In MIDL Mindfulness Training 34/52 you cultivate the MIDL skill of abandoning the desire 'to do' within your mind, by engaging and abandoning the desire to move within different parts of your body. Through this softening doorway you will learn how to observe the resistance that arises within your body from the desire to react and also the peace that arises within your body and mind when that desire is abandoned. 'Lifting / dropping' is also used as a MIDL Softening Technique for lowering the symptoms of anxiety when based on habitual chronic fear due to past trauma. Submit Your Question
Your Question: Could you explain a little about the purpose of lifting and dropping meditation?
Stephen Procter: Lifting / dropping is the method of retraining the mind through creating the desire to move a part of the body and then cancelling that desire. Not only does this training method bring about deeper relaxation within our body but it also develops the deep relaxation within the mind that arises from the abandoning of the desire itself.
This practice is particularly good for working with chronic pain and trauma when the stress response is overvigilent and oversensitive making the person defensive towards any attempt to help them. Lifting / dropping directly challenges the habitualised stress response and deconditions this reaction through the retraining of intention, allowing the mind to experience safety. Once the meditator learns how to abandon the desire to react fear subsides and stillness is experienced having a deep impact on a mind that is habitually in fight / flight.
On the deeper level it allows us to observe the resistance that arises in the body and mind when any intention / desire arises and also the ability to observe the peace that arises in the body and mind when that desire is abandoned. The practice of creating the desire to move and then dropping it also trains the ability to 'not do', 'not react' throughout the day. The deeper level of this training is the dropping / softening of any "desire to do". The creating of the 'desire to move' and then the cancelling of it gives rise to deeper understanding of intention and also the ability to abandon it at will in daily life.
It also allows us to experience not only the peace that arises in the body when the "desire to do" is abandoned but also the deeper peace and softness that arises within the mind when the desire is dropped.
Your Question: I have a hard time understanding and practicing this exercise.
Stephen Procter: The softening door of 'lifting, dropping' uses the engaging and abandoning of movement within the physical body to develop the skill of abandoning the mental intention 'to do' within the mind. While it can seem very complex in nature it is actually quite simple when understood. I will try to help you understand.
The deep relaxation that comes from this exercises arises from creating the desire to move and then abandoning that desire. 'Lifting' stands for the desire to move and 'dropping' stands for the abandoning of that desire.
There are three stages to moving our arm:
1) The desire to move the arm.
2) The tensing of the muscles as they get ready to move.
3) The lifting of the arm.
Try this now to experience these three stages.
Sitting comfortably, arms resting loosely on your legs. Create the desire to move your right arm and feel the muscles tense. Continue the desire to move until your arm lifts off your leg. Now abandoning that desire allow your arm to drop on your leg, relaxed. Notice that there is a heavier feeling in your arm after it has dropped. Repeat it again and experience the relaxation within the arm after it drops.
Now lets try this without the 3rd stage of lifting the arm.
During this meditation we abandon the desire just before the lift:
1) We create the desire to move the arm (lift).
2) We feel the tensing of the muscles as they get ready to move.
3) We abandon (drop) the desire to move before it lifts and feel the physical and mental relaxation. A sinking feeling.
Try this now to experience these three stages.
Sitting comfortably, arms resting loosely on your legs. Create the desire to move your right arm and feel the muscles tense. Now abandoning that desire to move before it lifts off your leg, feel the muscles in your arm relax. Notice that there is a heavier feeling in your arm after it has dropped. A sinking feeling Repeat it again without the lift and experience the relaxation within the arm after it drops becoming deeper. Notice that there is also a mental 'drop', relaxation that comes from abandoning the desire to move. In this same way we can move through our body 'lifting' and 'dropping' each part. This releases any habitual tension both in the body and in the mind leading to deep tranquility. I have found this softening doorway extremely useful especially in the case of chronic fear.
Your Question: I experienced how much holding up / on was already there with each instruction. Panic surfaced again when the instruction came to lift the chest - my diaphragm was locked tight. The panic seems it come out of nowhere when I focus on the breath. It had subsided for a long time but here it is again. Is there a reason why the unconscious resistance to freeing up such a fundamental thing as breathing should be so great and so entrenched?
Stephen Procter: Locking of the diaphragm and tightening of the chest / breathing is part of the defense mechanism of the survival part of your mind. MIDL Softening methods such as Lifting / Dropping are designed to remove these defense mechanisms. As the survival minds defenses are lowered it feels naked and exposed and quickly produces more defenses.
This is part of the deconditioning process, patiently working with the lowering and raising of these defenses. This is most efficient if paired with retraining your stress breathing patterns by practicing MIDL Mindfulness Training 3/52: Retraining Autonomous Breathing daily for 3 - 4 weeks. in this way you can remove your experience of anxiety and this reaction will not happen when you turn your awareness towards breathing.
Your Question: Right now my relationship to my neuropathy pain is of aversion. I will work on the relationship part of it as you suggested. Perhaps instead of aversion I should "allow it to be". Release my desire to control it using gentle breaths. Is that what you mean by softening my relationship to it? It's really a change in my attitude towards my pain?
Stephen Procter: Your experience of your neuropathy pain is made up of two parts:
1. The physical, sensate quality of the pain within your body.
2. The mental relationship towards the physical, sensate quality of the pain within your body. In this case aversion: "I don't want".
You can not get rid of the physical pain because it is present dependent on conditions beyond the realm of your control. Since this is the case the one thing that you can do is change your relationship towards the pain. Dissolve the "I don't want" by softening / relaxing into it. This is the path of MIDL mindfulness meditation.,br>
The protection mechanism within your mind of "I don't want" is part of your minds immune system attacking the perceived threat. This immune system when turned on by the survival part of your mind will constantly bring your awareness to the perceived danger and release an unpleasant feeling to make you want to fight or run. This constantly re-applying of awareness to the physical pain will develop concentration which then magnifies your experience of the sensations within the pain as well as magnifying the unpleasant feeling present.
As a MIDL meditator your task is not to try to remove the pain but rather to teach the survival part of your mind that right now is safe. The first doorway for this is to retrain diaphragmatic breathing (MIDL Mindfulness Training 3/52) and to develop sensitivity to any stress breathing patterns throughout your day as they are a sign that your mental immune system is turned on. (Breathing appears in your upper chest rather then deep in your belly). Learning how to re-engage diaphragmatic breathing throughout the day, turns off the stress response thereby lowering the magnification of the mental aversion within the survival part of your mind.
The next doorway is to learn to observe and soften your relationship towards the physical pain within your body, relaxing the "I don't want". Supportive meditations such as MIDL Mindfulness Training 34/52: Lifting / Dropping and MIDL Mindfulness Training 36/52: Gentle Sighing, will teach you how to bring about relaxation in your body when experiencing the pain and also how to abandon the aversion towards it.