How to find one’s destination? How to stay in the zone of inner comfort, taking what seemed unacceptable yesterday. Is concentration really necessary in meditation? And Dmitry Shamenkov will give answers to many other questions that arise on the way of knowing oneself:
– Doctor, specialist in family medicine, biotherapy and prevention of aging, development and introduction of new technologies in medicine;
– Member of the Expert Board of the Skolkovo Foundation;
– Member of the Expert Council of the Foundation for Assistance to the Development of Small Enterprises in the Scientific and Technical Sphere (Bortnik Foundation);
– Creator of the social network SUZ.community
– Co-founder of the SUZretreat in Thailand…
A. Dima, when I entered the SUZ and started surfing your community, my main task was to find something that would have aroused the desire to
experience your practices. My superficial study of information after just 5 minutes turned into a total immersion. My diving was provided a lot of happy people who are happy to share the experience of health recovery according to your program. For more than two months I have
been practicing your techniques, and I would like to share with you how I saw and felt what SUZ is. And, if my self-made definition is correct, I suggest that every word’s meaning will be maximally revealed in it, so that people unfamiliar with SUZ will open it for themselves with great interest.
So, SUZ is the social interaction of the people, whose goal is the attainment of physical and mental health. And integrity, silence and the goal realization are the tools with which they build the road of happiness. The absence of a “to” between the words ”road” and ”happiness” is important – because its presence deprives us of the moment here and now. Correct me if this is
Sh. That’s right.
A. Then from the very beginning. How was the SUZ born?
Sh. My way to creating SUZ in its current form began from a crisis in my life, which embraced all its aspects – health, family, and work. As I dive into the crisis, at some point I felt that I had passed the point of no return, I realized that it was useless to resist what was happening. This understanding made it easier for me to part with the illusion — I realized that if I did not accept reality as it is, I would create even more resistance, which, in turn, would force me to repeat my previous life experience again and again, which had problems. In other words, one can say that
everything began with a complete surrender and recognition that my ideas about reality were ineffective.
A. What was the cause of the crisis?
Sh. Postponed life. I did not notice the present, lived only for the future, and did not attach special value to family, friends and all the good things that surrounded me.
A. It seems to me that this is a distinctive feature of a Russian person to constantly be in search of happiness. Usually this search is accompanied by stress and bustle. Because of this, it becomes very difficult to realize that happiness is a process, not a result. What is important to know about the goal and happiness as a single mechanism, in order not to lose either one or the other?
Sh. It is important to know that there is no way out of the goal, since the goal is a neurobiological mechanism that determines what we perceive, think and do. Without having a goal, our body is destroyed. It seems to us that we define the goal, but in fact the goal defines us. Every living system has a goal, regardless of what the living system thinks about it. Problems with a goal arise when, instead of adapting to continuously changing relationships, proof of rightness and repetition of the past become the goal.
A. For example?
Sh. For example, we are going to see how the oriental cherry blooms. And suddenly, having reached the destination, we learn that there is no more oriental cherry, and an oak tree was planted in its place. In this situation, we can quickly adapt and change the direction of our path to where the oriental cherry is growing, and we can accept the situation and enjoy the oak – this is a normal reaction. But there may be another scenario – if we are attached to the experience of the past and believe that oriental cherry should grow on the place to which we have come, we may experience annoyance, resentment, and ultimately, despondency that poison our live.
The example of a tree is quite simple, and, as a rule, similar situations are not a serious problem for us. But what if instead of oriental cherry there is another person? We are constantly changing – a moment passed, and we are already different – there is no more “oriental cherry” on the spot. If certain behavior of other people becomes our goal, we risk becoming a chronically unsatisfied person or a tyrant. In the system of relations, our agreements should be based on common goals, and not only on previous experience. We must always clearly understand how our goal is formed.
If the goal is formed only on the basis of our understanding of reality based on previous experience, there is a great chance of losing the ability to live with pleasure, as a result of which we can fall ill, despite our determination. Therefore, in order to be successful and healthy, it is vitally important to clearly understand what goals unite us with other people, and to
continuously maintain information exchange in order to have a current general idea of these goals and current progress towards them.
