Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dan Siegel - Wheel of Awareness Meditation

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Dan Siegel has created this easy to use and easy to learn meditation that can get people tuned into their essential selves - Richard Schwartz's Self - a part of us where there is no anxiety, no depression, no fear, just spacious peace. Here is some of how Self is defined by Schwartz:
I was also finding that the Self wasn't just a passive witness state. In fact, it wasn't just a state of mind, but could also be an active healing presence inside and outside people. It wasn't only available during times when, in therapy or meditation, people concentrated on separating from or witnessing their thoughts and emotions. Once a person's parts learned to trust that they didn't have to protect so much and could allow the Self to lead, some degree of Self would be present for all their decisions and interactions. Even during a crisis, when a person's emotions were running high, there would be a difference because of the presence of Self energy. Instead of being overwhelmed by and blending with their emotions, Self-led people were able to hold their center, knowing that it was just a part of them that was upset now and would eventually calm down. They became the "I" in the storm. Over the years of doing this work, it becomes easier to sense when some degree of Self is present in people and when it's not. To rephrase a joke, you get the impression that "the lights are on and someone is home." A person who is leading with the Self is easy to identify. Others describe such a person as open, confident, accepting -- as having presence. They feel immediately at ease in a Self-led person's company, as they sense that it is safe to relax and release their own Selves. Such a person often generates remarks such as, "I like him because I don't have to pretend -- I can be myself with him." From the person's eyes, voice, body language, and energy, people can tell they are with someone who is authentic, solid, and unpretentious. They are attracted by the Self-led person's lack of agenda or need for self-promotion, as well as his or her passion for life and commitment to service. Such a person doesn't need to be forced by moral or legal rules to do the right thing. He or she is naturally compassionate and motivated to improve the human condition in some way because of the awareness that we are all connected.

* * * * *

To clarify this discussion, I find it useful to differentiate between what people report while meditating -- while being reabsorbed into the ocean -- and what people are like when their Self is actively leading their everyday lives. If meditation allows immersion into a seemingly Self-less oceanic state, then the Self is a separate wave of that ocean. It is that oceanic state which seems so difficult to describe. People report feeling as if they have no boundaries, are one with the universe, and lose their identity as a separate being. This is accompanied by a sense of spaciousness in body and mind, and can be an experience of great contentment, often with moments of bliss. They often feel a pulsating energy or warmth running through their bodies and may sense a kind of light in or around them. People encounter different levels and stages as they deepen their meditative practice, which the different esoteric traditions have explored and charted. Here we are more concerned with what people are like when they bring some of that awareness, spaciousness, and energy to their daily tasks and relationships -- again, when they are a wave rather than the ocean. What qualities do they report and display when they live in the world yet hold the memory of who they really are? What are the characteristics of Self-leadership? I don't know the entire answer to that question. After twenty years of helping people toward that Self-leadership, I can describe what my clients exhibit as they have more of their Self present. As I sifted through various adjectives to capture my observations, I repeatedly came up with words that begin with the letter C. So, the eight Cs of self-leadership include: calmness, curiosity, clarity, compassion, confidence, creativity, courage, and connectedness.
In Schwartz's opinion, based on nearly 30 years of working with clients, everyone has this Self and has access to it - an average person, a depressed person, a DID person, a schizophrenic person, even a sociopath. His model of therapy is less about getting rid of unhealthy parts than it is about accessing a person's Self and using that energy to help "unburden" troubled parts.

This Self is exactly what Siegel is accessing in his meditation by moving from the spokes back to the hub (the Self).

In some ways, this is a better and healthier version of Genpo Roshi's Big Mind meditation technique, and it has some of the same roots. Big Mind seeks to separate the Self from the "parts," which is also what Schwartz does with his model - but this does it faster and safer for most people (although Siegel does not use this with unstable clients because of the risks of dissociation).

Dan Siegel

2010-04-19 Wheel of Awareness Meditation 46:31

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With an introduction by Jack Kornfield, Dan leads a unique guided meditation he calls the, "Wheel of Awareness Meditation".

Spirit Rock Meditation Center: Monday and Wednesday Talks

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