>> With regard to thought discipline, in which you must hold on to one thought or idea for 5 minutes or greater, I have trouble. For example, if I think of an orange, am I permitted to analyze the orange visually, in other words, go over the detail of the orange in my mind's eye, or am I supposed to hold the image of the orange and that's all? Or perhaps, an emotion, e.g. love. Do I think back to instances in which I was in love? Is it ok to vary the images as long as they are still related to love (or whatever the chosen concept is)? <<
This is thought *discipline*, which means that you must learn how to corral and guide your thoughts. All of your thoughts should pivot around your central focus. So with your example of the orange, you should do more than just visualize an orange. [That's actually
more appropriate to Step Two and the single sense concentrations.] You need to free your thoughts just enough, yet keep them centered upon the orange. As non-orange thoughts intrude upon your focus, you must bring them to a halt and return to your orange.
This exercise teaches you how to pick and choose among the flood of thoughts that inhabit the normal mind. With the first exercise, all you did was passively observe this hoard and detach yourself from it. Now you must re-attach yourself to the process of thought itself and take control of it, guide it and use it for your own aims.
This prepares you for the Step Two exercises with the single sense concentration. With that, you will need to exercise even greater control over your mind.
The emptiness of mind exercise is, in many ways, the antithesis of thought discipline in that it requires complete detachment. In this sense it is similar to the first exercise of detached observation, except that with the emptiness, you detach even from "observation".
>> I have begun introspection, and got 90 items for my black mirror. However, this only took 2 days! Was I too self-critical and picked insignificant things? I did try my best to uncover everything, however I have the tendency to bury my feelings with emotions, which makes it hard to uncover the major issues concerning me. However, the list so far seems to contain relevant issues. <<
I suggest that you trust your own process. :) It sounds to me like you've made an excellent start on your negative mirror, but that doesn't mean that you have to stop with 90. The more the merrier, really. But if that's all you can discover at the moment, then move on to your positive mirror list and come back to your negative list afterwards. Do what feels natural to you and just assume it's "right", okay? That is almost always the best place to begin -- with what feels right to you.
>> But what has been very concerning has been my dreams. Since I started Step I, each night I have been plagued with an aspect of my personality, almost as if my subconscious has picked an exact item I wrote down on introspection, and created a disturbing dream to demonstrate how much of a problem that was. I won't go into detail into the content, but the dreams have been disturbing (and I rarely experience nightmares or anything negative). Is this normal, or should I be doing something? <<
There's nothing wrong in what you describe. In fact, it's something very good. I call it "dream school". ;-) What's happening is that your subconscious mind has been infused with your IIH work and it continues with that work even when you're not consciously focused on it. When you dream, you gain direct access to those subconscious layers of your psyche and experience first-hand what's going on. However, this is the realm of personal symbol so everything you experience is in some way symbolic. For example, the disturbing nature of your dreams is symbolic of how you feel about these traits. And it is through this symbol-language that you learn all the emotional ramifications of these personality traits.
So long as you remember that these dreams are *symbolic* and try your best to penetrate into the *feelings* that they engender, this can be a wonderful aid to your mirror work.
>> Perhaps the dreams are telling me something I'm missing, NOT writing in my soul-mirror? <<
Well, are they? Or are they just further illuminating items you've already uncovered? These are questions that only you can answer, for yourself.
My best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
04 Jun 2002