Meditation & Mindfulness 101 || Interview w/ Chris Dierkes || IRENE LYON

Meditation & Mindfulness 101 || Interview w/ Chris Dierkes || IRENE LYON

– Let’s say someone has
been a devote meditator and now they’re wondering, like holy shit, am I actually doing what I’m supposed to be doing, like, what would you say to that person who’s now maybe more confused
and has more questions which maybe is a good thing? – Yeah, I mean, sometimes I joke that I’m, you know, spend my life as a supposedly, some people call me a spiritual teacher, it’s not really a term I like, but, I spend my life telling people not to do spiritual practicing, (laughs) and I’m a spiritual teacher. I basically try to dissuade
people constantly from it. But, said it half serious,
half joking, but hard core enlightenment seeker
guy for a good decade, I saw in real time both the lights and the serious shadows of that approach. And I don’t want people to go
through what I went through. – Hey you guys, Irene Lyon here, welcome to this long form
interview with my good friend, colleague, mentor, Chris Dierkes. This is a conversation
that I have been wanting to share with you for a very long time. And now it’s happening. This conversation is probably one of the most comprehensive chats you will hear on meditation, mindfulness, what these things really
are, how we’ve taken them from the East and tried to
implant them into the West, where meditation,
mindfulness is beneficial and when it is not. We talk about deep sea
creatures that lurk and live in ourselves, in our mind,
in our psyche and our body, how we need to be aware
that those things exist, because they can sometimes pop up when we get into deep spiritual practice. We talk about things that
I just don’t ever hear people talk about when it comes to these mind-body practices that we seem to just
dose out and prescribe left, right, and center
for all sorts of things. So I want to encourage you to
watch this in its entirety. I know it’s a little
long, like I mentioned, watch it in 10-minute
chunks, 20-minutes chunks, however you want to get through this. I will really suggest
that this is something you spend some time on, if
you know you want to dive more into meditation, mindfulness, or maybe you are already in that world, this will give you, I
think, a deeper insight and look into this concept
that really we are just new at here in the Western world. All right, I’m gonna leave it at that, enjoy our chat and leave a comment and let us know what you think. And we will see you on the other side. Well, it is a quick biography of who you are, what you do. – Who is the guy in the black hoodie? I was first a monk, which kind of explains the hoodie. Just kind of– – Your robe. – Yeah. (laughs) – That was actually. (laughs) – I was a monk, I was in the Christian tradition
I was raised Catholic, for four years I was a
member of a religious order and had vows and the whole bit. That was not the life for me, but I did feel like maybe
I should be both married and I was still drawn to
working as a clergy person, so I switched denominations where you could actually
get married and be a pastor. And I after seminary, had worked
for three years as a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada, which is Episcopalian for the Americans. And I did that for some years and I was really drawn
into Christian mysticism, I also saw really into other religious spiritual traditions including some forays into some Buddhism, which will probably come up in our mindfulness discussion, and, and then now, almost four years ago I decided to take a leave of absence and try out this starting
my own private practice, which originally I
thought was gonna be more kind of in a class, kind of
a Reiki Energy Healing thing, but turned out it was
kind of hard to explain wilder soul work thing which, for a lack of a better word for it, part energy healing, part intuition, part spiritual direction of a sort. – Curious, if you go
back, what called you, you know, you started off
by saying you were a monk. And it’s so interesting,
’cause the vision I get when I hear monk is like red
robes, up on a temple in Nepal. – [Chris] Right. – What, for you, what was it that drew you to this world, and how was your monkdom, monkhood different than the shaved
head monks we may actually associate with meditation, et cetera? – So I was a member of a group in the Catholic Church called the Jesuits. The current Pope was a Jesuit. So it’s a religious order. So we had vows, like a
monk, we lived in community, so I had vows of poverty,
celibacy, obedience. But we lived and worked in the world. – [Irene] Okay, okay. – So I did things like, I worked as a chaplain at a
maximum security men’s wing at a jail in Detroit. – [Irene] Wow! – Visiting inmates for a year and a half. I taught English as a second language to immigrants in southside Chicago. I lived in Guam, an island in the Pacific. I lived in Peru, so, I was kind of thrown around
a lots of different places. And mostly oriented in neighborhoods, where there were strong justice issues, and structural economic kinds of things. I mean, I’d been raised in
a pretty safe, comfortable kind of middle America
white bread kind of place, so I was broken from my cultural habits and kind of saw the
underside of the world. – And you, maybe I missed it. You got drawn into this. Was there like some aha moment
when you were really young? – Yeah, I, no I was totally, the guys who did the, the people who did the, when we had our grade school graduation, and someone says I’m gonna be
a doctor when they grow up, and this person’s gonna be
the president, or whatever. I got, he’s gonna be a priest. So, I mean, they picked
it, so fair enough. Like they called that one. (laughs) So, I was a very, I was an
altar boy, I was very pious, I was very devout. And I went to a Jesuit-run high school. So I went to an all male
prep school for high school, and seeing them and some were lawyers and teachers and I was really drawn to their
strong spiritual practice, but that they lived in the worldly way, they didn’t just kind of
live in these weird churches or monasteries off in the country. – They were part of everyday
Western industrialized society. – And trying to be
contemplative in the midst of an active life. – Got it. – [Chris] That was what draw me. – Cool. So if we go back to this
contemplative practices, if we just were to say define it, if I was to allow you to actually define what is meditation, what is mindfulness? Are they different? How do you see it? Where would you go with that question? – Meditation’s a broad term, I think, that can include a lot
of different kinds of different kinds of meditations. So mindfulness is a very specific, largely, originally Buddhist, now it’s attempting to be kind
of expanded in a more non, sectarian, I suppose, or
secular (audio garbled). The kinds of contemplations
or meditation I were taught, given that I was Christian
were heavily prayer oriented, practices from the Christian tradition. So generally in the literature, they would divide meditation,
it’s a little simplistic, but it’s a good– – [Irene] Sure, please. – Beginning thing, that there’s kinds of meditation that are meant to build concentration. – [Irene] Okay. – So those are technically are for just concentrated meditation practices, so that would be like a mantra, repetition or an affirmation,
repetition of a short phrase or prayer and you keep repeating it and keep repeating it until your, your energy and your
attention is really drawn to those words and then it
kind of everything is focused. – On all then to one point, in a sense. – Yeah. – So that would be, let’s
say what we would call TM, transcendental meditation? More of a– – Yeah, that kind. – [Irene] Okay, okay. – That kind or. The people, if they’re
taught at the beginning, if they’re taught a kind of
generic meditation practice and they’re taught first
to count their breaths from one to 10 and then
from 10 back to one, and if they lose their count start the– – Over again. – Do it again. That’s a concentration-based technique, it’s supposed to build up your ability to not have your mind just be
blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, the whole time. – Okay, I was gonna
clarification, because I actually never heard that first
