News from Jonathan Foust – April 2015



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Happy Spring!

We’re in that wacky transition time here in the mid-Atlantic when the emerging daffodils and crocuses are covered with snow, but warmer weather seems inevitable.   The term ‘global warming’ is perhaps better described as ‘global weirding,’ (a term coined by Hunter Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute).   Whatever weirdness you may be experiencing, I wish you well. spacer-25

Pain with No Suffering

I was about six when I got my first migraine. I lay in bed trying not blink as any movement felt excruciating. Someone slammed a door downstairs and the sound waves passed through my body like a tornado with claws. I desperately tried to figure out what I’d done wrong. I can still access that memory of deep confusion and suffering.   Since then I get regular, severe headaches. Sometimes they come in clusters, sometimes I’m free for months and start to feel cocky, only to succumb again.   There is a popular formula offered in the mindfulness world: PxR=S.   Pain times Resistance equals Suffering.   Just as it’s possible to feel pain, resist it mightily and suffer mightily, it’s also possible to feel pain, not resist it and not suffer.   It doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there. It simply means you are not adding anything to it.   I’ve gotten pretty good at separating out the sensations of pain from my reaction and narrative about it. It’s come with a lot of practice. Grudging practice, I must add.   No matter what is happening in your life, one thing you do have control over is how you relate to it.   Recently I was at the dentist getting a deep cleaning on my teeth. I noticed that I kept fixating on the sensations in my mouth and tensing up. I scanned my body for where I actually felt OK. My hands felt fine.   As we continued through the session, when I noticed I was fixating on the unpleasant sensations of her digging and probing into my gums, I came back again and again to the sensations in my hands and again and again, re-relaxed.   I didn’t make the unpleasant sensations go away, but I was able to accompany them without tensing.   If you like, you can listen to a talk I recently gave on this topic called “Transforming Your Relationship with Pain”.   Below I'll share one of my favorite techniques for working with unpleasant sensations.      

Upcoming April Events

April 6:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

April 9-15:

Guiding Meditation and Advanced Asana at Dream Yoga, McLean, VA Learn More

April 13:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More

April 17-24:

IMCW Spring Retreat Weeklong Learn More

April 27:

Evening Class at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington Learn More    

March in the Mid-Atlantic

  1a A Blue Jay contemplates Spring spacer-25   2a First, it started like this: Ice forms on the edges. spacer-25   3a Then this: The ice continued to creep and close in our winter visitors. spacer-25   4a Then this: The local waterfowl finally give up and move on from a frozen river. spacer-25   5a And now to this: Things are flowing again. Muskrats and beaver are out and the neighborhood is busy. spacer-25

Five Breaths / Five Scenes: At the Dam

I'm in nature almost every day. It's where I go to get balanced and inspired.   Five Breaths / Five Scenes offers up five select clips from my wanderings, with a twist. As the images come and go you do focused, deep breathing throughout and at the end end, take a moment to relax and feel.   It's an interesting way to relax in under two minutes.   spacer-25

Latest from the Blog

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News from Jonathan Foust, –March 2015

Meditation: Resting in Embodied Presence

How to Transform Your Relationship with Thoughts

Weather Systems

A Few Apps that Support Mindfulness

How to Transform Your Relationship with Pain


Transforming Your Relationship with Pain: Zone #1 and Zone #2 Meditation

Ever notice how positive events are like teflon and painful events are more like velcro?   We tend to take positive experiences for granted and fixate on the painful ones.   The following meditation can be helpful for working with pain. The trick is how you pay attention. You can read the directions below and if you like, follow the guided instructions in my talk, "Transforming Your Relationship with Pain."  

1. Take a few moments to feel your whole body.

2. Notice where you feel sensations the most predominant. (unpleasant)

3. Label this area "Zone #1."

4. Take a few moments to sense the shape, texture or any colors associated with Zone #1.

5. Notice anywhere in your body you feel sensations that are either pleasant or neutral.

6. Label this area "Zone #2."

7. Your practice now is to keep your attention in Zone #2.

8. Let your attention move freely in Zone #2 and label, as best you can, the body part and the quality of feeling. (Example: "Left palm, open". "Right hip, relaxed".)

9. Your attention will want to go to Zone #1. When you notice this, escort it back to Zone #2.

10. Notice anything that might shift or move inside.

  When I practice this, almost every time I have a realization that goes something like this: "Wow! 94% of my body actually feels OK! 6% is freaking out, but 94% is fine."   Something shifts for me. I find when I practice like this I move from being reactive to a sense that I can "be" with the pain.   You may notice a sense of Zone #1 'bleeding' into Zone #2. The edges might blur and you may feel a bodily felt shift toward greater relaxation.   If it feels safe and you have the presence of mind, you can then investigate Zone #1, labeling the body part and quality of sensation.   If your pain is content and chronic, do seek appropriate medical help!    

The Energy Intensive

For the last fifteen years or so, a few times a year Shobhan Richard Faulds and I offer a three-day intensive program at Kripalu Center called The Energy Intensive: Yoga, Meditation and Breathwork.   Yoga says you are made up of two fundamental elements: Awareness (chitta) and energy (prana). Balancing these two elements can be described as the path of yoga. Through intensive yoga, meditation, deep relaxation, bodyork and breathwork, you’ll be guided into a journey into what can be for many, profound transformation.   You can read more in depth hereand sense whether this might be the time in your life to take a step back and dive into some intensive, rejuvenating practices.  


Have You Had a Personal Encounter with a Higher Power?

The States of Consciousness Research Team at Johns Hopkins needs your help.   We're conducting an anonymous, internet-based survey to characterize experiences of personal encounters with God, Higher Power, or Ultimate Reality.   If you have ever had such an experience, we would greatly appreciate it if you would take our survey. If you know of others who have ever had an experience of such an encounter, please send them the link and encourage them to participate. This includes people who had such an experience long ago.   As you may know, our team has conducted survey and laboratory studies investigating spirituality, religion, and altered states of consciousness. This new survey is an important extension of our published and ongoing research on mystical experience, spiritual practice and spiritual transformation.   Please share.   8-Hopkins   We deeply appreciate your help. Thank you. Roland Griffiths, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
IRB approved application NA_00054696


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