Coloured portrait

Coloured portrait

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Types of Meditation

Types of Meditation 

A basic mapping of reflective practices
Created by Tana Saler on April 12, 2020

“Meditation” is an umbrella term for a variety of practices, same as “art” and “sport”: it names a vast category without pointing at specific purposes and methods. Without the specific categories of meditation, there is a great deal of confusion among people who attempt to meditate, as well as those who teach meditation.

Teaching Meditation
What do you do?
Preaching: Telling people what to do without telling them how to do it. “You should meditate regularly!”
Educating: Informing people about methods, purpose, history, research etc “Studies that tested human brains have shown significant neural activity during and after meditation” 
Instructing: Giving clear and doable “How To” instructions for people to follow any given method. “With eyes either open or close, notice the temperature of your breath changing as it enters and leaves your nostrils”

Mindfulness Meditation vs Guided Imagery
What mental faculty is being employed?
Four of the mind’s faculties are: 
  • Remembering (thinking about the past)
  • Planning (thinking about the future)
  • Noting (observing through the senses what you see, hear, touch or feel, smell and taste)
  • Imagining (making up something that isn’t being noticed which only exists in the imagination)

Mindfulness Meditation
Guided Imagery (Visualization)
Purpose: Awareness; ultimate purpose: awareness of the deep nature of being and the real self (spiritual awakening)
Purpose: varied, including healing, personal improvement, creativity and vision
Mental faculty: Noting

Mental faculty: Imagining
(It is possible to integrate imagining with noting, for example, combining imagined mental images with awareness of present body-felt sensations)

Noting In: See, hear, touch what emerges in one’s own body - Body-centred

Example: Noting body warmth, heaviness, mental images, the sound of breath.

Noting Out: See, hear, touch what emerges in one’s surroundings - Environment-centred

Example: Noting the colours and shapes of flowers, the sound of birds singing, the texture of orange peel.

With body awareness: Imagine roots growing out of your toes into the ground (and feel the sensations forming around the toes)

Away from body-awereness: Imagine neighbours knocking at each other’s door with gift offerings and running small errands for each other
Noting Narrow: Concentration

Example: Gazing at a wall with polka dots, focus on one single dot and do your best to ignore all others. Or, focus on the tip of your nose. Or focus on one sound.

Noting Wide: Contemplation

Example: Gazing at a wall with polka dots, try to notice as many dots as possible, and leave no dot out of your awareness. Or, observe all the sights, sounds and feelings inside and outside your body.

Useful Visualizations: Have a noticeable positive effect in one’s well-being, performance, creativity and other improvements

Not Useful Visualizations: Have -at best - no noticeable improvement, and at worst create contraction and further suffering (example: imagining doom and gloom)
Noting sitting / lying down (Zen, Vipassana)

Noting moving (QiGong, Tai-chi, Feldenkrais)

Note: This is an introductory level mapping, and doesn’t bring complex elements such as meditative states of awakening (Gross, Subtle, Causal and Nondual) or stages of psychological development. 
Credit: My influencers Shinzen Young (the Noting in and Noting out) , Ken Wilber (the polka dots wall), Ken Cohen, Goenka

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Forwarded Junk on Messenger and the Human Need to Connect