A. Tell us about the practice of the goal realization.
Sh. Its point is not to “invent” a goal, but to realize its presence in life. We were born with a goal – all people, ultimately, have a main goal – to get pleasure from life here and now – happiness. If I want to learn to realize my goal, I first need to learn to listen to my feelings without estimation,
learn to create a pause in life, learn to feel what is happening right now, feel peace or anxiety, inhale or exhale. Due to synchronization with our feelings, we learn to perceive reality as it is and regain the natural ability to feel other people and the living world as a whole. And already in an open dialogue, based on a common sense of reality, we can find out what we really want and fulfill ourselves. To learn to feel our goal, it is important for us to be in constant synchronization with reality.
A. But in society there are also distortions. Suppose we agree to interact with society, we receive from it information that oriental cherry (sakura?) is definitely there. We believe, we go there, and as a result we run into an oak. At the same time, if a person is alone, he can find what he wanted. How is it possible to recognize distortions in time so that they do not take us away
from the goal?
Sh. At different moments of life, we can move to the goal in different ways – and being alone too. But in any case, the source of the goal is dialogue – communication with oneself and others. In order to do not lose our goal, this communication must be accurate, without distortion. And the
accuracy of communications can be maintained only under the condition that we are honest with ourselves and the world around us.
A. How does the antithesis of honesty affect the human body from the point of view of biology? What does a lie hide?
Sh. To the body, lies are stress. When we lie, the brain is constantly in a state of mobilization, because it needs to develop and maintain a story that does not have a real basis. Due to chronic tension, stress associated with a lie, the body self-regulation suffers, and the work of many systems and individual organs is impaired. In the research by Professor Anita Kelly from the University of Notre Dame, it was proved that reducing a daily lie by even a third results in a significant (more than double) decrease in the frequency of physical or psychological health problems. To compensate for the changes in the body, we are forced to believe in our own lies, which lead to subsequent errors in goal setting and loss of the meaning of life, which in turn can lead to the development of serious somatic health problems.
A. Sometimes what seems true to us is a lie. What can serve as an understanding that we are moving in the right direction on the way to the goal?
Sh. An important criterion for the correctness of the movement will be an internal feeling of well-being, its constancy. You should not allow discomfort in your life and thus justify an ephemeral result in the future – this can lead to a syndrome of postponed life. Holding our noses here andnow, doing an unloved affair, we are deceiving ourselves. When we talk about this, it is important not to confuse pathological discomfort and one that is a consequence of evolutionary development. For self-realization, it is necessary to go beyond the limits of one’s own ideas about reality and oneself – this is always a painful process. However, it is always accompanied
by positive emotions, which ahead of time reflect the useful result of our future development. Pathological discomfort is always accompanied by impairment in the work of our body, despondency and a sense of meaninglessness of the actions performed. The same circumstances, the same our actions may look completely different and lead to very different
consequences, depending on the goals that guide us.
A. Let us suppose that I need to resolve the issue. Its decision in a positive way for me is closely connected with a person who dislikes me. How to get through the situation without hypocrisy, but at the same time to achieve the goal?
Sh. In order to agree, you have to accept the person / situation as it is.
A. At the moment, I am starting to experience internal resistance, since my fantasy has complicated the situation and imagined a very unpleasant person. Mentally I go to the beginning of our conversation and understand that I need to accept him, otherwise the wheel of samsara is waiting for me. Get me out of there; explain how to take the unacceptable person?
Sh. This situation is a good example of misperception. We are trying to accept external reality, instead of accepting and living what is inside us. That is, we try to accept another person, instead of accepting our feelings towards him. But the acceptance of the other people takes place only through acceptance of oneself. Accepting and expressing ourselves as we really are is very scary, but this is the Truth! This is the basis of the movement to get to know another person, because knowing another person is impossible without knowing oneself!
A. Let’s use the example of the unacceptable person to form a step-by-step strategy for his adoption: and so, some… behaves inappropriate towards us…
Sh. …And at this moment we have unpleasant feelings, and first of all we strive to run away from these feelings somewhere, to hide – this is precisely what caused our reaction to people and situations that frustrate us – we are trying to avoid what causes us unpleasant feelings, or destroy. Therefore, to solve the problem you need:
— first and foremost, on the contrary, track your own feelings, recognize their presence, identify, allow them to be and develop – this is how we learn to stay in touch with the reality of our own life. True recognition of one’s own feelings brings a deep understanding of the fact that every person has at least two sides. They constantly create contradictions within us, but both havethe right to life. Such realization transforms the monochromatic picture of our world into a color spectrum, helps us to understand ourselves and another person more deeply, our multifaceted nature, and creates an opportunity for dialogue. It is important that there is no question that we should adapt to this person.
