Staying present

This is the place to post whatever questions you have related to the teachings of Eckhart Tolle. The rest of us will do whatever we can to help you achieve a better understanding :)
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cloud
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Staying present

Post by cloud » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:10 pm

Hello,

I am interested to know people's experience of staying present throughout the day. I have noticed that for me presence seems to come and go, It is very difficult to maintain throughout the day. Is there any way we can cultivate more constant presence? I know eckhart mentions inviting presence into daily activities to increase the 'presence power' but the challenge is reminding ourselves to invite the presence to these daily tasks!

krishnamuti talks about an 'effortless awareness' - I can understand what he means but surely we must be disciplined to achieve this? He also mentions that most religions and religious events are useless, but then i think surely the strict zen meditation and daily routines help the mind cultivate this.

Would be great to here thoughts from other people.

karmarider
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Re: Staying present

Post by karmarider » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:49 pm

Over six years or so, I've used several techniques, and I think they've all contributed to a move towards greater and effortless consciousness. "Staying present" is not a technique which I've favored; however, noticing (observing mind, thoughts, inner body), letting go (allowing and releasing), John Sherman's looking-at-you, who-am-i inquiry, a bit of informal meditation--all of these have contributed to a more effortlessly settled mind.

Of course there are some times when it take more conscious effort to settle. Old fears and patterns sometimes pop up.

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ashley72
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Re: Staying present

Post by ashley72 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 4:44 am

Exposing myself (exposure therapy) to unpleasant physical sensations.... which I previously tried to avoid..... has been the only true practice which seems to have a lasting effect on my behaviours.

Staying presence (in my circumstances)... is really about sticking around and confronting life's challenge's...not running away from them. :wink:

I've been steadily getting my life back over the last 12 months because I made a "solemn" promise to myself that I would start exposing myself to every fear that I was avoiding. This is not the easy path, but it was the only way out of my mental prison. :D

I've read all of Tolle's books and studied them extensively. I like what he say's, and for the most part he's right about the way things are. However, in my case.... Tolle's pointers didn't provide the answers or path out of my suffering (agoraphobia & panic disorder).

In a way, I knew deep down what needed to be fixed all along. I just wasn't willing to do what needed to be done. I was desperately looking for another way out of my suffering, an easy path that didn't require direct exposure to my anxieties. I was hoping that I might have the same realisation that Tolle talks about in his book, suddenly waking up one day and being free of all my fears. But it was never going to happen like that for me, I can see why now. Its actually very obvious once I embraced practising exposure therapy.

Exposure is the opposite of my problem... i.e avoidance behaviour! So if you want to rid yourself of something, if your lazy, get active. If you're overworked, take more relaxing breaks. etc. For me it was avoidance behaviour that was the culprit. :lol: So my fix was 180 degree turn around from avoidance, and that of course is to start exposing myself directly to things I previously "irrationally" avoided. In my case it was feeling extreme fear around others.

I've just spend the past 4 days camping with my partner, something I hadn't done for years. Each day I met other nearby campers and struck up friendly conversations with them, and completely enjoyed the experience with out any anxiety. The reason I didn't have the anxiety wasn't because I was being presence in each conversation. It was because I went into the camping trip knowing that I was going to be exposing myself to other campers and was going to fully embrace the experience of meeting others and facing my unpleasant sensations if and when they arose. Ironically, this time the unpleasant sensations didn't arise, and I found myself comfortably talking to others with a very receptive and endearing demeanour.

Cloud, I don't know what your specific problem may be... but my advice is to try and find out what is broken first before you try & fix it. Once you know what is broken in you... you then may be able to fix it by doing the exact opposite of what you've been doing to create the trouble in the first place. If worked for me, it can work for you.

Talking about staying present or cultivating constant presence on its own, really has no direct benefit unless it directly addresses some deficient behaviours.

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cloud
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Re: Staying present

Post by cloud » Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:45 pm

Hi ashley,

I completely understand what you are saying, but i am not talking about a problem as such, unless you want to address 'not staying present' a problem. From what i have learnt it is important to drift in and out of presence to understand what it's like to be within presence. You could say that everyones mind drifts and this is a 'universal problem' but there is a reasoning to it.

My question was more directed to asking peoples techniques of remaining in a presence, or more importantly what helps them bring them back to the moment.

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ashley72
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Re: Staying present

Post by ashley72 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:44 am

Hi Cloud,

A better line of enquiry is what causes "irrational" human suffering.... in the form of mental disorders or mental diseases like agoraphobia, panic disorder, GAD, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive or drug addiction.

All these disorders are irrational, they hijack the rational mind (cortex) and cause the sufferer to behaviour in a limited way, which leads to increasing amounts of mental and emotional abuse.

