Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncovering

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camelrider
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Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncovering

Postby camelrider » Fri Feb 15, 2019 1:30 pm

LU is focused guiding for seeing there is no real, inherent 'self' - what do you understand by this?
As far as I understand, it means that there isn't some puppet master or mini-me in my head controlling everything. Rather it's different processes happening. It also means that there isn't some "thing" experiencing everything that happening.

What are you looking for at LU?
I'm looking for a few things.
First, I really want to examine my own beliefs around self. From experience, I've found that its quite difficult to actually know your own beliefs without having a good conversation about them.
Second, I'd like to move towards some more realistic ideas about the self. I really wanna know what's going on. I have all these conflicting beliefs regarding free will, determinism, how the brain "should" work and my own self. Sometimes, I see my thoughts as generated by "me" and other times as things that just happen. Its a bit stressful to be honest. It reminds me a lot of religious and superstitious beliefs I had when I was younger. Lots of cognitive dissonance and conflicting evidence, lots of stress, fear towards examining too closely, but ultimately, deep gratitude when I finally do re-examine them.

What do you expect from a guided conversation?
I hope that it'll guide me towards useful questions to ask and or places to check. I also hope that it'll help me really find those assumptions that I can put to the test. For some reason, I feel kind of confident that I'll be able to see what I need to see, not sure why. I guess my views towards self have been changing for the last few years, gradually towards less control and my stories about my self have become less and less elaborate with the years. It feels like a trend, although of course that could just be my brain noticing imaginary patterns. Also, when I tried some of the exercises myself, some existential feelings of fear did arise, so I'm also hoping that maybe having a guide would help reassure me or calm me down a bit.

What is your experience in terms of spiritual practices, seeking and inquiry?
I've only been formally practicing meditation and spirituality for a month now. However, I have been very interested in understanding my self and reality since I was a teenager, I'd say. I was really interested in the more mystical side when I was religious, 7 years ago. However, religion turned out to be a dead end for me. Tried to learn from philosophy and lots of conversations with friends about mortality and meaning. Tried to build up a huge ego to feel special, just backfired and not really worth it. Currently doing a kind of simple life hedonistic philosophy I guess. Good relationships, helping people, fulfilling career, etc.. Was I guess pretty content with it and figured that would be the rest of my life. Really grateful to have discovered Buddhism a couple of months ago which restarted my curiosity.

On a scale from 1 to 10, how willing are you to question any currently held beliefs about 'self?
11

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Anastacia42
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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby Anastacia42 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:41 pm

Hi!

My name is Stacy and I can be your guide, if you would first answer a couple of questions and read a couple of things, please? This may be the longest post you have to read here, but let's make sure we're on the same page.

Reading your registration form, let's clarify a few things from the beginning.
First, I really want to examine my own beliefs around self. From experience, I've found that its quite difficult to actually know your own beliefs without having a good conversation about them.

Second, I'd like to move towards some more realistic ideas about the self. I really wanna know what's going on. I have all these conflicting beliefs regarding free will, determinism, how the brain "should" work and my own self. Sometimes, I see my thoughts as generated by "me" and other times as things that just happen. Its a bit stressful to be honest. It reminds me a lot of religious and superstitious beliefs I had when I was younger. Lots of cognitive dissonance and conflicting evidence, lots of stress, fear towards examining too closely, but ultimately, deep gratitude when I finally do re-examine them.
We will be having a conversation. We will not be "examining beliefs." This process is very experiential. You said you tried some of the exercises. Good. That is what is done here. Yes, questions will arise and be answered, but this is NOT a thinking process. It is a DOING process. LOOKING and doing the exercises will provide the seeing of what is. This should eventually clear up your "cognitive dissonance," although not all at once. Even once you see clearly that there is no self, there will still be many other areas to clear up.

Can you do that? Focus on LOOKING & DOING?
I feel kind of confident that I'll be able to see what I need to see, not sure why
Anyone who can practice these exercises diligently with an open mind can see. We aren't making anything up. It's right in front of you. There are glimmers of your commitment to truth in your answers. That will work if you can question many things you never thought to question because seeing what really is is more important.
Also, when I tried some of the exercises myself, some existential feelings of fear did arise, so I'm also hoping that maybe having a guide would help reassure me or calm me down a bit.
Yes, things can get a bit weird when you see beyond all the stories that are not true and look at what is. I'll help - and this is just the internet, so there's a limit. If it gets to be too much, I would have to refer you to in-person, local help.

So, here is one of the things I would like for you to read. This was written by one of the clients soon after they saw no self. It is a good description. Please read it carefully.

