Depression and Anxiety – Ajahn Brahm’s talk

See my notes on his excellent talk below. Here is the embedded Youtube video of the talk):

When you’re young you care so much about how people see you; in your 40s and 50s you let go of a lot of that, then in your 60s you realize no one was actually really looking, like people mostly don’t think about you, you know? We are all pretty worried about ourselves, or other things.

Egg farmers story – One Farmer takes the basket and fills it with the chicken dung brings it into the house, stinks up the house.
The other farmer takes the basket brings in the eggs, makes an omelette for the family and sells the rest for cash. We carry that dung around our whole life. When we look back on our life’s prosperity, we could see all the great things that are happening.

The bricklayer may focus on the 2 bricks that are out of line or the 998 that are right. Taking the good things for granted.

If you can remember what worked, if you bring attention to that in your mind, you can more likely repeat what worked. “You learn from successes much more than you ever will from mistakes and also you avoid this terrible trap of depression.” Remember the temporary nature of everything, that this too will pass. “Knowing its not going to last, takes away the pain.” When things are going well never take it for granted. You really work hard to make sure that prosperity lasts as long as it can. Always have to work. Keep working hard. That way the prosperous time will last forever.

We hear junk food all the time, criticism, all the things you did wrong. When you get a compliment you dismiss it. Why? We need to hear that, it is like health food for the mind. When you hear a compliment say Thank you I deserve that. Don’t dismiss it. The person giving the compliment will be glad you didn’t.

Receiving praise with thank you it encourages praise and otherwise what is left – the fault finding, etc. People have far too many desires and expectations..asking from the world what it would never give you. Australia will never win the world cup. [LOL, well that I don’t know about that.] Keep your desires in practicality, don’t reach too far. When people do they get frustrated, depressed, angry seeing the world as a way it isn’t.

When you actually work within the parameters of life and you’re wise enough to know what you can achieve and what you can’t, when you don’t have these stupid desires, these obsessive goals. Which actually put you thru so much pain and suffering that you get depressed.

What is your goal in life? I am demanding my right to be celibate, celibacy rights LOL love it. You don’t have to win the match just enjoy the game. You get the promotion its more stress. There is never enough money. Why work so hard for the promotion when you can get it so your actually doing it for happiness. Status, what is that? Life sometimes does go wrong its not perfect, so don’t expect that. There are many times when loses happen and that is sad. So you accept there will be depressing moments in life, we don’t make anything worse of it. Joy at last there is nothing wrong with you if you get upset, if you cry, its normal, there is no perfect perpetual happiness in this world. It is so exhausting to be someone else. You can just be you. When you sit in meditation, you can just be you.

We don’t meditate to try to get something, we meditate to let go of things , that craving that wanting, to get something we want. Being here and wanting to be somewhere else, that is called suffering. Trying to get somewhere else, anything but being here, being you. Let it go. Just be who you are and then you find you have incredible energy, brightness, clarity.

Every time you want more money/something else you can’t enjoy what you have right now. Yeah when I get that thing, then I will be happy. Craving is unfaithful, promises you something but never delivers. 58:00-If you want to have a powerful body exercise it. If you want to have a powerful mind, keep it still. Bare energy of the mind comes from stillness. You get so much energy that depression just can’t exist. One of the greatest causes of depression is that people’s brain has just been working too hard. Make peace with your depression, open the door of your heart to being depressed. When you stop fighting energy starts to come back. When you are not getting negative about being negative. Don’t meditate with force, don’t struggle, let it go. Monks who have been doing it for years, are great at just letting it go. You know life has hard times it isn’t new or shocking it is just what it is in that moment. Meditation which makes peace, allows energy to come back.

Someone asks what to do when a friend experiencing depression comes to you. He says be sensitive, drop the plan, don’t show up with this book or this quote I used last time: what he calls knowledge. Be sensitive, sometimes an arm around the shoulder helps sometimes then they will punch you. As long as I am silent as long as I’m kind don’t try to repeat what worked last time or remember the instructions in the book. Whenever someone is really going thru something this is something he tries, dropping the plan, the knowledge and being sensitive in that moment. Don’t let knowledge get in the way of truth. Knowledge is what you’re supposed to do. Truth is what is right in front of you right now and there is a huge amount of difference. Be in that moment and be with that person and you actually feel what needs to happen in that moment.

Everyone gets depression big or small, its part of life. I think I missed noting many things in this talk (it may have been a different one of his talks): he advises volunteering helping people and he talks about being with people, like visiting someone in the hospice and their just not wanting to talk about their illness with you necessarily. Like don’t start with, how are you feeling. They want a friend someone who will talk to them like a friend, what is the latest, tell a joke, etc. Of course no absolutes it just made sense what he said that people get sick of talking about how they are doing to the nurses and doctors (that is their job) they want a friend also. He says don’t forget a person living with an illness is not the illness first, they are the person first. So it is not a depressed person, it is a person experiencing depression, for example.

