Wanting to feel better is healthy, although look at the compulsion

 

Wanting to feel better is natural and healthy. It’s built into us through the generations, and it’s a form of self-care and kindness to ourselves and those around us.

Compulsively wanting to feel better is a bit different. That’s a way to avoid something. It’s a way to avoid our current experience. To avoid feeling certain uncomfortable feelings and looking at the scary thoughts connected to them.

When we compulsively seek healing and awakening in order to avoid our current experience, it adds another layer of suffering. Compulsively seeking to escape is inherently uncomfortable.

So we can welcome this compulsion and explore it with gentle curiosity. We can meet it with kindness and see how our mind creates this compulsion to avoid our current experience. And that allows the compulsion and the charge in it to relax.

What’s left is still a natural wish for healing and feeling better. And we know that a component of that is to welcome and rest with our current experience as it is. And that includes welcoming and resting with any wish for our current experience to be different.

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Bubbles of pain surfacing

 

At some point in a healing and/or awakening process, it’s as if the lid has been taken off the emotional pain that previously was safely tucked away. That happened for me some years ago, and the pain that surfaced was intense and felt overwhelming for quite a while.

The pain still comes up strongly at times, although there are more calm days and when it surfaces it tends to be less intense.

Today was one of those more painful days, and it was triggered by a situation that in itself was very minor.

I sometimes feel like a little kid when small situations are enough to trigger this deep pain in me. Although it’s also something to be grateful for since it’s surfacing to be met, felt, loved, and gently looked at, and why not have it surface based on a smaller situation. In my case, it often seems to be a disappointment and crushed expectations that are the trigger.

So how to relate to this emotional pain when it feels overwhelming? Here are some ways that are helpful to me:

Talk with a friend who can meet your experience with kindness without buying into the stories.

Sit with a friend who can hold space.  Sit in silence. Allow and feel the physical sensations of the emotional pain.

Eat some protein and nutrient rich food. Drink plenty of water.

Go for a walk. Use the body. Get fresh air. Spend time in nature.

Rest with the physical sensations. Notice if images or words come up, and rest with them if they do. Return to the physical sensations.

Notice any wish for the experience to be different. Find where you feel it in the body, and rest with and allow those sensations.

Identify and write down the painful stories connected to the emotional pain. Take these to inquiry. (The Work.)

Relate to yourself, the parts of you in pain, and the painful sensations, with kindness. Use ho’oponopono, tonglen, or something similar as a support.

Let the painful stories be true for now. Allow and feel the emotions surfacing.

Remind yourself about what’s happening. The pain is old and not about the current situation. The stories come from the pain and have only a very limited validity.

Ride out the pain. It’s a storm passing through. Look at the pain when it has subsided some and it’s easier to feel the sensations and explore the imaginations connected with it. With time, your capacity to do this will grow and you can do it while it’s more intense.

Treat yourself as you would treat a dear friend, child, or animal in pain. Treat yourself with that kindness.

Treat the pain as you would like to be treated when you are in pain. Meet it with presence, kindness, patience, respect.

Sometimes, like today, it’s often a combination of going for a walk, getting fresh air, eating a nutritious meal, talking with a friend, sitting with the feelings and sensations in silence with support of a friend, resting with the sensations on my own, identifying stories for inquiry, and also riding it out some.

It’s a humbling process. Apart from the healing that can come if I meet the pain with presence and patience, there is also a deepening sense of universality about this emotional pain. We are all in the same boat here. We all experience it at some point in our life.

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Kindness to the resistance

 

There is often some resistance to our experience, some fear, some wish for it to be different.

There is unmet, unloved, and unquestioned fear about some part of our experience, and that takes the form of resistance and wanting it to be different. It’s completely innocent, understandable, and nearly universal. It may happen for most of us most of the time, even if it’s subtle.

If the resistance is not noticed or explored, then there is often unconscious identification with it. We take on the perspective of that resistance and the fear behind it, and we may not even notice it’s happening.

The remedy is to notice and have some gentle curiosity about it.

Is there any restlessness, any wish to be somewhere else or do something else, any compulsion to think or do something else? Is there any wish for parts of my experience to be different?

Where in my body do I feel it? Rest with those sensations. Notice the space it’s happening within, and that’s also within the sensations. Notice any images or words connected with the sensations, rest with these too, and return to the sensations.

Rest with it in kindness.