"To see This, first, you must be 100% committed to seeing it. It can’t be a nice idea, an intellectual curiosity. You have got to pursue this as if you have no other choice.

Second, you must be open with a willingness to set aside your current beliefs about how things are and engage in rigorous inquiry. No-one can give this to you.

Your beliefs might rush in saying, “Yeah, but…”, “OK, but what about…?”, “I was taught that…”, “My other teacher or the book I read said…” All this must be pushed aside and sometimes quite aggressively.

Third, you must engage in active listening. Listen carefully to the words your guide is using. Be sure you are clear on the context within which the words are being used. Sometimes, when you review what was asked or said, you realize that what you thought you heard versus what was actually said are two different things.

Fourth, this ties in with number 2… practical application… You can’t just sit and ponder, you must apply the ideas to your life; see them in action. Do the work.

Fifth, be 100% honest with your guide and with yourself. You can’t cheat your way through this. Wherever you are in your understanding or lack thereof is fine, but your guide can’t help you if you are withholding. Withholding is unfair both to the guide and yourself.

I think that this was probably the greatest battle I’ve ever had with my mind, my character, but when the truth is seen, it is seen and can never be unseen.

This here, now is all there is. Transitory appearances emerge, exist, and disappear. One movement; everything happening at once; a symphony! Anything other than This, Here, Now is a story. It truly is liberation, for no-one."



Okay, now some other housekeeping, if you decide you would like to continue with me as your guide:

If you haven't already read the Disclaimer, please read it now and just confirm to me that you have read it. Here is the link. Be sure to scroll to the bottom on both links.

http://liberationunleashed.com/disclaimer-2/

Also please read “Liberation Unleashed is not …” in the FAQ’s of LU. Here is the link.

http://liberationunleashed.com/about/faq/#faq-1041

Some housekeeping guidelines:

1. Post at least once a day, or every second day. If you need more time, or are unable to post for several days, just write a quick post on your thread to let me know please. This is VERY important.

2. There is no one judging answers given, so please be 100% honest in your answers and inquiry.

3. This exploration is based on Actual (or Direct) Experience (AE or DE) - smell, taste, sound, sensation, color and observed thoughts - only. Long-winded analytical and philosophical answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress. This is not a self-improvement process. There is no ‘self’ to improve.

4. Put aside all other teachings, philosophies, rituals, practices, books/reading and so on for the remainder of this investigation. Really put all your effort and attention in to seeing this reality, as it is. If you have a daily meditation practice, it is fine to continue that but is not necessary for this exploration.

Technology is not perfect and sometimes there is a glitch which can wipe out your responses. It is advisable that you copy and paste questions asked into Word, answer them there and then copy and paste them to your thread. Always save a copy of what you have done, it will save time in the long run! The site has gone down before. I'd hate for you to lose your work.

Would you like for me to call you "camelrider?" Or what is your name?

What time zone and country are you in? I'm in Colorado in US Mountain Time Zone.


To begin with, so that we both become aware of what your expectations are about this exploration. In your own words (not from actual experience, but just honest answers), could you please answer the 4 following questions:

How will life change?
How will you change?
What will be different?
What is missing?


Throughout this exploration I would like you to answer all questions that I have written in blue text. Please answer questions individually, remembering to use the Quote function to highlight the question being answered. Instructions and a video about the Quote function are at the top of the Gate Forum.

Warmly,
~ Stacy

"Not to know there is an alternative to being lost
in thought is to be a kind of prisoner."

~ Sam Harris

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camelrider
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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby camelrider » Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:06 pm

Hello!

Thanks for the reply Stacey, really appreciate you willing to guide me. First of all, you can call me Husain and I'm in the UK right now so my timezone would be GMT.
We will be having a conversation. We will not be "examining beliefs." This process is very experiential. You said you tried some of the exercises. Good. That is what is done here. Yes, questions will arise and be answered, but this is NOT a thinking process. It is a DOING process. LOOKING and doing the exercises will provide the seeing of what is. This should eventually clear up your "cognitive dissonance," although not all at once. Even once you see clearly that there is no self, there will still be many other areas to clear up.

Can you do that? Focus on LOOKING & DOING?
After posting this question, I did spend a few days looking at other posts, following the questions and doing the exercises all day. So I'm definitely willing to put in the time to really look. This is just too important to continue my life without seeing.
How will life change?
How will you change?
What will be different?
What is missing?
Okay, so I wasn't sure exactly how to answer the questions, so I just put in all the different motivations and thoughts in my brain. Felt a bit vulnerable, to be honest. Some of these answers are embarrassing >.>.

