We’re affected by our senses: sights, sounds, thoughts and the rest. Out of their contact, impressions (such as ‘threat’, ‘safe’ or ‘desirable’) wave like flags. The process of flagging things as desirable or dreadful then creates mind-states such as eagerness, worry, doubt, affection or regret.
When we’re angry with someone or regret something we did in the past or hanker after something we don’t have, our hearts churn and we suffer. Our minds can keep a topic of irritation going for years even when the one who I’m angry with isn’t really here now. We need to notice this; and that the loss that I’m sad about has already gone; and the thing that I want is just being made up now.
If we attend wisely we can stop creating people and events in our minds; we can stop creating future, past – we can even stop creating ourselves. Binding the heart to these notions divides it into now and then, here and there, me and you and it – so that it chases and struggles with virtual realities. But if we focus on the present actuality, when we let the anger just be angry, the sadness just feel sad, the spin stops – so the pain can pass.
The one I’m angry with isn’t here, now … the loss has gone … the thing I want to be is just being made up now … Focus on the present, let the anger be angry so the pain can pass …
Remember: put aside the topic and attend to the overall movement of the state. Acknowledge its emotional flavour. This is a very direct way of meeting emotions. Rather than follow them or resist or blame them, meet them in your body. It’s like holding a baby in your arms. Get grounded, be with the breathing, widen to include the emotion and spread your awareness over the whole body-mind experience in the present.
Let yourself feel what you feel. An acceptance that is sympathetic will build up. As that empathy arises, rest in it. Your emotional energy is now a source of warmth and goodwill.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the booklet, Clarity and Calm for Busy People.
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