Tuesday, 6 March 2012

#65 Embracing the "Full Catastrophe"

     Zorba the Greek led a tumultuous messy life, and loved all of it - the "full catastrophe" - passionately. Most of us tend to pick and choose, so are not really engaged with our lives - and suffer as a consequence. A famous Zen master gave one advice: "Only have no preferences."
     "We tend to approach pleasurable opportunities to promote well-being and survival, and conversely avoid or withdraw from painful experiences as protection from harm. This biological approach-avoid dichotomy underlies all motivational tendencies, forms the basis of emotion and promotes adaptation.
     We're biologically and culturally programmed to seek pleasure and avoid discomfort."
     But life includes not only pleasure, but also pain, as well as uncomfortable periods of growth that take "place beyond one’s comfort zone - in liminality - a state of in-between-ness & ambiguity.
     Avoidance of liminality is the basic obstacle to engagement. Mindfulness practice cultivates acceptance of, and the ability to work within liminality, and should therefore improve engagement."
     Lovas J, Gold E, Neish N, Whitehorn D, Holexa D. Cultivating Engagement through Mindfulness Practice. Poster Presentation, American Dental Education Association annual meeting, March 19, 2012, Orlando, FL.

     “‘Our overall psychological difficulties are roughly equivalent to the suffering that we’re either unwilling or unable to consciously face.’ A healthy person has access to his dark side without being overwhelmed by it; he is not afraid to face vulnerabilities and is quick to admit mistakes. The opposite tends to be true for the troubled soul.”
     Glickman M. “Beyond the breath. Extraordinary mindfulness through whole-body Vipassana meditation.” Journey Editions, Boston, 2002.

Photo: Rick Turner   http://www.naturephotographers.net/enter.html

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