distinction you just made. – [Chris] Concentration based. – Yeah, and so then what’s the other– – Non-concentration based. (both laugh) For lack of a better word. Awareness or dispersal techniques. – [Irene] Dispersal, okay. – Mindfulness would
fall into this category. – [Irene] Okay. – So you’re not focusing
on a specific thing, you’re letting your attention become wide, and whatever happens or whatever arises, you go with that, so you’re not, you’re not meant to be
focusing on a specific thing or blocking other things out, you’re just gonna try to let everything– – Be–
– Be as it is. – Would you say it’s very much
being in the present moment? – Yeah. – [Irene] Yeah. – The trick with mindfulness is that, I mean, that’s part one of it, I would. – Okay, good, all right,
I’m taking notes, part one. – Part one is this wider awareness and letting things be as they are and not trying to immediately go, I like this, I don’t like that. I wanna experience more of this, I don’t want that. – Not changing it. – Yeah, not trying to
evaluate and that preference. – Non-judgment. – [Chris] Mm-hmm. – Okay, so that’s part one. – [Chris] That’s part one. – Part two. – Which is usually in this kind of, which maybe kind of getting
into our conversation, it’s kind of contemporary Western mindfulness thing, often part two is being kind of left out. – [Irene] Okay. – Depending on where you’re learning it. So the Buddhists would say, again I have, I’ve been kind of sympathetic in admiring tourists, such a claim
I’m not in the same way that I was really well-developed
in the Christian tradition. – Sure, but I might also add there that you may have actually more knowledge on the ethics of this than even some current day mindfulistic. – Two.
– I’m just gonna add that in. – Two week, two week training people. – [Irene] Yes. – Who get certificates, for example. – [Irene] Yes. – Fair, I think that’s a fair point. – Okay, so part two that
we tend to leave out is. – Well, it goes back to the
original meaning of the words. So, a lot of Western
Buddhist scholars would say that the translation of
the word into English as mindfulness is already
kind of problematic. – [Irene] Okay. – And I would agree with them. – [Irene] Okay. – The original word is Sati,
which is in the Pali language, which was the language of
the original Buddhist canon. And Sati really means memory, it’s remembrance. So in Buddhism, mindfulness practice, or Sati, it’s remembering truths. – [Irene] Got it. – In real time, present experience. So, part one is to have this open-minded– – [Irene] Past. – Open-being kind of way of being. But the second part of it is to inspect experience as it arises. – [Irene] Inspect. – And in Buddhist language
the inspection is occurring according to Buddhist
teaching, which is that everything isn’t permanent, nothing remains, clinging to anything and
trying to make it permanent, when it’s inherently impermanent, will eventually lead to deep suffering. And that actually is what, so if you go to one of those like eight-day Vipassana retreats in silence, you will actually be taught that. They will repeatedly tell you, no self, impermanence, suffering if you attach to everything, and so you have the openness, but you’re also inspecting the experience to watch it basically cycle. And in their teaching, to cycle through to a point where you realize that everything comes, everything goes. – Ebb and flow. – And you just kind of
ride the wave, basically. – [Irene] Got it, got it. And.
– That’s. – And then there’s– – And I can tell there’s an and there. – And, so there’s a couple
things, I mean one and, people teaching more of, I don’t
wanna call it generic, but. – [Irene] Sure, you can. – Whatever that word I’m looking for is. Mindfulness in a broader,
non-specifically Buddhist way. They are generally leaving
out the second part. – [Irene] Got it. – So, you know, it’s like
become aware of your emotions and that will help you
feel less anxiety or be mindful of your body sensations, and then
you’ll feel more relaxed, or less stress, or something, but that’s not what it was created for. – And this is an important distinction, because you said to me in
the email that you sent, I have right here, I’m gonna read it. Meditation was for spiritual awakening. So we’ll go back to that in a second. It was not, and you capital that not, for making you feel better. It was not for getting rid of anxiety. If anything, if you get
serious enough into meditation for a time, it massively
increases anxiety. I would agree with that based on the self-awareness
practices I teach my students. It was not meant to help
relieve pain symptoms, those might happen as a side-effect, positive or negative, depending
on the nature of the person, but it was not the purpose. From what I’ve seen, you know, and I’m not diving into
the research the way I did in academia, ’cause it
just drives me bonkers, but it’s being touted as this way to, if we think about Jon Kabat-Zinn created mindfulness
based stress reduction. It’s in workplaces as a
means to release stress. Do you think that using the
term mindfulness and meditation in those stress-based reduction decrease pain practices, should it even be called these words? – That’s a really good question. Well, I mean, yeah, so, I think there’s a philosophical point to take a step back which is, should we be in the
business of reducing stress? Before you bring in the question of is meditation the way
to reduce the stress, is stress-reducing reduction
in and of itself a goal, is it a valid goal? Is it masking something else? Is anxiety reduction,
I mean, it sounds like on the surface, of
course, people are like, who wants more anxiety? Who wants more stress?
– No one. It’s great, why don’t we get rid of it? Sure. But if that stress in
a workplace situation is because the organization
is dysfunctional– – [Irene] Chaotic. – And they’re making people
work ungodly hours at low pay, then should the meditation
technique be in there to basically mask what is actually a structural justice issue? I would say. – I love it, yes. – No, I’m not okay with that. I don’t think that’s
what it’s set up for, so the question obviously
with stress or anxieties is those are generally in my experience communications from a person’s being or a system itself might be
communicating something is awry. – [Irene] You got it. – And I would be more
concerned with what is awry and what could we do about what is awry. Now maybe meditation could help with that depending on what the nature
of the underlying thing is, or does, in the worst
case, stress-reduction turn into people are less sensitized to stress that’s actually a message in their system that something in their
being is kind of going off, and then all of a sudden
their back goes out or they get super depressed. – Yep, and this is, as you
know, you know my work, we work together. For those of you watching who maybe aren’t familiar with my work, you can learn about that later, but my line of sight, my
perspective is working at that autonomic nervous system level which we need a nervous
system, obviously to survive in many out rounds of our system, but when there has been trauma, adversity, high levels of chronic stress, industrialized living, just like you said that corporation that is
overworking their people, the system goes off and it
can never fully find baseline, which is why we’re trying to
manage and cope with stress. But as you said, the management
and the trying to get rid of the anxiety is simply
a Band-Aid or a quick fix for an issue that is way
deeper and it’s cellular. I gotta to tell this story. Long ago I used to do fitness and nutrition workshops for companies. I did it for like once,
because I hated it. (chuckles) The guy’s, like, “I want you
to do something about nutrition “and exercise, the importance,
you know, of pausing,” and I was really quite young. This was before I got
into neuroplasticity, but I understood exercise and nutrition. And he goes to me, “So I
want you to teach them this, “tell them that it’s
important, but oh, by the way, “can you tell them that they can’t do this “during their work day?” (Chris laughs) And I’m like, “Um, okay, “I guess I have to ’cause you’re paying me “good money to be with
them for three hours.” So I kind of, and he told
me this like five minutes before I went out to the – Right
