How About Feeling Bad?
Note from John ...
Often I'm asked, "But what about when I'm dealing with bad feelings emerging from my past - are you saying I should just run away from them, use the Enjoy This Moment programs to always focus on enjoying the moment, even when something negative is really bugging me?"
This is probably one of the most important questions related to the whole Enjoy This Moment movement - are we in fact just using the guise of mindfulness to avoid negative traumas from our past that perhaps actually need our attention??
As a former therapist, I find this issue highly important, and hers's my read on it. We were all banged around emotionally while we were growing up, and also since then. We do have loads of inhibitions, anxieties, negative attitudes and traumatized feelings. Can we just enjoy the moment an dignore them?
Facing Our Demons
Most of us without question are still packing buried memories of when we were hurt, frightened, abused, even threatened with death itself ...
And yes, it's important to 'face our danger' and deal with feelings when they arise, whatever they are. We can't set ourselves spiritually free without setting all of us free, and that includes our feelings, memories, phobias, neuroses - the whole gamut of blocked traumas and urges that live under pressure within our always-lurking subconscious.
Most people actually seem to die without ever managing to face and accept and neutralize their demons - and that's a gigantic human tragedy that haunts every therapist.
And to be entirely transparent, this realization is partly what drove me to bring together the programs in the Enjoy This Moment app. I felt almost compelled ten years ago to start gathering together or producing or otherwise manifesting, in audio or video form, all the most effective psychological and meditative tools that have worked personally for me, and also for my friends and clients.
My dad was an inventor, and I've naturally followed after him - but in my case I'm not inventing new musical instruments, I'm rediscovering or inventing psychological tools that enable us to take charge of our attention and aim it in rewarding directions.
That's taken a decade ... and now we've put all these experience-stimulating programs into the seven primary portals you'll explore on this app. OVer and over, you'll first receive a mood massage as you shift your focus to your breathing here in this moment, and also tune into the feelings in your heart, and throughout your body.
That's the vital act of regaining your senses. You'll find as you peruse all the various types of experience on this app, that the act of shifting your mood into fully enjoying this moment is actually just the launch pad into mindsets that enable you to find your center, and from that center (your breathing and your heart) you can then open up to whatever is naturally happening inside you, and around you.
The zen approach to life, which so deeply impacted me when I was exposed to it at 20, is simply to stay centered in the body and the moment, and in this mindset to pay attention to whatever emerges in that moment.
How can we enter this zen state? You'll find, especially in the Primal Journeys and Core Virtues portals, elicitor words and phrases and sentences that will effortlessly focus your attention in directions that nurture the zen mindset, by encouraging inner balance, neutrality, acceptance, compassion and so forth. And when you focus in those directions, a quality of joy and power and acceptance will quite unexpectedly inflow into your experience.
And - when that inflow happens, all you do is simply 'be' and breathe and observe what emerges. That's the heart of zen, of mindfulness, of spiritual presence. And when negative painful upset emotions push to the surface of that experience, you can learn to simply accept them, give them healing attention that they need to let go - and they will effortlessly and thankfully just ... go away.
That's the zen way. And it works.
The Healing Process
I consider all the programs on this app to be healing agents, plain and simple. They're the processes that I have observed to work best in letting go of negative thoughts and emotions emerging from your past. You just turn on the app and relax, breathe ... and then spin a random-choose wheel and see what comes to you ... and be then stay open to experience whatever comes.
It's called surrendering to the flow.
And somehow, through a subtle psych mechanism we don't understand as yet, the simple act of seeing and accepting but not engaging with a terrible memory, sets a person free from that memory. It'll still be there, but without a charge of fear or repulsion or rejection attached to it. You simply admit that it happened, you give it loving attention as you breathe ... and then you choose to let go of the past, and enjoy the present moment.
I'm doing my best to explain all this, but the proof is always found in the doing - just spin the wheel to guide your attention ... and take a breather to regain your senses. And then enter into a state of deep acceptance and compassion, stay open and neutral as you observe your feelings arising. And if a negative fear-based feeling or memory arises, allow the natural healing process to happen
Each time you move through this basic healing process, in one of the dozens of varieties found on the Enjoy This Moment app, you'll go deeper. The app offers you a safe progressive process for letting go of the past and fully enjoying what's happening right here, right now - this is the action spot.
