All posts filed under: Techniques and Tutorials

Inner Journeys

Lucid Dreaming

What distinguishes lucid dreaming from dreaming? What makes a lucid dream – lucid? Why explore and develop this skill? How could it contribute to better health and well-being?  To begin exploring this, let us first land upon a story shared in the Zhuangzi, by the master Zhuang. In the “Butterfly Dream”, Zhuang Zhou dreams of being a butterfly, happily fluttering around. He awakens from this vivid dream and – pauses, wonders – is he Zhuang Zhou who dreamt of being a butterfly? Or is he a butterfly, dreaming that he is Zhuang Zhou? “The Butterfly Dream” of Zhuang Zhou is a dream, recalled — and a portal through which we can move between the concepts of dreaming and lucid dreaming. Psychophysiologist Stephen LaBerge specializes in the scientific study of lucid dreaming. He describes lucid dreaming as “fully reflective consciousness during unequivocal (REM) sleep” — and also simply: “dreaming while knowing that you are dreaming.” When you become aware that you are dreaming, myriad new possibilities emerge in your dreams. Applications being explored by lucid dreamers include: …

Caveat Meditator

| INT. – A bookstore in Rishikesh, India – Afternoon | I am with a yoga teacher from the west. She is browsing the shelves for herself, but then remembers that I, her student, am present. She hands me a book. “Here, this is good. You should read this and practice the exercises.” The book she has handed me is on advanced breathing techniques. While it is a good book, it is not a good book for me at this stage. Curiously, she has not asked me essential questions about my previous training, interests, and goals; so how does she know that this is appropriate for me? Simple answer: she does not know. She has not asked me the questions because this retreat she has organized is not for me or other participants. It is for herself. And this book is not for me—not yet. What little I do know about advanced breathing techniques: they are powerful. One must proceed with proper training, adequate knowledge, and competent guidance. Otherwise, it could be dangerous. This book requires far more …

Hygiene and Wellness

When it comes to hygiene – personal hygiene – the cleanliness of body, clothing, and home environment are typically the focus. And while these are important, hygiene is much more: it is about maintaining health and preventing disease – and so that includes physical and mental cleanliness.  In the 19th century, the poet Robert Browning dropped us into the secret inner world of a monk who is enraged at “Brother Lawrence”. What exactly did this Brother Lawrence do? You might wonder, if you haven’t already read the fiercely gnarled interior monologue known as the “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister”. Well, for one, Brother Lawrence grew melons to share with the order. (The effrontery! The virtue signaling!) “Oh, those melons! if he’s able   We’re to have a feast; so nice!One goes to the Abbot’s table,   All of us get each a slice.How go on your flowers? None double?   Not one fruit-sort can you spy?Strange!–And I, too, at such trouble,   Keep them close-nipped on the sly!” This is a monk going through the motions of appearing pious, and while we witness his contaminated thoughts …

On the Waves of Thoughts

More than 14 million books Published over a period of 125 years (1855 – 2019) In 3 languages (English, German, Spanish) Add machine learning and algorithms that tirelessly seek and identify textual markers of “cognitive distortions” — thinking patterns associated with anxiety and depression — for researchers to analyze. And? They analyzed. And? The interdisciplinary team of researchers found that the language records show a surge of cognitive distortions since the 1980s. Suggesting? In fact, entire societies may be getting more depressed — and this may correlate with new technologies and “social” media. Aha. Before you say, “I knew it; I just had a feeling” — just consider if that may indicate a cognitive distortion… Find information on the cognitive distortion schemata used in the study here, and below a brief overview: 12 Cognitive Distortions 1. Catastrophizing Exaggerating the importance of negative events Examples: “will go wrong” and “will never end” 2. Dichotomous Reasoning Thinking that an inherently continuous situation can only fall into two categories Examples: “everything” and “nothing” 3. Disqualifying the Positive Unreasonably …

Sleeping Beautifully

Without enough sleep we all become tall two-year-olds. JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom | If we’re not getting enough sleep to begin with, negative neurocognitive consequences can make it even harder to address the underlying problems and improve our situation. So first we must hold the intention to expand our wisdom and release that harmful pattern. Let’s call the entry to the virtuous cycle, “knowledge”. 1. Knowledge and self-knowledge γνῶθι σεαυτόν (Know Thyself) inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi | Sleep is complex and mysterious. It is also natural. We can begin learning about the natural aspects, in particular from findings in circadian biology. Here are some questions to guide the learning process: What is cortisol? How does the body’s cortisol response to stress affect sleep? Do I have a healthy cortisol response? What is melatonin and what is its role in the wake-sleep cycle? What depletes hormones and are my hormones depleted? Do I need to consult my doctor about hormone therapy and/or melatonin supplements? How do fluctuations in my blood sugar levels affect …