Comfort Zone, Effortlessness And Other Questions
Please forgive me if it may seem that I'm over complicating something which I understand from your teaching to be a simple and natural technique.
No problem, Sam. My responses are given below in blue font. -Gavin
The comfort zone
Should the disengaging from the active thoughts to the comfort zone also be effortless and something that we just allow to happen?
Yes, it should be as effortless as effortless can be, without any effort to make it effortless. The point of the word 'effortless', as used in CMR, is that it should not involve strain of any kind. In this part of the CMR method, it is simply moving our attention to our comfort zone easily and gently, and then letting go.
I am occasionally finding that I am making a little (too much) effort in 'finding' the comfort zone, especially when I am occasionally slightly frustrated. Sometimes while attempting to disengage everything is pitch black or light and I can't seem to direct my attention any further than my eyelids. However, I reckon I could be more comfortable with this if I were to know this was also okay as a sort of comfort zone to let go of?
Yes, that is fine. There is no need to be concerned about where your own comfort zone is. This part of the process is simply to give the mind somewhere else to be for a few seconds. That shift alone is enough to disengage from being engaged with or part of the thoughts and mental conversation taking place. The sequence is: when we become aware that we are preventing the mind from resting, by participating in the thinking that is going on, then the mind is ready to get back to resting. So we just come back to our own comfort zone and let go.
The location of your own comfort zone might vary from session to session. That doesn't matter. Just 'collect' your attention momentarily to wherever is comfortable for you in that session. The way we do that is explained in the course materials.
It is a good idea to listen to the guided sessions a few times, as you are doing, and also to read the follow-up written guidelines again. After a few sessions one can sometimes stray off the simplicity of it all and start trying tp do it correctly, but with some inadvertent tweak in the method. It is very simple, very natural, and therein lies its effectiveness.
The procedure as I understand it, is that once I'm in the comfort zone, I should then let go/do nothing. In letting go, I am thus losing touch with the area just in front of or around the nose/eyes that is the comfort zone? I'm quite sure I am right in saying that there is no need to concern oneself with having the eyes on or keeping in touch with it (the comfort zone) once we have 'let go'?
Correct. The instructions are to return to the comfort zone and let go. That is all. There is no need to hold the attention there: return and let go. Your understanding is correct, Sam.
How long at the comfort zone?
I was also wondering if it was okay to remain settled for an indefinite amount of time in the comfort zone before naturally letting go?
That sounds as if you would be applying some effort to remain at the comfort zone. That is contrary to the guidelines in the course. As mentioned above, just return and let go. If your attention remains there by itself, that is fine. But don't try to make it remain there. Remember, the name of the method is Conscious Mental Rest. Trying is not part of resting.
Effort/effortlessness in letting go
This leads me to a further question, if you don't mind, which relates to the moment we let go, as I am occasionally concerned that there may be some unintentional effort/judging taking place there, or is it that there sometimes can be the slightest/some kind of effort at the moment we let go in the comfort zone?
I'm not sure I clearly understand your question. I think there could only be effort in letting go if you are trying to hold on to something, like staying at the comfort zone because you're concerned that you 'should' remain there. With that thought, then perhaps letting go would contain some effort, like someone letting go of an inflatable in order to float freely in the water. With no effort to remain at the comfort zone, there should automatically be no effort in letting go.
From your course in TM, you will probably remember the term they use for letting go: 'take it as it comes'. It is pretty much the same idea.
There were just 2 more quick questions I'd like to squeeze in.
Head tilting forwards during CMR
I'm often finding that my head has tilted downwards slightly during CMR. This has not been a major issue for me, although it does seem slightly more difficult to find the comfort zone in this position so far, and I've noticed some slight discomfort in the neck area once or twice. Is it okay to gently move my head back into an upright position if there is discomfort or difficulty? I have been doing this lately and have found it can be helpful.
That's fine. It is best to be comfortable during your CMR session. So if your neck starts feeling uncomfortable as your mucles relax, then by all means bring it back to a more comfortable position. Some people use some kind of support under the chin to help their head stay more upright and comfortable -- like slinging a jersey or cardigan over their shoulders and tying the sleeves with a knot under the chin. But, bringing your head back up if it is tilting is fine.
Shoulder pain before starting CMR
I may have also mentioned to you in an earlier email a few months back that I am often in pain with my shoulder. I have some useful exercises which I use to help ease the pain and I often do them just before CMR. However, they can sometimes be a bit of a drag and I just feel like sitting down and doing CMR even though there is some pain there. So my final question is: can pain influence the effectiveness of CMR?
If pain before starting CMR causes your attention to be on the pain, rather than allowing your mind to rest, then in that sense it could interfere with the effortlessness and naturalness of the mental rest. Sometimes a gentle massage with a suitable oil can be useful -- like arnica oil.
CMR vs TM
In the meantime, I'm pleased to say that even though I am only a week into it, I am so far already finding the CMR practice preferable to TM.
That is interesting, and I might say, not uncommon. ;-)
I'd like to thank you for all the follow up emails which have been very useful, as well as the guided sessions which I am still using for now.
You're welcome, Sam. I'm starting to promote this forum/blog as the preferred way of giving answers to CMR practitioners, for two reasons: (1) it allows other CMRers to benefit from the questions and answers, and (2) it makes the workload lighter for me to give one response instead of answering many e-mails individually. I hope you, and others too, find this to be a convenient way of getting answers to your questions;-)
I do hope you can offer some feedback to some of the questions I've raised, and hope to hear from you at some point.
Done. All the best! It sounds as if you're on the right track.
Many thanks, sam