Time and Effort

I have given a lot of time and effort to the practice of meditation over the years. The key to that sentence is time and effort. Only now am I coming to the realization that at the heart of my intent to develop spirituality was a belief of self that was rooted in a sense of inadequacy and connected to that was the idea that I held that through meditation I could one day become enlightened and free. However quiet I have been about this, it has been the unspoken and somewhat unseen dynamic. I went about my life and relations influenced by this incomplete sense of self attempting to alleviate the anxiety of inadequacy that emerged from that, as we all have learned to cope with it. Meditation has provided me with a space that I can let go and in that come to  move away from the anxiety and the habitual ways of seeing and acting however temporarily it might have been.  But the habitual wilful way aimed at growing, improving and perfecting myself through external means seemed to continue. Even in my pursuit of the spiritual, my commitment to meditation and to attending and participating in retreats there existed these subtle influences that for whatever reason were hidden from my awareness, that seemed to be connected to this inability to trust in a deeper truth of self.  In seeking to transform my sense of a lacking self through methods that would heal and fix me in the future I am stuck in a place of “being” in a fragmented way.
It is only in this moment and in harbouring no defence, seeking no shelter and avoiding no conflict that I am able to resolve wholeness.

8 thoughts on “Time and Effort

  1. I’ve tried learning meditation at least a couple of times in my life without much success. My motivation was to heal the depression I felt at the time. As long as I felt that depression I was motivated to spend time on meditation each day, but when the depression lifted for other reasons my motivation to put in that time and effort evaporated.

    I probably have a bias against meditation because I was never very good at it, but it always seems to me that it is about transcending warring aspects of the self. Maybe it can give the clarity to bring those aspects peacefully together, but if it doesn’t then how is wholeness possible? Transcendence is the addition of a further split.

    A more cathartic approach to wholeness seems to make more sense, to uncover the original whole by allowing the fractured pieces of the self the satisfaction of full emotional expression.

    I think that’s what you are saying.

    • Hi, What you say makes sense to me.I have also struggled with depression over the years at times, some of what I am now sure was rooted in a sense of inadequacy. that has been something acquired as opposed to being the essence of what I am. My way of wording it is that it is what I have been conditioned to be and it blocks being with the truth of what I am. To awaken means to me to see through what we have conditioned to be.as you indicate we have to acknowledge, accept and see what that is. Our efforts to become something is just another layer to the conditioning. I dont think it is so easy to see this at times. What we have been conditioned to often gets in the way. Meditation can be another layer.for me it just means letting go but it has been turned into something else these days. It seems that we have to find our own way of seeing through all that is not true about ourselves. Transcendence is another thing that becomes a layer. For me a lot of the concepts and ideals just get in the way of self discovery. Im no expert on this but I am discovering who I truly am or maybe more what I am not. it is something like this for me. words dont easily capture the deeper truth of it.

      • Sorry about the double posting. I got a bit confused logging in.

        The way I see it it is all about self-acceptance. We begin with unconditional self-acceptance, but this gets eroded and our self-acceptance becomes conditional. We learn a value system, which is necessary, but compliance with that value system is enforced by the withdrawal of self-acceptance, i.e. feelings of guilt, or the withdrawal of other’s acceptance of us.

        We are liable to end up feeling the need to prove something about ourselves – to prove our worth – and this can take a form which brings its own problems, e.g. competition, materialism or self-righteous idealism. If we fail to meet this need we end up depressed.

        Discovering what we are not is a good way of putting it, because our self-perception tends to be very limited. Our habits of thought or action don’t define us. These things can change and then we find there is more to us than we thought.

        I like to think in terms of improvisation. That requires being present in the moment and open to the possibilities around us, and it means letting go of our hold on our emotions so that we can be spontaneous. It is about simply being rather than trying to be something in particular.

