the alienation effect

rats that have been subjected to stress fall back into addictive behavior (Nicholas Goeders, Neuroscientist at LSU), the less stress changes food intake (mart, barcelona), or preferably cocaine

—people who are subject to stress fall back into habit driven behavior

—whether or not the actions help, we fall back on what's neurally hardwired

—often its a behavior that makes the stress go away for a short period, but doesn't address the underlying cause

this creates a circle of misery in our lives; its called samsara, as it become cyclical

—we get stressed out by work, by money, by relationships

—we fall into an addictive pattern of relieving tension via food, drink, sex, shopping, television, mindless gossip

—the unaddressed, underlying stress, work, remains the same

—then we've added a second problem on top: addiction to sensual pleasures

tanha: then on top of that craving is not only addiction to the pleasure itself, its the mind's addiction to thinking and strategizing about getting more.

upadana & bhava:

eventually the mind starts dissociating, creating thoughts and internal movies to escape within, so that the external reality is avoided

—some are like radio plays

—some are like silent movies

—some are inner horror flicks, in the belief that the more we worry the more protected we are from additional stress

—these new mind states are role playing for what we hope or fear might arise in the future

its analogous to watching a film or play; though the action is imaginary, we identify with the characters and fall into the suspense, becoming stressed as if it were real

when the mind's rested it can

—see when the long term results of actions are not productive

—reflect on or see what's really causing the stress to arise

—we can use the breath to cut through the imaginary worlds

—this is why we meditate, to see the effect of cause and effect

—all the lights and effects are entertaining

—but the concentration is to get the mind well fed and focused on useful insights

ajahn geoff uses the analogy of film or theater critics who watch films and plays to learn how to make their own:

—the see how shots are composed, scenes are marked, the lighting, how the camera moves, how the actors are directed, etc

—people who watch films and plays this way don't fall into the plot or identify, they keep their distance

Brecht: alienation or distancing effect (verfremdungseffekt); the audience doesn't fall into identifying with the characters and spellbound by the plot, but remains a critical observer

his techniques:

—the actors directly address the audience,

—disclosing the obviously fictional elements of the drama

—holding up signs telling the audience what would happen next.

—two dimensional props and outlandish plot devices, crazy character names

—>he purposely reminded the audience that the play was a representation of reality, not reality itself

i often distance myself from inner fantasies by adding groucho nose glasses or pinwheel hats on characters, or add funny cartoon soundtracks beneath

again, film students watch in terms of how its constructed, purposely avoiding being sucked into the drama, remembering its NOT REAL

start out by keeping the body and mind relaxed.


—sati (body awareness), anapanasati, kayagatasati

—restraint of the senses

—samadhi, piti, sukkha, ekaggata

if we can avoid being pulled into our internal narratives

—we can maintain our critical distance, seeing how

—avoid dealing with the real causes of our stress

—we cause ourselves additional suffering

—we can understand the appeal of the mind state, but

ask ourselves the same questions that movie critics ask:

—would i recommend this inner movie?

—would i feel ashamed if someone else could see what i'm dreaming up?

—is the plot of this inner movie realistic?

—are the characters behaving like real people?

in the same way we can turn the mind in on itself and watch how we construct anger or worry:

—detaching to the breath and body (like looking around at the theater)

—notice how the breath becomes shallow

—see how the hair on the arms stands and the stomach becomes taut

—watch the mind contract around the idea

—watch the self centered thoughts begin to pop up

—reminding ourselves "this is where i feel anger or worry"