You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you. (Ho’o.)

We can also do some gentle mining.

If the sensation could speak, what would it say?

What do the sensations mean?

What’s my earliest memory of feeling that way?

Often, I will just rest with the sensations and whatever images and words come up. If it seems helpful, I may ask a few simple inquiry questions just to clarify what’s here. For instance, an image may come up, I sense it feels like a problem or a threat, so I can ask if it is.

When the fear underlying the resistance is unmet, unloved, and unquestioned, there is that unconscious identification with it and its scary story about my experience, myself, and the world. As soon as the resistance or fear is noticed, there is some distance to it and some disidentification. There is room to relate to it more intentionally and with kindness and curiosity. There is room to give it what it wants, which is often to be met with kindness, allowed as it is, held in presence, understood, treated with respect.

Note: I realize I took the reasons for exploring this as a given, and only addressed it indirectly above. I see two reasons. One is that being unconsciously identified with scary stories means I perceive through this filter and live as if these scary stories are true, or at least somewhat true. That can create some problems in my life. I may live and act in ways I wouldn’t if there was more clarity around the fear. Also, being identified with scary stories is in itself uncomfortable. Resting with what’s there, and see more clearly the components making it up, allows it to soften and relax.

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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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Dalai Lama: Everyone we meet is fighting a battle we know nothing about

 

Be kind for everyone we meet is fighting a battle we know nothing about.  Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

– Dalai Lama

This is such a beautiful quote. Simple. Clear. Direct. Practical. Doable. And the essence of any spiritual teaching.

This is what we seek for ourselves. This will give us what we seek when it’s applied with sincerity and heart.

Abandonment

 

Often, a current situation triggers an old wound.

For instance, we felt abandoned early in life. It felt life threatening. All encompassing. It made a deep impression. And the current situation triggers this old wound.

What we often do is to abandon the abandoned part of ourselves. We abandon the part of us that feels abandoned. We abandon the abandonment wound. We repeat the initial situation.

The remedy is to not abandon it. To be present with it. Patient. Kind towards it. As we would a scared child or animal. Presence, patience, and kindness heal. It makes this part of us feel held, supported, understood, met. It gives this part of us what it needs to relax, heal, and feel more comfortable.

There is more to say about abandonment. It helps if we can recognize it for what it is: Created by the mind. Inherently without substance. Made up by energies and imaginations. We can do this by looking at each element at a time, and take time to feel the sensations as physical sensations. That helps the mind see it for what it is and the power drains out of it.

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What is self-regulation?

 

Self-regulation is often mentioned these days in mindfulness related contexts.

What does it mean?

For me, it means to go off auto-pilot, to intentionally do something different than our habitual response. These habitual responses are often rooted in wounding, trauma, identifications, and painful beliefs, and the outcome of these responses tend to reflect their origin. (Acting on pain and wounding tends to create more pain and wounding.)

How do we self-regulate?

We self-regulate by noticing what’s happening in us, by noticing any reactions, contractions, emotions and so on that come up. Then, by relating to it intentionally. Often with presence, kindness, love, patience, holding/noticing space, and so on. This helps the old habitual responses lose their steam, and it creates a new pattern. It’s the seed of a new habitual response.

Example #1 – hurt & left out. Say a feeling of hurt and being left out comes up. My habitual response may be to eat comfort food, watch a movie, talk with a friend, distract myself in any number of ways. In this case, none of these are terrible, but they also don’t help me shift how I relate to this hurt and feeling of being left out. These parts of me remain unloved, unfelt, unexamined.

When I instead meet them with presence, kindness, love, and curiosity, it not only shifts the habitual response (reducing the charge of the old response and creating a new), these parts of me receive what they really want which is presence, love, patience, and understanding.

Example #2 – TRE. Another example is self-regulation in TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises). Here, the body’s natural trembling/releasing mechanism releases tension, which in turn may trigger old memories and traumas. Self-regulation again means presence, kindness, and curiosity. And this takes the form of noticing and allowing sensations and imaginations, doing TRE for quite short periods so less is released at a time and there is less chance of overwhelm (and re-traumatizing), and taking a break as soon as we notice discomfort and signs of overwhelm (stretch out the legs, walk around, drink some water, talk with someone, squeeze someone’s hand etc.).

