Phenomenology: You Get to Choose
I loved learning of the science phenomenology in college especially because I attended a school of East-West philosophy, CA Institute of Integral Studies. The school and my doctoral studies in psychological transpersonal phenomenology fit very well with my years in Buddhism.
In a nutshell, phenomenology arose after the Enlightenment, when Westerners had literally dissected most of nature, including human anatomy, and learned “laws” that seemed to control behaviors. BUT if one, such as me and a very famous lineage, wanted to study living human experience, what could be done? One could not kill the test “subject” as in the natural sciences. Many famous practitioners arose, each improving on the earlier revelations of what it meant to be human. Like what does love or hate feel like? Probably my favorite was Merleau-Ponty who basically answered for me questions Buddhism never did. He said we can never escape the perceiver, we are always interpreting via our perceptions.
As a student of Buddhism, I had learned that we were to lose ourselves; I did not understand as I do now, it means we are to lose our preferred attachment to a particular perception, that we could and can transcend any state of being, with training. As Zen master, Suzuki roshi taught, in order to lose ourselves, we must first know ourselves. (His Beginner’s Mind is how I started my meditation practice and recommend it to you. Read a chapter, then try to sit, following your breath for five or ten minutes; I fell in love with it.) I had learned about co-arising; that is one experience arises its opposite or near cousin also can be perceived. Still it was not till I read Merleau-Ponty that it snapped, no, unless we dissociate from our bodies, which I and others do not encourage, there is always a perceiver.
Whether you acknowledge it or not, and many especially men who have been taught to stifle feelings, our most powerful way of knowing how we want to live is through our feelings. Imagination also has a big place in how we co-create our lives. Here is one of my all-time favorite poems by now deceased Buddhist poet, Lew Welch:
[First You Must Love Your Body, In Games,]
First you must love your body, in games,
Then you must enter the world of men and
Then you must return to your mother and
Then return to the world that is
that you may finally walk in the
So phenomenology and Buddhism and other traditions teach two things important to our personal choices and this post: One, everything is connected (I will let you research that if networking especially as found in nature does not make sense to you) and two, you have an absolute free will to choose your mood and actions. It takes practice: at least 15 minutes daily of silent meditation in which I hope you eventually become more comfortable and receptive, perhaps to the transpersonal realms where we are non-physically connected in a field of knowing. As you get comfortable with meditation, you can choose to focus on receiving joy and a great deal more. A quote from the great Sufi poet Rumi: (although it sounds a bit modern to me)
Your depression is connected to your insolence and refusal to praise. Rumi
One last shot that life is so much more than you allow. http://awarenessact.com/scientists-now-believe-the-universe-itself-may-be-conscious/
You have tremendous power to create the reality you want. Meditate and contact me if you want help with meditation and more.
Note: this is being updated in the wake of another school shooting. As we now know the young man was on psychiatric drugs, I dare to say here, that if he had learned some of the things I report, he may not have acted out. Some believe brain chemistry begins to change within 6 weeks of regular mediation and non-GMO food. And of course a lot of love and support. I believe youth will not be living the driven lifestyles of especially their absent fathers. I recently introduced a Native youth to some of this and he was excited to have a way to deal with what he called his “upsets.” He was open to MEDITATION. Social justice and the high cost of all medical care upsets me greatly. Many naturopaths and functional doctors are millionaires now and out of reach for most of us. I was made genetically ill probably by black mold and by the psych drugs I naively accepted psychiatric medications to “deal with” cancer first by a private oncologist, and then by a poor people’s clinic.
I did not respond; we tried more and more and I was getting more depressed and had serious reactions that I eventually researched myself and stopped some.
It was not until I got to our wonderful local hospital with Obamacare on its first day. I was offered a new psychiatrist who I was told uses food. As a highly educated researcher, I said sign me up. Within three sessions, hearing of my declining health, he had me tested for MTHFR, which causes cancer, mental illness, and heart disease. I have the most sensitive form and we have, some say a 70% reduced ability to detox so all the meds and the fillers were literally lethal for me.
My epigenetic list of no Rx is huge. And as a doctor’s daughter, I grew up on antibiotics, some of which are now labeled black box by the FDA, largely through the testimony of the severely disabled as they cause muscle wasting. Some have died and I am privileged to know many in that community that testified.
I easily got off all meds, inherited a little money and was able to hire a genetic nutritionist who also has MTHFR. With a lot of work and dedication, I got in great shape and felt better than I had in the 7 years since cancer. I will always be grateful for my doctor at the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula. He literally saved my life. They have recently become MONTAGE and as always, appears to be doing great things. It is a privilege to be treated there.
