tomato meditation

Still hot, right off the vine on a warm summer after noon — nothing beats cherry tomatoes. Some are just superficially sour…,
The best of them sour first..
then molasses sweet
then sour again..

This cool August day’s sun would not bake these little fruit morsels today to anymore than 70 degrees in my small tomato garden of the backyard. None the less, at room temperature, (I was sitting outside) they were a tasty reward for my zazen meditation..
It all started today when I was reading a book on subjects related to gardening, I was having a little bit of trouble concentrating, So I thought to myself, “Self… its a beautiful day out, lets go out back and get a little focus back.” The back patio, which faces my tomato, pepper and leak garden is as good as spot as any.

The things you notice, and notice that you weren’t noticing.

During meditation I became mindful that my grass was the lawn was tall enough to mow. This is typical for me, thoughts of having to do work, or some task always surface when I meditate — roughly ten minutes in..
I chuckled to myself about the cicadas that I had not noticed before. “How many days have they been chirping in the afternoon, grasshopper, and you had only now noticed!”

cherry-tomato.jpg

Cherry Tomatoes!

So after sometime, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, twenty minutes, who knows… I decided I was finished meditating .
Time to reward myself. Ahh!!! I have ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine!
Most who meditate regularly, may report that, after a period of letting go of thoughts, one become closer to his senses and that included taste…
I can still taste the tomatoes as of this writing.

The following is a haiku I wrote about tomatoes.:

reddened and ripened,
oblong, fireball bulbousing;
flashes her nature.

I wrote it for Alan Watts after enjoying one of his lectures on tape some time ago…
you can find more poetic musings here..
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All work and no tomatoes make jack a dull boy.

Symphony of Rain

So busy doing other things, some times I forget the beauty of the rain. Its not until I “sit” do I remember. I already was sitting — on the front porch playing chess against my android device on an otherwise “dark and stormy night”. Tired of that I just “sat” in the Zen definition:
Sitting, on the same porch on bench: posture square, straight… confident through the shoulders but relaxed; Legs straight with feet flat on the ground. I should point out that I was covered in bug repellent, so I felt safe from the army of mosquitoes of the damp night.

Soon the sound of the rain filled my awareness. The sound of droplets against asphalt roof and asphalt road with the grass, bushes and flower beds in between: quite a symphony.
Then I could fill the touch of the cool damp breeze. My thoughts meandered to other arbitrary ideas. When I caught myself thinking.. (I almost just wrote “When I caught my mind thinking” ) When i caught myself thinking about stuff: I let go of the subvocalizing process… I became aware of my breathing and posturing. And then the symphony of the rain, again

There is always a point, while meditating, where I want to get up and do something else. As if to say, “Well i am done. Yep I’m satisfied with the moment. Lets go do something else. Lets go be somewhere else. Lets go dancing!
I always have to catch myself, as if to say “hey! where do you got to be? Sit your ass back down and enjoy the moment.
The tricks that I play on myself (I almost wrote “the tricks that my mind plays upon me”) while meditating. Meditating is seldom peaceful for me. Neither is writing apparently, since I keep treating ‘my mind” as if where separate from the rest of me.

The bug repellent wore off, leaving me the anxiety of being eating alive by mosquito who have been seeking refuge from the night by porch lights. I love the rain, but I don’t like mosquito bites.

So I went inside and wrote about it.

Filtering Out Noise with Information Zoning

In his work ” Introduction of Permaculture“, Mollison explains his use of “zoning” to allocate areas of gardening and agriculture in a landscape. “Zones”, are prioritize by importance and demand of work. most important and/or work/time intensive crops are located closes to the dwelling area. Un-farmed areas are designated as “the wild”.

Mollison’s (and fellow permaculture father Dave Holmgren) application of zoning is, essentialy, the act of organizing one’s environment — in the case of permaculture — the garden or farm, around and including living-space. In the image above the living quarters in graphically centered; the most labor intensive and important areas of the garden are kept close .. the least important tasks are pushed to “the wild” or unmanaged land.

