IPF

A Note from George (September 2019)

It's been several months since the last newsletter. But there's lots of exciting things happening over here at Mettagroup!! Read on for the full update.

Mettagroup's IPF Teachings in a New Study 

The first is that Dr. Dan Brown will be presenting the preliminary findings for our study comparing his Three Pillars approach to repairing attachment disturbances with Mettagroup’s The Meaningful Life curriculum at the 2019 London – Congress Attachment & Trauma – Relationships, Consciousness And The Developing Self conference. Read more here.

The Vipassana meditators have higher Reflective Functioning than their attachment classification would suggest. We are endeavoring to find out why that is.

We have already adapted the Three Pillars approach under our new rubric, Meditation x Attachment, because the value of the Ideal Parent Figure protocol’s extraordinary remapping capabilities and the change to the afflictive fixed views of self and other people hold to beneficial views is remarkably pragmatic. This is not a contest to see which approach is better. Rather, it's to understand why the remapping works so well and why other approaches (if they have been able to add secure functions to the long list of attachment strategies most of our students show up with), do not change the original attachment approach. To put it an easier way, we noticed that The Meaningful Life added secure features to the attachment strategies of our students, but did not shift the primary attachment strategy to earned secure. 

If you're looking for a good intro to the IPF protocol, check out this short interview with our good friend and Mettagroup student Daniel Ahearn for his #YourZenLife project. Watch the video:

Blowing Our Own Horn

The second thing, in the blowing-your-own-horn category, is that after an interminable 12 years in the making, my new book, The Lower Manhattan Dormitory Effect, A Memoir of 1979 New York in Photographs and Lyric Prose Poetry is in production and will be available this fall. Memoir is the relating of memory—we remember what events mean to us, not what actually happens—what in Buddhism we call, “Dukkha, dukkha, dukkha, blah, blah, blah.” In this case, the story of my journey from Chicago to New York to Los Angeles from 1975 to now. The photographs are from the first series I did in New York in 1979. This memoir is a tracing from the first event in the causation of the creation of the photographs into the fallout (a.k.a. karma). Here are before and after photographs:

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Meditation on Dying 

The spring before last, at the Big Bear Retreat Center, I spent several days meditating on dying. Using Dan Brown’s instructions from his book, Pith Instruction for A Khrid rDzogs Chen.

I am wildly paraphrasing here: contemplate all the ways that you could die, one at a time, until you are shaking with fear from the thought of your own death. Most days, drifting into unconsciousness, I think I am totally ok with dying. This long life, the carnal satisfactions blunted by aging, “Who cares?” There is after all no self that actually dies!! (Then, I get a bad cold and I am scared to death of dying.) Or sitting in meditation under a two-thousand year old Juniper tree, visualizing each grotesque dismemberment, each slow burning, each passing in my sleep, each falling down dead in the street, realize the depth of my attachment to this lifetime, if you are so inclined, this incarnation.  Shaking with fear from the deepening understanding of the short, brutish nature of the human life—this human condition.

Fall Retreat 
Seven Circles Retreat Center
September 20 - 29 (4, 7 or 10 days)

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Registration for our Fall Retreat at Seven Circles Retreat Center in Badger, California closes this Friday, September 6th. Come for a few days—or ten—and sit with the very real possibility of your own end, so you can be free to fully engage this, your extraordinary life! Sign up here.

A Video Trip to Myanmar

I will leave you with a compilation of my trip looking for a monastery for our next group to trip to Myanmar in the fall of 2020. Watch:


Love to you,
George

A Note From George (September 2018)

 

In the sorely-needed good news department, Mettagroup has reached two milestones. First, we have joined Dan Brown on an outcome study evaluating the effectiveness of his Ideal Parent Figure Protocol (IPF) in repairing attachment disturbances in adults. The effectiveness of Mettagroup’s The Meaningful Life Intensives approach will be evaluated and contrasted to IPF. Very exciting!! If you completed an Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) as part of any of the Intensives and would like to participate in the study, please reach out to us to schedule a follow up session. 

Second, we have been granted our 501(c)3 tax exempt status from the IRS. Mettagroup has a hybrid corporate structure with both a Benefits and Non-Profit corporate filings. We believe that our teachers, facilitators, therapists and staff should be paid a living wage. To do that, we need to price our programs accordingly. But we also want to provide our classes to everyone who wants to participate in them, and now we can raise scholarship funds to meet both of these goals.

Intensives, Intensives, Intensives!

The fall is upon us, and the whole back-to-school thing is happening whether we are ready or not. This is as true at Mettagroup as it is everywhere else. We will be starting our intensives this month and have found that class size has an impact on the learning experience, and that smaller is better. So we are limiting the classes to 10 people in person, plus remote students. There are some spaces open in all levels and scholarships are still available (get in touch with the office at admin@mettagroup.org or 213-378-0489 to apply). Here’s a description of what’s happening: 

The Meaningful Life – Level One

This course focuses on developing an integrated Metta-Vipassana practice, with psychoeducation of Attachment Theory. We use a secular Buddhist approach to teach meditation, keeping intact the linkages developed over millennia while at the same time not requiring belief of any kind. 

