Insight Training to Transform your life.
Stage 6 is an integral part of your healing journey. In this stage, we develop a practice of Insight Training. These 13 Insight Trainings borrow heavily from Zen and in particular, Mondo Zen, a westernized non-sectarian form of Zen. We do not use or promote it in a religious context at all. We use it for its deeply personal insights and to get in touch with the deep inner healer we all possess. Whether the “inner healer” is called God, Christ, Alah, Budda…or Fred, it is a deeply personal matter and not important to these exercises. What is important is to be open to experience your deep truth within these exercises. These Insight Trainings are to help you develop a new Mind Culture. One of Self-Trust, Self-Love and Compassion for self and others.
This Mind Culture is also about Fair. What is fair? Fair is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes in your most compassionate self and asking the question, “Would I be asking for this?” If the answer is yes, then give. If the answer is no, consider if doing or giving would be “Co-Dependent.” We seek interdependence not co-dependence. Interdependence is cooperative, synergistic, and healing. Co-dependence is needy, destructive, and unhealthy.
In Stage 2, we mentioned the difference between our inner critic and our inner healer. The previous practices in the program have helped us begin to distinguish between the critic and the sometimes critical healer. These stages have been important in building a foundation of nutritional support, emWave supported autonomic nervous system regulation, affirming and healing AM and PM rituals, and building a Sensory Soothing tool kit to guide us through difficult moments. Once those are understood and part of your regular routine it is time to add Insight training.
All traditional healing systems describe altered states that share many similarities despite differences in cultural origins and no way to have communicated these experiences to each other. Whether these are spiritual insights or phenomena of the “wet brain” is not the interest of these exercises. Insight training is not interested in unanswerable questions; it is interested in experiences. Insight training can result in a deep connection to one’s self and the world at large. These connections result in a sense of purpose, place and meaning.
This is difficult work on many levels. First, you will find your mind wondering. Many people see this a failure, but it is not – it is a very natural human occurrence. One of the goals of this training is to become aware of your mind wondering. When you become aware of your mind wondering you have actually succeeded! The work begins when you gently refocus your thoughts back to the task.
The next difficulty is the western mind itself. We in the west have no tradition of inner exploration. Insight Training creates experiences that need no explanation or scientific rationale, they simply are. This can be difficult from a western perspective that focuses on scientific proof and research. Another inhibition of this work is this idea of “simply” letting go. What on earth does that even mean? In this context, “letting go” means becoming aware of your Ego’s involvement and the judgment you attach to every experience. When you find the space beyond your Ego where non-judgement resides, the experience can feel free from the evaluation, valuation, and judgment of the Ego. This might be difficult to grasp at the moment, but once you experience it, it will make much more sense. Throughout this stage you will be reminded, “it must be experienced, not just understood.” Try your best to suspend any judgement you have right now and work through these trainings with an open heart and an open mind.
This is a Centering Meditation practice. We recommend dedicating 20 minutes each AM and PM to this practice. We call these “sits,” and each of these Trainings requires as many sits as it takes. For some, it is natural; for others, painful – but sit, we must.
How to Sit. Get comfortable. You do not have to adopt the full Lotus position, nor sit on a mountain top. You may sit on the floor with cushions or in a chair. If in a chair sit to the front of the chair so you are not leaning against the back if possible. Sitting is not masochism, it is meditation – we do not wish for you to hurt yourself. Recognize the difference between discomfort and injury. Do not injure yourself. Having said that, once you settle in, anything that comes up like an itchy nose, a numb butt (without inducing injury) is part of your practice. It is impermanent. It is fleeting and should be viewed as such. Do not scratch your nose or adjust your seat (but again do not injure yourself). Take note of the nearly irresistible desire to scratch the itch. But do not succumb to it. Think of this training as life or death. Your life has been stolen from you by this illness, so it is life or death. If the only thing between your best friend falling off a cliff was you holding her hand, would you let go to scratch the itch? NO! That is the level of focus needed here. Generally, sits are done with the eyes open, but some find this difficult at first, so close them if you need. To summarize: sit down, shut up, do not move, observe what comes up. What if I scratch the itch? Let it go. Think no more about it. Resume your sit. Resist, this is why we call them training.