Thanks Ajahn Brahm for this talk. Best to everyone.


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Dharmmaseed talk on science behind mindfulness

Diana Winston describes, beautifully and simply, some of the thousands of studies on mindfulness.
She has many talks posted via Dharmaseed on the subject.

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Waves of thought

I want to share a poem I keep returning to. Sogyal Rinpoche writes “When I meditate, I am always inspired by this poem by Nyoshul Khenpo”:

Rest in natural great peace
This exhausted mind
Beaten helpless by karma and neurotic thought,
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.

(Tibetan book of living and dying, ch. 5)

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Jack Kornfield: The Ancient Heart of Forgiveness

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Right livelihood; the impact of our actions

Watching the movie, A Life Among Whales, for the first time I really saw the people working in the meat industry. While the animals die, the workers are seeing/doing what others don’t see. It was a very painful realization for me that I hadn’t thought of the effect on the workers trying to earn a wage and landing in these jobs. It was easy to see that the hunting “sport” cultivates aggression. Football cultivates aggression. That isn’t the same as people earning a daily wage creating their karma and others paying for them to keep up this aggression. And there they are. And here we all are. It’s not to play a blame shame game, its to see. People all over the world are paying to help provide one means of living or another. It is a great feeling to put down a dollar mindfully aware, with full consciousness, knowing this is helping someone have a peaceful life and for me to have a peaceful life.

Hope you watch the movie, whales are apparently huge and gentle at the same time, you can even swim with them! It’s brilliant and profound.

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Julie Wester “We are earth resting on earth”

In her Dharmmaseed talk Grounded and Spacious, once again you hear her peaceful voice and great teaching. I am so happy to find yet another speaker I love listening to teach so I wanted to make note here.

Sitting on the earth: “…noticing how that feeling of being planted on the earth comes to you. And in fact we are earth element, we are made of the same stuff as the earth. One of the ways the energy of our lives manifests is as earth element. So we are earth resting on earth. An interesting possibility to consider…”

Interesting the link is to the retreat’s talks, the talks are also linked via the teachers’ pages as well (I intend to listen to Spring Washam’s). That linking is nice because I learned about the retreat this way.

Favorite talks I listen to often are Ed Brown’s talks. I took tons of notes on his Ocean of Merit talk. I wish I had written a post on this talk since at the moment I can’t remember where the notes are and what motivated me to make so many notes.

A new fav. quote Jack Kornfield said in a Dharmmaseed talk: “War is a failure of imagination.”

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Mindfulness in one moment

So much of mindfulness writing reads so breathy. I was just wondering why is that? Maybe because it is such a shock to us how this works. It’s emotional to experience the shift, to see what was right before us. Just a moment ago I was having a negative thought I noticed it, using the practice, with curious open awareness – oh there is negativity. And poof! it vanished I also noticed. Why did it happen to vanish? Not spinning the story into, oh I am so negative, this world is a mess, etc. Just (out of a long worked for habit of mindfulness) oh there is negativity, not judging in that moment that experience. And the next moment was – what the heck happened to it? It was a small thing, like a small wisp of a cloud passing over, you can hardly call it a cloud. Gone with the other 67,000 thoughts I had that day.

I imagine a physicist shining a light on an electron in order to see it. Once a photon of light hits the electron, the energy of the photon shoots the electron out of sight. It moves, it changes, it is no longer what was being looked for. That was a metaphor, still as the Quantum enigma is, we don’t know why, but observation changes not just our perception, it changes actual physical reality*. It is even creepy, it is not the culture I grew up knowing where you know just deal with it, if you don’t like it, tough that is the way it is. Well actually, no, if you don’t like it, wait 15 minutes, or shoot look at it a different way. You’re freer when you are in the habit of realizing your perception, your story is what is making you so uncomfortable most of the time. Maybe it is a physical sensation that happens so quickly in the lower back then it goes away, maybe it comes right back for another moment. An hour later you’re saying my back was hurting all day. Was it? Next, it has been hurting continuously for the past 10 years. What I noticed is the pain changes with each moment, if I look honestly I see that. Still I can see the story coming back. It is an old story with deep neuron “grooves” pathways that are repeatedly zinging that way. Well we can change it. We can learn and practice mindfulness. We can open to something new.

Recently, in a moment I slowed down, we were stressed to get to school on time and I noticed nothing really mattered more than this moment. And what was happening in this moment? It didn’t matter it was the most important thing. It happened to be helping a 5 yr. old tie a shoe, it could have been anything with anybody. The other person would feel it. Would feel the care. The care about this very moment, the only moment that is. Past doesn’t exist, the future hasn’t happened. You are the sky, not the weather (as Jack Kornfield quoted Pema Chodron in a recent dharmaseed talk). War is a failing of the imagination (Jack Kornfield). Why should we wage war on this moment? It is all that is happening.

*Quantum enigma: Physics encounters consciousness, p. 72: “The physical reality of an object depends on how you choose to look at it.”

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