We do believe the long-term goal of meditation practice is classical enlightenment. For many people, stabilizing their householder’s life is a prerequisite for deep practice. Using the attachment mind states as a vehicle for practice helps build in the short run the social support necessary for sustained practice in the long run. Understanding the effects of our early conditioning on our current life path deepens our understanding of the nature of our karma, and the path to release it. This course is suitable for any level of practitioner and begins on Wednesday, September 19, and meets every other week for 12 sessions. Register here >

The Meaningful Life – Level Two

This course focuses on deepening the understanding the dynamics of your own attachment strategy and shifting your relationships from an insecure stance to a secure ground. Relationship dynamics will be explored through an attachment lens, as well as, the skill set of secure functioning. Meditation-based emotional regulation is emphasized, with instructions specific to individual attachment presentations within the Metta-Vipassana practice context. A period of The Ideal Parent Figure protocol, a guided-meditation designed to repair early attachment disturbance, developed by Daniel P. Brown Phd at Harvard, will be part of the class. Each student will work with a mediation mentor one-on-one. This course requires completion of any MIAP or TML intensive and begins on Wednesday, September 26 (please note the date change!), and meets every other week for 12 sessions. Register here >

The Meaningful Life – Level Three

And for the first time, Mettagroup is offering The Meaningful Life – Level Three, which focuses on doing the deep work of uprooting your early attachment conditioning. An Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) will be given to each student, and each student will receive twice-a-month, individual (one-on-one) Ideal Parent Figure (IPF) protocol sessions as part of the class. This intensive supports working thorough your attachment conditioning, for continuing education on developing healthy relationships, and will include collaboration practice with a plant-based Make-A-Meal. Completion of TML - Level Two is a prerequisite for Level Three. If cost is a consideration, please call the office and we can figure it out. Class begins on Sunday, September 29, and will meet once a month for six months. Register here >

Things are just as they are, morning meditation, etc.

In Morning Meditation (which you can still try for one month free here), on the insight side, we are going through the exploration of Self-generated Emotion. And, on the heart side, we will finish Sympathetic Joy practice and begin Equanimity practice: Things are just as they are; things are impermanent; joy and sorrow arise and pass away. All beings are the heirs of their intentions and actions. Your joy and your sorrow depend on your intentions and actions, not on my wishes for you; I care about you, but I cannot prevent you from suffering. Or for short, Things are just as they are, etc. 

Which reminds me of the story about a Zen Master and a very clever boy named Ikkyu. Ikkyu’s teacher had a very precious tea cup, a rare antique. Ikkyu accidentally breaks the cup. Hearing his master’s footsteps, Ikkyu hides the broken pieces of the cup behind his back. When the Master appears, Ikkyu asks him, “Why do people have to die?” “This is natural,” explains the older monk. “Everything has to die and has only so long to live.” Ikkyu produces the shattered cup and says, “The time for your teacup to die is now.”

Lastly, but not least, here is a Buddha Image of the great reclining Buddha in downtown Yangon. Each time I see it I am awe-inspired. Enjoy. 

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Love to you,
George

 

A Note From George (August 2017)

 
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Mettagroup is changing the way we will offer The Meaningful Life teaching, our meditation-based attachment disturbance repair. Until now, we centered the teaching on ten or nine-month classes, repeating the same level of instruction once per year. Responding to the requests of our students, we have developed five levels of training, each for a six-month period, each with a different emphasis.

Level One training (beginning August 2nd) will focus on teaching the meditation techniques used in information on Attachment Theory, attachment disturbance repair, emotional regulation, and the development of mind states associated with secure attachment and spiritual maturity. Level One training is a required prerequisite for the additional trainings.

Level Two training (beginning in March of 2018) will focus on developing the skill set of secure attachment in relationships, shifting your current relationships from the native attachment strategy you developed in your family system to earned secure dynamics. This training will incorporate meditation mentoring, the mindfulness-based strategies, adapted from Shinzen Young’s teaching, for the development of the basic mind states and emotional regulation, and group Idealized Parent Figure protocol developed by Dan Brown at Harvard. The IPF protocol is based on the Tibetan Maha Mudra practice, where you replace the model of how relationships work you developed in your actual system with a working secure model.

Level Three training will focus on doing the deep work of uprooting the original conditioning that caused the attachment disturbance using the mindfulness-based strategies, and a personalized IPF protocol based on the outcome of your Adult Attachment Interview.

Level Four training will focus on who you pick to be in relationship with, shifting who you find attractive from the native attachment strategy of your childhood conditioning to an earned secure strategy using mindfulness-based strategies for the development of intermediate and advanced level mind states, and Dan Brown’s Idealized Partner Figure protocol.

Level Five training will focus on developing interpersonal conflict resolution strategies that work in harmony using mindfulness-based strategies and Dan Brown’s Conflict Resolution Inventory.

We are very excited to expand The Meaningful Life teachings. Each level can be repeated as often as required for the insights offered to be deeply integrated. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 213-378-0489, and we will be happy to ask any of your questions. 

I hope you are happy and well, 
George