As a practicing Buddhist meditator, I have long concentrated on being more aware of my reactionary thinking and behavior. I have had some profound experiences during meditation of realizing that it is finding that gap between encountering a situation that I may label as negative and responding into automatic reaction. Finding or creating a “Gap” between these two, is what the Buddha taught was true freedom.
This is what I teach male inmates at Boulder County Jail classes, something so essential for the guys who need to learn to not immediately react to their feelings and thoughts and choose a different response from a more centered place. But who of us can’t benefit from this practice?
Eckhart Tolle teaches that most negativity arises from our reaction to something or someone, a judgement or aversion to that thing. If you take a deeper look, it is our reaction to a situation that causes our suffering the most. Others teach “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”. That means there is a way to end our suffering!
There will always be people or situations or conditions that are not what we want or would choose. But it is our reaction to those things we perceive as negative that creates more suffering. Shinzen Young states “Suffering = Pain MULTIPLIED by the degree of our resistance to that experience” (you can replace resistance with reaction or repetitive stories you think about the painful/frustrating situation). Tolle, and the Buddha, state that if you can just be present with whatever arises, whatever the situation is, you can change your reaction to it. If you have zero reaction, then anything X zero will be zero (so no suffering!) and you can look at an event in a more neutral way (Equanimity). We can surely use a practice such as this in a time where our country is experiencing many challenges and changes.
It is my experience through meditation that you can gain the insight to be able to see beyond your thoughts and feelings, that you are not just your thoughts.You are now the Observer or witness, your Higher Self. You are then able to view the painful event or person that you believe creates the pain in a more equanimous way. You take away the emotional charge and the result is you experience the pain, but you don’t go into or linger in suffering. You are able to “Let go and let God”. You then can release the outcomes to Spirit, while doing whatever necessary steps you need to take in a more peaceful and equanimous way. This takes time and development just as developing any muscle, the more attention and time you devote, the stronger the muscle and mindfulness is.
Please come and join us for our monthly meditations on the first Wednesday of the month and learn new ways to manage stress and challenges that come up in your life…
In love, light and JOY!
Laurie Lee, RScP