How does your practice relate to Buddhist meditation practices?


Buddhist mindfulness meditation techniques train the brain to dis-embed or dissociate the arising word and image thoughts from the conscious observing part of the brain.

You learn to experience whatever your brain produces without adding any more of the thought stream to it. You cultivate bare attention to the live feed of the five senses and the live feed of the inner dialogue and imaging.

Extremely, extremely useful and a necessary skill. My practices presuppose skill with setting up and experiencing mindfulness and bare attention.

Similarly, Buddhist concentration practices, whether narrowly or broadly focused, create positive mental states by temporarily suppressing negative thoughts and feelings from arising.

Buddhist vipassana or insight practices encourage you to confirm the wisdom in your own subjective experience of the Buddha’s views on impermanence (anicca), not-self (anatta), and suffering (dukkha) and how to reduce suffering.

Important point: You aren’t encouraged to do practices, investigate, and discuss and draw your own maps. You are persistently invited to agree with the Buddha’s views. While I found them to be true…they are only partially so.

They are some of the characteristics of existence but not the for me it was constraining and limiting. Thus arose this exercise in map making of the inner territory being experienced and explored. Something was missing. Over time I added all these other pieces for actually transforming the arising patterns and helping to use them to solve daily life challenges.

This creates the space to then return to mindfully observing whatever is arising and passing away. In many ways, these patterns are similar in intent (but not the same) as Buddhist kindness meditations.

Another distinction. I do not sharply compartmentalize the use of mindfulness and concentration meditation and self directed, language based change patterns. A ‘sit’ or in my case a ‘lie-down’ will encompass both. When a negative experience is arising, I may chose just to observe, experience and add nothing…or employ one of the language change patterns presented here.

Sitting for a long time with ‘dark night’ experiences is not necessary or skillful in this practitioner’s experience.

Also, choice of conjunctions matters. For me it is both/and, not either/or, to get the greatest reduction in unnecessary suffering and greatest increase in useful joyful happiness.


What is the “Even though…” language pattern reframe?

It’s a language pattern I frequently use when I’m in the we voice. I also use it when helping others.

The structure is: “Even though I [negative thought, image, or feeling], I [positive thought, feeling or image].

Equally useful is to substitute ‘we’ for ‘I.’

This is an extremely effective language pattern. It is also really simple and easy to use.

The first phrase paces the underlying or presenting ‘problem’ issue, and the second phrase links or leads to a positive thought and feeling.

In NLP, it is the structure of a basic reframe.

In recent years it has also become the foundational language pattern for EFT (Emotional Freedom Training).

It is a simple language pattern, which you and I can use to help ourselves and others. It is one of the most effective language patterns I know for voluntary, conscious, self-directed personal change.

What is “asking for the positive intent of a part?”

When you are in the we voice pattern, one very useful change technique is to ask each part for its positive intent.

This is a presupposition (can’t be proved, just experienced) that allows previously unacceptable or rejected thought patterns to ‘have a place at the table of conscious awareness’ in the front of the brain.

Then a conversation can follow, with one part being the chair of the committee or meeting, about how to achieve the positive intent of the thought/part without hurting the rest of the whole self.

This is a language pattern from NLP. It was taught as a conversational technique for helping others. I’ve found you can use it on yourself from within the ‘we’ voice with great positive benefits to feeling and behavior.

In fact, ANY conversational pattern you use with some one else can be used within the we voice. You’ve already helped others many times, now you just establish one part of the we voice to do so with the hurting parts of the whole self.

And remember to always return to the personal (“I”) voice when that work is finished.

How do you reconcile your definition of self (as the whole human) with the Buddhist concept of no-self?

It’s easy. It’s just a matter of the the level of aggregation or level of organization of matter. Organic life forms are composed of inorganic compounds. In the same way, the personal virtual self (the “I”) dialogue feels alive and real, but when a practitioner watches and listens to it run, the practitioner can see the individual sounds or images in the string of internal selfing are absent of personal characteristics.

The dots on the wall are just dots on the wall until you step back and see the pattern of the painting! Level of organization or level of aggregation matters.

We human beings live at the level of the whole heart, body, and mind, where each part (no matter how it is defined) is a apart of, not apart from, but not the whole of the whole self. So for me it is always important to return to this experience of the whole as the ultimate ‘reality’ for day to day living.

So, at this point in practice, this brain (impersonal voice) understands the impersonality and not-self characteristics of the components of subjective experience, and I (personal voice) also experience ‘being’ and ‘self,’ feeling they are ‘real,’ all the while also knowing that they are very useful constructs of the mind that represent but are not the whole.