How will life change? First of all there's the mystery: I dunno how its going to change. On the other hand, parts of me think it might reduce my suffering. Another part thinks it might make me bring back that innocent childhood experience. And of course there's a some thoughts of this making me way more productive, and others of me being a modern day Jesus, effortlessly compassionate and loved by the masses. (Don't judge me :( they're just thoughts.)

How will I change? There's mostly the idea that my general character or circumstances won't change very much. However there does seem to be an expectation that I might be a bit more relaxed and uninhibited. Also a part of me thinks I might be a bit "cooler" and more attractive to be around.

What will be different? My moment-to-moment experience will be more vivid and real. That very subtle sense of meaninglessness will go away. Meditation will be easier.

What is missing? I suppose there's just a feeling. A kind of empty feeling. I don't really know what it is. It feels like everything is just a distraction from my own mortality.

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camelrider
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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby camelrider » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:18 pm

Also, I looked back at my reply and realized that I hadn't confirmed some things! I just wanted to add that I'd read and gone through the FAQ and Disclaimer, and I've read the description you sent me. I'm pretty committed to this and would love for you to call me out on my bullshit or on just saying what I think you want to hear or if I'm over-intellectualizing (Which I'm sometimes prone to doing, but something I've worked on a lot). Otherwise, though, I'm pretty motivated to actually do what needs to be done.

Thank you! Really excited for your reply!

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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby Anastacia42 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 4:48 pm

Hi Husain,

Reading your replies now.

I want you to go to this link and learn to use the quote function.

I want to see one question that I sent quoted and your answer beneath it and then another question quoted and your answer beneath it.

We need to make it easy to read. I'm usually doing this on my cell phone.

Like this:
How will life change?
Your reply.
How will you change?
Your reply.

Got it?

Thank you,
~ Stacy

"Not to know there is an alternative to being lost
in thought is to be a kind of prisoner."

~ Sam Harris

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Anastacia42
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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby Anastacia42 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 4:50 pm

Quote Function link

https://youtu.be/-fAToDNh9hQ
~ Stacy

"Not to know there is an alternative to being lost
in thought is to be a kind of prisoner."

~ Sam Harris

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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby Anastacia42 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:09 pm

Hi again, Husain,

I'm in Colorado, Mountain Time, so I will usually be about 7 hours behind you. It's 9 a.m. here and it's 4 p.m. there.

Your answers are great. I appreciate your willingness to be honest and vulnerable. That will take you a long way here. Don't worry, I've had similar expectations. There's nothing much to be done about them. We just want to know what they are going in. Expectations can get in your way. Try to just simply follow instructions and do the exercises without too much expectation of ascending into heaven on a cloud. :-)

Whatever this experience brings you, there will be more to do once you see no self. That is only the first step. It may "reduce your suffering," and at times it may increase it as you notice other things that need to be looked into and cleared up.
First of all there's the mystery: I dunno how its going to change.
This is true. We never know what's going to happen.

Next question:

What comes up when is read there is no self, never has been, never will be? That this is a made-up fiction, a story?


Much love,
~ Stacy

"Not to know there is an alternative to being lost
in thought is to be a kind of prisoner."

~ Sam Harris

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camelrider
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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby camelrider » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:23 pm

What comes up when is read there is no self, never has been, never will be? That this is a made-up fiction, a story?
Hopefully I'm quoting correctly this time :P. There's a bit of unpleasantness in my chest, and a few sensations around my face. Seems like a minor level of fear/anxiety. I didn't have any thoughts in response to reading it. Just the body sensations.

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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby Anastacia42 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:11 pm

Hi,

Perfect.

Yes, you quoted correctly and that is what most people find.

Next question:

Can you remember a time when you lied to someone you loved? We've all done it. No big judgment here.

Scan your body and see what Sensations you find when you think about that time when you lied to someone you loved.

Please report back with those Sensations.


Much love,
~ Stacy

"Not to know there is an alternative to being lost
in thought is to be a kind of prisoner."

~ Sam Harris

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camelrider
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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby camelrider » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:51 pm

Hiya,

Sorry for not replying earlier, I usually get an email notification, but didn't get one for this message. Hope you're doing well.
Can you remember a time when you lied to someone you loved? We've all done it. No big judgment here.
Hmmm, I couldn't think of any intentionally malicious lies. However, there is something I do hide and regularly lie about to my family. Even though I feel like its the right thing thing to do for now, it still makes me feel kinda icky. Feels like a pressure on my chest. some constriction in my throat, and an unpleasantness. If I had to label it, I'd probably pick: shame.

