Category Archives: psychoanalytic psychotherapy/counseling

Meditation – our experience of self and of the world…

garden2

“Positive emotions, such as compassion and patience, are teachable skills; and the way we think directly influences our experience of the world.”

Excerpts –

Montaigne believed that meditation is the finest exercise of one’s mind and David Lynch uses it as an anchor of his creative integrity. Over the centuries, the ancient Eastern practice has had a variety of exports and permutations in the West, but at no point has it been more vital to our sanity and psychoemotional survival than amidst our current epidemic of hurrying and cult of productivity. It is remarkable how much we, as a culture, invest in the fitness of the body and how little, by and large, in the fitness of the spirit and the psyche — which is essentially what meditation provides.

We know that the self is a social construct and the dissolution of its illusion, Harris argues, is the most valuable gift of meditation:

The conventional sense of self is an illusion [and] spirituality largely consists in realizing this, moment to moment. There are logical and scientific reasons to accept this claim, but recognizing it to be true is not a matter of understanding these reasons. Like many illusions, the sense of self disappears when closely examined, and this is done through the practice of meditation.

See the posting:  http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/09/29/sam-harris-waking-up-meditation/

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Montaigne and the Double Meaning of Meditation

montaigne - Dali 1947

   Montaigne portrait – Dali 1947

Meditation is a rich and powerful method of study for anyone who knows how to examine his mind, and to employ it vigorously. I would rather shape my soul than furnish it. There is no exercise that is either feeble or more strenuous, according to the nature of the mind concerned, than that of conversing with one’s own thoughts. The greatest men make it their vocation, “those for whom to live is to think.   – Montaigne

“Meditation,” here, is taken to mean “cerebration,” vigorous thinking — the same practice John Dewey addressed so eloquently a few centuries later in How We Think. This conflation, at first glance, seems rather antithetical to today’s notion of meditation — a practice often mistakenly interpreted by non-practitioners as non-thinking, an emptying of one’s mind, a cultivation of cognitive passivity. In reality, however, meditation requires an active, mindful presence, a bearing witness to one’s inner experience as it unfolds. In that regard, despite the semantic evolution of the word itself, Montaigne’s actual practice of meditation was very much aligned with the modern concept and thus centuries ahead of his time, as were a great deal of his views.

           from: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/09/05/montaigne-on-meditation/

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On mindful listening…

conversation2

I open with this short excerpt on mindful listening – for listening, being one of the key elements in maintaining a good relationship with another person, is also one of the fundamental ingredients in any therapeutic endeavor.  Freud considered the idea of ‘evenly suspended attention’, and while referring to this concept may be stretching the point a bit, it speaks to the intentional act of fully and determinedly listening to another.  Too often, I sit with two people that are unable to listen to one another, wishing rather “to get their point across” in the conversation. The consequence is that one person frequently comes to a point where their confidence is shaken, where they may feel defeated and unable to imagine a better place with the other. Rudy Oldeschulte

(This excerpt is from the April 2014 issue of Mindful magazine. Author Mirabai Bush)

            Thoreau said, “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought and attended to my answer.”  Mindful listening helps us be fully present for another person. It is the gift of our attention. It moves us closer to each other. It allows the speaker to feel less vulnerable and more inclined to open up to the listener. Not listening creates separation and fragmentation, which is always painful. 

            To listen mindfully to another person, stop doing anything else, breathe naturally, and simply listen, without an agenda, to what is being said. If thoughts about other things arise, gently let them go and return to the speaker’s words. As responses arise in your mind, wait until you’ve heard all that has to be said before replying. Try not to let your story overcome the speaker’s.  Be curious; don’t assume that you know. Listen for feelings as well as the words. 

            And you will want to be listened to also. But when you’re speaking, if the person you’re talking to doesn’t appear to be mindfully listening, be patient. As Winnie the Pooh once said, “It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.” 

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Belonging…

Alexander Artway - Parisian Café

“I’ve always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I’ve worked hard at being the hero of my own life. But every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn’t know how to belong. Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.”

Jeanette Winterson Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Photo- A Artway

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On the Capacity to be Alone In the Presence of Another…

I’ve written about this concept by DW Winnicott on past posts – ‘the capacity to be alone in the presence of another’ –  one that underlies many aspects of our developmental journey – our capacity for solitude, for good reading and attention, love in relationships, and self respect, inter alia…

   This excerpt is from a write up that details an interview with Adam Phillips on this topic. Both links are included below: 

PHILLIPS: That idea was one of Winnicott’s most radical, because what he was saying was that solitude was prior to the wish to transgress. That there’s something deeply important about the early experience of being in the presence of somebody without being impinged upon by their demands, and without them needing you to make a demand on them. And that this creates a space internally into which one can be absorbed. In order to be absorbed one has to feel sufficiently safe, as though there is some shield, or somebody guarding you against dangers such that you can “forget yourself ” and absorb yourself, in a book, say. Or, for the child, in a game. It must be one of the precursors of reading, I suppose. I think for Winnicott it would be the definition of a good relationship if, in the relationship, you would be free to be absorbed in something else.

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/06/09/adam-phillips-paul-holdengraber-interview/

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6286/the-art-of-nonfiction-no-7-adam-phillips

Enjoy.

 

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Thought and communication…

coffee mug

“There is something at the bottom of every new human thought, every thought of genius, or even every earnest thought that springs up in any brain, which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one’s idea for thirty-five years; there’s something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you forever; and with it you will die, without communicating to anyone perhaps the most important of your ideas.”

—        Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

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Susan Cain…on Introverts…

susan cain

http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts#t-6373

 

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