Milarepa went through a process of relating to his demons in different ways, from asking them to leave, going into dharma combat, welcoming them, and finally feeding them. (I have read a few different versions of this so am not sure what it says in his own writings.)
In any case, it is a good illustration of how I find myself relating to my own demons…
I may ignore them, pretend they are not there. Push them aside for a while. But they stay around and continue to do their demon things, so I need to find another way of relating to them. (Milarepa was probably smart enough to pass through this one quickly.)
I ask them to leave. Some may leave. Others may leave and come back. Many don’t leave. This one is also not very effective.
I go into arguments with them. I tell my version of the story. They tell theirs. And it doesn’t work very well.
I welcome them. Wholeheartedly. As they are. Allow them to stay as they are, even forever if that is what happens. (Which it isn’t.) Some go away. Others transform. And again, some stay. Some even continue to bug me.
I may ask (pray) for guidance, inviting in intention and receptivity for a shift in how I relate to them.
I may have a dialog with them. Asking them who they are. What they want. What they need. What I can do for them. What they can teach me. How they can help. This is more productive.
I can shift into their role, find myself as them and what I see in them in myself. Taking time to sink into it.
I may find any beliefs related to the demons, including the ones that make them appear as demons, and inquire into them. Is it true? What happens when I hold onto that belief? Who am I without it? What is the grain of truth in each reversal?
I feed them. I give them what they really need – love, kindness, sense of safety, and so on. I hold them within Big Heart, and allow them to transform in whatever way they want – within Big Heart.
I can notice them – and anything else – as awakeness itself. As the play of awakeness in/as form. This is the other side of the coin from working with it on the form side.
Who are these demons? Anything that bugs me, whether it is an obvious inner demon (cravings, obsessions, compulsions, distractions, fear, anger, depression, terror), an outer demon (people, situations, nature) or something imagined (dream figures, characters from movies, books, mythology). They may appear to come from different sources, or exist in different realms, but they are all the same in this context.