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  • mono 2:04 pm on October 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Good Life, , , Selfhood,   

    Mindful Absorption: Fluidity and Mindfulness 

    Carl Rogers talks about “the fluid nature of the self.” But, how does one achieve such an awareness of the fluid nature of the self? Aside from my recent article, I will expand on a few key elements to this most elusive yet ordinary way of living, hopefully, moving us toward a better understanding of “fluidity” and, “mindfulness” in general.

    I think it is extremely important to, in moments of great concentration (of a task, a conversation, a lecture, cleaning the sink) allow yourself to be fully drawn into the situation at hand. The catch is that if you find yourself thinking about how you’re being drawn into the situation, the absorption in the task has ceased to be so. It’s like reading a book and suddenly realizing that you are reading a book. In doing so, you’ve temporarily lost the “story.” When you realize that you are reading a book, you cease to be engrossed in the story or the argument and start to think about other things (sometimes even as you eyes continue “reading”). When you are fully engaged in the book, you lose track of time and, at that moment, you are in the realm of the author. So, the first trick is to permit oneself to “let go” of analysis of the situation and permit oneself to be 100% “into” the situation.

    But, I want to clarify that “letting go” does NOT mean recklessly doing whatever you want to do regardless of the consequences. No, not at all. In fact, the opposite. It means “letting go” to the situation in such a way that you are “tuning in” to it more clearly and more in accord with what needs doing or what is being presented to you in the situation. Therefore, the teacher becomes a better listener and speaker, the police officer becomes more attentive to crime, the musician becomes better focused on the production of sound and so on. It is a kind of realistic alchemy for daily living.

    Whenever you are having a conversation with someone, you are absorbed in something greater than each individual word that you are saying. Becoming more mindful of what you say and how you say it could help you along your path – “letting go” and “tuning in.” In order to have a conversation, you must enter the flow of the words, while attending to the meaning – you do this automatically, for the most part. Learn to become a better speaker through the control and edification of the words that you use with others. It’s like the old Japanese Butoh-fu poem, “Balance chaos and control, like a calm rider on a stampeding horse.”

    For now, and for the sake of “blogging brevity”, I would advise that you do as many things as possible and in the doing of those things, do them well. More than “well”, do them to the very best of your ability. Become mindful of your limits and, if need be, work purposely to change those limits so that they are in accord with where you want them to be instead of where they are by “default.”

    I work with a seventy-year-old man who has told me on numerous occasions, that he “doesn’t have a future.” A common reaction to that line might be, “Oh, but you DO have a future. You’ll be around a long time. Don’t worry about it.” However, he is always smiling, attentive and jolly. He is smiling because, more important than having a future, he has a present. Each task he does, each conversation he has, has meaning for him NOW. He does what needs to be done and holds to the purpose of the now. Old age has taught him a lesson. Hopefully, when and if I am his age, I, too, will be as engrossed in the moment as he is. Nonetheless, with those of us, who absolutely must plan for upcoming goals or events in our life, the best way to handle them is with the recollection that what you are doing now is leading you somewhere and it is what you are doing now that is of utmost importance to the quality and control of your life. The question is: Is what you are doing now leading you where you most want to go? If not, you may want to re-evaulate the doing part of your life and change what or how you do things. Change what you are doing now and start leading yourself to the imagined destination that you dream of. Getting there will probably be more fun than arriving, anyway.

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    • zensquared 11:25 am on October 22, 2008 Permalink

      It’s really difficult to do as you are suggesting — but you’re right, it’s very important to make a great effort to live this way, with our full attention on what is in front of us. Your anecdote about the 70-year-old man is wonderful! If he frets about the future, he will be wasting the precious time he has right now. Right now! How often do we just throw that away?

    • jg 3:40 pm on October 22, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you, Zensquared, for the support.

      Another interesting thing to note about my co-worker, is that he is always very well-prepared, in good spirits and consistently productive – a master in the art of having a present.

      You may have already read it, but Alan Watts’s essay, “What on Earth are we doing?” from his book “Cloud Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal” talks about savoring the present. Well worth reading.

    • zensquared 9:10 pm on October 23, 2008 Permalink

      Thanks, jg. I will look for that Alan Watts essay. I haven’t read anything by him yet, but my dharma teacher recommends him.

  • mono 7:33 am on October 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: epigram, , , , , , , Selfhood,   

    On the Margin of Our Graspable Self: Epigrams and Aphorisms 

    It is possible, that the gust of a new life bursts into your zone of the expected, thus tearing all of your fragmentary accomplishments to bits.

    At home, too long, with words and words, piling up like some kind of garbage heap – yet, you throw yourself all too willingly into the heap, hoping to irk out some kind of angle, some kind of chirping opinion.

    To those on the periphery, to those whose step-by-step leads them to trip over their own tail and lie down in early hours on a painful pillow.

    Waking up and opening the window to the sounds of the familiar. Having put oneself in this place, it is hard to shout obscenities at anyone but one’s yesterday-self.

    The silence of a room can draw us near to the decisions that we have made: the mistakes of yesterday, the hopes and how they transpired – how we have edited our choices.

    Where has my golden strength gone at this hour of the day? To what pleasure do I owe the arrival of this new friend: confusion.

