First of all, pretty crazy that I have made it to 30 blog posts – gold star for me.
The rest of Chapter Six was more of Harris educating himself on meditation and mindfulness.
- Two job opportunities came up, and the first thing he did was come up with all of the worst case scenarios.
- As I have said before, this is my go-to response to uncertainty. But I am learning the need to combat that.
- He had a job interview for these two new roles, but was given no certainty about the outcome. Harris saw this uncertainty as a good chance to practice mindfulness. He was still struggling with the idea of not focusing fully on his uncertainties, because he still had a belief that looking at a problem from every angle could give him some kind of edge. At the same time, he also realised that continued worrying could give him a mental breakdown
- Harris Booked himself into a 3 day Buddhist conference
- Mark Epstein was one of the speakers
- Talked about the power of negative thinking, that examining the negative thoughts and being mindful of them could be liberating
- Another of the speakers Tara Brach spoke about a technique of Mindfulness with the acronym RAIN:
- R: Recognise
- A: Allow
- I: Investigate
- N: Non-identification
- So for Harris’ job offer situation, recognize meant to acknowledge his feelings and allow meant to let it be, or let it go. Investigate was to think about how the feelings are affecting the body e.g. hot face, fast beating heart, sweat. Lastly, non-identification meant realising that the feelings of fear or worry were passing states of mind, not forever parts of personality.
- He met again with Mark Epstein and he talked about the idea of responding (after being mindful), not reacting (mindlessness) to situations and people.
- Epstein suggested that he went on a ten-day silent retreat to practice meditation, because mindfulness was a skill that could improve with time. He recommended that he went to a retreat with a teacher called Joseph Goldstein (this retreat was so popular that they had a lottery system).
- Around the same time he found out he hadn’t got one of the two jobs, and that it was uncertain when he would find out about the second job.
So this chapter finishes with the scenario where Harris has got into the 10 day retreat, and is in a state of uncertainty with his future job prospects (he calls it purgatory).
I am really enjoying reading this book because I find that certain things I am thinking and discovering are very similar to the journey that Harris is on. My blog post 29 fits in really well with the ideas that Harris is grappling with at this part of the book. Sometimes it is just refreshing and calming to know that someone else out there is going through similar things as you.