Each moment, you're choosing to focus your attention somewhere - the app will help you focus in highly productive and pleasurable directions. That's our job. And when you make this process an everyday thing that you choose to do for just 10 minutes or so, as a healing gift to yourself, you'll day by day move beyond the influence of all your old bad feelings - not by rejecting them, but by accepting them ... and then consciously letting them go.
One of the main zen virtues is simplicity. Yes, the universe ir radically complex. And at the same time, there's a pervading unity and simplicity to life itself. Love is not complicated. Nor is true healing. We simply must get out of the way and allow it to do its natural thing.
When the ego becomes quiet, a deeper power and guidance and intent can effortlessly emerge ... and then healing takes place. Joy is what powers healing. It's how love flows. Therefore our app holds joy as primary - because it's a simple quality of the heart that empowers all good experiences to emerge.
What Is Short-form Meditation?
"Quick Dips Into Deep Contemplation"
In classic Sanskrit texts from ancient India, three distinct levels of mindful mental focusing are identified. The first and easiest is called 'concentration' which all of us know and practice regularly - focused attention is what enables us to devote our full power of manifestation right where it's most needed. When we can't concentrate, we get nothing done, nor do we look deeply into anything. ADHD is one manifestation of the inability to concentrate. And learning to be more mindful always requires managing our attention so that it calms down and becomes centered on one focal point. Usually in meditation, this focus is on the breathing.
The second level of mindful focusing is called 'contemplation' in which we focus attention toward some particular object, theme, or idea, and allow the power of association to be stimulated by the object or theme. We look deeply into various aspects of our chosen focus, contemplating with deep reflection.
The third level of mindful focusing is called 'meditation' in which all thoughts become quiet, and the mind is simply present with the object - or expands to include the 'whole at once'. This is the ultimate experience of deep meditation that spontaneously emerges, and which recharges our inner batteries with hope, insight, trust, and renewed vigor.
Short-Form Approach To Inner Awakening
Most people in our society would love to be able to meditate and reach this 'quiet mind' state regularly. The emotional and health benefits are well-documented. But traditionally, such meditation requires about 20 minutes minimum, as the scattered focus of a busy mind is brought under control by a hopefully benign ego. The attention is focused on a point, then allowed to associate with words and thoughts for a while, and then hopefully brought into a quiet-mind state of full meditation.
But for most people in our society, regularly sitting for half an hour, once or twice a day, and succeeding in quieting the mind through long-form traditional meditation isn't even a possibility. Most of us simply can't do it - a lot of us have tried traditional meditation, and most have given up and quit. That's the reality of our situation, as I've observed from 50 years of teaching meditation.
So. I've been asking the key question - what particular aspects and functions of traditional meditation are actually most valuable in contemporary society? And how can we advance these functions so that everyone can master them?
While working in corporate America developing mindfulness programs for at-work application, I found myself pushed to develop shorter and shorter units of guided experience, to fit into a hectic employee's or executive's workday. Following a number of years of experimentation, this research has evolved into the Quiet Your Mind book, program and app.
Whenever you have just a few minutes free, the Quiet Mind app will guide your attention almost instantly toward one of many focal experiences which generate the feeling of inner calm, balance, clarity, joy, and expansion.
How This Quiet Mind Process Works
The Quiet Mind experience is accomplished through generating a quick shift in cognition from thinking mode, into sensation mode. Rather than taking fifteen to twenty minutes to make this shift, the audio and visual guidance provided by the Quiet Your Mind app helps you instantly refocus in mindful meditative directions.
Moving through this quick shift once an hour might not generate the total pay-off of an hour of solitary meditation - but it will definitely deliver a mini-meditation experience that helps you feel more 'here' and calm and positive inside your own skin. And each time you do this, you get better at it!
The core of this Quiet Your Mind program are 24 six-minute guided meditations which combine concentration, contemplation, and meditation. If you return at least once a day for a 2-minute or 6 minute short-form meditation, you will progressively develop new mental habits that build day by day into a deep meditative practice. And when you have more time, try one of our 8 longer Audio Adventures.
You'll find loads of different types of guided experiences awaiting you on this app, each of which aims your attention inward toward a unique experience of your personal core of being. If you have time for a half-hour meditation each day, great. If not, this app provides you with all you'll need in order to use short-form meditation to improve and expand your daily experience of life.
