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.

Why this ‘Pragmatic Practitioner’ blog?

‘Pragmatic’ because the focus for this live human being is on what works.  ‘Practitioner’ because it is a good word to capture the very wide range of ideas, techniques, practices, and values that I have used to reduce suffering and increase happiness for self and others.  And, very importantly, because as a ‘practitioner,’ I’m not identifying with any one school, technique, religion, tradition, or group of practices.

All practices and techniques can be understood as voluntary, self-directed efforts at personal change.  All have been learned from someone else, and along the way I’ve added a few twists which perhaps you may find helpful.

I’ve recovered from addiction through a twelfth step program, studied and practiced NLP, and in recent years pursued a wide variety of meditative practices including mindfulness, vipassana, and concentration.

I try the techniques, assess the effects in my own inner experience and outer behavior, and then draw my own maps.  This blog documents the results of this work.