– Workshop. Like Jesus Christ, like, you want me to tell them about having a better work-life balance, but you want it to happen,
not in the main bulk of their hours that they’re awake. And it just, it just made me feel sick. And it was ever since then, I’ve chosen to never really go into
corporate settings, unless the corporation is
set up to allow their workers to have time in the day to decompress, all it is is management, right? So a second ago when I
read that little piece that you emailed me, the first point was that meditation was for
spiritual awakening, not for pain relief. What is the situation that you see we’ve
gotten ourselves into by bringing on this concept of say
meditation or mindfulness on as a way to pain relief and to manage stress, when really it’s purpose wasn’t for that? And I mean, one of the
biggest similarities, or I should say parallels,
and I look at is yoga, as, you know, yoga was, is a practice that had nothing to do with flexibility and strength, and yet that’s what we
completely monetized it as in the Western world. But what do you see happening there? – A lot of things. – [Irene] Yeah, if you’re really honest. (both laugh) – So, I mean, one is, I think very deeply that
mindfulness practice, I think there’s a major
question of it grows organically and very deeply out of
the Buddhist tradition. And I don’t think it’s
so easy to just take it, like you can take a plant or
flower just out of one soil, move it across the ocean,
plunk it down in another one. We’ve sometimes seen that where people introduce nonnative species and then they kind of overgrow a place, so, ’cause they’re without
predators, and you know, so it’s an ecological question. Before one was ever taught
meditation in those traditions, you were first taught ethics. – And I want you to actually, ethics, I actually have
a Post-It note here to remind you of that.
(both laugh) – And that is totally
getting thrown out the window with it now being commercialized and the focus being not any longer
on spiritual awakening per se or precisely or primarily. So you were taught ethics,
you were taught cultivation of things like compassion, lovingkindness, generosity, these are
very deep in Buddhism, they’re very deep in religious
traditions as a whole. And so the spiritual technologies assume an entire culture of practice. – Before even meditation begins. – Right, and especially something like Vipassana mindfulness meditation, which is a highly advanced
form of meditation, so usually, first the ethics training, then usually the concentration-based
meditation techniques. – Uh-huh, then.
– Then, then the, then the more awareness. Because those practices basically just take your consciousness and your attention, and they’re just a depth charge. They just shoot you down to the bottom, and it can disturb who
knows what’s under (laughs) who knows what’s down
under those dark waters of your psyche. And you get a depth charge just fired down to the bottom of your
being, hits the bottom, and whatever, you know,
have you ever watched those nature documentaries
with those weird creatures that live way deep? – Yeah, yeah, all under deep, that nobody’s ever discovered, and then all of a sudden, it’s like, we just found this new thing. – They’re kind of creepy, so, we have those kind of beings, I would say, living in our depths. And if you just take somebody. Now, again, like, depends on the– – [Irene] Person. – The way this is doing. But if you’re doing this kind of a little two-minute mindfulness thing to feel a little better,
you’re not, you know, going all the way down. But if you get, if somebody is hey I’m learning about meditation, hey you should go on this
eight-day sign of retreat where you’re gonna
meditate seven hours a day, and there’s nothing else going on, and you’re gonna do it
for eight days in a row, you are very likely, potentially gonna bring
something a crack in out of the ocean that
you’re not ready for. – [Irene] Exactly. – And that can be seriously confronting, and seriously worrisome. Because the only thing
you have at that point in those traditions is just keep to that specific meditation practice. So if trauma, as you would say, or seriously charged emotion, or depending on your metaphysics
some wilder experience, maybe an ancestor memory or
some really early life thing. – [Irene] Flashbacks. – Or something in the womb, it comes up, you’re
just supposed to keep– – Staying with it.
– Being aware, staying aware, watching
it, eventually pass away. Well, what if it stays there for 20 years? What if it takes 20 years for it to pass.
– Pass away. If it passes at all.
– Were, if it passes. Absolutely. If it’s anger, is this I’m witnessing my anger, is that just teaching subtle
forms of dissociation? – Right. And I wanna get back to
the dissociation piece. So, I wanna go back quickly. I wanna also hit on dissociation. I wanna hit on these sea creatures that might be living deep in our psyche. I wanna go back to the ethics. ‘Cause what you just outlined
is never talked about. It was only you that
talked about this to me maybe it was a year ago we
had this conversation first. But, you know, before
you get to that point of vast feeling, the second part of the
meditation that you mentioned, Vipassana, there’s ethics and then there’s the concentrative meditations, and then, and we’re just throwing people into these 10-day Vipassana retreats without any, I mean, my
stuff is all about building foundation and capacity
in the nervous system. That is often not even a concept
that’s even put in at all. But then you got the ethics. So tell me about the ethics. What does that mean actually? – Yeah, I mean, there’s ethics, and the other
point I would name there in terms of foundations is these are practices that
largely grow out of, since we mentioned monks, they’re largely practices
that grew out of monasteries. Monasteries are places,
and here we’re talking not the kind of monastery
per se I lived in, but like your traditional, what
you think of as a monastery where you’re entire life
is regulated basically from the second you wake up,
when you have your meals, when the meditation times are,
when your work periods are, when you go to sleep. I mean it’s highly– – Controlled. – Highly controlled. And everything is kind of built to reduce stressors, basically. Everything like vows of silence, bells, living out in the country,
hearing the birds chirp, right? Everything is meant to
create a lot of serenity. People can’t, you know, other people
deal with making the food, and you can read and meditate all day. So it allows for the ability, that’s all there to support the culture, being able to inspect the mind really. – [Irene] Deeply. – And then we imagine we could
just take that practice again out of its original context, no thoughts, again,
we’re just gonna shwoop, with people who have cellphones, you know, crazy amounts of email, lives,
spouses, kids, who knows. – They have to cook, clean, do everything. – Yeah.
– Yeah. – So, there’s that, how
easy is it just to take a highly monastic practice,
imagine you can just take it to people who aren’t
monks and hey, no problem, your lives are a little different, but it’s just a technology, so no worries, it can be just extracted, you know, extracted. And then ethics side
is spiritual practices, in the kind of awareness
that can come from it, even one could say the power,
I suppose that comes from it, could be used for good or for ill. – Ah, it’s very Star Wars. – Yes, exactly, so the Force, you can have the light side of the Force, you can have the dark side of the Force. So the traditions are actually
quite honest about this in the way that I think
we’re a bit naive in our day, kind of hey everybody should try this out, it’s good for everybody, la, la, la. The ethics is there to make sure that a person has the right intention. Is their intention of service? Is their intention of love? Is their intention of becoming more aware so they can be more caring, more compassionate, more generous? And if so, then you learn
the various techniques. ‘Cause there is a lot of, especially if you get really into them, and they really start doing what they do, there can be a lot of charisma, there can be a lot of grace,
there can be a lot of energy that circulates around a person, and I can get persons, I mean we all have our dark sides. And so if we start to think
