August 9, 2017 :: CHAD FRISK
SOME INSIGHTS FROM THIS SESSION:
- Breaking or keeping internalized rules.
- The importance of subtle image.
- Resting in a scattered experience.
Chad Frisk is a writer and TESOL teacher living near Seattle, Washington. His first book, entitled “Direct Translation Impossible” -- which he wrote and published in Japanese and English -- details his adventures in Japan in his teens and twenties, including his experiences teaching English to youngsters on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program.
That said, it wasn’t precisely his love of Japan or Japanese traditions that launched his interest in meditation:
In my mid-twenties (when I was living in Japan), I got to the point where I wasn’t thrilled with the tools for understanding the world that my various circles were providing me. I started reading as much as I could about scientific disciplines—on evolution, Carl Sagan’s work, and eventually brain science. So many neuroscientists were researching meditators, and they had some surprising conclusions, that I thought maybe there’s something there.
It was “The Emotional Life of your Brain” by Richard Davidson and Sharon Begley that really inspired Chad to learn to meditate, and he tried to teach himself from books:
I had a lot of misunderstandings about what I was supposed to do, what was supposed to happen, and what was a marker of a productive session. Most of my early reading was on breath meditation—so there was a lot of yelling at myself to focus on the breath, and then getting angry at myself for not being able to do it. So I was unsuccessful at seeing change at first, but it got me started.
Chad did eventually find techniques that worked for him. He discovered Shinzen’s work through Chade-Meng Tan’s writing:
I've since read and listened to as much of Shinzen's stuff as I could find. The 75-plus page tract "What is Mindfulness" remains one of the clearest pieces of writing I've ever read, on any topic.
Chad described some of the benefits he’s seen from his practice, including a greater ability to appreciate things that he used to think were just objectively wrong (while also being forced to admit that some things he once thought were objectively right in fact were not). He is also developing the capacity to be open more to others who think differently than him, (slowly) releasing assumptions about what drives their behaviors.
He articulated the impact of his meditation practice on his writing practice:
Meditating has clarified many of the impediments I have to writing. Sitting down to meditate often presents internal contradictions—things I’m not willing to look at or that I’m struggling against. The experience of sitting down to write is always very similar that. There are always a number of reasons why I don’t want to write, or that it seems like it’s going to be a pain or frustrating, or that it’s not going to be good enough. The underlying mental processes are very similar. Now that I have some understanding of what to do on the cushion, I can apply that same approach on the keypad.
His journey into meditation is the topic of a second volume he published last year: “This is Not a Sutra: A trial and error guide to meditation for secular thinkers.” He says it “chronicles my attempts to fit meditation practice into my more-or-less scientific understanding of the world.” His teacher, Tucker Peck (whom many of you know) wrote in the forward: “Chad’s work is unique in that it’s a story of a regular guy learning to meditate.”
CHAD HAS TWICE ATTENDED LORD OF THE RINGS PREMIERES AS A HOBBIT, ONCE WITHOUT SHOES.
A BASEBALL TEAM HE PLAYED FOR ONCE LOST 33 GAMES IN A ROW.
HE SPENT FOUR YEARS WRITING A 100-PAGE EPIC POEM IN WHICH JESUS VIOLENTLY OVERTHROWS THE GREEK GODS..