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Monday, November 9, 2020

Prometheus Rising discussion and exercise group, Week Five

Are you doing the exercises? I'm trying -- as I wrote yesterday, I finally found my first quarter! Please keep addressing the exercises and share in the comments about how you are doing, or any suggestions you have about them for others. 

In my initial posting for the discussion group, I suggested that Prometheus Rising could be considered a self-help book, and that a common feature of self-help books is that they expect the reader to take action, rather than simply reading the book for pleasure or education. And I mentioned that my favorite such book, at least right now, is How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life. (Again, I like the book, but I'm not endorsing all of Scott's political views, or everything he's ever said in his 77,000 Tweets.)

I got a lot of comments for the post (thanks everyone), but one rather late and quite long comment by phodecidus is one you might have missed. So the next section is phodecidus, not me: 



My favorite self-help book is probably Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, closely followed by Self-Therapy by Jay Earley. The first is meditations on cultivating self acceptance. The second is a book on Internal Family Systems.

Internal Family Systems (or IFS) is a form of parts work. Let's say there is a part of you that wants to lose weight and a part of you that eats cheeseburgers after work each day. Parts work handles each of those parts as if they are their own personalities with their own trauma, beliefs, emotions, etc.

One form of parts work might involve "chairing,"where you sit across from an empty chair and talk to a part of yourself as if it is there. Then you switch places and talk to yourself from the part's perspective. I've found this exercise useful when I'm hung up on an argument I'm having with a friend. I assume their position and talk to myself from their POV.

Internal Family Systems takes things to another level by organizing our parts as one would organize members of a family in family systems therapy. It's a trauma-focused modality that considers each of our parts as useful and well meaning, even the self-harming parts.

There are different kinds of parts in IFS like protectors and exiles. Protectors are our defenses; our gossipy parts, our alienating parts, our addictive parts, etc. We get these parts to step aside and show us the exiles they're protecting; the injured inner children that need re-parenting.

This process is accomplished by entering a dialogue with our parts to unblend from them until we are in Self. We know we are in Self when we are calm, curious, confident, compassionate, clear, creative, connected and courageous. This is an 8 Cs other than the 8 Circuits.

Practitioners of IFS believe that merely connecting our parts to Self initiates deep healing. Self-Therapy by Jay Earley is a how-to book for this process, but I recommend doing it along with a therapist.

I've done the exercises from Prometheus Rising several times. Once on my own, once with a class lead by David J Brown on Maybe Logic Academy, and one with a group of friends who met in person. I'm excited to engage with the material again.

The quarter exercise is a great place to begin. A lot of Law of Attraction folks will sell you on one explanation and have you begin by manifesting a romantic partner, new car or job. I think opening the door to magical thinking can be dangerous.

If you can manifest success, why not manifest tragedy? Maybe you manifest something awful by mistake. You don't want to open the door to that kind of thinking, so I think it is best to start small and work with multiple explanations for the phenomena.

One way to assure you won't "manifest" (or tune your perception to find) negative things is to practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Prometheus Rising, in many ways, seems miles ahead of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT.

The basic premise of CBT is that emotions, beliefs and behaviors begin with cognitions, and we can fix our lives by fixing our cognitions. One does this by identifying cognitive distortions and correcting them. Ten common cognitive distortions are all-or-nothing thinking, over-generalizing, mental filter (only paying attention to certain types of evidence), disqualifying the positive, jumping to conclusions (which includes mind reading and fortune telling), minimization/magnification, emotional reasoning, "should" or "must" thinking, labeling and personalization.

I think that practicing CBT can lead one closer to the kind if optimistic, happy life that RAW wants his readers to have.

I also think my earlier discussion of IFS is relevant to this chapter. Last time I practiced the quarter exercise, I found it easier to find them if I imagined a little girl looking for them along the street. I guess the part of me that is enthusiastic about finding quarters is young and feminine. Engaging with her opened me to finding many, many quarters in an era where they seem harder to stumble upon.


This is Tom again. If you have a favorite self-help book, share in the comments! 


Eric Wagner said...

I consider Prometheus Rising my favorite self-help book. I also loved Camden Benares's A Handful of Zen and Zen without Zen Masters.

Oz Fritz said...

This statement that I saw today in The Starseed Signals appears resonant with today's post:

"Nevertheless, his overall joy and creativity was a goad to all of us, an example showing that an 'earth WoMan' (as he would call himself0 can triumph over suffering by self-development.
My opinion of my own potentiality, and the potentiality of all earth WoMen has been vastly increased in optimism and hope as a result of seeing Dr. Leary's beauty of spirit under the daily horror of the cage confinement torture." p. 294

phodecidus said...