The First Insight Training
The First Insight Training is to distinguish between a pure sensory input and a judgment about the sensory input.
Begin by using your emWave device to ensure you are in a relaxed and meditative state. Ring a bell or use a recording of a bell. Can you suspend judgment and purely listen to the sound? This is not trivial. It can be difficult. Let the sound arrive in your field of awareness, without thought, valuation or judgment. Enter into pure listening. Let the sound exist in pure awareness, before thought, before judgment. The sound is a single expression of consciousness. Let the sound be you. Simply accepting this sound without evaluation, valuation, thought or judgment is a kind of surrender, letting down your perceptual view just for a moment. Thoughts, feelings and emotional reactions to feelings are at the surface of mind. There is a deeper mind. A mind beneath the Ego. Ego is a defensive construct. It is a conditioned, reactive process, not a self at all. While Ego can make a wonderful servant, it is a tyrant as a master. This exercise is a first step in placing the Ego in the role of servant.
Once you have experience with this formal exercise of pure listening, continue this practice and expand to the other senses. Apply this training to the simple sense of sight, touch, smell, taste, and to the simple experience of the mind (the 6th sense noted above in the Sensory Soothing kit). This last sense is the most challenging. Our memories are stored with our emotional reactions to them. This will be the beginning of reprogramming your emotional connections to remembered states. This must be experienced, not just understood.
The Second Insight Training
The Second Insight Training involves Embodied Listening. When you are listening without evaluation, valuation, thought or judgment, where is the sound? Where in your body do you “hear” the sound? The answer to these questions will require a deep meditation. It requires you to “feel” as well as “hear” the sound. The chest is a resonant cavity. Most will hear the sound in the chest. This deep pure listening is often called heart centered listening for that reason. If you cannot “feel” it in your chest, sit in silence and go deeper into meditation. The block to this is often a philosophy or psychology you carry. These are carried by the Ego. Getting beneath the Ego will allow you to “feel” this sound. It is the first step to a deep Clear Heart and Mind; that elusive place of “Enlightenment.” Again, this must be experienced, not just understood. It is the practice and experience that will deliver you not the understanding.
The Third Insight Training
As you meditate deeply and consider your embodied listening, you will realize the “Thing” listening is not your Ego, not your surface mind. This Insight is about experiencing “Who are you” and “Who am I” – in this deep Heart Felt listening.
As East meets West, even Quantum Physics suggests all things are connected and the universe is conscious. At this depth of consciousness without the evaluation and valuation of the Ego, who are you? You may think you are your occupation, but who are you when not doing that? You may say your citizenship, but that is an affiliation. You may say your avocation, but again who are you when you are not doing that. The answer from this insight perspective is the feeling experience, not a logical or rational answer. In this Insight training, the goal is to be aware of the evaluation, valuations, judgments, and thoughts that come up and let them go, to simply observe. This pure observation is the edge of the Clear Deep Heart Mind or “Enlightenment.”
From this perspective “Everything is as it is; good, bad, just, unjust, right, wrong. Neither perfect nor imperfect. Not that we cannot work to change it, but we must consider what I call the “Wisdom” prayer:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Strength to change the things I can and the wisdom to understand the difference.”
From this Clear Deep Heart Mind, we can see the world simply is as it is. With wisdom, we can begin to discern what can and cannot be changed, and with time, develop the courage to change those things that can be changed.
Generally, what has already occurred we cannot change. However, we can change our relationship to it. Anything in the present or future we likely can influence. Most pain and suffering come from holding onto things in our past or not seeing a path to changing our relationship to it. This insight is the first step to a path to changing those relationships; but it must be experienced, not just understood. This is a daily practice, for your lifetime.
The Fourth Insight Training
The Fourth Insight Training is focused on differentiating between “Not Knowing” and “I don’t know.” “I don’t know” is a product of the Ego. Remember, the surface mind or Ego is an evaluative, valuative, judgmental construct. It will create a story to its satisfaction. Often these stories involve leaps to illogical conclusions. Our Ego is also fragile. In attempts to protect us, it will run chains of thought such as: “She didn’t like my cookies, … She doesn’t like my cooking, … She doesn’t like ME!” Or, “I was singing while John was working and he asked me to be quiet, … John hates my singing, … John hates ME!” Have you ever experienced these chains of thought? These are constructs of the Ego. The Clear Deep Heart Mind will simply observe that “She does not like that cookie” and “John needs quiet.” This is the view of Not Knowing and having no need to jump to conclusions. From Clear Deep Heart Mind if one needs more information, one simply asks or experiences. This goes back to pure observation without the Ego’s evaluation, valuation, judgments, and thoughts. This is a meditative practice. It is a perspective from this place below the Ego. It must be experienced, not merely understood.