Example #3 – anger. Another example is when I get frustrated, worked up, or angry. I notice. Recognize what’s happening. And may do any number of things to help self-regulate: Recognize that behind the anger and frustration is fear. Jump up and down and shake my arms and hands. Breathe deeply and consciously. Go for a walk. Amplify and release. (Amplify the anger and frustration for 10 seconds, release, let go, and breathe for 10 seconds, repeat a few times.) Identify and feel the physical sensations, setting imagination (mental images, words) aside for a while. Do EFT/TFT tapping. After I feel more present again, I can more easily see what the kind and sane response to the (previously triggering) situation is and do that – or do nothing if that seems more appropriate.

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Finding the caring

 

I re-listened to Adyashanti’s Finding the Capacity to Heal yesterday. (Radio Adyashanti, January 28, 2015. Listen to excerpt above.)

What he talks about there is what I have found is a key for my own healing.

When I only feel and see the anger, hurt, pain, sadness, grief, fear, longing, sense of lack, then I am stuck at the level that creates the wounds and pain. And if I recognize and feel the deep caring and love behind all of this, the potential for real and deep healing is there.

It’s very helpful to shift into finding love for what’s here, including the wounds, hurt, pain, anger and so on. And it’s even more helpful when I recognize that all of these come from deep caring and love. They are there to protect me. They are an expression of caring and love. And I can feel that caring and love behind these more surface emotions. Connecting to that opens up the potential for another level of healing.

There are several ways to explore this and get a more embodied experience of it. Parts work is one. I can have a dialog with these parts of me, and see that they are there to protect me, and that impulse to protect me comes from deep caring and love. (The me that’s being protected is an image of me, which is another aspect of this and only incidental here.)

One way I have found helpful is holding satsang with these parts of me, as suggested by Pamela Wilson:

Feel the emotion. (Anger, sadness, grief, fear.)

Thank you for protecting me. (Say several times until you feel it.)

Thank you for your love for me. (Repeat many times.)

I love you. (Repeat many times.)

What would satisfy you forever? (Allow the answer to come.)

This is a form of inquiry. As I say “thank you for protecting me” it’s accompanied by several questions. Is it really protecting me? Could that be true? In what ways are it protecting me? There is a curiosity there and a gentle exploration. By repeating the words, I get to see that yes – it is really there to protect me. I find specific ways it is protecting me. And from there, it’s easier to see that it comes from deep caring and love. Which in turn makes it easier for me to find love for it. And also ask it what would satisfy it forever, and notice that the question itself seems to evoke what would satisfy it (love, allowing, acknowledgment, being listened to).

Through doing this, there is an experience of love through and through, and that noticing really needs to change. To the extent I recognize the deep care and love behind the emotions, I find that the emotions can be exactly as they are. They don’t need to change.

I can be with the emotions, feel them, and recognize them as an expression of care and love. (And there, they do tend to soften and there is more sense of spaciousness, even if they don’t need to change.)

CG Jung: I myself am the enemy who must be loved

 

The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.

– Carl Jung in Memories, Dreams, Reflections

You cannot apply kindness and understanding to others if you have not applied it to yourself.

– Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 515-516

Katie: Would you like to know the secret to happiness?

 

Would you like to know the secret to happiness? Kindness and Gratitude. Nothing else is required.

– Byron Katie

Yes, and that includes kindness and gratitude towards everything in our experience. The whole field of experience. Any image. Any word. Any sensation.

Since most of us are trained to not do this, at least not consistently or universally, it can take time. We are retraining ourselves. We are forming a new habit. A large oil tanker needs time to slow down and turn, and that’s how it often is with us too. But with intention and dedication, it is possible. It can be done.

Empathy towards those low on empathy

 

There are many reasons why some of us are low on empathy. It may be partly genetic. Partly life experiences. Sometimes trauma. (Trauma can get us in survival mode, which puts empathy on the back burner.)

These days, there is a lot of very understandable anger towards a US dentist who killed (“hunted”) a lion. Yes, I also don’t support it. I also see hunting as pretty lame. I also support animal rights. (And the formalized rights of ecosystems, species, and future generations of humans and all species.)

And yet, I can have empathy for this man, even if he is low on empathy. If he is low on empathy, which seems likely, that in itself is a good reason to have empathy for him. I can find it in myself. I sometimes am low on empathy too, especially when I am caught in fear.

