Right now there is suffering in Japan, in the Middle East, and in our own countries there is suffering every day.

We can mindfully remind ourselves of this by saying: I am aware of the suffering in Japan. I am aware of the suffering as the wars in the Middle East are waged. I am aware of the suffering in my own backyard. I feel this suffering. I accept the truth of suffering. I know what it means to suffer too. I now turn my heart outward and send compassion on the wings of intent. I am mindful of my power to change and to change the world by my intent.

This is mindful living. Try it.

Thanks for reading and passing these blogs on to others! Sending you all love and good wishes.

In mindfulness,
Jan

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Chuck’s Place: Facing Oncoming Time & Recapitulation

In his book The Art of Navigation Felix Wolf shares the following anecdote from Carlos Castaneda.

The Nagual always maintained that the average man traveled through life in the caboose, always looking back, always keenly aware of his personal history, his experiences, and his identity as an accumulation of the past. It was one of his favorite analogies. A warrior who wants to become a man of knowledge, however, has to turn around and face life as it unfolds in front of him. Instead of facing receding time he has to face oncoming time, as he put it. Life in the caboose versus life in the engine.” (From page 60. *)

Isn’t the shamanic practice of recapitulation in fact living in the past, the exact opposite of facing oncoming time? Is there not a contradiction here? Doesn’t recapitulation strap us firmly to a seat in the caboose with a view out the back window, at life that has already passed us by? What about total presence in the NOW, the coveted goal Carlos describes as being seated in the engine, directly perceiving oncoming time, engaging life to the fullest? To answer these questions and resolve this seeming paradox we must first explore what it takes to truly live life in the moment.

Both the seers of ancient Mexico and the Buddhists place a premium on reaching a state of inner silence to become mindful, fully aware and present in the NOW. Toward that end Buddhist masters prescribe the practice of meditation where we learn to quiet our restless hearts and become keen observers of all that presents. The molding of this observing self that allows life to be known directly, without the interference of the thinking, judging mind, prepares us to be innocently present in the moment, freed of the cogitations of the mind that interprets versus lives in the moment. Achieving detachment from the ceaseless internal dialogue of the mind is certainly a major component of mindfulness. Like the Buddhists, the seers of ancient Mexico employ their own active meditation practice of magical passes to achieve this coveted state.

Another major component of mindfulness is access to a fully integrated self. How can we be fully present if parts of who we are remain fragmented, unknown and tucked away in the luggage compartment of the self? Furthermore, the legacy of our hidden baggage is the burden it places on life in the present. For instance, if we carry deep wounds of loss, abandonment, negligence, and violation, we will surely be limited in opening to all that life invites us to in the present moment. Recapitulation is the shamanic practice that frees us from these limitations and fully unites the self to be present in the NOW.

In recapitulation we allow ourselves to be taken on a train ride to all the stations of life already lived. We arrive at each of these old stations with our present self keenly observing, taking the journey with our younger self that has been stranded at the station, frozen in time. Our present self opens to the full experience of our younger self, and thereby faces fully the confusion and struggle that once froze our younger self. Often we discover in recapitulation that our younger self was forced to leave its body under the impact of overwhelming trauma and hence the full truth of that moment was never consolidated and made real. In recapitulation the full truth of the past becomes known, allowing its burdens to be released. The energy and innocence of the younger self is freed and united with the present self, firmly seated in the engine, facing oncoming time.

Part of what we encounter as we face oncoming time are triggers that take us out of the present moment. Meditation can help us to remain present in spite of a trigger, but it can’t help us to fully open to the moment if the trigger signifies a lost, frozen part of the self. Life often places triggers in our path to awaken us to discover our lost selves. We cannot simply transcend our triggers and fully open to life without recapitulating the truth that lies behind the trigger. We must be open to completing all our journeys, especially the train wrecks buried deeply within the self if we are ever to be fully available to life in the NOW.

Recapitulation, then, is actually a major component of being able to face oncoming time. Freed from the past we can allow life to approach us with all that it offers, unfiltered, without limitation. From this vantage point, firmly seated in the engine, we can read clearly the signs and synchronicities life presents us with to guide our evolutionary journeys, in infinity—NOW!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,
Chuck

* NOTE: The book mentioned in this blog is available through our Store listed under the category of Shamanism.