The Fifth Insight Training
At this depth of consciousness, this Clear Deep Heart Mind consciousness, what are you like? Not what arises in this state, but what are you like, what is this state like? What is the pure feeling? The pure experience of it. When you are meditating at the level of pure observation within Clear Deep Heart Mind, what is it like? To describe the pure experience is to own it, to be able to call it forth. This Insight is the first step toward conscious control of your Enlightened self. From the vantage point of this Clear Deep Heart Mind, many people describe Bliss, Universal Love, Universal Connection and many other similar descriptions. Just remember it is your experience of this, not your intellectual understanding of it that will help you. You must experience the Clear Deep Heart Mind, even briefly to be able to understand it. This may happen on your first attempt during your First Insight Training or it may not happen for a while. Remember each time you sit and center, you are training your mind. You likely did not ride a bike the first time, but once you had it… you had it. Name this place you have found the “Clear Deep Heart Mind” or name it one of the descriptive words you have used to describe “You” at this level. Eventually get comfortable with the idea this place’s name is who you are.
The Sixth Insight Training
This is an extension of the Fifth Insight Training. Without words, express your insight of this level of Clear Deep Heart Mind with silent gestures of Embodied Consciousness. In the Fifth Insight Training, we gave this place a name (soon your name), now we are giving it a body. This is again so we can embody it at will as we continue our training. The more connections you make to this Vast, Timeless, Fearless, Emptiness, the easier it will be to reconnect to it at will. Remember, this is not a deeply stern or serious affair; it is light and playful, deeply curious. Express yourself as if no one is watching. This must be experienced and embodied, not just understood.
The Seventh Insight Training
This is the time to truly name this space of Clear, Deep, Heart, Mind. This place of Enlightenment. Sit and find this place, call to it. This is an ongoing practice of calling to this place of pure observation and experience. Most people can get calm and do well during meditation but fail miserably at centering in the real world. This exercise is to be able to call forth this place of Clear Deep Heart Mind at will in any circumstance. This should be practiced during your AM and PM sit but ALSO many times throughout the day. Practice during tranquil times so you are ready during chaotic times.
Can you bring forth the memory and experiences of this place. Can you get to this Clear, Deep Heart Mind place in the midst of chaos? This is the goal.
The Eighth Insight Training
Does Clear Deep Heart Mind come and go? No, but you must experience this for yourself. Your Ego’s awareness of this place comes and goes, but this place of pure observation and experience is ever present. We have been talking a lot about Ego. An Ego insists upon its view as we saw in Insight Four. Ego is a storyteller. Lets help the Ego tell better stories. The Ego is a wonderful servant but a cruel master. We continue this work to place the Ego into the servant roll, with Clear Deep Heart Mind the master. The Limbic system is the connection of the senses, memory, emotion and your physiology (meaning immunity, hormones, neurology, all of it). Ego is the storyteller that informs your Limbic system you are in danger, even when you are not. Use the connections you have made to call for this Ego less space to create better stories.
The Ninth Insight Training
How can you be certain this Clear Deep Heart Mind is real? At every Insight Training, we have emphasized YOUR experience is what will make the changes. It is your experience that makes Clear Deep Heart Mind real – experience, not understanding. Remember, these insights and experiences are without judgment; so the idea you have to prove it or defend it is not a part of this training. You are simply experiencing what people of many cultures across many millennia have experienced. Not what you were told to experience or what you should experience. This Insight is to solidify your thinking about the validity of your experience. This process comes in small steps, glimpses of the Clear Deep Heart Mind. As time goes on, these glimpses accumulate and grow and become more real that the stories your Ego tells you.