    Seeing past this moment, we can see what we can see. But, what of what we can’t see? How will that affect us?

    A remainder of those whose words we read, trickle down inside us, to that invisible area on the margin of our graspable self.

    …….

     
  • mono 10:58 am on April 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Feelings, Fluid Process, levels of self, , Person, Person-Centered Therapy, , , , Selfhood, Sensitive Living, ,   

    Person as a Fluid Process (Spending Time with Carl R. Rogers Part 2) 

    Carl Rogers, advocate for Person-centered psychotherapyImage via WikipediaYesterday, I had the pleasure of reading Carl R. Rogers‘s essay “What it Means to Become a Person” from his book “On Becoming a Person.” In this essay, Rogers discusses the idea of “false faces” and “pure culture” while opening up what he calls the “fluid process” experience of personhood. As with my “Sensitive Empathy” post, I will try to briefly elucidate Rogers and, in doing so, hopefully move towards a clear yet brief explication of this work.

    False Faces and Pure Culture

    It seems that we can understand the idea of “false faces” by imagining ourselves at a job interview. Surely, at a job interview the game of revealing/concealing is heavily enacted. That is, if one really wants the job, one must try to play the interview game and win. The face contorts into a forced smile, perhaps the arms sit calmly on the lap and so on. It is as if some foreign presence has overtaken the body and there is a kind of disconnection that occurs in the person. For Rogers, this is the person exercising a “false face.” I don’t think the job interview example is the only time that we play with these false faces, in fact, I would almost say that for most of us interacting at the workplace or around those we don’t know, the false face is used a great deal. Moreover, in some cases it is necessary to employ the false face to some extent and to play the game one must, at points, struggle to control one’s face. However, I think that what Rogers wants to move toward is a peeling off of the false face that emerges in times when it doesn’t have to. That is to say, in times when one should allow oneself to expose one’s true face. This examination of one’s use of social masks may reveal the experience of the overuse of the mask, which is hindering a person from truly becoming his or herself. If one can work to overcome the barriers of false faces, one has the chance to truly shine, to reach that part of one’s self that may be veiled or covered-up. This recognition of and getting in touch with one’s use of “false faces” may be seen as the first step in becoming a person. When one comes to understand this and break out of this shell, the experience of, what Rogers calls “pure culture” may come to fruition. “Pure Culture” can be defined as letting oneself truly feel and be who one is without the overuse of a false face. It should be noted however that this experience may not necessarily be a pleasant one. That is to say, one may find what Rogers refers to as “The stranger behind the mask.” Perhaps, for some of Rogers clients, the breaking down of the mask was terrifying in that it exposed a part of self, which because of its concealed nature, exposed the hidden side of the self, the shadow which has not yet blossomed.

    True Feeling

    Also, Rogers talks about the idea of “letting yourself feel what you are feeling.” What this means is not trying to convince yourself that you feel a certain way, when in reality you feel a different way. Perhaps there are parts of one’s personality that one does not want to admit to, that are shameful or harmful. I believe Rogers would say that one should not create a gap in the experiencing of these feelings but accept them as being a part of the person that one is becoming. He doesn’t talk about acting on the feelings, but simply accepting them as a part of one’s self, as a part of one’s becoming. From this, perhaps one will learn to place more trust in oneself, to see one’s self in a more balanced way, in an honest way. If a person can achieve this kind of self-honesty, this kind of self-nudity, then perhaps the fluidity of the self will be recognized. That is to say, the presence of one’s self not as a fixed object, but as a nexus of possibilities and happenings. It seems that in this it is Rogers aim to allow the client to recognize the becoming-nature of what it means to be a person. The masks that were employed for so long need not exist, that one in fact was the creator of the mask…

    Person as Fluid Process

    What Rogers is moving towards is what he recognizes as “the person as a fluid process” or “a stream of becoming.” Of course, it is difficult for us to keep an awareness of our fluidity in mind at all times in our daily life and I think that Rogers would agree on this, but, it is achievable upon reflection, in times of meditative thinking, wondering and questioning or perhaps on a morning stroll. The recognition that one is a fluid process of becoming may open one’s self to a side of existence that one has denied oneself by the use of “false faces.” One may come to experience the “pure culture” of life, the streaming process of doing, feeling and becoming. One need not be “stuck” with oneself, but may come to accept the changing nature of personhood, accept the fact that the doing of the task is the doing of the task: once completed, there is no more task…it, too, was a process.

    Sensitive Living

    In this way of allowing oneself to feel what one is feeling, one may experience what Rogers calls “sensitive living.” Perhaps this could be understood as the recognition of oneself as an ever-changing process of experiences, situations and possibilities. Or, the experience of one’s person as “a changing constellation of potentialities.” This way of looking at the person allows the person to freely feel and experience life and the myriad of fluctuating situations that occur or that one may enact. This trust and acceptance, for Rogers, is a vital step in the client and, moreover, in the person as such.

    These are observations that Rogers came to realize while in close communication with suffering clients, family, friends and so on and are applicable to those of us who suffer, to those of us who wish to make a change, to realize a new way of living and to strive in our process of becoming. Thank you for reading this and I hope you have found this useful. If you are familiar with Rogers work and wish to further this reading or add your own interpretation of Rogers work, please, by all means do so.

     
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