Potentially Helpful Excerpt from Breath Sweeps Mind
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Potentially Helpful Excerpt from Breath Sweeps Mind

This is a discussion on Potentially Helpful Excerpt from Breath Sweeps Mind within the Alternative Treatment forums, part of the Treatment category; Hello Take This Life Friends Recently Iíve been finding a lot of success in meditative practice and mindfulness. Iíve been ...

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Old 05-02-12, 08:00 PM   #1
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Smile Potentially Helpful Excerpt from Breath Sweeps Mind

Hello Take This Life Friends

Recently Iíve been finding a lot of success in meditative practice and mindfulness. Iíve been reading about Buddhist Philosophy from several different sources. Outside of any religious context, I know that these ideas have given me more mental strength than Iíve ever known before.

From my understanding, the core ideas of Buddhism, as they relate to mental illness, depression or happiness are something like these: all living beings are born into a state of suffering (which I think we all know here). We can end are own suffering and achieve lasting happiness by controlling our own mindsódestroying what is harmful and cultivating what is helpful. To do this we must also feel compassion for other living beings and want the same peace of mind for them as we do for ourselves.

So without further words from me, here is an abridged chapter, ďThe HindrancesĒ by Joseph Goldstein, from a book called (this links to amazon.com, fyi) Breath Sweeps Mind: A first guide to meditative practice:
Imagine yourself in the middle of a battlefield, single-handedly facing a thousand enemies. Though surrounded on all sides, you somehow manage to conquer them. Imagine yourself on this battlefield a thousand different times, and each time you overcome the enemies around you. The Buddha has said that this is an easier task than conquering oneself. It is not a trivial thing we have set about doing. The most difficult of all tasks is to come to understand ones own mind. But it is not impossible. There have been many beings who have [done so] and they have given us guidance and advice.

The first big help is to recognize who the enemies are. Unrecognized, they remain powerful forces in the mind; in the light of recognition, they become much easier to deal with. There are five powerful enemies on the battlefield of the mind and learning to recognize them is essential in penetrating to deeper levels of understanding.

The first of the enemies, or hindrances, is sense desire: lusting after sense pleasure, grasping at sense objects. It keeps the mind looking outward, searching after this object or that, in an agitated or unbalanced way. It is in the very nature of sense desires that we can never be satisfied. There is no end to seeking. We can enjoy a pleasurable object, it arises and disappears, as do all phenomena, and we are left with the same unsatiated desire for more gratification. [Ö] It can be desires for beautiful sights, beautiful sounds, tastes or smells, pleasant sensations in the body, or fascinating ideas. Attachment to these objects strengthens the greed factor [Ö] until we deal successfully with the hindrances of sense desire we stay bound by the forces of attachment and desire.

The second enemy is hatred; anger, ill, will, aversion, annoyance, irritation, are all expressions of the condemning mind. It is the mind which strikes against an object and wants to get rid of it. It is a very turbulent and violent state. [Ö]

The third state is sloth or torpor, which means laziness of mind, sluggishness. A mind filled with sloth and torpor just wants to go to sleep. [Ö] Unless we overcome that kind of drowsiness and sluggishness of mind, nothing gets done, nothing is seen clearly, our mind becomes restless and dull.

The forth hindrance is restlessness. A mind that is in a state of worry, regret, and agitation is unable to stay concentrated, it is always jumping from one point to another, without any mindfulness. [Ö]

The fifth of the great enemies is doubt [Ö] doubt arises about what one is doing and onesí ability to do itÖ [For the purposes of TTL, this doubt would be the doubt that you can train your mind to be sane and happy, that you can give up the compulsive or negative thoughts that seem to hit you from nowhere and come without warning etc.] [Ö]

There are specific ways to deal with these enemies as they confront us on the path. The first is to recognize them, to see them clearly in each moment. If sense desire arises, to know immediately that there is desire in the mind. Or if there is anger, or sloth, or restlessness, or doubt, to recognize immediately the particular obstacle that has arisen. That very recognition is the most powerful way of overcoming them. Recognition leads to mindfulness. And mindfulness means not clinging, not condemning, not identifying with the object [emotion/feeling]. All the hindrances are impermanent mental factors. They arise and they pass away, like clouds in the sky. If we are mindful of them when they arise and donít react or identify with them, they pass through the mind, without creating any disturbance. Mindfulness is the most effective way of dealing with them. [Ö]

Often [for someone who is actively trying to overcome these emotions] there is a tendency to condemn these hindrances as they arise. The condemning mind is itself a factor of aversion. Every act of condemning the hindrances strengthens the enemy. Thatís not the way. No judging, no evaluating. The hindrances come, simply observe them. Mindfulness makes them inoperative. They may continue to arise, but they do not disturb the mind because we are not reacting to them.
Well, I recommend this book. I also recommend a book called (I can't get the link to work) Train Your Mind Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley, which provides a historical overview of scientific research on neural plasticity (physical changes to brain structure that continue to occur from birth to death). In that book there are some interesting meditative therapies that have worked to help people with OCD, for example. Itís really positive and encouraging for anyone who feels like their brain is just broken. Maybe your brain is a little broken, but there is hope that it can be changed.
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Old 05-02-12, 08:03 PM   #2
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Beautiful Excerp. Thank you for posting
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Old 05-03-12, 07:28 PM   #3
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Meditation ruined me, but the good intentions behind the ideas are there.
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