The Tenth Insight Training
What feelings arise when you experience this understanding? For those who have truly found, or at least glimpsed, this space of Clear Deep Heart Mind, or Enlightenment, the answer is good. Better than good; it is bliss, clarity, joy, connection, oneness. If that is not your experience, it is not your experience YET. This process requires Great Faith, Great Doubt, Great Persistence and Great Passion.
The Eleventh Insight Training
Has anyone ever made you angry, shamed you or caused you to turn away? Embedded in Emotions is information. Emotions are like a phone ringing. Pick up the phone and get the information. No one has ever “made you” feel any emotion. It is a conditioned response of the Ego – another story the Ego is telling you. There is a moment between the stimulus (that other person) and your response. All of this training is to help you take control of that moment and choose the response, not just have a conditioned reaction. These Insight Trainings help you see the range of possible responses available to you at any given moment. The goal of these teachings is not so you can “endure” intense emotions, it is to help you transform your emotions into information that will help you see the deeper reality and meaning of the emotion. As an example, at its root, anger and similar emotions, (at least 24 related to Anger, see Figure below), is caring. Once you gain clarity that when you are angry, you are actually caring; you have a new perspective and new ways to respond. At the level of Clear Deep Heart Mind, fear becomes curiosity. Insight Training will give you the tools to decode your emotional state, for a broader and more fulfilling emotional life.
Looking at the Emotional Wheel, you can see there can be great nuances to your emotional milieu. Having just a few basic words to describe your emotions is like having a limited vocabulary to discuss complex topics. Emotional States can combine making this level of discernment even more complex. This eleventh insight is the opening of a new dimension in emotional liberation. When a relationship transforms into Ecstasy and Admiration, we experience True Love, not just infatuation. If we feel Grief and Loathing, we feel Remorse. You see these various emotions can be complex beyond our expectations. That is why getting a deep insight at this level is so important. Without this insight we are merely suppressing emotions or reacting from a conditioned state and unable to understand them.
The Twelfth Insight
This Insight is to help you feel the rising of these emotional states and to be prepared to exercise control over that moment between the stimulus and your response. When you are about to have a negative emotional response, you are on the verge of a fight or flight response. You will have opened your eyes wide and are leaning in (for a fight) or backing out (to flight). It will be very much like a startle response. To counter this conditioned reaction, silently, through your eyes and your body, demonstrate the intense state of clarity that always arises before you choose a negative emotional reaction. During this Mind Culture activity, you are training yourself to recognize this state. Once you see it clearly, you can have mastery over it. Not necessarily immediately but over time. This mastery will let you see emotions like Anger as clarity and concern, while Fear will be seen as excitement.
The Thirteenth Insight
In this Insight, we practice a better response to our already programed emotional triggers. This way we are more able to see and understand a more compassionate response to that situation. It is the first step to transforming our painful emotional responses to compassionate emotional responses. This can be difficult to understand. Compassion is not “rolling over” sometimes compassion is “tough love.” Sometimes the compassionate thing to do is say NO! Compassion is not being a patsy. Compassion is being mindful and deliberate about choices. Remember that we talked about “fair.” Fair is walking in their shoes and then deciding. Sometimes a lesson is more valuable than doing it for someone. Sometimes the compassionate thing to do is take charge and do, sometimes not.
Visualize yourself transforming a habitual negative reaction into a conscious, compassionate response. This is the doorway to moving your insights off the meditation pillow and into the real world. It is not enough to understand intellectually or philosophically, you must experience and embody this. Call forth Clear Deep Heart Mind and use it to transform a habitual negative reaction into a reaction based on compassion. If anger is caring, how can you better express caring? If fear is curiosity, how can you better express curiosity? Whatever the emotional, how can you better express, compassion?
Below are some suggested books that may help with these activities:
What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula
The Heart Of Zen by Junpo Denis Kelly Roshi and Keith Martin-Smith
Below is a series of informative articles to help you learn more about our Limbic System Retraining Program:
Stage 1: Use of supplements to soothe and calm the Limbic system.
Stage 2: emWave device and Heart Math to teach you how to find Parasympathetic balance.
Stage 3: Sensory Soothing Kit is a rescue kit to help you when getting overstimulated.
Stage 4: Modifiable lifestyle factors help you build healthy healing habits.
Stage 5: AM and PM Ritual to deepen the practice of stage 2 and prepares you for stage 6.
Stage 6: Insight Training