Why should we do this? But this does not mean that we should fall into self-deception and deny its right to exist. He exists, and his acceptance occurs through the acceptance of our own feelings. When we recognize the right to have both positive and negative feelings, it becomes millions of times easier for us to take the next step towards acceptance:
— recognize the freedom of another person, his right to independence from us. This enables us to realize our own freedom, our own independence from the position of another. If our state of health, well-being is attached to the behavior of another person, we become hostages of his state. This person automatically begins to influence our state, even if he does not want it, and we, therefore, deprive ourselves of liberty. Since our state is attached to the position of another person, at the same time we become also violent person, because we are trying to manipulate him in order to fit him into our system of coordinates to facilitate our position – we want to force
the other to behave as we want, and we feel sufficient grounds for this.
It is important to realize that the attachment of our own well-being to external objects – people, organizations, things, and situations – is always dysfunctional, since external objects will never completely match our ideas of them, because we made our ideas dependent on their state.
Thus, recognizing the right of another person to a choice free from us, we recognize our right to be ourselves and to do what we love. Otherwise, we fall into the cycle of obligations and deprive ourselves of liberty.
A. What is an obligation?
Sh. Cognitive psychotherapy gives such a definition – “obligation is an excessive focus on the thought: “I must do or feel in a certain way”, without adopting alternative options and evaluating
the real consequences of such behavior. It often arises due to standards of behavior and
thought patterns imposed in the past.”
I look at obligations from the point of view of the result of an action — if in order to begin to act (or, as we feel, “live”), a person needs some special conditions, and he constantly waits for them (worst of all), or working on their creation, trying to subordinate everything around their ideas of reality, struggling with what is in the moment, the result of activity is the expectation or struggle with life and the deepening rejection of reality, disappointment in it, accompanied by a sense of self-righteousness. Often, after many attempts at action, the energy of such a person is depleted, and his work becomes almost impossible (“giving up”). This is the extreme form of manifestation of the obligations..
Example: in the middle of summer, suddenly frosts come suddenly, snow falls with hail and destroys crops — certainly, it is unpleasant — but different people may react differently to such an event, and the consequences depend heavily on their reaction. Someone is so strongly
attached to the harvest and certain weather that he cannot accept the loss – he is trying to act in the old way, while comparing reality with his own ideas about what it could be, and reality in this comparison loses, which causes negative feelings, depriving him of the energy to act and the ability to consider alternative solutions to the problem. Another person may be less strongly attached to ideas of the past – after a short period of experiencing negative emotions, he concentrates on the goal, and, while preserving frosts, is looking for a way to replenish the food supply in a different way. I think you understand that the second person has more chances for survival.
This may concern everything: nature, human being, his own behavior, God. The belief that life should be different, that it does not have the right to exist as it is happening now, leads us to chronic dissatisfaction and blocks our creative self-realization. As soon as we have a feeling that we should be different, or someone else owes us something, this is a sign that it’s time to
work out the internal imbalance and get rid of what prevents us from feeling great here and now.
It concerns, among other things, the obligations by themselves – the process that I just described arises in our life in a natural way. The idea of a reality in which I should not have obligations, is erroneous. At this stage, an internal conflict may occur inside me – it seems to me that the world should be somehow definite, and at the same time I realize my obligation, and it
may seem to me that it should not exist. It is here that it is important to realize that my world- image has been replenished with another obligation. But in fact, there should be no way.
A. I just felt like Alice through the Looking Glass – “It matters, it does not matter … it does not matter, it matters … What is the difference?” Does the lack of obligation resolve the issue of attachment, does their number become smaller?
Sh. Yes, but anyway you cannot get away from them. We just begin to realize them, see, track. They no longer control us and no longer prevent us from realizing ourselves.
A. I have been practicing your silence technique for two months now. In this practice, terabytes of information pass through my brain second by second. In meditation, everything is different: I concentrate deeply on breathing, and my thoughts become so superficial that I don’t hang on them, I just stop noticing and half an hour later I fall into a space where there is nothing at all – silence, vacuum or something like that. But before I get into this space, I still belong to some goal, for example, I focus on breathing. But in the practice of silence, there is no silence proper at all – it is an endless circulation of thoughts. I am sitting here for an hour, but silence in my head does not occur at all.