Now genetics has become epigenetics and so I became somewhat of an expert in that and have advised many. We know that STRESS and INFLAMMATION are two of the main causes of disease. This means that much of what we suffer can be handled via lifestyle. I am blessed to have generally the will and now a worldwide community to keep me relatively healthy. And much of natural health is being used in traditional medicine, such as with diabetes. Time Magazine made a cover issue in 2010 about how our DNA is not our destiny. Our quality of life is what matters.
The big news now in epigenetics, which I now call native wisdom, is that more and more are being healed via energy medicine, especially meditation and frequencies. Books are being written and doctors who started as neurologists and biologists are now millionaire meditation teachers. Back to my complaint about the social justice issues in wellness. Everyone could and should have a meditation practice. And this is now all extensively evidence-based.
Here is a paper on DNA changes due to meditation:
I am a long time meditator, over 30 years in many schools, mostly Buddhist and specifically Zen so I feel well able to report here to you. You are welcome to email me for more guidance. I will share several here.
Several months ago in a time of high stress, after I had lost my home and my many meditation cushions were put in storage, I took a risk and invested in the organic Buckwheat Hull Zafu you see above. And I began a trauma workshop thinking I had an illness that needed therapy but a couple of things made me change my mind, I left the trauma group and re-committed to meditation. I made sure I had the Insight Timer app on my phone.
Using the app, I let my intuition lead me to a meditation by Shakti Sutriasa, for prosperity and soon found myself looking up her blog and trying some of her processes. I fell upon a process to try 40 days of mantra, a chanted meditation, and I dove in. At the same time, I found very positive and uplifting meditations of Abraham Hicks, a channeled entity who has over 1k videos, all free, on YouTube and teaches that JOY is our natural inheritance. Only Thich Naht Hahn who I got to spend off-season time in France, told us to only mediate if we can smile.
Many meditation teachers all assume we feel and know our true natural goodness. But especially in the West where severe trauma is rampant, students often absolutely feel no sense of self nor sense of right to live. This is no joke. An old story that made the rounds tells of the Dali Lama being amazed that there might be such a thing as low self-esteem. I decided I would allow myself to move towards life-affirming teachers and I am totally pleased I have. Since my 40 days of mantras, I wrote a book and began this blog after feeling all my life I was not an artist I now feel I am. I feel I have found my calling and that is to inspire. So let’s go.
You can find many videos on YouTube about this phenomenon. I like this one as it speaks to skeptics about it being a method of control. GET THIS CLEARLY: Meditation and the mindfulness that emerges are about self-control and mind training, not religion nor control by others although corrupt teachers have taken advantage of students (and I have true stories I can tell). Enjoy this very well done video, great for naysayers.
There are a great many meditations that quiet the mind through movement. We are all aware of yoga. Whirling is one I have done and it is amazing. It is from the Sufi Tradition of Islam.
I developed my mantra practice based on a combination of several traditions, and doing the mantra 108 times as is traditional in several religions. Lest Christians feel left out here, realize that many Christians practice especially Buddhist meditation, which often includes chanting. Thomas Merton was probably one of the most famous Catholics to explore meditation. It is common to meet nuns at retreats and my last Zen group had an Episcopal minister as a member; we met in his church. I say all this because I am about to post one of my most favorite chants, by Epic Choir. I can find no information on them but they look Christian to me! Enjoy!
As I have mentioned, almost all geneticists are now epigeneticists as it is verifiable that cellular healing and harm impact DNA. When we choose non-gmo, dairy free, folic acid-free, fresh foods, low or no carbohydrate, and meditate to reduce stress we are epigenetically impacting our cells. Two leaders in the field are both MDs of high standing: Bruce Lipton and Joe Dispenza. You can meet with both on FaceBook. Here is a brief Lipton talk:
I cannot end this post without mentioning the practice of sacred dialogue. The author of The Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram, told me personally to always speak as if in prayer. Whenever any of nature catches your awe, you are being contacted by the greater field of consciousness in my view. My mentor, John Heron, and his partner Peter Reason developed practices based on a Participatory Paradigm.
I am devoted to John Heron’s process of Co-operative Inquiry. Heron’s Feeling and Personhood: Psychology in Another Key has face to face practices in each chapter. And perhaps the originator of the concept of sacred dialogue is Martin Buber. His I and Thou changed my life and I suggest it is one of the best natural anti-depressants you will find.
I hope that this has demonstrated two things: that healing can occur through meditation and that much of what you have learned here is free or inexpensive.
Namaste and Gassho
(a deep bow to the Spirit in Us)