Jan. 10th, 2012

sabrinamari: (Daily practice)
This post is about learning how to die over and over again, and why you would want to do that.

****

The classic Buddhist method for dealing with difficult emotions is to become very curious about them, so curious that you are willing to do anything---whatever it takes---to explore and understand them.

The primary technique for this is mindfulness meditation. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to sit quietly and pay *total attention* to exactly what you are thinking and feeling.

Meditation is not about changing yourself.

Meditation is about learning to stop lying to yourself.

There are times when this process is unbelievably, excruciatingly horrible.

You sit there, quietly, with your whole attention focused on exactly what you are experiencing. As each thought arises---each painful, cruel or agonizing thought---you look straight at it, and with great tenderness, you say "thinking." Then you drop whatever story you've just been telling yourself and experience what it means to feel your way through it.

Then you do that 100 more times.

This is sometimes like being slowly burned alive while you focus all of your attention on exactly how it feels to have your skin crisp up, blacken in front of your face and fall off while you watch.

You learn to just sit there with the feeling of burning alive.

And you don't do anything about it. You don't scream, you don't strike out at anyone, you don't take drugs to numb yourself, you don't drink to shut down your chattering brain. You don't do whatever habitual, desperate routines you've adopted to shield yourself from anguish.

You just fucking sit there and experience it. And then you forgive yourself and let it go. Over and over again.

Just thinking about this makes my hands shake.

But the thing is, it's like standing up in front of a firing squad again and again and again until you learn to be OK with dying.

And it's practice.

It's practice for the rest of your life. After you do this _____ times it does change you. Eventually, you find yourself facing someone or something that makes you long to scream with rage and despair, and you know how to just sit there and let it wash over you, without killing them or striking out.

And you can forgive them, and forgive yourself, because you really, really, really, fucking understand what it is to suffer, and in that horrible moment, you get just how much they are suffering, and you grasp how terrible it is for them---the same desperate terror that it is for you.

And that's what mindfulness meditation is.

And you know what? No matter how long you do it, you will never stop feeling pain. Never.

You will simply learn to live in detente with the pain, and later, you and pain will exist in something like collaborative acceptance.

That's it.

Sometimes the feelings you sit with are positive, loving, seductive, or transcendent.

In that case, the process is still the same, and so is the goal: recognition, acceptance and collaborative co-existence with who and what you are.

As you sit, you're not trying to change anything about yourself or the world. You're just trying to see it, and yourself, as it is, and live with these things as they are.
sabrinamari: (Pema)
Wakefulness is found in pleasure and pain

In practicing meditation, we’re not trying to live up to some kind of ideal – quite the opposite. We’re just being with our experience, whatever it is. If our experience is that sometimes we have some kind of perspective and sometimes we have none, then that’s our experience. If sometimes we can approach what scares us, and sometimes we absolutely can’t, then that’s our experience. “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and it’s always with us,” is really a most profound instruction. Just seeing what’s going on – that’s the teaching right there. We can be with what’s happening and not dissociate. Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary every-day lives. 

Pema Chodron

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June 2012

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