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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby Anastacia42 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:07 pm

Hi Husain,

On getting email notifications:

You can check at the top of the thread where there is a little wrench icon to see if you are "Subscribed" to this topic. If you are, it will say "Unsubscribe," to give you the option to change it. If you are not, it will say "Subscribe" so you can do that.
If I had to label it, I'd probably pick: shame.
No labeling. That is what we want to UNlearn. Report only Actual (Direct) Experience (AE/DE).
feels like a pressure on my chest. some constriction in my throat, and an unpleasantness.
Yes! Exactly. Most people report some type of constriction, tightness or heaviness in either the chest/heart or solar plexus area - and yes many times in the throat. It is unpleasant.

So that is what it feels like when you lie. Don't believe me just because we did this one exercise. Spend time checking known facts & known falsehoods to verify this for yourself. It does not work for predicting the seeming "future," just things we can know.

The point of this is to notice - is this "unpleasantness" in the same family of feelings as what you sensed below?
What comes up when is read there is no self, never has been, never will be? That this is a made-up fiction, a story?

Hopefully I'm quoting correctly this time :P. (yes) There's a bit of unpleasantness in my chest, and a few sensations around my face. Seems like a minor level of fear/anxiety. I didn't have any thoughts in response to reading it. Just the body sensations.
This is one way to check the story that there is some thing called a "self." This Sensation (that you labeled "unpleasantness" may point to the falsehood of the idea of "self."

Colored Socks

There is a big difference between knowing that there is nothing to give up and seeing that there is nothing to give up.

Here is an example to illustrate the difference:

If I ask you what color socks you are wearing right now you have two ways to come up with an answer:

• You can have a think about it, you can think back to this morning and try to remember putting your socks on, and you can probably tell me what color you think they are.

• Alternatively, you can take a quick look at your socks and tell me what color they actually are!

Hopefully, you would agree that you can only be 100% certain by looking.

For the purpose of our dialogue together, it is going to be very important that you are clear about this difference.

Knowing is about knowledge which is all in the mind and we are not interested in that. We are only interested in looking at and seeing what is actually going on in your present moment to moment experience. We are only interested in your direct experience in the moment.

Please let me know if you are clear about this or if you would like any further clarification.


Warmly,
~ Stacy

"Not to know there is an alternative to being lost
in thought is to be a kind of prisoner."

~ Sam Harris

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camelrider
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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby camelrider » Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:43 pm

Hiya,
You can check at the top of the thread where there is a little wrench icon to see if you are "Subscribed" to this topic. If you are, it will say "Unsubscribe," to give you the option to change it. If you are not, it will say "Subscribe" so you can do that.
Thank you! I was unsubbed. I tried to resubscribe but, it doesn't seem to be working for now. I'll try again later and if it doesn't work I'll just check more often.
So that is what it feels like when you lie. Don't believe me just because we did this one exercise. Spend time checking known facts & known falsehoods to verify this for yourself. It does not work for predicting the seeming "future," just things we can know.
I don't have many lies in my memory that I can use, so I tried just saying things that are obvious lies (e.g there's a phone on the table), and I felt a small chest feeling, but to be honest I also felt it sometimes when I said something obviously truthful. Doesn't seem very consistent. I could do an experiment tomorrow and lie to a friend, notice the sensations for a few seconds, and then tell them it was a lie.
What comes up when is read there is no self, never has been, never will be? That this is a made-up fiction, a story?
They were definitely quite similar to what I experienced earlier. Although now, reading this again, I'm not getting much of a reaction anymore.
Please let me know if you are clear about this or if you would like any further clarification.
This seems very clear to me.

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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby Anastacia42 » Tue Mar 05, 2019 3:53 am

Hi Husain,

Good work!
I also felt it sometimes when I said something obviously truthful.
If you can give me an example or two, perhaps I can help, about why that might be inconsistent. In the meantime, let's move to the next exercise.

Actual Experience is . . .

Color/Image or Seeing
Sound or Hearing
Touch or Feeling
Taste or Tasting
Smell or Smelling
Thought Arising (but never the content of that thought, which is made up & taught, something we had to learn that does not exist in Actual Experience)

SEEING only AE (and not believing content of thought, which is taught to us, made up) is what it means to LOOK.


So, with that in mind, try this next exercise.

Direct Experience - Labelling Daily Activities

I would like you to try this as many times throughout the day as you can. Label daily activities simply color/image, sound, smell, taste, sensation, thought.