that we’re so enlightened that we do no wrong and we walk on air, then we’re very likely, potentially to, you know, do some damage. – An example of that, like,
what would be something that you’ve seen, where you’ve seen that lightness and love and good get literally get hijacked? – Yeah, I mean, the more
the extreme examples are the like very terrible culty things that we have all heard about
through the news, right. Those would be kind of
like your extreme examples. Less extreme is the fact that no matter what spiritual
awareness a person may have, we’re still human beings. And as human beings
we’re fallible creatures. And so their spirituality
is to keep our feet on the ground in my experience. And there’s others that can tend towards this world is, you know, ambiguous, I don’t like it so much,
here’s my spaceship to leave and start becoming less and less human. We’ve talked about this before, this is. – [Irene] We have. – The fancy word for that is bypass. – Bypass, spiritual bypass. – Yeah, and again, that’s a kind of, I would say, misuse or abuse of what
otherwise genuine powerful and positive techniques. But again, monks in medieval India, who were geniuses of the
human psyche in many regards, also did not have to
face the various issues that we’re facing. So they didn’t have, they
didn’t come up with responses for, you know, what do you do about, they didn’t know about genetically inherited trauma patterns, like, it’s not part of their thing. And to be fair, that’s not
what they were focused on. – [Irene] No, no. – Um, so our way of
practicing these things I think has to be a lot more up to date and be willing
to say this practice is very valuable, but we
need to place it, perhaps, within a different bit
of a different container. – [Irene] Container. – Than. – With different, with soil and water, if
you may use that analogy of taking a plant. It almost is like, first of all, we can admire the plant over there,
but we really shouldn’t just pluck it out and drop it over here. We just need to create our own seed, our own gardens, because it’s true, like, it’s just not transferable
that controlled monastic life. I mean when you start talking about that, I was like, oh, that sounds nice. (Chris laughs) Wake up and your food’s cooked and all you do is read and sit and. Okay, so. What was I saying? – That you wanted to
go live in a monastery. – Oh yeah. (Chris laughs) So the interesting thing is I actually, I don’t want to go live in a monastery. I quite like my industrial,
capitalistic nature of helping people and drinking wine and making food myself,
and all these things. But, you know, to go back to that analogy of the plant, it’s, I don’t even know if there’s
a solution right now. Obviously I do the work I
do, you do the work you do, but I am seeing a lot of these practices that are being taken. People are going to train
in other parts of the world, a lot of times people will
go to places like Bali, India, Costa Rica, very
destinationary resorts where they’re learning these
things, these practices. And it just isn’t teaching
them how to bring it in to the real everyday grind. And I don’t even know if
there’s a question there, it’s just more a contemplation on my side. Yeah. – Yeah, I mean, I think it runs deep. And it goes back at least in
part relative to mindfulness. It goes to the question of whether it’s properly translated as mindfulness. I mean, already we have a Western culture that’s heavily mind centric. – [Irene] Yes. – Or rational oriented to the exclusion, I would argue with and you
agree, we’ve talked about this, so emotions, and sensation bodily being. And then you take this
meditation technique, and then call it mindfulness, you immediately, it’s
gonna immediately click into our brains as Westerners,
as English speakers, we’re gonna hear that as,
oh, I’m supposed to focus my attention up here somewhere,
yeah, I make it go wider or whatever, and then I have
nonjudgment and that’s good, and that’s gonna help me feel
calmer or better or something. And we have these
cultural pathologies, like that we’re supposed to feel better, we’re supposed to feel. And then this practice
which has a long history in an entirely different
culture which was not, did not grow out of a culture
that spent a bunch of time arguing about positive
emotions and negative emotions. – Negative emotions. – And I wanna feel better and I wanna have a healthier lifestyle, like that wasn’t part of their thing. So the practice comes sort of flying in and then it just gets subsumed
to a different agenda. And practice in and of itself is not going to bring that kind of social consciousness. It’s not meant to, it’s not
designed to, and it won’t. So if it’s treated just as
a very simple technology, then that technology can
be deployed in all kinds of different ways for
different motivations. If we don’t reflect on
what the agendas are, what is the motivation,
what is the intention, are those good intentions? Is stress reduction in and of itself? – What we want. – Goal, right? – Yeah. – Mindfulness is not gonna teach you that, that’s not what it’s designed for. – Exactly. And I like what you said a moment ago, the idea of trying to feel
better versus feeling. And when I work with my people, there’s this, like you said pathology. There are these problems. People are highly disregulated
in their arousal responses to stress, their regulation
capacity to soothe, to go to sleep at night, or
to wake up in the morning. So we have this physiology individually, but also collectively
that is either too chaotic or too shut down. And I wanna go back to what
you said about dissociation. Because if I turn the page
to another topic around this, I see a lot of people that come to me who think they’ve been meditating
or practicing mindfulness, and then we start working
together and they cannot even bear to sense the sensation in their heart or in their gut or in their neck, and it’s very clear that
they have been deluded into thinking that they
are actually more calm, when in fact, they’re just more shutdown. Could you speak to that in terms of, I mean, I understand what has happened, I know you understand,
but what’s your commentary on this situation that’s
actually quite epidemic. – In the spiritual practices itself, it’s very subtle as to how it’s being, you know, we’ve talked
about all the pieces that should go around
a spiritual practice, and I think the old style, actually has a lot to commend to it. I’m old school for all of my, – [Irene] Yeah, yeah. – ‘Cause then I’m more contemporary, there’s, I think there’s a lot of wisdom that was accrued over
many years of the kind of ordering and then a certain logic, and not throwing people in the deep end. So as to specifically
dissociative possibilities, it depends on whether a person is being taught like witnessing. So oftentimes we’ll hear the meditation, the pointer, the action
that’s being promoted as a kind of, you know, go back, almost like your attention or your energy is moving backwards. And then, you know, you’ll
hear people say like life is a movie screen and you just watch the pictures come and go and. You can do that, that’s a thing
that can certainly be done. And it can, if, you know, in the right amount, could help to create some
healthy distance for some people who are too caught up in something, get a little perspective. But if that’s kind of the go-to move, and I speak about this
from personal experience, ’cause that was the
style I was trained in, and I messed myself up
pretty good for a while. – Okay, okay. – (laughs) So I speak from– – [Irene] Experience. – Experience on this one. You know, if I’m watching the
screen of my consciousness and grief keeps coming up, maybe that grief needs to be attended to. Maybe I need to put a pause on the just watching
everything go by moment, and I need to actually grieve. Maybe I actually need to feel the grief, mourn, complete it, and then if I wanna
come back to the resting in a big spacious awareness
until the next thing comes up that needs to be attended to,
that would make more sense than just maintain this– – [Irene] Watching. – Watching pose, because then, you know, and you can get
terms like in English, people say, equanimity or, you