If you study these disorders, they all seem to form a positive feedback loop (reinforcing loop) of learned behaviour. The rational mind seems to get hijacked by the emotional part of the brain (Amygdala or sub-cortex) .... almost like a short circuit. This is where a lot of extreme and unhelpful emotions can get triggered, such as fits of rage, fits of terror, disgust, envy, guilt, cravings, compulsive patterns etc. The sufferer will often feel like they're losing control of their emotions and rational decision making.

In the case of drug addiction.... here's a studied which discusses this issue http://66.199.228.237/boundary/addictio ... sponse.pdf

It seems addicts who suffer from compulsive or obsessive behaviour, which is detrimental to their well-being, are being hijacked by the sub-cortex part of their brain circuitry. From my own experience, the nature of "unwanted" physical sensations seem to play a big part in why this is occurring.

Most addicts will tell you they take drugs, because it makes them feel good, but unfortunately those positive feelings or sensations are very short lived.... before they feel unpleasant sensations or feelings again. This forces them to re-consume drugs to get the buzz feeling.... Its a reinforcing loop.

Panic, Agoraphobia & GAD work in almost the exact same way. The sufferer is trying to avoid unpleasant feelings or unwanted sensations due to specific triggers. The moment they feel unpleasant sensations they treat it as a threat, and try and avoid the trigger. Once they avoid the trigger, the unpleasant sensations subside. Which causes the same behaviour the next time around.

Have you heard about drug addicts who break the addiction cycle by exposing themselves to the withdrawal symptoms? Unpleasant sensations right? Its call going cold turkey. :wink:

Well, the way I see it now. Agoraphobia & Anxiety disorders are no different from drug addiction. Except rather than withdrawal symptoms, you get exposure or confrontational symptoms that arise.

But in either case of a drug addict or a Agoraphobic.... the sufferer treats the disorder by exposing themselves to the unwanted sensations until the compulsion to avoid those unwanted sensations subsides!

Therefore, its not about being present or not thinking. This has nothing to do with this kind of mental suffering or mental disorder. Its about exposing rather than avoiding unpleasant sensations that breaks the pattern of suffering.


Now at this stage you're problem asking yourself how is this relevant to my question? Because I'm someone who suffered immensely for several years, read Tolle's book, made being in the moment, abiding in presence (NOW) my daily practice... and it didn't cure me of my particular suffering. In other words, Abiding in presence didnt have any practical use to me whatsoever! The only practice that worked was exposing myself to things that we're triggering unwanted physical sensation. I don't see my irrational thoughts as being the issue at all. It was my avoidance behaviour due to those irrational fear, that needed to stop, and frankly it's much easier to stop avoiding things than changing your irrational thoughts about it. Because you directly realise the irrationality of those thoughts by exposure.

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Re: Staying present

Post by sardinelover » Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:38 pm

cloud wrote:It is very difficult to maintain throughout the day. Is there any way we can cultivate more constant presence?
Get yourself a cheap digital watch. Set it to chime every hour. When you hear the chime, be present. It is as effective as someone reminding you to be present, every hour. So if you are awake for 16 hours a day, you will be present up to 15 times a day. And once your presence power develops, your periods of presence will be longer, and your periods of non-presence will be shorter. Eventually, presence will be your dominant state, and your dependence on the watch will be less and less.
Relax your face

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Onceler
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Re: Staying present

Post by Onceler » Sat Dec 21, 2013 4:09 pm

I can't add anything to this thread more than what's been said, other than my affirmation to what KarmaR & Ashley said. Ashley, so glad you are getting out and getting free from your anxiety! Camp on!

Okay, I guess I do have one thing to add. As my fear and misery clear up, I find myself shifting attention to what's around me. Internal mind seems more rife with pitfalls than external mind. At least when I shift to the external, it is more satisfactory, especially when the internal is chaotic.
Be present, be pleasant.

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Fore
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Re: Staying present

Post by Fore » Sat Dec 21, 2013 5:30 pm

cloud wrote:Hello,
Is there any way we can cultivate more constant presence?
From your birth till your death you have been breathing, in-out-in-out-in-out...... don't let another breath go un-noticed. Keep part of your awareness on the task at hand and part on the breath.

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ashley72
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Re: Staying present

Post by ashley72 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:00 pm

Onceler wrote: Ashley, so glad you are getting out and getting free from your anxiety! Camp on!
Thanks! Merry Christmas

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Onceler
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Re: Staying present

Post by Onceler » Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:22 pm

ashley72 wrote:
Onceler wrote: Ashley, so glad you are getting out and getting free from your anxiety! Camp on!
Thanks! Merry Christmas

Thank you. And a merry solstice to you. These are usually the dark days, both literally and emotionally/psychologically, for me. I guess I am merry this year, or nearly there......

