Benefits Of Investigating Emotions

During this discussion, Peter related the lojong aphorism, “Work on the stronger disturbing emotions first,” relating it to the second Foundation of Mindfulness, Mindfulness of feelings as feelings, not a self.  The integrated operation of the lojong aphorisms was reviewed, emphasizing the importance of regular mindfulness meditation practice to cultivate the emotional self-regulation required to benefit from mindful investigation of feelings, separate from the narrative “selfing story”, which reinforces “buying into” a sense of self that is distressed and confused.

This approach to alleviating suffering is similar to a modern psychotherapeutic intervention, “Exposure Therapy”, which combines progressive relaxation with direct investigation of the distressed emotional tone that a person suffers from.  This exposure, over time, reduces reactivity to the distress, provided the person does not align with a narrative associated with the distress.

After the discussion, there was a lively dialogue among the participants regarding concrete experiences that the practice of desensitization can be applied to.

Here are the notes prepared for the discussion:  THE BENEFITS OF INVESTIGATING EMOTIONALLY POTENT ISSUES

Next week’s topic will explore the importance of non-judgmental reflection on the application of a lojong aphorism.

Lojong And Wholesome Speech

This week’s discussion broached two aphorisms: Don’t speak about others’ defects, and Don’t become preoccupied with the opinions, behaviors and motivations of others.  These aphoristic commitments focus on activating Wholesome Speech, Action and Livelihood from the Eightfold Path.  Peter emphasized the practical steps for cultivating the mental clarity and constraint necessary to check one’s speech, avoiding anything that may create a sense of separation and diminishment of others, most exemplified by gossip.  He also commented on the common human mistake of “mind reading”, that is, the inclination to jump to conclusions about what someone’s intentions are.  This was followed by discussions among those present of  examples of gossiping and mind reading, along with what benefits regular daily meditation and memorizing the aphorisms can bring to interrupting hurtful and thoughtless behaviors.

Here are the notes developed for the talk:   AVOID FOCUSING ON THE DEFECTS OF OTHERS

Next week’s talk will focus on the benefits of intentionally investigating the emotionally charged self-states with mindfulness and equanimity.

Balancing Emotions As Circumstances Change

The focus of this talk is how the Four Noble Truths are manifested while applying the lojong mind training aphorisms.  Reviewing aphorisms discussed in previous meetings, Peter described how the cultivation of internally stable focus and emotional balance creates the optimal “platform of awareness” for the practice of vipassana.  Vipassana, in turn, reveals the physical, emotionally urgent driver of the internal narrative-the “selfing story”-and thi is the first Noble Truth, direct awareness of internal distress and confusion. This practice then reveals the “dreamlike” characteristics of the “selfing” process, distinguishing the difference between the internal narrative and the more fundamental experience of physical sensation, the craving and clinging characteristic of the second Noble Truth.  The decrease potency of emotional reactivity provides detachment and relief from the distress and confusion, characteristic of the third Noble Truth, and the fourth Noble Truth, the Eightfold Path, provides the ways and means to accomplish this.  This ability to combine clear awareness and benevolent intention fulfills the core teaching of lojong, tonglen, the Tibetan practice of compassion.  Here are the notes prepared for the talk:  Balancing The Changing Mind

Next week’s discussion will explore the importance of Right Speech in relationships.

Proficiency Of Mind Training

This talk covers four of the lojong mind training aphorisms, “All dharma has a single purpose”, “Of the two judges, rely on the principal one”, “Always have the support of a joyful mind”, and “You are proficient if you can practice even when distracted”.  Peter changed some of the wording of the aphorisms, to be more accessible to current language.  During the explanation, the links between previously discussed lojong mind training aphorisms and the ones being discussed were reviewed.

The intention of these aphorisms is to foster continuing to integrate the lojong training into regular life routines, providing ways to access and assess capabilities to be mindfully engaged in whatever emerges into awareness, prepared to shift attention away from unwholesome self-state organization, guided by clear awareness (Right Understanding) and benevolent intention (Right Intention).

The explanations were followed by discussion about the meaning of the terms and how the aphorisms can be applied in normal life routines.

Here are the notes prepared for this night’s discussion:   Proficiency of Training

Next week’s discussion will focus on the commitments to compassionate thoughts and actions that the aphorisms represent.

Living A Life For Awakening

This week’s talk focuses on the value of building a lifestyle around daily meditation practice and integrating the lojong aphorisms into daily life routines.  Peter talked of how his spiritual growth matured over the 33 years as a householder committed to realizing the Noble Eightfold Path.  Peter mentioned the slogans from Alcoholics Anonymous, “One day at a time”, and “Progress, not perfection” as useful in the process of awakening.We live in a culture that does not foster monastic living, and must find a way to make use of the opportunities we have for spiritual development in a materialistic society.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Dedicate your life to the process of awakening

Next week’s talk will begin to explore the aphorisms of lojong that increase proficiency in the development of clear awareness and benevolent intention.