Empathy can very well coexist with disagreeing with someone’s actions, and even actively work to prevent certain harmful actions to take place. It even supports it. It helps me come from a more clear and heartfelt place.

Rainer Maria Rilke: Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love

 

Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Yes, that’s my experience.

What frightens me is already what I am. It’s part of me. It happens within and as me.

And what that part of me wishes for is being respected, loved, listened to, intentionally allowed. It’s very much like a frightened animal.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t act when life and the situation calls for it. I’ll still act in an as kind and wise way as I am able to. For instance, I’ll still support putting some people in prison, although treating them with respect, as fellow human beings, and – if necessary or possible – supporting their transition into more helpful members of society. It’s not about being naive or passive in how we relate to our life and the world. It’s about finding kindness towards the parts of ourselves that are unloved, and also that in the world which is unloved. And the two are really the same.

 

How we relate to what we wish to heal

 

How we relate to what we wish to heal, or “see through”, in ourselves, makes a big difference.

We know that from daily life. How someone relates to me makes a big difference in how I feel about the connection, and respond to it.

If someone relates to me with respect, kindness, and well wishing, I tend to relax and enjoy the connection. If someone relates to me with an intention to fix me or change me, I am likely to resist and oppose it with an equal and opposite force.

That’s how it is with what’s unloved, unhealed and unquestioned in us. Those parts of us wish to be treated with kindness and respect, just as we do. And if we relate to them with the intention to fix or change them, they are likely to resist.

Three things seems to help me reorient in how I relate to these parts of myself.

One is to remember how I would like to be treated by others, and then do that. I wish to be treated with kindness, respect, and well wishing, and ideally with presence and some wisdom.

Another is to ask the part of me how it would like to be treated. How does P. (me) usually relate to you? How would you like him to relate to you? What advice do you have for him? What would satisfy you forever? 

Yet another is to have the intention for it to find release, freedom, peace, and liberation from suffering. (If that’s what it wants, which is not unlikely.)

When I befriend a part of me, it becomes more friendly. And it’s all the mind meeting the mind. It’s the mind healing itself from what it has done to itself. It’s the mind untangling the knots it itself has created.

It also helps to see that the wounds and knots are from innocence, from a wish to protect, from deep caring, from love (worried and confused love). The wounds and knots are from (worried) love, and the healing is from (a more clear) love.

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Moving away = suffering

 

Moving away is suffering.

Moving away from what’s here is suffering. It’s a moving away from ourselves, from who and what we are. And that’s painful.

So why not try the opposite? Why not try to move in?

How do I do that?

Rest with what’s here. Notice. Allow. Shift from thinking to noticing.

Feel the sensations.

Inquire into the images, words, and sensations. See what’s already here.

Relate to it with kindness. Love. Kind presence.

Find the love behind identifications, and the results of identifications. It comes from deep caring. It is love. (Even if it’s confused or worried love.)

When we move into this, we move into who and what we are. We return home, and that’s a relief.

There is more to it, of course. I’ll address some of it below.

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If you love someone, set them free

 

If you love someone, set them free. 

Or…. if you love someone, you set them free.

You naturally set them free.

When we care for someone, we want the best for them. We support them in what’s best for them, even if it may not be our preference. It may even be that they leave our life, even if we would like them to stay.

There is a big catch here. It requires that we are not caught in our own wounds and neediness. It requires that we are not trying to meet a sense of lack in ourselves through the other person. It requires that this sense of lack is reasonably healed in us.

How do I find healing for this part of me? For me, it’s the usual ways. Inquire into beliefs creating the sense of lack. See if I can find the lack, or the one having a lack. See if I can find the perceived threat. Meet it with kindness. Rest with it.

P.S. Sorry for the goofy 80s video! Even good songs can have less than amazing videos.

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Kindness is not dependent on a feeling or state

 

Kindness is not dependent on a feeling or state.

I can act from kindness, even if I feel angry, sad, frustrated, or just about anything else.

Kindness is more of an orientation, an habit, or a practice.

It’s also something that comes from recognition. Recognizing in myself what I see in others. Recognizing that we are all in the same boat. Recognizing that I am responsible for how I relate to what comes up in me. Perhaps recognizing that we are all local expressions of (the one) life, universe, existence. Even recognizing that we – and everything – are happening within and as awareness. And all of that may be deepened through practice and habit.

Love is another name for kindness.

