Protecting, care, love

 

Here is one way to explore what in my experience appears as an enemy, whether it’s an emotion, a state, emotional or physical pain, or something else.

Thank you for protecting me.

Thank you for your care for me.

Thank you for your love for me.

I repeat each sentence long enough so I start to feel it and then deepen into it. I may also get some insights into how the emotion, state, or pain is there to protect me, or comes from a deep caring for me, or a love for me, whichever one it is. Then move on to the next sentence.

It helps me shift my relationship from seeing it as an enemy to befriending it, and seeing how it’s genuinely there to protect me, and comes from a deep caring for me, and love for me.

It’s helpful to stay with each sentence for a while before moving on to the next one. If I do it too quickly, or try to skip a step, then the jump from where I am to recognizing it as coming from a wish to protect, and especially that it’s coming from caring and love, may be too big. When I stay with each one for a while, I can ease into it and start to feel and see it.

When I say the sentences, it’s while resting with the emotion, state, or pain. Within presence, noticing, allowing.

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Meet it more intentionally

 

A few days ago, I had a sense of dread and fear in my belly.

I recognized that feeling from going to elementary school. I sometimes had it walking to school in the mornings.

Back then, I didn’t know what to do about it. Nobody had shown me.

And now, somebody has shown me and I can relate to it more intentionally. I can meet with presence, kindness, allowing, patience. I can give it what it really needs and wants. I can meet it as it wishes to be met. And that makes all the difference.

It’s such a simple shift, and it changes the situation from feeling victimized by that dread to befriending it.

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How the mind relates to physical and emotional pain

 

What’s the difference between physical and emotional pain?

Not so much, if you’re the mind. In both cases, it may either see it as a threat and recoil from it, or find a way to befriend it.

In both cases, it’s possible to deconstruct and examine how the mind relates to this pain, and find another and more comfortable way to relate to it.

Here are some ways to use the Living Inquiries to explore pain:

Threat. Where is the threat? What images, words, and sensations appear threatening? What additional images, words, and sensations are connected to these? (AI)

The pain itself. Can I find the pain? How does my mind create its experience of the pain? What images, words, and sensations makes up the experience of this pain? (UI)

Someone in pain. Can I find me, the one in pain? What images, words, and sensations make up the experience of me, the one in pain? (UI)

Command. Can I find the command to not be in pain? How does my mind create this command? What images, words, and sensations make up this command? (CI)

Isolating. Can I isolate out sensations, recognize and feel them as sensations? Can I isolate out the images and recognize and look at them as images? Can I do the same with the words? This is the beginning of inquiry, and a crucial step.

Resting. Can I rest with the pain. Notice and allow. Notice sensations, images, words. Allow. Notice they are already notice. Notice they are already allowed. This is the context of inquiry, what inquiry happens within.

Mining. What’s the worst that can happen when I am in pain? What do I fear the most? What’s the best that can happen if I am not in pain? What does the pain mean? What do the sensations mean? What would it say if it could speak? What does it want from me? How would it like me to relate to it?

A lot of the discomfort in pain is how the mind reacts to it. When it sees it as solid, real, and a threat, it recoils from it and reacts to it. And that drama tends to increase and intensify the experience of discomfort. Without these extra layers, the pain itself is easier to relate to and befriend. It becomes less of a threat.

Befriend, and it appears friendly **

 

When I struggle with my experience, I do so because it seems scary to me, and in the struggle, it still seems scary. It becomes even more scary.

When I befriend my experience, I get to see it’s not as scary as my mind initially told me it was. It appears more friendly to me.

So they way I relate to my experience, is how it seems to me. When I relate to it as scary, it becomes scary to me, or even more scary. And when I befriend it, it reveals itself as friendly to me. (No wonder, since it is me. I am my own field of experience.)

It seems so obvious. And yet I know it’s often not. It’s not what most of us have learned, from parents and culture and others.

How do I befriend my experience?

By resting with it. Noticing. Allowing. Notice it’s already allowed. Shifting from thinking to noticing. (From being identified with thoughts and their stories, to noticing them as thoughts and stories.)

By meeting it with kindness. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. (Ho’opopnopno.) Thank you for arising. I love you. Stay as long as you like. (Living Inquiry.) You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. I love you. What would satisfy you forever? (Holding Satsang with it.)

By noticing it’s already allowed. It’s already allowed… by life, mind, existence.

By noticing it’s there to protect me, and comes from deep caring, and love. (Anger, sadness, grief, pain, and more.)

By exploring it through inquiry. Looking at images and words. Feeling sensations. Asking simple questions to see what’s already there. (Living Inquiry.) By examining my beliefs about it. (The Work.)

All of these are (or can be) forms of love and curiosity. Very natural, simple, and even (eventually) quite effortless forms of love and curiosity.

And anything is included. Any experience. Anything that’s here is included, whatever it is. Especially those things that tend to slip through the cracks. Including tiredness, sleepiness, resistance, fear, seeking, judging thoughts, and more.