Who else is overwhelmed by the amount of forwarded junk on Messenger? 
Ping! Ping! Pingpingpingpingbleepingping!
For the first time since iPhones I now turned off the sound notifications in Messenger. In states of post-traumatic hyperarousal I jump with every ping I hear, and lately they became too often, beyond what I could handle and stay sane.
To me Messenger is for private messages, private and personal, and the ping has been useful with time sensitive texts, like "I'm out at your door, the intercom is not working, please let me in" or "There's a new link for our zoom meeting in five minutes, and here it is". When I hear a ping, I hear urgency. Not a chain letter, virtual hug, a Coronavirus update in my native language, or a meme. Urgent.
People's need to connect is more stringent now than ever, and forwarding stuff on Messenger (or WhatsApp) creates an instantaneous illusion of connection.
But it's not what connects. 
People who barely know each other, if at all, send each other stuff that they find remotely interesting, or scary and therefore compelling, or cute, without even knowing each other's interests, tastes, and preferences. This doesn't connect: at best it amuses, at worst it annoys. The social distancing measures only add to an already existing problem: the human disconnect. And the disconnect is not because of a virus or a decree of law: it's because the humans' clumsiness in relating to each other.
Connections are formed when people speak to each other in their own words, not when they quote somebody else's regurgitated ideas. First talk to the people you know and send them what you know that they like, not what you think that they should like because you like it. If you don't know someone, ask them questions about themselves and tell them what you want them to know about you. Go have a conversation - with dialogue -, disclose yourself and inquire into the other: You can only love what you know, and nobody gets to know anything about anybody through forwarded memes, quotes, and video clips. 
Now copy and paste this in your Messenger and send it to anyone who forwards you junk 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

How to Apply Constellation Work to Real Life and Make Peace with Parents and Family Members

Here's an example of how to apply therapy and practice in real life:

Family Constellations reveal hidden patterns and symmetries which Bert Hellinger spoke of after noticing the constellations unfolding throughout the years. He said and wrote that in any family system, love flows from the old ones to the young ones. Parents have their children's back and take care of them emotionally. Children will grow up and have their own children, and have their back. When the flow is reversed, a child taking care of a parent's emotions and life, or a parent demanding and expecting such care from a child, the harmony of the system is disturbed and as with all systems, it affects all its members.

With this knowledge, some years ago I took steps towards healing my relationship with my father, while he was still living. In addition to my own personal work, which included constellation work, I addressed my father directly, and asked him for what I needed to receive from him, which was specifically appreciation. 

"Dad, what do you appreciate about me as a person?"

Dad responded, at first clumsy "I like your pendant" (that was his first attempt, and he got better). Then one day, when I turned 50, and visited him in Bucharest, he said" "I like how you've evolved, and I appreciate how you help people (with your work)". When I heard these words, I felt a surge of energy up my spine, which spread out to my entire body. For the first time I felt love from my father to me, and from me to him. Everything got better for us from than day on. When he died, we had both gained a degree of peace that would have not been possible without constellation work, Hellinger's insights, and my own ability to apply this method to life.

My work with clients thus extends beyond the time and space of our sessions; my clients are encouraged to do "homework" with their families: ask for what they need from their parents, whenever possible, and learn to offer empathy and support to their children.

In the photo: Tana Saler original wall painting of a family system. Love flows from ancestors to young ones.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Body Signals of High or Low Qi / Ki / Chi / Vitality

The subjective calibration of Qi, √Član Vital, or Life Force Energy is binary: what you do, eat, look at, talk about, think about and so forth, is either enlivening, or draining. 

Body awareness lets you know clearly.

When enlivened and vital you notice one or more of the following:

- Flow. Sensations of movement, fluidity, energy
- Pleasure. Movement is pleasurable
- An equal distribution of body temperature
- Expansion. You feel taller, wider, spacious.
- Breathing is full, and soft on the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale
- Clarity
- Creativity - you get novel ideas with ease
- Joy - you laugh and smile naturally
- Inspiration and insights

With diminished vitality, you may notice one or more of the following:

- Solidity. Parts of the body feel congealed, stiff, stuck
- Movement is restricted and uncomfortable
-Unequal distribution of body heat. For example, hot head, cold hands and feet
- Contraction. The overall feeling smaller, hunched, tight, constricted. For example, constricted breathing.
- The breathing feels hard on the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale
- Foggy brain. Extreme fatigue feels as if you are drunk, confused, spaced out
- Difficulty imagining and generating new ideas. Example: writer's block
- Low mood, pessimism
- Difficulty planning or envisioning for the future

Friday, March 6, 2020

Dos and Don'ts for Healing Facilitators

To facilitate healing in your client is to see healing as a possibility. 