I often prefer thinking of it as kindness. It seems a little more approachable, especially on days like today when my feelings go more in the direction of frustration, anger, and sadness. Even on these days, I can be kind towards myself. (Gentle, eat well, meet what’s here – the emotions and reactions towards it – with kindness.) I can be kind towards the person working at the coffee shop, and others I relate to through the day.

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Beings wishing for their own liberation

 

Every aspect of our experience can be seen as a being.

We welcome some. Are indifferent about others. And actively ignore, reject, or battle some.

The ones we ignore, reject or battle wish for what all beings wish for.

They wish to be treated with respect. Kindness. They wish to be acknowledged. Listened to. Rested with. They wish to be liberated from their own suffering. They wish to be liberated from being treated unkindly.

They come with that wish. And I am the one who can do it for them. I am the one who can treat them with respect, kindness. I am the one who can rest with them, in kind presence.

I am the one who can ask simple questions about the stories creating their suffering, and helping it liberate.

I can do this with any aspect of my experience. Any of these beings, whether they are called sadness, anger, grief, fear, discomfort, pain, suffering, or anything else.

We all have a shared wish to be treated with kindness. So why not give that to these parts of my experience. After all, they are what I am. They are me. It’s a kindness towards me.

A shared wish to be treated with kindness

 

I have been reminded of this again:

It can be very helpful to relate to parts of my experience as a being, perhaps even as a child or an animal. Sometimes, a scared child or animal, one that feels rejected, bullied, unloved, hounded.

When a part of me seems to suffer, I can see it as a being that wishes to be free from that suffering.

It’s a being that may have been met with my rejection, struggle, disrespect, lack of love, and more, for perhaps a lifetime.

It’s a being that wishes for love, respect, attention, space, safety, rest, freedom from being struggled with, freedom from disrespect, freedom from me trying to make it go away.

It’s a being that wishes for what all beings wish for. Its wish for itself is my wish for myself.

In recognizing that, something shifts in me.

There is a shift to a natural empathy. A natural kindness. I wish the same for it as it wishes for itself. It wishes for itself what I wish for myself. It wishes for what all beings wish for.

When I now rest with it, and perhaps ask some simple question to see more clearly what’s already there, I may be coming from a slightly different place. Perhaps a place of service. Of gentleness. Of respect. Of love even.

At the very least, there is a shift in that direction. Those are more accessible to me.

What are some of these parts of my experience? It’s sometimes fear, anger, grief, emotional pain, physical pain, struggle, distress, discomfort, and more. These are the experiences I have rejected. Pushed away. Seen as wrong. Been scared of. Disrespected. Ignored. Bullied. Battled.

How did I learn to treat them so poorly? I did what I saw others do. Sometimes, I experienced that sense of rejection, being unloved etc. And I passed it on to parts of myself. I treated these parts in that way. So now, there is an opportunity to do something different. To recognize these parts of my experience as a being that wishes for what we all wish for. A being that wishes to be loved, respected, find rest and a sense of safety. And I can give it that. I can do it, with intention. I can do it, when I recognize that that’s what it wishes for. I can do it, when I recognize that it’s what’s the most kind for all of us – that part of me, myself, and other people in my life.

So what can I do? What can I do to make up for it? What can I do that will give us all what we really wish for?

I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. 

Resting with what’s here. The pain. Discomfort. Contractions. Notice. Allow.

Asking simple questions to see more clearly what’s already here.

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Adyashanti: Going from being hateful towards yourself to being kind

 

The resolution of unworthiness is not going from feeling unworthy to feeling worthy, but going from being hateful towards yourself to being kind, even kind toward your hateful self-dialogue — those old violent, condemning voices in your mind that have become inherent.

From your resource of Awareness, from the standpoint of peace, you can begin to acknowledge the turmoil that is there and be willing to experience it. How does our emotional life look from a dimension of consciousness that’s not caught in our emotional turmoil, but neither is it trying to avoid it?

When you begin to tap into a compassion and kindness you would have for anybody having difficulty and begin to operate from that place, then you’re calling upon resources within yourself that you could never access before.

“How am I creating my own suffering right now? What am I thinking?” When you see some of the violent thoughts that are creating your destructive emotional experiences, you see that anyone would feel terrible who has those kinds of thoughts.

How does kindness really see the old stories? How does kindness feel about your own feeling of unworthiness? Does it deny it, or does it understand it and move toward it?

