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Showing posts from August, 2014

Spiritual Bypass

The Buddha taught that the greatest source of suffering in life arises from our attempts to avoid inevitable discomforts; essentially, we crave immunity from discomfort and an escape route from difficult emotions. Yet we humans all work from the same universal, basic emotional palette: anger, fear, sadness, happiness, disgust, contempt, surprise.

Now, many of us are trained, in the formative years of childhood, that some of these inevitable emotional states aren’t safe to express, such as sadness and anger; they must be avoided at all costs. (As infants we run to our caretakers during emotional events, seeking regulation and security; whatever emotions make our caretakers uncomfortable, we’ll struggle with as well). While many of our emotions will be tolerated, others will be rejected or shamed; this experience of disrupted connection creates what can be a lifelong tendency to suppress and repress core human energies, rather than learning to face and tolerate all of our core emotional …

Mindfulness and Transcendence of the Small Self

The goal of spiritual practice can be seen as
1) relieving stress and emotional agitation wherever possible and
2) alleviating our attachment to the small, trapped, limited sense of self.

The latter is achieved by learning to break down and separate our inner experience into discreet, separate entities. When the mind adheres to the limited sense of self, it believes that our identity consists entirely of our inner events: body sensations, emotions and thoughts. Unfortunately, our inner experience, all those images, words, emotional sensations, etc become interwoven and tangled. Enchanted by confusion and drama, the mind becomes imprisoned, as awareness shrinks and identifies —tammayata in the Buddha’s languages—generally with thoughts. We begin to believe our thoughts comprise our “self,” while external sensations (sights, sounds, etc) are deemed to be “other.”

Of course, the problem with firmly believing our thoughts to be 'me' or my 'self’ and outer experiences as 'no…

fear

There are times in life when intrusive, fear based thoughts latch hold of us, filling the mind with swarming, buzzing thoughts, distracting us during interactions with others, muting the sensory richness of each moment—the sounds, body sensations, aromas, feelings and on. Such dire visitors—generally based on past resentments or speculative fears—can easily bait and hook us, threatening us with annihilation, repeating constantly; given how constant the messages can be, releasing such thoughts can feel like ignoring ‘the world is going to end’ new flashes on CNN or city sirens announcing impending hurricanes. The mind can really play tricks that make it all to easy to abandon the present, which is, of course, the only place of true safety and utility.

When we find the mind latching onto these narratives, images or moods, and we can’t reassure, reason with or let go, sometimes the only solution is to give up the battle and actually write down what our fears are trying to tell us. If we’v…