Hi Eric! I have Zen Without Zen Masters. Where might I find the rest of Camden Benares's work?

Eric Wagner said...

Hi phodecidus. I see three of his books on Amazon. Independent bookstores likely have his books. I loved A Handful of Zen. I had mixed feelings about his tarot book.

phodecidus said...

Thank you for sharing my comment on the main blog! I'd like to add that, if you accept the "law of attraction," or "manifestation" model, CBT, self-compassion and loving kindness meditation are good ways to ensure that you don't mistakenly manifest negative energy.

Israel Regardie suggested that people go through therapy before indulging in occult practices. I agree with him.

Onto something else, I got a new pair of headphones today. They're saltwater proof and have their own hard drive. I loaded them with guided meditations to listen to in the float tank.

I decided to start with The Gateway Experience from the Monroe Institute. It's a series of meditations set to binaural beats designed to guide you into astral projection, remote viewing and OBEs.

I've noticed a lot of overlap between the material on The Gateway Experience and another trauma-informed therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing or EMDR.

The EMDR process typically starts with the therapist training the client to build containers for locking away their trauma until it seems safe to approach. The Gateway Experience starts by asking the listener to build an "energy conversion box" to lock away their fears and anxieties. EMDR uses bilateral stimulation to process trauma and The Gateway Experience uses hemispheric synchronization with binaural beats. Interesting parallels there.

Anyway. I had some time in the float tank after listening to my guided meditation today, so I decided to visualize myself finding a quarter and accepting the manifestation model for its appearance. We'll see if I find one in the blizzard we're having in Montana today.

Also! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, Eric!

Inigo Montoya said...

Almost anything by Alan Watts. Psychotherapy East and West, and Out of Your Mind are two personal favs.

BFHN said...

I still have not found my first coin. I do almost always wakl the same road, and mostly tend to just forget totally about being careful and look around.
I did though dream last night that I was finding the coin, which I find amusing (if perhaps not really significant) because I almost never remember my dreams.

Maybe something is in the air ?

Rich Vos said...

My world has been pretty eventful since my last post, at least in quarter-finding. It seems like there are quarters popping up everywhere. (At least as much a Prover can prove to himself...)

In the last post, I intended to find a quarter by ear, "visualizing" the sound of a quarter hitting the floor, distinct in its heaviness compared to dimes and nickels. Doing the laundry, I heard the sound I had been listening for. Without seeing it, I knew my quarter was on the floor. It had rolled under the freezer and then found by by fingers and eyes. Perhaps it had been one of the many I have been shoving into my pockets during this exercise. In my mind, finding this quarter by sound was confirmation-enough that I was onto something, again.

Later that day, my son found a quarter in the vending machine at the library. It was accompanied by a nickel, but once again, a quarter.

After finding a quarter by ear, I visualized a quarter in a non-material form, a different representation of a quarter. Without defining it (to keep the probability of finding and proving high), I knew a quarter would find its way into my reality tunnel without being a silver quarter dollar.

So, this morning, while reading McLuhan's "Understanding Media" the word "quarters" jumped out at me. It was contained in these sentences: "From the first days of Christianity there grew a habit, in some quarters, of spiritual clowning, of 'playing the fool in Christ,' as St. Paul put it. Paul also associated the sense of confidence and Christianity play with the games and sports of his time."

In my use of the quarter-finding, I treat it like a game: Can I convince myself of something considered ridiculous by Aristotelean logic? What are the methods that I use to find permanence and Truth in my reality? What are the methods of unconvincing myself of absurd notions?

RAWs work has done a number on me, complexifying my belief systems to be more relative and malleable than fixed and concrete. This makes discussion with others about anything real or true (especially in a "fake news" environment) very difficult. Instead of breaking down metabeliefs when asked about the latest political popularity contest, I play games. Using the techniques of "Games People Play" by Eric Berne, I engage with others in conversation without having a true belief. I agree or disagree based on the outcome I want of the conversation. In short, I have been playing games with other people.

To me, it's more of a quelling tactic (going with the flow of the other person's ideas) than an offensive one (convincing others that my opinion is "right"). Though, when presented with an opportunity to drive ideologues further into their binary self-righteousness, I agree and gaslight.

With RAWs exercises and other techniques it seems like everything is a LARP, a game to be played by the character playing, the bodhisattva, the jester that has heard the cosmic joke. And so onward I go, playing games that mean nothing and everything, all relative to ones belief system.

Rich Vos said...

Eric, I love "Zen Without Zen Masters"! I just started Suzuki's "not always so".

phodecidus: Hello fellow floater! What is the name of those headphones?