If you can’t find this kindness and peace, think of anything that evokes a sense of kindness or appreciation in you. Once you’re in the atmosphere of it, look at how it relates to the darker aspect of your being, your sense of unworthiness.

~Adyashanti from The Way of Liberating Insight course

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.

GGSC: How Self-Compassion Beats Rumination

 

A new study suggests that we were onto something. Natasha Odou and Jay Brinker at the Australian National University found that writing about a negative experience from a self-compassionate stance significantly improved mood by allowing people to process (rather than avoid) negative emotions. [….]

These findings contribute to the growing realization that self-compassion practices generate positive outcomes—more well-being in general, more life satisfaction, personal initiative and social connectedness—and protect us from negative experiences of rumination, self-criticism, shame, anxiety, and depression.

– from How Self-Compassion Beats Rumination, Greater Good Science Center

It’s good to see this entering mainstream science.

It’s what many ordinary people have observed over the millennia: the medicine we so often seek is our own kindness and love.

Love your enemies – as medicine

 

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44.

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. – Luke 6:27.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. – Luke 6:35.

Love your enemies. It sounds like a should, but it’s really medicine. It’s a prescription for finding wholeness and well being of myself, which in turn benefits those around me.

Who or what are my enemies? It’s anything in my world I don’t like. Anything I see as undesirable, bad, that shouldn’t be there. It can be an emotion, pain, discomfort, a person, an illness, war, delusion, a political party, noise, or anything else.

How do I find love for it? I have found these helpful:

I wish you love. I wish you ease. (Loving Kindness, Metta).

Tonglen. Ho’oponopono.

Holding satsang with what’s here. (You are welcome here. Thank you  for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. What would satisfy you forever? What are you really?)

All-inclusive gratitude practice. I am grateful for…. (Anything in my life, including and especially that which I don’t at first like.)

Placing myself in the heart flame. (When it’s something in me I perceive as an enemy.)

Christ meditation. Visualizing Christ at the seven points (in my heart, above and below me, in front and back of me, either side of me.) I sometimes also do this for others, and the Earth.

Inquiry into anything – any stories, perceptions, assumptions – that I use to close down my love for myself and others. Any stories of enemies. Any stories of love not being here. Any fearful stories about love.

What’s the effect of finding love for my enemies? For me, it’s a sense of wholeness and love for myself and others. A sense of coming home, and of deep well being and nurturing.

Why does this work? If life is love already, and we are life and love, then this is a way for us to come home to ourselves.

In a very real sense, love may be the medicine we are all looking for. If we had a choice, would chose to be free of a particular situation or illness, or find deep and genuine love for it? Perhaps a healing of our relationship to ourselves and the world is the healing we really wish for. (It’s not one or the other. We can find deep love for an illness, and still go to the doctor and follow her prescriptions. We can find deep love for a person, and still not allow him to hurt others if we can help it.)

Finding deep and genuine love for what’s here may even open up for our natural fearless wisdom and intelligence, allowing us to act with more kindness and clarity in the world.

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Save all sentient beings

 

Hearing Buddhists talk about the intention of saving all sentient beings, I hear it in a way that makes sense to me right now.

I hear it as referring primarily to the beings arising in me – wounds, emotions, thoughts, physical pain, identifications.

If I was this wound, this emotion, this thought, this physical pain, how would I like to be met?

As a wound, I wish to be heard, felt, allowed. I wish you to be with me, to stay with me. I wish for you to let me have my life, and for whatever else comes up in you in response to me to have its life. I wish to be met, seen, felt, and even loved, as I am. I wish to be respected as I am, and also for healing and alignment with love and the reality of all as Spirit. I wish to be recognized as innocent, as love – even if I was created from confused love.

As confusion, I wish to be met with kindness. I wish to have my life. I wish for you to allow me my life, and for whatever else comes up in you in response to me to have it’s life as well. I wish to be recognized as innocent, and as love.

As a thought, I wish to be seen, felt, loved, as I am. I wish for you to identify the thought, and find what’s more true. I wish for you to do this for its own sake. If you notice any motives, any desires for me to go away or transform, I wish that you allow these their life as well, and that you make a note of them and find more clarity around these thoughts. I wish to be recognized as innocent, and as love, even if it’s confused love. I wish to be met with kindness and respect. I wish to align with love and all as Spirit. I wish for your help in being liberated from being taken as true.