So for example, when having breakfast, become aware of:

Seeing a cup, simply= image/color
Smelling coffee, simply = smell
Feeling the warmth of the coffee cup, simply = sensation
Tasting the coffee, simply = taste
Hearing the spoon stirring the coffee, simply = sound
Thought about drinking the coffee, simply = thought

Just break down daily activities into these categories (which are all Actual/Direct Experience) and report back how it goes.

Report with at least two or three lists just like the one above.


Much love,
~ Stacy

"Not to know there is an alternative to being lost
in thought is to be a kind of prisoner."

~ Sam Harris

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camelrider
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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby camelrider » Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:32 pm

I would like you to try this as many times throughout the day as you can. Label daily activities simply color/image, sound, smell, taste, sensation, thought.
Okay, so I did this exercise a few times during the day. I found it very interesting. So first some of the activities:

General life stuff: Making breakfast, cleaning and eating:
Seeing: The food, the stovetop, my room, my floor, etc..
Smelling and tasting: The food while cooking/eating, the tea I had, and the smell of the bin(didn't taste it though, thankfully)
Feeling: Weight of forks/mug/frying pan/vacuum in my hands. Feelings of tension in my face and head. Feeling of my feet while walking
Hearing: Various cooking sounds, vacuum sounds, and interestingly the sound of chewing. Never noticed that before.
------------------------
Activities: Playing piano and exercising
Seeing: The piano/weights. Seeing reflection.
Smelling and tasting: No smells or tastes in particular
Feeling: Feeling sensations of keys on my fingers. Warmth and tension in my muscles. Weight on hands.
Hearing: Hearing my own breathing. Hearing music.
------------------------
Thoughts
I decided to separate the thoughts out, because I had a lot, many were very similar and there were some things I noticed about them. You can tell me if I'm over analyzing.
So, first there were 2 types of thought, the dialogue in my head which was hearing and then visual thoughts, usually random scenarios (seeing). Quite a few thoughts commenting on experience and/or judging it. Example, "These plates are disgusting", for a second I believed it, but when I remembered to just notice the thoughts, the plates weren't so disgusting anymore. That was pretty cool when it happened.
A thought I had while playing piano was "I'm doing pretty good." But it instantly felt like a lie, or just silly. It was really fascinating. I was noticing my fingers on the piano just doing their thing, and I was hearing the music, and I was seeing the view outside. Then the thought comes up and it instantly seemed like complete bs. Also when i noticed that I felt a kind of ease, some tension on my face went away and also it felt more effortless? Like it was just happening. Its weird because the same thing is happening now while I'm typing. I can feel the keys on my fingers and see the words coming up but I don't feel like I'm doing it. Anyways this is a huge paragraph, sorry about this lol! I just thought it was interesting because it wasn't something I was expecting or trying to force, I just noticed it haha. Anyways tell me if I'm reading too much into this.

Thank you!

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Re: Feeling a lot of cognitive dissonance around my beliefs relating to self. Would really appreciate some help uncoveri

Postby Anastacia42 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:33 am

Hi Husain,

Well, that's a lot of thinking, a lot of stories and a lot of content of thought - none of that is what we want to LOOK at here. That is what we want to UNLEARN.
I decided to separate the thoughts out,
Where is this "I" that did something called "deciding? There will be exercises for that after we do a few others. (Don't answer that right now. Just pointing it out.)

The instructions ask for something FAR simpler than what you did.

Below you have made a couple of valid observations that weren't required for the exercise. Yes, there will be a sense of ease. That is great to notice! And yes, content of thought is complete bs and there is no "you" do do anything. Yes.
Then the thought comes up and it instantly seemed like complete bs. Also when i noticed that I felt a kind of ease, some tension on my face went away and also it felt more effortless? Like it was just happening. Its weird because the same thing is happening now while I'm typing. I can feel the keys on my fingers and see the words coming up but I don't feel like I'm doing it.
The following is what your 3 or 4 lists on 3 or 4 different attempts should look like.

Nothing more. Nothing less. Exactly like the list below.

Be sure to include all senses & some thoughts, as well, so it can be seen that you understand.


Seeing a cup, simply= image/color
Smelling coffee, simply = smell
Feeling the warmth of the coffee cup, simply = sensation
Tasting the coffee, simply = taste
Hearing the spoon stirring the coffee, simply = sound
Thought about drinking the coffee, simply = thought


Please reread the instructions posted before.

Take your time. Don't go overboard. Just do the simple things that are asked.


Warmly,
~ Stacy

"Not to know there is an alternative to being lost
in thought is to be a kind of prisoner."

~ Sam Harris


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