Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,
Lecture 2, Part 13 of 15 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.
CTT: Anyway, the attitude cultivated in Vipassana meditation is equanimity. We are very conditioned for a resistance factor to come up real strongly, right away, because that’s the way we go through life. Maximize my pleasure! Minimize my pain! Fidget. Fidget. Fidget. Cope. Cope. Cope. All the time! And, as I said, that’s all right a good deal of the time, but there are a lot of situations where we can’t do anything about the situation. The pain’s going to be there. We better learn something about working on the R factor, on our attitude toward it. This works for psychological pain also, and not just physical pain, but it’s easier to illustrate for physical pain. Yes?
Student: During my experience in the last several minutes I didn’t concern myself with not moving because the practice itself was supposed to be able to be present all the time.
CTT: Yeah. If you really have to move, move mindfully.
Student: So I just paid attention to how I was moving, and how it felt, and how my body felt in response to it.
CTT: Yes. That’s the idea. Just don’t turn that into an excuse to automatically fidget. We’re trying to get past the robot stage where we unconsciously fidget because we’re trained to do that automatically all the time. If you really have to move, move slowly and mindfully and then sit still again.
Student: There’s a guy named Hanna who did some research that says every thought is accompanied by a motor response.
CTT: Tom Hanna?
Student: I think possibly so.
CTT: It may be. You know, there used to be a prominent theory – I think it’s the James-Lange theory of thought and emotion – that says that thinking actually involves subtle movements of your vocal chords, even though you don’t make any obvious sounds. And I used to scoff at that theory, because I believed that the power of independent minds could transcend mere physical bodies. But once I finally got moderately good at meditation, I began to notice that when I was troubled by what I called thoughts, there was this funny little subtle activity down around my vocal chords. And if I could really relax that activity, the thoughts stopped….
An awful lot of what I called thought, I could more accurately call talking to myself. Shinzen Young has found that for other people too. I don’t know if it’s universally true, but it may be something you’ll eventually notice in your thoughts.