As physical pain, I wish to be met with kindness by you. I wish to be met with love, to be held within love. I wish for you to identify and look into the resistant and stressful thoughts you have about me. I wish for you to identify and look into your images of me, and see what appears to be here, and what’s here when you look more closely.

As identification, I wish to be met with kindness, understanding, and love. I wish for you to see me as innocence and love, even if it’s confused love. I wish for you to befriend me, to relate to me as a friend. I wish for you to identify and look into the thoughts you have about me. What thoughts are there saying I will help you, protect you? What thoughts are there saying I am bad, wrong, something that needs to go away or change? What’s more true for you, when you look into these thoughts?

And as I find more kind ways of meeting and being with all of these beings, it may naturally, inevitably, without any effort or intention from my side, spill over in how I meet and am with beings in general – whether they are emotions, wounds, thoughts, or pain, or beings in the wider world – humans, animals, plants, ecosystems, society, Earth, future generations, past generations, present generations. It may or may not, and whatever thoughts I have about it is something I can meet with kindness, understanding, love.

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Breivik sentence: wise and kind

 

Is the punishment of Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik going to fit the crime? He killed 77 people in the name of racial purity. He has been found sane. He’ll serve at least 21 years – and it’s likely that his incarceration will be reviewed and extended while he remains a danger. But he’ll be kept in a suite of three eight-square-metre cells, including a bedroom, exercise room and study with a computer. He will not have Internet access, saving a fortunate world from more of his extremist ranting. But he may be integrated with other prisoners, use the gym and take university courses. Is the sentence too soft or too harsh, in your view? In several countries he would suffer the death penalty. Does his survival mean he will become a rallying point for extremists and violent racists? Do you think the victims and their families have received justice?
– BBC World Service on Facebook

Here is my response:

It’s not about punishment. It’s about protecting society against his actions, and if it can be done with kindness – as in this situation – I think it’s very good. In this case, society is wise (protecting itself) and kind (treating him with respect and humanity), exactly those qualities (I imagine) we want for ourselves.

And another response to an article in the Atlantic:

I am Norwegian and I see the sentence as wise and kind. It’s wise because it protects society against his actions (and it protects him against his actions as well). And it’s kind because it treats Breivik with respect and humanity. If I were him, I would want to be treated with kindness and respect, so it only makes sense.

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Kind vs nice

 

Kind is not always nice.

When I try to be nice, I see it comes from beliefs and fears. I try to please, make the other person like me, get something out of it. It’s confused love.

When I am  more clear, kindness is here naturally. It’s how I live my life. And it may not always look “nice”.

For instance, I am free to say no because it’s a yes to myself, and I have more clarity on the thoughts that would prevent me from being honest.

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Kindness

 

So this is the only thing that was missing, even here…..  Before there was so much – for all of us – keen awareness, a lot of keen awareness and discernment, but here what was missing was the kindness. So as soon as this benevolence was starting to express itself inside, then everything came to rest, because that is the elixir. You can have a lot of wisdom, but without the heart of wisdom, things are still restless and unsatisfied.
– Pamela Wilson (4:30-5:30)

That seems true for me now as well. What’s missing – and asked for – is kindness. How is it to meet what’s surfacing – thoughts, emotions, resistance – with kindness? How is it to meet what’s most unloved and apparently most unlovable in me with kindness?

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Dream: Meals for everyone

 

I am visiting back at Kanzeon in Salt Lake City. The center seems different each time I visit. This time, they have several large buildings, as before, but many more people. I arrive during lunch, and there must be more than a hundred people there eating together. Some outside, as me, and some inside in the buildings around. The meal is fresh, nourishing and made with care. It is a very diverse group, including many homeless or others who cannot afford regular and healthy meals, and who may also be hungry for the type of connection found here.

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Enlightenment is retroactive, and so is innocence, kindness, wisdom, and lack of suffering

 

Another way to talk about always & everywhere is to say that enlightenment is retroactive. (From Joel at CSS.)

When we find that we are capacity for whatever is happening, as they say in the headless world, we also find that it is always like that. There has never been a time it wasn’t like that already, it is just that we didn’t notice. We took ourselves to be a portion of what we are capacity for. (This human self, a doer, observer, etc.) So in that sense, enlightenment is retroactive. It is all already Buddha Mind, the Divine Mind, the play of God.

But there are also other aspects to it.

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