What hinders healing:

- Seeing a "case of" instead of a person
- Expecting the client's decline. As facilitator, you are in a position of power: your bad prognosis, expressed or silent, are bound to lead your client's expectations.
- Quoting statistics and science to persuade the client of an impending decline
- Making prophecies of doom "You're going to have this condition all your life" or "You have up to five years to live" (I heard doctors saying both to patients, and none turned out true)
- Pity. This is one of the worst disservices towards a healing client. Unlike compassion, which is empathy plus the desire to alleviate suffering, pity is fear-based and diminishing to a person.
- Trying to impress or some other form of self-service, like persuade client to buy more services from you. Sadly a great deal of marketing is fear-based ("Buy my stuff or you're going to die") and thus not true service.

What promotes healing:

- Hold your client in high regard and focus on their strength. That's even more important when he or she has self-doubts
- Stay centred, open and loving. You are in the caring professions, so heal and practice heart-opening practices so you can fully care about the person you are treating.
- Stay open and curious to what is possible for your client. Understand that the realms of possibilities is vast and beyond the grasp of your current understanding.
-Let go of statistics and prognosis. Your client is not a number. See the unique person who stands in front of you, and inquire into what is possible for him or her.
- Aquire good, solid communication skills. Practice listening with your entire body. Learn to convey that which is useful.
- Hope is never unreasonable. Hope is a glimpse into possibility. Encourage your client to remain open and curious.
- Be client oriented, take the client's perspective. Instead of asking "What can I do for you?" (first person perspective inquiry) ask: "What do you need or want to address today?"

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Humour is a Delivery System for Content

Saying that someone is humourless because they don't laugh at your insulting sarcasm is like telling someone who is rejecting unwanted sexual advances that they're frigid. 
Humour is form, and as such, it's a delivery system for any content, be it intended to attack or to support, to divide or to connect, to establish one's own status or to be of service, to incite hate and fear or to inform and educate.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Grumpy Dog Granddad

He is a tall, lean man in his seventies, walking a tiny brown short-haired dog. He walks leading with his head, his whole body looking like a moving question mark. 

The first time I saw him was a warm fall evening. Carmen, my Golden Retriever rescue girl went to greet the little dog, as she does with all dogs she meets, and I try to strike a conversation with the man, as I do with most dog parent neighbours I meet.

The man pulls the tiny dog away and says: “I don’t like dogs”.

“But you walk a dog” I ask, wondering.

“I don’t like dogs, but I like walking” replies the man, his face muscles stiff like stone, showing no signs of emotion. Then he adds: “This is not my dog, it’s my granddaughter’s”. Then he walks away.

Every time we cross our paths during dog walks, the dogs pull towards each other to greet, and the grumpy dog granddad yanks the leash and pulls the tiny dog away, almost getting him flying. Every time this happens, I get grumpy. I grow heavy and tight in my chest and I run a quick mental list with everything wrong with this man.

This morning, however, I had a different idea. It is a brilliantly sunny day with clear azure skies, a hope-filled peak-preview into the Spring arrival. Walking towards each other, I softened my gaze, slowed down my breath and let it drop into the belly, and imagined that I had swallowed the sun who is now shining brightly right inside my heart, glowing out to infinity in all the directions, including tiny brown dog and grumpy ol’ grandpa into my vast glowing bubble. As we crossed each other and the pups managed to sneak a brief nose-to-nose sniff, I said: “Good morning”. Grandpa’ replied a barely audible “G’ mo’” and kept walking. 

And then I asked myself what it was like to be this man. Whatever has happened in his life? What did he go through? What was it like for him to be his parents’ little boy? Was he allowed to play outside with other children? Was he admonished often? Was he ever praised? 

As I ran this mental inquiry in my imagination, my heart warmed up and softened, my eyes got moist with tears of compassion, and my breathing became spacious and deep. I turned around to escort the man and the not-his-dog with my gaze, wishing him - them - peace and well-being. 

And for these moments I won the battle with the inner trolls and made some way towards a kinder heart and greater flow of love for my own sake, my neighbour’s and hopefully for you.