know, equilibrium, and so on. But that can easily be this kind of, and you can get people who
are kind of spiritual jerks. Frankly like they’re just
kind, they’re kind of mean, they’re kind of– – [Irene] Yeah, well– – They don’t have a lot
of happiness or affection or a kind of like human warmth about them. – The empathy isn’t really there. – Yeah, like what’s that about? I don’t really think that’s
what Jesus and Buddha and everybody were going on about to be just like stone faced and like. – I’m calm and serene even though I have all this crap swimming inside. And what you just gave
that example of, you know, watching the grief go
by, if we could go back to that idea of sea creatures
living in our depths, it kind of, to me, I’m seeing this vision of rather than diving
into the water and seeing what is maybe there
that needs to be rescued and tended to, it’s standing on the shore just looking in like, mm-hmm, that’s nice, but we’re not gonna touch
that, because I don’t want to. Because what you said is
watching that float by, the grief, very different than feeling the visceral quality of it. And we just haven’t
been taught how to feel these deep emotions. It’s been praised in many ways to stay stone cold and to push through. So then that brings me
to this question, like if we think of the monks, the monastery high up in the hill, are those people diving in to feel these deep pains, is it actually being touched? Or do they not have those pains, because they’re not living in this kind of Western industrial world? – Well, I think there’s the basic, I think there’s the basic
universal pains of existence. – Yep, can you explain that a little bit? – Death, mortality, I mean the Buddha was this prince and his dad kept him in this place where only young people were, and only good-looking people, and he only had the best
foods, and he snuck out. And then when he snuck out he met somebody who was sick and he met
somebody who was dying and he met somebody who
was old and hobbled, and you know, it was
that that (clicks tongue) flipped his brain, like, whoa, this is actually
our human condition. And then he goes and runs
off to seek a resolution to the deep existential
angst that was brought up – Brought up.
– in his being by seeing that level of graphic
stuff right in his face. That’s what led him to become who he was. So that stuff is universal. The specific forms of our pains are, I think, pretty distinct. You know, I’m not a yak
farmer in medieval Tibet, it’s different, you know, like I would be, you know, doing back-breaking
labor every day. – [Irene] Sure. – This scenario we live
in, it’s much more kind of an emotional, mental stress,
given my work and so on. So, those are different, but the underlying core is the same. The question of are the
monks feeling really depends on what kind of practice
they’re doing, I think. So there are these, but they tend to be the minor traditions in my experience. Like in the East they’re
referred to as Tantra, in the Jewish tradition they’re Kabbalah, Christian tradition there’s mysticism. They do say that everything
that comes before you is what you face, versus a whole lot of
other spiritual practices that are kind of just
get out of this thing. Like, go where it’s nice. – [Irene] Exit. – Yeah, go where it’s peaceful
and get the hell out of this, you know, mess here, there’s
nothing to be redeemed here, versus the ones that say
this already is the place. So if the grief is what
comes up, if it’s the anger, if it’s desire, if it’s aggression, these are the things to
feel all the way through with your presence, and
when you do they liberate. – [Irene] Exactly. – And that’s alchemy, that’s
one spiritual argument. And I come from that, I should
say, my bias is in that, that school of thought versus this stuff is just a bunch of chaos, it’s a mess, it’s a poop pile, you know, don’t punk at it, don’t do it. – Don’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. – Yes, just get the hell out. And to be fair, there are
spiritual technologies that a person can learn,
at least temporarily, where you can end up in a place where there is absolutely no pain, there’s no worries, no time. And I’ve, I’ve–
– You’ve been there. – Had experience, I know what that’s like. And I know how seductive that is. – That’s a good word. – ‘Cause who doesn’t, yeah, I mean, if you could
just stay there 24/7, there’s your magical cure for, you don’t have to do all this work, fix all this stuff, deal
with the sea creatures, they’re just not there. – [Irene] They’re gone, but they’re there. – But they’re there, because
nobody can hold that, and that’s not human, that’s only. So if a person is only being taught that kind of a practice. And this is what I was saying about if you get heavy duty
into spiritual practice, the anxiety can ratchet
up rather than down, because you’re gonna keep going
deeper and deeper and deeper and you’re gonna find– – [Irene] More stuff. – More and more characters. – I wanna keep that peace
that you just put out, ’cause it’s so, I think we’re getting to the real good meat of this. When you were talking about 20 minutes ago on first ethics and then
cultivating compassion and love and then you
go into the meditation. There’s almost this gray zone
where people are thinking that mindfulness and
meditation is about the mantras of compassion and love
and kindness, gratitude. And one more point to that is, I also think this paradox where we wanna be
compassionate and loving, of course, then you also mentioned, when you were talking about the gremlins or the sea creatures, anger, and. And you and I both know how
important the expression and cultivation of healthy
anger and aggression is. Most that I talk to or I see
like on the media outlets, all about love and light and compassion and get rid of fear, get rid of anger. Where does the compassion
and the love meld in with also these other deeper primal pieces of anger and even rage? – That’s a great question. – [Irene] Yeah. – Compassion means being willing to be with the pain and the suffering of another being. That’s what the word, that’s literally, com, community, passion, patio, to suffer, from the Latin, to suffer. – [Irene] Got it. So, all of us again back to
the universal human condition, all of us have, all of us are, have our traumas, all of us have our losses,
our griefs, our sorrows, our rage, our injustices
that we’ve experienced, or somebody we love, or
somebody we’re close to, or you’re from a minority racial group or sexual orientation, you know. So, this is not something
that is for those people, this is for all. – [Irene] Everyone. – Yeah. – [Irene] All humans. – And compassion then, isn’t, you know, this kind of be sweet and
nice and da, da, da, da, da. It means you’re willing to
turn towards the person, turn towards your own experience and turn towards them when they say, ah, I’m being, you know,
publicly discriminated every day I walk down the street. Like, I don’t know what
that experience is like. I have no idea what
that experience is like. I don’t. – [Irene] You don’t. – I can hear somebody, that is a very deep, true
experience in their reality, and I can feel a deep
degree of compassion, as well as a huge degree
of righteous anger– – Mm-hmm, yes. – Because they shouldn’t
be experiencing that, that is totally unfair,
it’s totally unmerciful, it’s totally unjust. And I feel ugh like, I don’t wanna just be like,
oh, I’m so sorry for your, you poor thing, let me
help you, da, da, da. It’s like– – It’s almost like, that’s
almost like a pitying. – Yeah, I should be
like this pisses me off, we’ve gotta change this, you shouldn’t be going
through that, right? So that’s a very easy
place where compassion and a kind of sense of
righteous indignation or anger or aggression
go naturally together. – Mm, love it. – Love, you know, I would say
compassion is being willing to be with the pain and the suffering of others than oneself. And love is really wanting
the best for another. So it’s really a deep
well spring of benevolence and wanting another being to be fundamentally deeply blessed and happy. And I can also get upset similarly about the kinds of things that
would cause people not to. I get pissed off that
when I hear all this, let’s all love and light and
look, and I get pissed off, right, like and I (audio garbled). I get angry when I. – [Irene] Uh-huh. – When I’m hearing people, I get sad, I certainly