I’ve been thinking about the Permaculture method of zoning in gardening and agriculture and I have wondered if one could apply (pattern, if you will) zoning to managing the flood of stimula and information that seems thrown at us in our day-to-day busy lives.
So many things we sense or think about  in any moment of our conciousness, One could easily feel overwelmed and overloaded.
I am wondering if i can make a connection with Gestalt talk as well, as one visualize  zones as figures formed out of a ground (what Mollison calls the wild) by designers.

Could one organize, or garden , his rough conciousness landscape of raw stimuli, senses thoughts, worries, brainstorms and activities? Keep the meaningful tasks, ideas and concerns close and push meaningless data to the backgound?

From Dischord find Harmony

– Albert Einstein *

Image, senses and thoughts arise as Gestalts, figures from the backround of constant noise,dischord… It’s up to you and I to decide what is meaningful, important at a given moment, and reject unimportant information, zone back to “the wild”, or background.

info-zone-jpg

so how can i improve my abilty to “zone” the flood of information each day?
one way could be to create a simple todo list:
here is one: Pennsylavania Echoes — Todo List.

I keep a todo or task list on my computer, also a calendar — and I have learned not to worry about them until I look at them again.

Another way to learn how to stay relatively “mindful” of important things in the moment and filter out the meaningless to “the  wild ”  or “backround”:
Sit or stand somewhere in …

  1. relax, be confident, be square in posture.
  2. breathe in and out from the belly
  3. become aware of your breathing
  4. when you catch you mind thinking of some else return to step one

I like this breathing exercise and practice often. I am less distracted by unimportant thing in the present- centered moment.

……breath_and_background.jpg

When being mindful of only breathing, breathing fills the whole of mindfulness, a single zone, while all else is ignored and left to the backrground of wild data.
Overtime, breathing exercises and meditations are helpful in developing an intuitive ability to zone:
cognating and doing what is important at the moment, and letting go of the unimportant.

Its a great way to reducing stress, feeling more organized, focused and at-peace.

phenomenology

Phenomenology is the  study of experiences: generally the experiences of a subjects (an organism, a group, or a single conciousness) interaction with “other” (eg. the environment, field, “world”, other happenings or other people  in contact with the subject) and from the subject’s  point of view.
This includes all integral structures and components:

  • mood, excitement, aggression, apprehension and expectations in circumstances.
  • Bias, “world view”, outlooks and introjection
  • intentionality (or towardeness) and mindfulness.
  • sensing, near and far (touch and taste are near, sight and hearing far)
  • sensing time  and observing change
  • imagining, feeling, problem solving, abstracting,
  • desiring, empathizing,expressing,
  •  affecting and being affected
  • experiential learning -learning by experience and activity
  • the limitations of experiencing
  • The communication of experiencing, i.e language, language modes
  • context and meanings
  • patterns (similarities of different experiences and applications)

Some benefits  of phenomenological investigation is:

  • One may improve his understanding of his ways of cognating and acting.
  • find deeper meaning in events by holistically experiencing them rather than reading about them.
  • understand and find meaning  in other peoples shared experiences, paradigms, by cultivating perspective-taking skills.
  • improve problem solving with experiential learning, and patterning.
  • feeling “tuned in” to the world.
  • abstracting, imagining and being affected by other’s experiences (development of empathy and language).

phenomenal flower

Phenomenology is not just a subjective and intersubjective discourse in philosophy.  It is important to  Science (where objectivity is preferred)  as well.  For example:  the activity, including observations, of the tester must be considered in any scientific test. A scientist is always trying to remove error and accidental tampering in his/her measurements and  remaining as objective as possible.
Now consider the science of Quantum mechanics.
The tester or observer is so grand compared to tiny particles in field,  that even his idle observing can effect his measurement of particles.  This means that a quantum physicist must account for his own “consciousness” or cognations in measuring and observing particles,  including his expectations, attitudes and limitations that could effect his data! At this extreme level of scientific observation, the scientist’s experience of  measuring objects and events in a field is a component of the field.

Phenomenology is a much discussed topic in the quantum mechanics and physics, as well as psychology and both Eastern and Western Philosophies.  It’s an important topic within any Empiricism .  If I had a complaint about phenomenology its that’s an awfully long word and I can never remember how to spell it. :) …. and just try to  fit the phrase “existential-phenomenology” (the phenomenology that focus on whole action and not just “consciousness“) into the 140 character limit of a twitter post.  Phenomenology is one more ugly word that is very useful.