Is Meditating Actually Being Lazy?
We live in a society that highly values people who are chronically stuck in high gear, always busy doing something. In contrast, it seems that one of the great sins in our society is indulging in feeling happily lazy.
But - when you meditate, you just sit there and do nothing. Isn't that being ... lazy?
Traditional long-form meditation might seem lazy - but meditation in practice is actually quite demanding as you struggle to quiet your mind and hold still and do nothing at all for half an hour. It's not that easy!
Back in the 1960s a little book came out called "The Lazy Man's Guide To Enlightenment" and ever since then, I've loved this title and general idea - that in order to achieve spiritual progress, we don't have to achieve or accomplish or do anything all all.
Is it really true that we don't have to push and struggle, we don't have to manipulate our own inner experience into submission, in the name of spiritual progress? Can we advance spiritually and reap the multiple wellness benefits of meditation without all the discipline and struggle?
We're continually advancing other aspects of our lives to be less difficult and take up less of our valuable time. Can we do this with inner growth and awakening as well?
I've explored this question in depth, and here's my conclusion: Now that we have tech to help us, it has indeed become possible to gain much of the benefit of classic meditation, without all the classic struggle. I know a lot of meditators won't like this idea. But I also know that a great many of us will be quite thankful that tech can help us in our meditative explorations.
Using carefully-crafted audio-visual guidance, we can now tap tech to help us effortlessly ease up, become more centered, and open our hearts and minds to deep rejuvenation and insight.
The Quiet Your Mind App aims to make meditation fit your hectic schedule, and also to make meditating effortless and enjoyable and even fun. We offer traditional long-form guidance if and when you want it - and we also offer quite a number of guided short-form meditations that you can insert into your day and enjoy, in every every free moment.
You can jump in and install the app for free, or explore my three main books on this topic:
Where Thoughts Come From
I think you'll probably agree that, for so many of us, our moment-to-moment flow of inner feelings and thoughts seem to just run untended on auto pilot most of the time, day in and day out.
We can either run on auto pilot and habitual patterns established in the past, or we can shift into an entirely different mindset and assume responsibility for where we aim our attention each moment, which in turn generates the emotions we feel in our body.
What I've been exploring this lifetime is to what extent we can choose to consciously focus our power of attention in directions that stimulate, provoke, awaken and otherwise elicit the feeling of emotions like joy, contentment, thankfulness, passion, desire, trust, faith and so forth - the feelings upon which all the human virtues have their roots.
What I've found is that we do have this powre to aim our attention in directions we value, and stop aiming our attention toward memories and attitudes and mental functions that really don't serve us at all.
We can either choose to run around staying relatively unconscious of the actual unfolding of each new moment, fulfilling our function as biorobots but missing out on the feeling of experiencing what's unfolding - or we can make the choice to take responsibility for our moment-to-moment focus of attention, and participate more fully in the remarkable experience of being fully embodied in our senses, our feelings taht emerge from our senses, and sure, all the thoughts that come to us.
And those thoughts that come to us when we're quiet in our minds and focused on our bodily presence in the here and now ... those thoughts will be quite different from our biorobot pre-programmed attitudes and reactions.
When we focus in the present moment toward our ongoing breath experience and our wholebody sensory presence, quite naturally all our thoughts tend to just drop away ... and we're just 'here' in an optimum mindset for actually thinking some very deep thoughts.
You probably know full well for yourslef that your thoughts come from somewhere. You aren't creating the flow of thoughts through your mind with any kind of ego trick or manipulation, right? The stream of consciousness is just that - a flow of inner memories, imaginations, feelings, and thoughts.
But this flow seems to come from multiple sources. We truly have no idea in psychology where these thought flows actually come from - because asking that question is actually asking what we call a spiritual question. And spiritual questions by definition are questions that the intellect, the ego, the material functioning of the mind can't answer at all. We call them koans - questions that elicit something deeper than a quick answer.
In designing the Enjoy This Moment flow, we've found 7 different ways in which you can exercise your ability to take charge of your mind, focus in rewarding directions, and then open up to the new flow of ideas and feelings and insights that inevitably come when you're here, when you're quiet, when you're unafraid, and when you're open to receive.