touched by the sadness. But I also get very angry
when I hear story after story of human beings with
these terrible experiences in their childhood where
they’re just treated horribly. – [Irene] Horribly. – I get enraged by that. I think, if I don’t, I think there’s something wrong with me. I think that would be very worrisome if that kind of experience didn’t– – [Irene] Get you going. – Burn my conscience, right? Like, this is not okay. – You would be that spiritual jerk. – Exactly, oh, well, it’s all, we’re all in just this veil of tears, and isn’t life horrible and there’s nothing we can do about it. And it’s good that you have
your meditation practice to get out of this hellish
experience we’re all in and just get off the wheel. No, that’s just a bunch of BS. – Yes, I agree, I agree, and, you know, it’s just if I take a step
back and look at macro, ’cause I know you like
looking at the macro level, and I’m thinking of one of
my teachers, Steve Hoskinson, and he and I also did a chat
about this topic years ago which I’ll link up
somewhere near this video, but we were talking about the need to refine my body practices
for current day, and this importance in realizing that we sometimes have
to disconnect to bear a situation, if we think
about traumatic events, when a child is young,
they will dissociate and float above their body. In those instances, yes,
thank God, that that occurs. But it also sets that
person up to have that, that wiring has been set, so it’s a lot easier for them to go into that sense of disconnection. And what I’ve seen in
our world, in a macro, is because there has been so
much trauma in all cultures, there’s a preponderance for those people to seek out these practices
that disconnect them even more, ’cause it’s familiar. What do you see in that
and how do you think we can start to shift? I mean it’s such a big question. It’s not a one shot kind of answer, and it’s not one solution,
it’s multi-level. But any thoughts on this macro
situation we’ve gone into? Um, yeah. – Yeah. (sighs) (both laugh) – Yeah. – Well, I may not, have not have self, um. – [Irene] Feel that one. – Yeah. You know I said, meditation was for our
spiritual awakening. – [Irene] Yes. – And to me, the value, and it’s a very important value, it’s also a very partial value. So this is where I would disagree with a lot of the spiritual teacher types for whom sort of spiritual enlightenment is the end all be all or it’s
really the, it’s the pinnacle. I think it’s, I think
there’s a preciousness and a uniqueness, but I
think it has to be part of a much, like you’re saying, multi, multiple kind of thing. But what that for me,
in my own experience, what that piece is is to really fundamentally experience
that everything is whole, that in the essence of life, things are fundamentally good, and benevolent. And we can really kind
of, in my experience, which put our trust, that that is the essential nature of life. Now, to me, that essence is always
expressed through existence. And the existence is in
many cases nowhere near okay or good and it can be absolutely
atrocious and revolting. – [Irene] Horrific. – And horrific. And both can be true. And I think those are true, and I think the value
of spiritual practice that will be incorporated into a larger kind of sense of what you’re talking about is to have moments to be able to drop, as you and I hear, really terrible stuff, on a really regular basis. – [Irene] Basis, mm-hmm. – And in order for that to
not destroy us, (chuckles) there needs to be a well spring of, for me, fundamental
benevolence that I know that there is some deeper, there is some deeper
goodness that’s at play here and it’s living us. And that is what gives me strength, and that is what gives me a sense of being willing now to reengage. The seduction is always that that place be the escape. But in a positive way,
it could be sanctuary, it can be respite, which, and solace, which I really do fundamentally believe in. So, it’s subtle, it’s like am I going to that place to run away? Or am I going there because
it’s time to recharge, to remember what is ultimately important, to connect with the goodness, and then get a feeling
of now I can come back, and, you know, reengage with
stuff that’s not so good? And that to me is the key, is that being taught as a means of staying presence of it, you can stay and really
affirm goodness and wholeness in the midst of this
really messed up thing. But also be able to look
at it straight in the eyes and not collapse, not be freaked out, not be afraid, not be
terrorized, you know, but to be able to face what it is and to put forward a position of love, not this mealy, you
know, Valentine’s cards, and all this I love my
dog, you know, (laughs) or whatever, no, like. – Deep. – The fire.
– Human. – The heart.
– Earth. – Yeah. – Care. – To be full of joy in
the midst of all this. And not by being checked out, and not by just being like, I got a mind, screw all you all, you know, (laughs) like to just really be a presence of really deep fundamental joy and resilience in this world and show that you’re not doing
that by checking out, that’s to me what spiritual practice is ultimately supposed to do. – Mm, just what you said right there, is, you know, if there’s this question that someone might be having it’s like, well then what the heck is it? Is it mindfulness, is it meditation, should I not do this,
should I not have a mantra? What you just said that this capacity to witness what is going on, to know that there is a
lot of horror and trauma and adversity and that there is this inherent well-spring of goodness. And I say this, you know, no one is born wanting
to harm other people. It isn’t written in us
in any way genetically. It gets taught to us, as we know, you and I. And I wanted to actually end on something, in your email to me you talked about in the East, the mindfulness was heart-mind, you made a distinction and I liked it. So can you explain that? – Yeah. So for example, this would be like in Zen, like in the Chinese and
the Japanese traditions of Zen Buddhism. The word again that we would
translate something like mindfulness or mind was
actually, in their understanding, what we would call heart and mind. – [Irene] That’s, yeah. – So it’s heart slash mind, or mind heart, or heart mind dash, or whatever. And it was always the unity of the two. So we take this idea from another
culture, another religion, different psychic disposition,
kind of bring it over, and then we have in our culture, mind and heart tend to
be fairly separated. And so then we hear, oh,
this tradition is about teaching me how to train
my mind how to be mindful, how to use my mind and so it
becomes very mind oriented. Whereas the tradition itself is actually, heart-mind in some kind of deep unity. – [Irene] Connected. – Yeah. That there is a deeper
kind of knowing wisdom that is incorporates both
the ability to be conscious and have street smarts and
(audio garbled) with each other, but actually carry this
deep resonance like I’m not just, yeah, I get you, but like, I get you. – It’s like an empathetic connection. – [Chris] Yeah. – It has nothing to– – We’re in this thing together,
like I’m here with you. – Nice.
– And that, that can get lost if you’re just being told that it’s about training your mind. – [Irene] Making it sharper, making the cortex more dense, right, like that’s what often is talked about. It’s like, if you do this practice, you know, and perhaps
that’s true, you know, and like I said, I’m not
looking at the research, and scrutinizing it, but I know that ups some of the other things that they say. It’s well, who cares if
your cortex is more dense, are you that jerk, you know? Are you able to treat your
children in a kind manner even when they’re driving you nuts? – [Chris] Yeah. – Right. And so as we get caught up in this dualistic, researchy thing, where we’re wanting these specific results of how it’s affecting density
and brain matter and all that. So. – Learning is a very basic technique. Your mind to watch the
stream of your consciousness and thoughts and having
some general awareness, in and of itself, it’s fine. That’s not a, I don’t wanna come across like I’m slagging on that. But, to then take that, which
is only a part of Sati or Vipassana and then turn it