What should I do with the endless flow of thoughts? And what goal should I belong to at this hour of practice?
Sh. I would not distinguish between the practice of silence and meditation in this context. Anyway, during the meditation we are silent. The flow of thoughts is an indication that the mind is working. If at the same time there are negative feelings, it indicates that the mind is clogged.
But you should not run away from thoughts and feelings, just as you should not go into them. The time spent in the practice, you need to devote observations of what actually happens in your life here and now.
Deep concentration, which you talk about, can be a major obstacle in practice. Buddhist teachers believe that a high degree of concentration is just a tool. This is what Bhikkhu Buddhadasa said about practice: “The body is in its normal state, but the mind is especially quiet and able to reflect and conduct self-analysis. He is perfectly clear, cool, restrained and calm. In other words, it is suitable for work, ready to know. We strive for such a degree of concentration, and not for a very deep concentration, when a person sits motionless, like a statue, to some degree devoid of awareness. One who is in such deep concentration cannot investigate anything. A deeply focused mind cannot do self-analysis at all and get insights.
For the development of insight in a natural way, we do not need to reach high levels of concentration and sit still. Rather, we aim at a calm, steady mind, so ready for work, that when it is used in the practice of insight, it achieves the right understanding about the whole world.
A. What’s the difference between strongly and not very clogged channels?
Sh. It is determined by a set of ideas related to obligation.
A. The goal of the practice?
Sh. The goal of the practice of silence is to recover, to restore health. Being in silence, we enable higher order systems to update thinking. You just have to follow the flow of thoughts, do not interfere in them, otherwise the circulation of the obligations will engulf you. But before starting the practice it is important to realize and accept one postulate – health is only in the present!
A. How to understand that it exists if it does not?
Sh. An organism is hundreds of trillions of cells that support interaction at the moment of the present, in real time. Its integrity, which we experience as a state of health, is always the result of dynamic equilibrium. Therefore, in the practice of silence, we have only one goal – to be in what is. Only in the case of deep acceptance of the present, health from the future will turn into the present. The goal matrix, which, I recall, leads us ultimately to ensure that we are happy and enjoy life here and now, is reflected as a result of the moment here and now. During practice, we do not expect
anything from life and do not actively strive for anything; we just let happen what happens. At the moment of the practice, our local information matrix is synchronized with the global information space – we begin to see all the relationships in which we are included, and become aware of everything that prevents us from contacting reality, and we easily release old thinking patterns.
Due to the practice of silence, we begin to perceive this world as realistically as possible: we neither expect anything nor believe that the world owes us anything. In this state, our actions correspond to reality and our needs.
A. What were the books that inspired and helped in the way of transformation and in general in life?
Sh. Petr Anokhin / ”Philosophical Aspects of the Theory of a Functional System” /
Konstantin Sudakov / ”Functional systems” /
Seth Lloyd / “Programming the Universe. A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos”/
Sam Harris – / ”Lying’/
Chris Frith – / ”The brain and the soul” /
I also advise you to watch an excellent video on the topic – Jacques Fresco.
A. What is intuition?
Sh. The rational brain simply cannot process all the information coming to it in real time, so the processing is carried out automatically and its result is reflected in the emotional imprint of reality, which we are guided by in decision making. Academician P.K. Anokhin (a Soviet physiologist, a student of Pavlov, the creator of the theory of functional systems) called this
imprint ”emotional bearing” (by analogy with the radar), with which we constantly explore the whole of reality – this is intuition. It may be developed if a person relies on this bearing when making decisions, and may not be developed if he chooses to rely on rational mind planning.
A. That, in turn, consists of previous experience which may have distortions within…
Sh. Yes, so the best rational choice is to learn how to use our emotional compass to make decisions, and to get rid of the obligations through their awareness. The experience of making mistakes, thinking about them, as well as the practices that we discussed above, help develop intuition and learn to hear one’s own heart, the hearts of other people and, ultimately, help to penetrate deeper into life itself, become it. A. On my own behalf, I’ll add that my two-month experience of following what you teach has further developed my intuition that pushed me to an even deeper understanding of what I want from this life and what do not. In the world of global informational garbage, this awareness opened the door to paradise for me. Dima, thank you for the keys to this door!