Befriending flatness

 

Over the last few days, I have experienced a sense of flatness and dullness, and also a sense of emptiness and nothingness. There has also been a relatively quiet mix of a wide range of feelings and emotions experienced all at once.

I notice how a part of me sees this flatness and dullness as a threat. It feels wrong, unfortunate, even a hindrance. And a thought says it’s always going to be that way.

It may also be that I have set aside and pushed away this feeling of flatness and dullness most of my life, and it’s now surfacing to be included, befriended, and met with love and understanding.

This flatness and dullness is also an experience, as any other experience. Why not befriend it? Meet it with curiosity? Find love for it? How is it also to befriend my fear of befriending it, and any shoulds behind befriending it?

What’s the worst that can happen if I befriend it? What actually happens?

How does this experience appear in images, words and sensations? Looking at the images, one at a time, is it flat or dull? Are the sensations actually flat or dull? What’s actually there?

Guardian of the treasure

 

In fairy tales and mythology, there is often a guardian of the treasure.

It may be a dragon guarding a princess or gold and diamonds, or – in the case of Greek mythology – Cererbus guarding the gates of the underworld, preventing those who have crossed the river Styx from returning to the world of the living.

And I find this in my own life as well.

My treasure is what’s revealed when I (a) meet and befriend what I am experiencing now, and (b) inquiry into the stressful thought that’s here.

And the guardian is my fear of doing just that. My fear of looking at what’s here.

My fear of meeting and staying with what I am experiencing now – whether it’s discomfort, unease, pain, joy or fear itself. And my fear of identifying and investigating the stressful thought that’s here.

This guardian, this fear, is created by additional beliefs: It will be too much. It will open a Pandora’s box. Reality is unkind. Opening to it will be worse than avoiding it. Something terrible will happen if I open to my experience, inquire into my stressful thought.

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What I resist is the gateway?

 

What I resist is the gateway.

What do I find when I use this as a question, a pointer for own exploration?

I resist an emotion, and when I allow and meet that emotion, I find relief, an open heart, a sense of coming home, flexibility in relating to situations. I find what I really seek.

I resist a thought, and it’s the same there. When I identify and inquire into that thought, I find resolution, creativity, kindness, a sense of coming home. I find what I really seek.

So what I resist is the gateway.

And really, something else seems more true:

The thought behind – creating – the resistance is the gateway.

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The impulse to escape experience

 

Elaboration on an earlier inquiry:

– o –

Basic dynamics

(a) When I believe I need to escape experience, I may be able to do so partially and for a while.

I may distract myself.

I may find tools and techniques that change my state and experience for a while.

But I cannot control experience. Experiences come and go. They live their own life.

I cannot control what I will experience when I wake up tomorrow, or next week, or even the next minute or second.

The specific experiences I try to avoid may still be there in the background, and they may surface again and be triggered again.

When I try to escape experience, I can only do so partially and temporarily.

(b) Also, believing that I need to change my experience is uncomfortable in itself.

I get myself into escape mode. I keep trying to run from what’s here.

And that is inherently uncomfortable.

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Befriending fear

 

I still have nights where experiences surface that’s difficult to befriend or welcome. Mostly, it’s a sense of strong wordless inner struggle along with a sense of everything dissolving – the image of a larvae in a pupa describes it. From the outside, I see there is nothing to fear here. It’s probably just part of the process. But from the inside, when it happens, a great deal of fear comes up.

When I get caught up in this, it’s easy to “forget” what may help, so I’ll go through it here as a reminder for myself.

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Even keel through shifts

 

I notice shifts between three different states.

The first is into wounds, beliefs and hangups. A belief surfaces to be seen, felt, loved.

Another is into what I am, into Big mind. The veils are thinner. It’s easier for what I am to notice itself.

And yet another is a release from either, just ordinary life.

Each of these is an invitation to see, feel and find appreciation for what’s here. An invitation to befriend experience and stories, notice I am what happens and inquire into stories.

These shifts are also an invitation to find a more even keel throughout states, and one way to do that is to befriend experience and inquire into stories – especially those saying something is not OK.

And these shifts is an invitation to notice what I am throughout states. Content of experience changes – what is it that does not change?

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Befriending oneself

 

The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.

– from NY Times, Go Easy on Yourself

One of the main keys to healing, maturing and even awakening is to befriend oneself and the whole field of experience in general (AKA the world).

The reason is simple: When I am not a friend with what is, I am caught up in resistance and beliefs, and that’s what (re)creates wounds, keeps me locked in old patterns, and it comes from identification with stories which prevents what I am from noticing itself.

So when I befriend what is – through allowing experience, noticing I already am the field of experience, inquire into beliefs, find clarity to live from my inner guidance and so on, there is an invitation for healing and maturing, and it may even be easier for what I am to notice itself.

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