into this whole other thing, same with any kind of
meditation technique, if people were, you
know, affirmations for, you know, weight loss,
well, okay, (laughs) that’s well, okay. Maybe that’s part of it, but this idea that we can meditate
ourselves out of humanity– – [Irene] Upbringing. – Various kinds of human problems, to me the meditation is
simply supposed to deepen the breadth of how much
we’re able to take in– – [Irene] Honest. – It’s love and stay centered and that’s what it’s supposed to do. – There you go. I think that’s a good place
to end almost right there. I mean, we can keep going
on different tangents, but if you were to offer
those who were listening this, I don’t want to say, it’s
not about advice, but your wish for how they may move forward. Say someone has been a devote meditator, and now they’re wondering like holy shit, am I actually doing what
I’m supposed to be doing, like what would you say to that person who’s now maybe more confused
and has more questions, which maybe is a good thing? – Yeah, I mean, sometimes
I joke that I’m, you know, spend my life as a supposedly,
some people call me a spiritual teacher, it’s not
really a term that I like. But I spend my life telling people not to do spiritual practicing (laughs) and I’m a spiritual teacher, I basically try to dissuade
people constantly from it. But I said it half
serious, half joking, but I think, and I’m speaking
again from personal experience. – [Irene] Yes, of course. – Of the hard core,
enlightenment seeker guy, for a good decade, I saw in real time both the lights and the serious
shadows of that approach. And I don’t want people to go
through what I went through. Like, on a just a very basic human level. You mentioned foundations. – [Irene] Yes. – If that’s the thing, I would say, it’s foundations,
foundations, foundations. – [Irene] Foundations. – Start with ethics, start with somatic experiencing, start with things where you learn what your emotions are about. What is grief for? What is anger for? What is sadness for? If you’ve been taught
this kind of model where there’s plus emotions and
there’s minus emotions. – [Irene] Negative. – I mean, peace and
joy, and you’re supposed to be peaceful and joyous. Go be angry, go watch a
movie that pisses you off, go yell out on the street like you’re getting (laughs) upset. – Yeah, just get pissy. – You know, to me we’ve gotta stay human and that’s, and I just see a very deep
lack of the foundations. Before we get into all the pyrotechnics, which are interesting and fascinating and have their place and everything. The stuff that’s less sexy, often is actually kind of better for the long haul, you know. – It survives the test of time. – Yeah. It matters a lot that we care about people. And if you start to notice
your spiritual practice is making you less caring, that would be for me a red flag. – Okay, would you also
say even, yeah, I agree, also wanting to be less
involved with people? – [Chris] Yeah. – Yeah. This is actually something,
I thought we we’re gonna end, but you know, there’s this thought that I’m an introvert, therefore, I need to stay home and be a hermit. That’s how I am. And I agree some people are more destined to be more introspective and
less out there and on stage, but basic human nature
is such that we will die if we do not have social connection. So, what you’re saying,
and I agree with this, so it’s great to have your check on this, is that if we are in a
practice that we think is mindfulness based, meditation based, and we’re finding ourselves
less and less interested in engaging with other humans, that’s probably a pretty big red flag that we’re going down the wrong path. – That’s a question mark. ‘Cause why? Again, is it, I temporarily need some space? – Sure, we all need our space. – Yeah. I wanna be silent for a
week in a calm environment. Believe me, I have my
days still, every day where I’m like, God, I should go live in the mountains by myself, the
hell with this world, right? – [Irene] Sure. – Okay, so you gotta be able
to laugh about that part. But yeah, if it starts
being, if it’s not funny, if it’s not a haha joking,
I’m able to joke about some, you know, deep and dark
stuff I’ve got in my being, if it starts to become unfunny,
for lack of a better word, if it starts getting very
serious and precious, and extra-sensitive, that’s, that’s where I would
start to become cautious. I would be apprehensive in that case. – Good to know. I would also, and I would also add, if someone is starting to
get more physical symptoms, if you’re becoming more tense, more tight, there’s more pain, things
that didn’t pop up before like maybe your digestion’s going off, maybe you’re not sleeping
anymore, feeling rested, more colds, more viruses
that linger longer, that is another sign
that your system is going into kind of a shutdown, because the body, because
we are body beings, cannot generate and heal at the
level that it’s supposed to. So that’s another tell-tale
sign that that practice that is supposedly to get us
healthier and more resilient is actually making us
more rigid and unhealthy. – I think it’s important, yeah, just kind of overall, I would say, that’s why I always go back to, what is meditation for
and what is it not for. – [Irene] Yes, good. – And what it is for is very specific. And it’s not, for example, to deal with, how to learn how
to deal with your physiology around trauma, it’s not
what it’s designed to do. Absolutely work in concert– – [Irene] Complement. – With a different practice that is designed
specifically for that issue. Then you have a great combination. But when we start having,
this is where I get worried, where meditation now becomes a panacea, whatever kind of meditation it is, mindfulness is probably the most popular, but it could be, again, yoga,
or any number of things, when it starts to become,
I got this problem, you know, meditation’s your answer, in the worst of cases, I mean, then money gets involved, then the charlatans, there’s lots of good
well-intentioned people as well. But, you know, you get this kind of snake oil salesman
thing, sometimes I think like, you know, in the
old they were saying, like drink this and it’ll
get rid of arthritis, and tooth pain and you
know, like, other problems, and it’s like, well,
it’s snake oil, right. So, meditation is not designed for all these other things. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be used with other practices in
a way that’s helpful. – [Irene] In addition to. – If you’re getting really
deeply into meditation, you are gonna surface deep dark stuff, and I would say at a minimum, you have to have some other practice to help deal with that deep
dark stuff when it comes up. ‘Cause just being taught to meditate more and meditate your way through it, and just keep going and keep watching it, and keep going down, don’t, that is a recipe for disaster. – [Irene] All right. (both laugh) I agree and I hope, I think that that’s an actually a very good place to end. Even though we ended
with the word disaster, that goes quite nicely with the gremlins deep in the sea that
we’ve been talking about, which I think, really, we
all need to look at and face in a way that is engaged
and like you said, almost a little humorous, and serious. – The humor is important to have a, you know, to know when it’s
serious and when it’s not. – [Irene] Of course, of course. – [Chris] You gotta have
a perspective there. – [Irene] Of course. Thank you. – Thank you. – Yeah, and if you’re watching this, obviously Chris’s
information is down below, If you like to read some good
articles, he’s a good writer, so make sure you check out his stuff. And obviously you see clients, people. – [Chris] I do, I do. – I know. – We all in the flesh. – [Irene] We all are flesh. – Human beings. – Yeah. All right, thank you, my dear. And we will talk to you again.
– Thank you. Bye. – Bye. Hey, guys, thanks for being here. Be sure to share this video with people if you think this will be
of use to someone you know in your world, whether your clients, or your family or your friends. Be sure to subscribe to my channel. Look for my head, click on that, that’ll take you there. Then you’ll get my videos
as they roll out every week and you won’t miss any of them. Take good care, bye for now.