Whew! But, what can i say? That’s how it is for me right now. Hard to describe. Easy to live with.


This blog rolls out ideas, practices, and techniques that may help reduce suffering and increase happiness, for your whole self and others.  Suggestion:  Go to the first post on Dec 2, 2011 and scroll up to follow the presentation.  Welcome!

What is your daily practice routine like?

That’s a challenging question because my practices have been and are so eclectic. However, it usual starts out lying down in bed in the morning while waking up. Yup, I found out I don’t need to sit so I dropped that. I’ll do ‘morning in bed’ practice for about an hour or so.

I’ll frequently start with mindfulness of body sensations, sweeping attention up and down the body from head to toe with an open and non-judgmental awareness.

Almost always, some tension, thought stream or image stream will pop up and grab attention. Sometimes they are negative feelings associated with daily life issues, aka, “ordinary suffering.”

Then I start running through the four voices. What do we feel and think about this? What does the body, heart and mind think about this situation? What else is going on with the body heart and mind? What does impersonal thinking observe?

Then the lead conscious part (the committee chair) pursues a conversation with the thoughts and images that are at issue. In the way you would converse with a friend. Using any conversational technique, idea, or technique that you would use with a friend to help them out.

By allowing my ‘parts’ to have recognition and an independent seat at the table of consciousness, a part of me (or you!) can lead these other parts to change. And it has been incredibly helpful to be able to do this.

Yes, Virginia, you can “do therapy” on yourself!

For safety, health, and sanity, by your original intention, always return to the personal, primary “I” voice.

Another key aspect of daily routine is that my ‘default mode’ is now whole body awareness of sensations, sometimes by sweeping, though now mostly as an always-on gestalt.

This is combined with the personal voice (primary) for both internal and external experience, with switching into and out of the other voices on an as helpful or needed basis.

What are the “two silences” practices?

Stopping or letting internal dialogue drop, aka “maintaining radio silence,” is the first silence practice.

One doorway is to set the intention mentally, with the inner agreement that the personal voice will return. This way inner dialogue representing the “I” self is not threatened. Slow down the pace of the inner dialogue…use a softer voice..let gaps appears…and let it rest. Just setting the intention will also allow it to happen. It does not have to be hard forced. As internal dialogue disappears, experience the silence. Eventually, return to the personal (I) voice.

The second silence practice is allowing or encouraging below conscious awareness mental activity to slow down or stop.

How? When below conscious mental activity subsides, eyeball movement subsides.

So, bringing eyeball movement to a rest is a doorway into this state. Allow your eyeballs to rest comfortable…with less..and less…and less movement. Until they aren’t moving.

Also, there is a very dependable indicator that accompanies this mental rest. There is a consciously noticeable “wave of settling” in muscle activity. Moreover, there is almost no twitching, muscle tension, or desire for movement…all without any forced effort.

Another dependable doorway to silence is to let the jaw drop or relax.

Put these silence practices together, while maintaining alert awareness of the five basic sensory “live feeds” and you have a recipe for interesting experiences!

These are doorways into whole body experiences of joy and pleasure.

What is the Four Voices practice?

The Four Voices practice is done when a practitioner consciously and awarely switches the pronouns in the internal and external self talk dialogue.

The Personal Voice is sustained and maintained by the pronoun “I.” As in: “I think and feel, therefore I am.”

The Committee Voice is sustained and maintained by substituting the pronoun “we” for “I.” As in: “We think and feel therefore we are.”

The Witness Voice is sustained and maintained by substituting a noun for a pronoun. As in: “What is this body-mind experiencing?” Or, “what is [insert name] experiencing?”

The Impersonal Voice is sustained and maintained by dropping all personal pronouns and nouns. It is the stream of internal and external talking without the use of any personal references.

The practice is to explore the inner world by consciously switching between voices, always returning to the personal voice and the end for good ecology and equilibrium.

What is the origin and use of the phrase “apart of, not apart from, not the whole” of the self?

Meditation teachers will typically say something like, “if you can observe a thought or feeling, you know it is not you.”

One day, while mindfully observing the arising and passing away of word and image thoughts, observing them attentively without adding to them, another thought popped into my head:

“That observation is imperfect. If this brain is observing thoughts and feelings, this brain knows that those thoughts and feelings are a part of, not apart from, but not the whole of me. The real ‘me’ is every single cell from head to toe, considered, understood and experienced as a whole.”

These are three common characteristics of all subjective human experiences.