        You might think that unconditional self-acceptance would de-motivating, but I think that the opposite is true. Problem-solving and other creative activity is the healthy expression of the human organism and the burden of feeling we need to prove something about ourselves is what holds us back from it. The fact that we may do useful things as one way of meeting that need doesn’t mean that we won’t perform without that whip at our back.

        Having said that, like yourself, I’m no expert on living. I can articulate the principles, but living them is an on-going process of education.

  2. Absolutely I agree with what you say here and about the notion of self doubt and that we must come to trust in our authentic direct experience , a big task considering what we have been told and what we are constantly being reminded otherwise from the external world, media and such. And I also realize that “improvisation” as you say is true creativity which emerges out of self realization. We have been inundated in the world with much that is not truly creative but marketable. I read something from Don Cupitt who I like very much and Patrick McCarty as well who refer to the fact that we constantly refer back to the thinking and information of others without trusting in our own thinking process. Improvisation it seems is relying on that deeper realization. Its not to say that we dont explore what others say. I am very curious about life and what others contemplate and how they conceptualize and feel there is great benefit in exploring that. It is more that we can come to think and trust in a way that has more of an improvisational and creative quality and that we are able to differentiate the ways of thinking and understand that what others think is not the same as what we discover through our own direct experience. Something like that. Words never grasp the whole of the experience for me.

    • Yes, I think that, if we truly understand and appreciate someone else’s ideas, then what we find of value in them becomes organically our own. But some will use another’s thinking like a security blanket, quoting wholesale as an alternative to either engaging with that thought or engaging directly with the messiness of the real world.

      • You seem to be quite reflective and insightful about it all. Tell me about your blog and how you have come to focus on the erotic theme. I am curious as to the context, how it fits in to your big scheme.

      • I never really did all that much with my WordPress blog. What happened was that I have another erotic story blog and at some stage I started taking part in weekly writing challenges. Some of the other participants had WordPress blogs they were using for this, so I tried reposting my contributions to a WordPress blog as well as the original, but I quickly gave up on that idea. So I still have a blog here with a handful of stories.

        I also have my psychology blog at http://howtobefree-theblog.blogspot.com.au .

        I see fiction writing as a form of self-exploration and therapy. The kind of fiction I felt inspired to write for quite a while was humorous smut (“erotica” seems a little pretentious for my writing, but I use the term because it has become the norm). When we allow our imagination free reign it takes us into those areas where we need a little help. As a person who has always been quite inhibited about sex and had little experience with it, I have a rich fantasy life in that area, and putting that into words can be a way of working through my anxieties about such feelings.

        I began writing this kind of material during recovery from a major mental breakdown. I found that I could connect with women on the internet in a way that I felt unable to in “real life” and this inspired me to try to entertain some of these friends with stories. I began writing a long story for one woman in particular centred around a fictionalised version of herself. When I look back on this process, I can see that this was a major part of my healing. The female character I created was an expression of my own female side, and so I was finding some part of myself which could help to nurture me to health.

        I can see a kind of utopian theme running through many of my stories. I see the breakdown of sexual inhibitions in the stories being analogous to the breakdown of psychological barriers to community. Because they are sex stories people take off their clothes and engage in sexual intercourse, but this can be seen as symbolic for the process of dropping pretence and character armour and participating in communion (union through communication) with other people.

        I do think that sexual repression is one of the barriers to that process. To be non-repressed of course doesn’t mean to live out all of our sexual desires, all it means is to fully acknowledge and enjoy the feeling of those desires as desires rather than to fight against them. Whenever we feel the need to fight against some aspect of ourselves we are being drawn away from a capacity to fully engage with others.

        Free expression takes many different forms. More recently I have tended to write more about my psychological ideas and less smutty fiction. What drew me to that kind of fiction was my own personal experience (or lack thereof), so it may hold no interest to those whose experiences and needs are different.

      • I think there is truth in what you say. Authentic expression and revelation of what is blocked are all important to the process of awakening. Being able to distinguish what is true and what is story has been the biggest step towards that for me. It has involved loosening and letting go of lot of preconditioned ideas.

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