23 thoughts on “Meditation & Mindfulness 101 || Interview w/ Chris Dierkes || IRENE LYON

  1. Thank you so much for this interview! Calling it Mindfulness and Meditation was "limiting" as you covered so much more. I have been on my spiritual path for 30 years and I have experienced it all! What a breath of fresh air!💕

  2. Wow, this was a fantastic discussion and a breath of fresh air! Thank you both for bringing such important perspective to this topic.

  3. I really enjoyed this interview Irene .. wonderful and delicious food for thought and an entirely unexpected aspect to the two M's

  4. Hi, I haven't listened to all the video yet, so much to listen to, and it is very interesting, but felt that I had to comment. A lot of what Chis has to say, yes I agree with but for me if you really wanted to start on a level playing field and have a conversation about Mindfulness then maybe the person you should be talking to is Jon Kabat-Zin . Mindfulness meditation is certainly not about disassociation from the body, on the contrary its allowing what is there to be felt in the body ( the purpose of the body scan) its allowing what is there to be there with equanimity, without judgement, with a sense of inquiry, holding whatever arises in compassion. Mindfulness is not trying to feel better, it is not all about "love and light" it's about allowing us to be present with what is, it's certainly not about getting rid of emotion, but feeling emotion, what does it feel like, where is it in the body, etc allowing those feelings to be known, with tenderness and kindness. Our consciousness is the tip of the iceberg and mindfulness is allowing what is unconscious to be conscious and dealing with what ever arises with self compassion, so letting these feelings of , say anger or grief to surface and be be felt but in a non judgemental way. When Chris talks about disassociation, this isn't mindfulness, this
    is a coping mechanism. Can't wait to finish the rest of the interview.

  5. this reminds me of a friend who started transpersonal therapy in Toronto and ended up after 20 years bypassing her trauma. She became more and more cold and sick. I no longer speak to her after 20 years of friendship as she became more and more abusive.

  6. Thank you Irene and Chris for the depth and experience you bring to this discussion, I found it really helpful as you put into words my own concerns. My mindfulness practice stemmed my Buddhist practice and community and as I went out into the world and offered to share that with others I felt that in weekly classes I couldn't give people the depth and breadth of what they needed and funnily enough as an EFT practitioner I just wanted to 'tap with them' as I felt that was what would have helped them more than mindfulness practice. So I stopped the mindfulness meditations and swore to myself that I wouldn't present mindfulness again on it's own, I would only combine it as a practice to accompany deeper work. I was only following my intuition though, and your interview has confirmed that I was right to do that and helps confirm that I'm on the right path and it's imporant to follow your gut. Thank you for all that you contribute to the topic of trauma.

  7. Some of the things you say are true and I perceive some as misleading. As a person trained in Somatic Experiencing Trauma Therapy and a 30years+ meditator in many traditions I can attest to the serious risks of intensive retreats. Mindfulness meditation as taught by various teachers as a concentration practice as well as an awareness practice is taught as a stress reducing because it promotes relaxation and develops the nervous system's capacity to allow bodily sensations to be experienced and not avoided. Those sensations can lead to more capacity, deeper awareness, acceptance, wellbeing due to the ability to experience pleasure and pain more fully.
    Dissociative states have to be watched for however and people with trauma need to find other ways to heal trauma.
    Meditation may not be effective as a way to deal with trauma and may trigger the trauma to resurface therefore retraumatize us.
    I would be cautious to discount the relaxing benefits and body/mind awareness developed in yoga or meditation especially when one has not experienced them first hand or has biases in other modalities.

  8. Absolutely beautiful. I am a seminary trained/ordained interspiritual minister and I fully agree that spiritual practice can be misused as escapism, or as a vehicle to more shutdown. The more we have the good capacity to connect the body/heart-ness of humanity, the more we have the capacity to connect to the truth of our divinity. We are at once sacred and profane, sublime and ridiculous…exquisite assholes, really 🙂 And there is such beauty in that!

  9. Yes YEs, so good you talk about that. Righteous anger is something that needs to be acknowledge and not pushed down. Problem is how especially people in the New Age community see abuse: they basically gaslight themselves believing that they attracted it themselves, some so-called spiritual leaders (possibly narcissists or sociopaths themselves) even go as far as to say, you were a match to rape!! This completely twists the truth. Believing in the LOA is really not a good thing, I don't see any benefit in it from what I have seen and experienced. It only leads people further away from facing their "sea creatures" and true healing, and it causes more anxiety..

  10. Not convinced by fear of meditation, oh I have sthin I dont want to face right now, sory, isnt it cultivating fear ? And not convinced by the fear again of isolating onself for a week or 2 in this transforming world where awakening can happen to anyone just now. If there is love you don't need fear

  11. I recently started doing inner child work, and I've thing I've found helpful is asking the feeling, memory or pain if there is anything it would like to share with me. I feel like it allows me do learn a lot without forcing issues that I'm not quite ready for yet. It's not quite the same as meditation but I do feel like I go into a meditative state when I do this.

  12. Until extremely recently I could not tell the difference between being "zen" and shut down. I also was in the habit "watching the grief" and never diving.

  13. Pure gold. Especially about the dissociative aspects of the witnessing techniques. It messed me pretty bad too until I learned I had to really experience it in a way meditation didn't allow me to. Now I think of it this way: Imagine Jesus on his cross, going through all that pain and suffering and even he broke down and exclaimed to God, "why have you forsaken me?" Sometimes we have to break down as well, and not only witness stuff. "Eli Eli lama sabachthani?"

  14. So interesting. The biggest treatments for fibromyalgia, a central nervous system disorder that I have, have come by accident as side effects. Mindfulness and meditation have hugely helped me with this and to calm my nervous system and reduce the impact of my symptoms. I use the words mindfulness and meditation because that communicates the message in current culture. I have actually managed to use the two parts as it seemed a logical progression! This was all good food for thought.

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