I thought it was the greeks who wore togas? Aren't they white? You might stand out a bit hanging out with the DL :p
Doogle, I'm good thanks. Been doing v. well with my anxiety issues and have now managed to dig deeper and started healing other psychological misgivings that are perhaps at the root of great deal of my recurrent discontent (and maybe even my M.E.) (EDIT: Also, Doogle... LOL!)
Something I wanted to share in this thread, actually, is my recent experiences with mindfulness and suffering. Often when mindfulness is begun, people see it as a means to outsmart suffering. The though is 'oh if I am in the present moment, then I will not suffer because suffering happens when I am in the future or past'. This is true to an extent. Particularly when the suffering is superficial (and by superficial I don't mean not real, rather I mean at the surface).
However, when the suffering is bone deep as it is with probably everyone who finds their way to this forum, it is not so simple. It is impossible to outsmart suffering. You cannot remove yourself from it. 'Observing it' is often misinterpreted by the beginner - or even those who have been practicing a long while - to mean that they distance themselves from it and dissociate from it. I made this mistake time and time again in my own practice. I thought if I force myself into the present or put my experience in a box then it would naturally solve itself. Leaving this mindset has been a long, drawn out process.
To possess this mindset completely misses a really essential part of mindfulness. I now avoid at all costs the idea of 'letting go' or 'observing'. Instead, I have learned to think about it in terms of sitting with my experience. If my experience is painful, then I must be with it. I must offer it my support. I do not get involved, but nor do I resist it. If I am with a crying child, I do not resists its tears and nor do I encourage them. I sit with the child and offer it my presence and my love. Jack Kornfield elucidates this concept beautifully in his book A Path With Heart. I have just broken up with my girlfriend which is extremely painful. What I must do now is to be with that pain; to offer myself and the experience kindness and compassion; to acknowledge at a very deep level that I am suffering, but that it is okay to suffer.
The reason I bring this up now is that I have just finished talking about this with my therapist. He is a trained mindfulness teacher in addition to being a therapist, and he grounds his psychotherapy practice either directly or indirectly in mindfulness. We were discussing how often he sees people attempt to skip over their suffering. When we are wrought with turmoil, mindfulness must encourage us to be with that turmoil, to investigate it. Only by doing this do we actually learn, and only by doing this are captive energies truly released. Often this can be a very difficult or even traumatic experience, and is a long way from the contemporary concept of mindfulness as a means to gain calmness and clarity. To paraphrase a quote in A Path With Heart: 'if you haven't cried during meditation, you haven't really started meditating'.
Anyway, I just wanted to discuss it because I feel like when mindfulness is approached form a place of deep suffering people see it as a means to end that suffering. I noted to someone on a mindfulness forum the other day that to address their anxiety via mindfulness they must sit with their suffering, and they took this to mean that it was a bad idea and would make them worse. This is not so. Mindfulness is a means to offer your suffering compassion, love, acceptance, understanding and presence. Do not put it at arm's length. Sit with it.
I see so much suffering on this website. It is so saddening.
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
-- Jelaluddin Rumi,