A Quick Guide on How to Meditate

In our world of techniques, hacks and quick plans and how to guides, I offer my own quick guide to meditating.

     

  1. Find a place to sit (preferably but you can stand), that does not offer a lot of distractions.
     
  2. Correct your posture… sit with your body even and squared, without slouching or leaning back.
     
  3. Refine your posture. relaxed and confident. breath from the belly.
     
  4. Be aware of your breathing, one thing, or no thing, or everything* for the rest of the sit.
     
  5. When you catch yourself thinking of something else, imagine those thoughts floating away and then return to step 3
     

 
* I think it is easiest to  be mindful of breathing at first, but  one can meditate on an  idea, object (including his/her body), the “external world” or just being.

Remember to:   Find, Correct, Refine, Be, & Return… and to remain a beginner
for this exercise.

Many who meditate regularly will dismiss the notion of techniques or 5 step plans after some time. However meditating like journaling can be what you want it to be, it has many uses.

Extra curricular homework.

the  word Experiential  refers to learning by experience. That’s how one learns while meditating.

click for journaling
After you have meditated  a couple time jot down some notes:

  • Did you notice any stress, anxiousness or restlessness  in your body and where?
  • Did You notice  your posture effecting  your sharpness or mindfulness? How?
  • Did You want to get up and do something else?
  • Did you notice and self judgements , frustration,”should be”s or self criticism?
  • Were you “bothered” by things?
  • Did you feel satisfied or calm at times?
  • How do you feel after meditating?

Combining journaling and meditating can strengthen awareness.  One may resolve or let go of   his or her  “ailments’ much easier when he is aware of them, and find peace of mind.

for more check the following posts:
Pennsylvania Echoes: Meditation Category

Tao Te Ching chapter 16

Laozi

Lao Tzu

Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
The way of nature is unchanging.
Knowing constancy is insight.
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.
Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain the divine.
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

……………………………..
(translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English)
thanks to http://www.wussu.com/laotzu/index.htm

The  consciousness of  the happenings of one’s  body is his mind.  When he or she is  aware of  the particulars of  his body: thoughts, cognition,  feelings, perceptions, reactions – He   calls this  awareness  his  mind.

In Taoism and Zen, meditating is a holistic practice of consciously Letting Things Flow.
(“a thousand”) Things come and go in the moment.  If one is being mindful of things coming and going in the moment, without attempting to capture or control, suppress or force… Then his mind is  resting  at peace.
I have read many times the words “Let things go” during meditation. Its difficult to find the perfect description in contemporary English. What is really being let go of .. is   the clinging and coercing that we usually do of  things that come to mind. What  I really do is “Let things Flow“.

Things are  Happenings.
They  rise and fall  like a figure from a ground of some moving  painting or work- of- art.  No figure is ever truly separated from the ground.  The ground is Nature happening  or the” Tao”.  Things rise and fall, they exist in consciousness as  a singularity of two  (like  figure &  ground;   word & context;   matter & space)  but   the Tao is constant. The Tao flows, but is always here.

from the words of Lao Tzu  the supposed author of  the Tao Te Ching:
Being divine is harmonizing with the flowing nature.
And though the body dies, the Tao is Eternal.”

Gestalt Contact and Boundary Disturbances

According to  Gestalt Therapy Theory, Contact is the awareness of the meeting of differences. From a first person point of view, contact is the venue of the meeting of  “Subject” and “Other“;  Organism and  Environment, where the conceptual “Self” arises. as the subject.
Contact is “What- and- Who- I- am” (the subject self) and  “What -and- Who- I-am-not” ( Other in the field or present environment)   meeting  , interacting ,exciting, and influencing as interplay with each other.  Neither  takes  control of the other , instead   the subjects  (and in many cases two or more subjects in an intersubjective meeting )  decide what they assimilate or reject from the contact encounter, regarding new  ideas, values, outlooks, novelties, etc.

