When we are faced with a variety of spiritual teachings and practices, we must keep a geniune sense of inquiry. What is the effect of these teachings and practices on myself and others? In his last words, the Buddha said we must be a lamp unto ourselves.
As you continue your soul work you will eventually discover the repeated patterns of thought, feelings and sensations what Jack Kornfield called the “Insistent Visitors.” In this video/audio blog post I take you through four basic principles for dealing with these difficult and repeating problems.
The four principles are: Expand the Field of Awareness, Come to a Full Awareness of the Feelings, Discover what is Asking for Acceptance, and Open through the Center.
When facing difficulties our automatic response (our egoic response) is get rid of the difficulty. Ego uses defense mechanisms like repression, denial, intellectualizing, reaction formation, projection, acting out, sublimation etc, to distort reality. In contrast, Buddhist and Jungian thought teaches us to turn these difficulties into alchemical gold. They teach us that our wounds that ego is protecting with these defenses are the very pathways to our soul and our highest potential.
Here is the latest audio blog post:
In this audio/video I take you through chapter four of A PATH WITH HEART: Necessary Healing by pointing out the four fundamentals of mindfulness: healing the body, healing the heart, healing the mind, and healing through emptiness. I pull from Ken McLeod, Rollo May, and Christine Caldwell to deepen the material.
I took longer than usual to complete this audio blog post because I wanted to make strong distinctions in regards to body, heart or emotions and mind. The very essence of psychological work is in this chapter. An entire book could be written (probably has but I have not read it yet) on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. They are: “awareness of the body and senses, awareness of heart and feelings, awareness of the mind and thoughts, and awareness of the principles that govern life.” Kornfield continues,
The development of awareness in these four areas is the basis for all of the Buddhist practices of insight and awakening.
And I would add it is the basis of psychological insight and awakening.
Here is the visual/audio portion for Chapter 4, Necessary Healing. I had to break it into two parts.
To take the one seat in the center is to commit to meditation as your central spiritual practice. Kornfield warns against the practice of trying many different spiritual practices which move you left and right, forward and backward without ever drilling deep into the depths of your being. In this blog post, rather than, re-capping the chapter, which I hope you read, or recapping my audio comments, to which I hope you listen, I am bringing in another Buddhist book I often recommend — Wake Up to your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention by Ken McLeod.
In Chapter 3, “Cultivating Attention”, McLeod describes in great detail the practice of attention which is a critical precursor to meditation¹. McLeod distinguishes two types of attention: active and passive. He wrote,
When an experience absorbs emotional energy, whether the experience is a flower, a thought, a feeling, or a belief, attention goes passive and we are less present with what’s going on. Emotional energy shifts to a lower level. We are, in effect, passive participants in the experience.
In contrast, active attention occurs, “when attention remains directed at an object and there is a shift in clarity and vividness.” He goes on to say,
Active attention is volitional, stable, and inclusive. We choose to direct attention; we aren’t simply reacting to stimulus. Active attention is not disrupted by sounds, thoughts, sights, or other events in our experience…. Because active attention is not disrupted by habitual patterns, the more we live in attention, the less we fall victim to the reactive processes that are operating us.
With out further adieu, here is the visual/audio portion for Chapter 3, Take the One Seat!
¹ In the audio portion of this blog Lucia René in Unplugging the Patriarchy: A Mystical Journey into the Heart of a New Age tells us the practice of attention (or concentration) precedes the experience of meditation.
In the next several blog posts I am adding an audio note. My intention is to take you through a book I consider to be fundamental to spiritual development. Each blog post will cover one chapter in the journey. I encourage you to read or re-read my blog post called Reading with Soul in Mind before getting started with this series of blog lessons.
The first book in this series of In Depth with DR BREN: Lessons from her Soul Journey is Jack Kornfield’s A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life. I chose this book because it teaches the fundamentals of getting to know oneself, both ego and soul.
This first audio blog post is on Chapter One: Did I Love Well?