Saturday, July 03, 2004

8. Optimism

My meditation at home is different from away. Sangha meetings are good, because of the group. Simon's house is good, I've meditated there a lot. Aryaloka is great, I've had very deep experiences there. New Jersey is a little tough. I've got a bench here now, but it's too low, and there's no cushion. I need a higher bench and cushion. There it trouble with my foot falling asleep.

On the one hand you don't want to move while meditating. On the other hand, it's not torture, you have to adjust and react to sleeping limbs.

So I moved a bit, and ended up on the bed, which was my old position, knees crossed, back supported. Not exactly an alert position, but OK.

Despite the moving around, I went 10 minutes per stage, instead of 8. So that was positive. I'm extending naturally. But I moved, and had the last stage, laying down! A definite no no.

I got the head feeling, which I usually like, but I'm trying to move the feeling more down into my body. To sink it, to swallow it. I sometimes can get it near my throat and swallow, and I've succeeded in getting it all the way down to my upper chest. David Smith has it just below his belly button. I don't know how to get it down there, but that's one hope of mine in meditation.

Having said that, I've developed deeper aspirations about meditation and become very unsatisfied with my present state of affairs. Not going on a retreat in a while partially is to blame, but there's other things I can do. I need to do more personal meditation days. Instead today I just took a long nap during the Mets game, and woke up to see them win. And then I've been reading Learned Optimism by Seligman.

I was reading a book that suggested the concept "spiritual bypassism", which is the idea that you don't have to do any work outside of spirituality, that will take care of all your troubles. Which is not true. Plus I want to be a therapist, I have been a therapist as an intern, and I want to learn more in the psychology realm.

Seligman's book is good, it has a test, that breaks things down some. One shocking result though, was that I don't universalize my goodness. I'm pretty optimistic in not universalizing my badness. And I do see myself as permanently good, but not pervasively good. I have an OK hope index.

While it seems very convincing, it does go against what I've learned in child management and discipline. Don't dole out general praise, it's better to be specific. I've only read 50 pages into the book, so I need to give him a chance to qualify his statements. He also says mild pessimism is useful in a few situations. But I balk at universalizing traits, making global personal statements, good or bad. I've got to read more of the book, but I do believe being positive is a very important step on the spiritual path.

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