Previously I posted on Cognitive Behavioral Therapies  “Thought Errors or Thinking Errors“.   I thought I would take the time and list some of  Gestalt Therapy ‘s
Contact Boundary   Disturbances:

Introjection -“Swallowing whole”. One important process of Gestalt Therapy is the client  constructively learning to assimilate and reject, new ideas and novelties of his experiences as he is in contact with his changing  surroundings. Introject ion is fully assimilating and absorbing all without discretion,
Introjection maybe include the way take in our cultural values and norms when we are young, or identification and mimicking the behavior of celebrities or role models, for example.

Confluence – Consciously: the boundary-less sensation of singularity or one-ness, connectedness to surroundings, God,etc.
Confluence is the loss of distinction Self and Other and loss awareness of contact boundary.another case would be: the loss of boundary between “You” and “I” to become “We” for example. the unconsciously loss of self into surroundings, such as in mob mentality is also Confluence.

Projection – the confusion of “Other” (surrounding and environment) for what should be the “Self“; Placing feelings  of onto “Other” instead of the “Self”.
Examples: Artist may project themselves into their Art. Someone who had a bad day and is angry with themselves, may shift blame to another, or project there anger onto someone or something else. Someone attributing ones feelings onto a “sentimental” object.
As with the case with contact disturbances, they can be healthy, unhealthy or neutral, depending on the circumstances.

Retroflection – Holding back responses or emotions intended for the “other”, surroundings, or other people in surroundings and substitutes a response for himself.
Examples: If one is becomes angry with the boss, and holding his anger back at work, retroflecting may be a good thing, in this case.
Some people hold in Anger a lot the time, without channeling it later, the result maybe feeling of depression or shame for towards themselves.

Egotism -Between the  two sides, there  is no interaction or interplay… . only an exchange that goes one way. Example  a person is so into himself and talking about only himself at a meeting, without listening or  noticing anyone else.

Deflection is moving the contact boundary or more easily understood, changing the subject in a conversation.

Defense Mechanisms – Defense mechanisms are not actually contact disturbances like the  previous listed. Instead of manipulation of boundaries, they are patterns of action and thought  that the subject uses to cope with his surroundings, when feeling stressed or anxious. The appear during contact and I think they are worth noting here though.Example would be “Intellectualizing” and “Compartmentalizing”.

In  C. B. T , a client learns to catch and correct Thought Errors, and change unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior .  In contrast,  in  the  Gestalt Therapy setting , a client learns to become  mindful  of what happens in the interactions, including contact disturbances and mechanisms, non judgmentally. This in part of a larger awareness so that a client may understand himself, needs, drives, interactions, and  so he may ultimately  become who he is.  Just as well,  mindfulness of contact will aid one in understanding his relationships to others.

Self

In Gestalt therapy the self arises in contact, and consists of what ever is integrated into “What and Who I am”, and is not experienced as Other. This is a technical definition of self different than an everyday definition. It is a constantly changing process and needs contact with “Other” (surroundings, environment, other people,etc.) to be experienced. The healthy regulation of self happens at the contact boundary with “other” where the subject (Client, organism, family,etc.) maintains relative control of the “metabolism”. The other or environment, surroundings, may change quickly… the self or subject is usually more stable, but is a process in change none the less.

Metabolism And Self Regulation.

Metabolism is a term coined by Fritz Perls, one of the co founders of Gestalt Therapy. Metabolism takes place at the Contact boundary, its the subjects (organism, self, group, etc.) process of assessing novelties and new experiences in “small bites”, for assimilation or rejection. Metabolism  and Contact are important concepts of self regulation in Gestalt therapy theory.
It is the gained ability to regulate what will become part of oneself and what will not, including new beliefs, attitudes, actions, etc.,  that reflects an organism’s “autonomy” .  All though, all things influence each other, a subject (organism, person, family, etc.)  has the ability to relatively self regulate, to become who  he , she or it  is.

Conclusion

Everyone is different and different therapies, methods, and  paradigms  work better for some than others. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is more popular right now , possibly due to its strict method for practitioners and scientific data that puts in on par with the medical science. Gestalt Therapy  asks for creativity from the therapist and the client, is based on more philosophical thinking, and is often measured in personal growth.
I think it is beneficial to have as many tools around as possible,  I hope Gestalt Therapy is here to stay for a long time.

for  further reading:

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