Dr. Charles T. Tart on August 12th, 2009

Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,

Lecture 2, Part 14 of 15 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.

CTT: Any other difficulties in doing the Vipassana method or unclarity about how you actually do this? Because I am going to ask you to do a couple of 10 minute sessions each day all through next week to get some direct experience of this. I want you to feel you know what to do. Yes.

Student: I had a question on something that you commented on earlier.

CTT: Well first; first let’s see if there are any methods questions, because we’re slowly moving up toward the end of class and I don’t want to miss them. Anybody unclear on that…? And of course if you’re not absolutely clear on that, you are allowed to fool around a little and see what happens.

Okay. You’re on.

Student: It’s regarding the method.

CTT: Okay.

Student: This idea of imagined sensations. So is there a rule of thumb on how to make sure it’s imagined sensation?

CTT: You have to learn that yourself.

Student: Okay.

CTT: I just know for myself that a lot of times I am following a physical sensation and then I slip over into kind of thinking about it, imaging it or something like that, instead of paying attention to the actual sensation. I notice that at some point. I don’t know how I notice it. I guess it’s because I’ve sort of trained myself to come back and focus attention on my physical body every few seconds, and then I may notice I’m actually over in imagination.

Remember when I presented concentrative meditation, I said maybe a quarter of your attention is in monitoring the process? Same sort of thing here.

In doing Vipassana, part of you is just really focusing on whatever the most prominent sensation is, and looking at it with equanimity and all that. But at least some small part of you should be monitoring the process. If not continuously, at least every few seconds. “Am I actually paying attention to my body?” or what have you. And you get to become sensitive to this and notice it.

Now, going back to the comment over here a minute ago, about every thought may have a body sensation, we’re all really interested in psychology. This is the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. But insofar as every thought or feeling has some bodily components to it, by learning to be more sensitive to what’s happening in your body, you’re actually learning to be more sensitive to your thoughts and your feelings. This will become especially true next week when I bring us into the self remembering technique for everyday life.

The process will seem on one intellectual level like it’s all concerned with physical sensations and sensory sensations, but, curiously, it has the “side effect” of making you much more sensitive to your psychological processes, which is a very interesting way to go about it.

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5 Responses to “I think I feel something”

  1. Sandy says:

    I like the grounding effect of these exercises. I don’t feel so lost in everything else, and even when I do pick up noise from someone else, at least I can tell where I end and they start. It used to be just overwhelming to be around other people sometimes. Most of them are so noisy inside. I can usually separate myself from everyone else now, and I couldn’t before.

    I’m not always so happy about being more aware of my own thoughts and feelings. I find stuff comes up that I can’t always deal with on my own. At least I was able to find a new counselor (the fellow I had been seeing retired), so I have someone to help me with the things I’m not so good at. He grew up with a psychic sibling and has a level of comfort with the odd stuff that I’ve never experienced in anyone before. Even the researchers and parapsychologists that I’ve corresponded with are nowhere near as used to this stuff as he seems to be. Just being around someone who is so at ease with what scares me is really helpful.

    I think it is important to be aware of the fact that some of us need a bit of extra help sorting through all the issues that self-exploration can bring to the surface. It seems to be a fairly positive thing for me right now. The meditation helped at first with the scary psychic stuff, but then I got stuck. I got unstuck by acknowledging some painful things that I didn’t want to remember, and the meditation got better at that point, but not great. Now I’m getting some help with the problems, and the meditation seems to be working really well for me again.

    I seem to need more than just the meditation to be OK with who I am, although counseling alone wasn’t working very well either. Before I tried meditation, almost every counseling session was spent going over the reasons why a medical solution (involving serious drugs to cure me of my anomalous experiences) was a bad idea. When I started doing meditation, I stopped constantly craving a cure for being psychic.

  2. @Sandy:

    At least I was able to find a new counselor (the fellow I had been seeing retired), so I have someone to help me with the things I’m not so good at. He grew up with a psychic sibling and has a level of comfort with the odd stuff that I’ve never experienced in anyone before
    Given the great frequency with which I’ve heard people complain that counselors and psychologists know nothing about psychic events and dismiss them, you are very lucky. Except I wonder if it’s just “luck….” ;-)

    • Sandy says:

      You know, every counselor I’ve ever gone to has believed me about the psychic stuff. I saw someone in the military right after my car accident. I went to a different counselor after my first marriage ended so badly. And I’ve seen two different counselors this year. Every one of them has told me what you just pointed out, that most counselors either dismiss psychic experiences or think they are pathological. They always ask me how I find people who are OK with such things.

      When the last fellow retired, he couldn’t even think of someone to refer me to. He felt terrible about that. All he could say was that if I could find him, I could find someone else who would be OK about the psychic stuff. He invited me to a party to meet his replacement, and asked me to “read” the guy and report back on what I had gotten. I did a reading, which I found out later was pretty much correct. I also told him that my Grandma’s ghost really liked the new guy. As it turned out, Grandma was right.

      :-)

  3. anonymous says:

    “The process will seem on one intellectual level like it’s all concerned with physical sensations and sensory sensations, but, curiously, it has the “side effect” of making you much more sensitive to your psychological processes, which is a very interesting way to go about it.”

    I totally agree. I had been doing concentration meditation regularly for many years but sometimes I would suddenly notice I was in a bad mood and realize I had been for several hours. Usually I wasn’t even aware of what happened that put me in the bad mood. After I started doing vipassana meditation, I developed the habit of being more aware of the sensations in my body even when I wasn’t meditating. When something happened that upset me, I would notice right away because I could feel the sensations in my body that accompanied the emotions. Noticing right away helped me to let go of the emotion since I could do something about it, think it through, or take time to relax etc.

    I think biochemistry or various situations in one’s life can make us more suceptible bad moods. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that the average person can eliminate those ups and downs of life by using mental techniques like meditation, but I do think meditation can help us cope with those ups and downs.

    “Remember when I presented concentrative meditation, I said maybe a quarter of your attention is in monitoring the process? Same sort of thing here.”

    The way I did vipassana was to combine it with concentration meditation. While counting the breath I would also devote some attention to what I was feeling in my body and when I noticed I had been distracted by stray thoughts, I would notice if there were sensations accompanying those thoughts or emotions caused by those thoughts.

    In this post you make a clear explanation of what a result of meditation might be: “it has the “side effect” of making you much more sensitive to your psychological processes”. I started followig this blog in the middle of the course, is there a previous post somewhere where you discuss why someone would meditate and what they should expect to get out of it?

    Thanks,

  4. @anonymous:

    is there a previous post somewhere where you discuss why someone would meditate and what they should expect to get out of it?
    Unfortunately no. Some remarks in earlier lectures already posted, but the very first lecture didn’t get recorded…..You’d have to read one or more of my books on mindfulness for a printed explanation. But there are plenty of explanations around, and lots of reasons for meditating or not meditating….

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