We burnt a Yule log at the school where I work. Everyone wrote down a wish to burn in the fire. I wished for a world free of fear......didn't specify on whether it was just my world or the whole world, and don't know if there is a difference.

Cheers!
Be present, be pleasant.

peas
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Re: Staying present

Post by peas » Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:02 am

I have found a few useful ways to be in the now are:

- slow down whatever you are doing and pay complete attention to the object you are holding or interacting with or the steps you are taking or the person you are listening to or the .... fill in the blank.
- slow down your breathing and follow each breath (or even just one conscious slow breath) as it takes its path through your body and back out into the ether.
- ask the question "where am I right now?" in order to bring attention into the room or space in which I occupy.
- do the cat and mouse mini meditation: pay attention as you play the cat watching the mouse hole (the mind) waiting for the mouse to come out (the next thought).

These started as subtle, not too rigid, techniques but became increasingly less separate in nature to the presence that I am. I would say I don't really have a technique now.

Observation of whatever form the now takes is what it is.

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Onceler
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Re: Staying present

Post by Onceler » Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:48 pm

peas wrote:I have found a few useful ways to be in the now are:

- slow down whatever you are doing and pay complete attention to the object you are holding or interacting with or the steps you are taking or the person you are listening to or the .... fill in the blank.
- slow down your breathing and follow each breath (or even just one conscious slow breath) as it takes its path through your body and back out into the ether.
- ask the question "where am I right now?" in order to bring attention into the room or space in which I occupy.
- do the cat and mouse mini meditation: pay attention as you play the cat watching the mouse hole (the mind) waiting for the mouse to come out (the next thought).

These started as subtle, not too rigid, techniques but became increasingly less separate in nature to the presence that I am. I would say I don't really have a technique now.

Observation of whatever form the now takes is what it is.
Nice tips, peas. I would add, be aware when you are enveloped in negative thinking, thought forms. When you become aware in this state, feel it thoroughly, then shift attention to something neutral; something external to you or the breath.
Be present, be pleasant.

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ashley72
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Re: Staying present

Post by ashley72 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 1:24 pm


On fear:
“I do get scared while soloing. Something will happen and you have that little jolt of fear, excitement, or whatever you want to call it. Those kinds of feelings can compound themselves. I get a little jolt like that, but then I nip it in the bud, and then return to an even keel.”

Alex Honnold - Solo Climber (no ropes)
Image

So I emailed Alex: “Are you afraid of anything?"
His reply: “As a kid I was always afraid of spiders. I hated spider webs, etc etc. Yesterday Tommy [Caldwell] and I did this fun link-up in Zion, and when I got to one of the belays on the third route there was a small tarantula—pretty sure, it was a damn big spider—hanging out in the anchor. My first instinct was to knock it off the mountain (1st Fear), but then I thought about it more and rationalized that they're harmless ( no 2nd Fear), provide a useful role in the ecosystem, and are basically cool animals. I belayed Tommy for probably half an hour with it just hanging out a few inches from my whole belay setup.”

When Honnold finally climbed away, the spider remained grandly undisturbed.

Honnold continued, “To me that sort of calmness, though not as dramatic as soloing a big wall, let’s say, has been a slowly learned process. It applies to all things in life and is a constant learning process.”

He is not fearless, he says, nor even close: “But I probably do a better job [than others might] of staying rational or calm in what could be a scary situation. I don't know too much about it, just that I've gotten better at it with time.”
Chris still has 1st fear, but he no longer adds 2nd Fear (neocortex) to 1st Fear (Amygdala). This is how you put the break the cycle of fear!

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EnterZenFromThere
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Re: Staying present

Post by EnterZenFromThere » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:22 pm

The mind loves to form associations so use that to turn the attention within it back into stillness. Train to associate objects regularly entering the senses with Presence. For example, I wear rings on my hands and have associated these with Presence. When I see them glinting my attention is drawn to them and my thoughts stop.

I hope this helps :)

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EnterZenFromThere
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Re: Staying present

Post by EnterZenFromThere » Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:49 pm

Taking that concept a bit further, anything within sight, sound, taste, touch, smell or thought is a gateway to Presence. A specific object or objects (these words are used for convention, there are no distinct objects in reality) can be a helpful reminder and focal point, but more powerful is the realisation that every sensation experienced within the mind is a gateway to Presence. Through the mind's natural tendency to form associations one can form associations between each sense and Presence. As each sense is experienced within the mind these associations are actually between the mind and Presence. Over time, this becomes habitual. Habits are effortless. One is Present without effort via associations conditioned between mind and Self. This is why the old Zen master Eckhart talks about gives no teaching other than to raise his finger as if to say "enter Zen from here." "Here" is everywhere.

Alternatively you could get "I AM PRESENT" tattooed on your face and carry a pocket mirror...

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