How’s your mind today, where is it at? Do you find yourself flowing from happy to sad thoughts and emotions?
I know that most of us would like to be in a constant state of joy and happiness, but this is typically not the case. And certainly these joyful moments are always impermanent.
And while I have learned not to attach to joy any more than sadness, I have witnessed my unskilled behavior in clinging to certain disturbing emotions. And while I may otherwise be happy and peaceful, suddenly a thought about another person or situation will arise in my mind and take hold.
And although my training has taught me that these thoughts and emotions are completely based on the past or the future, I have been deficient in being fully present instead.
So how do any of us go about eliminating this unskilful behavior, and simply enjoy the present moment without clinging, grasping or aversion?
I can offer a couple of possible solutions here, thanks to the wisdom shared by the dear Bhikkhuni Vimala today.
The first thing she shared with me was an article that discussed a sort of “replacement therapy”. Meaning that whenever these negative or disturbing emotions arise, simply replace them with the observation of the present moment. Seeing the present moment, and feeling the gratitude for the present, we weaken the negative emotions. And we are training ourselves to be more present and mindful. We let go of the delusions that are past and future.
And while I do not see this as an instant “fix”, it is certainly a wholesome practice and one that I can clearly see will help us develop our loving kindness and compassion.
Which brings me to Bhikkhuni’s second suggestion. I will call it a “Buddhist Time-Out”.
This is to suggest that when, regardless of our efforts, we still find ourselves stuck in these negative feelings, we take time out for a brief meditation. Perhaps only two to five minutes long, we can sit quietly and practice loving-kindness. First to ourselves, with genuine acceptance and compassion, then perhaps send some of this to the person whom you hold negative feelings for. This brief “time-out” may just be enough to allow your genuine nature of acceptance and love to return.
And while I know that this too is not any kind of instant fix, I do see it as having great potential over time. After all, our practice is about self liberation moment by moment.
Sometimes I think that we all may be too hard on ourselves. Feelings of guilt or inadequacy can really hinder our progress on the path. But we do not need to have any of this if we can just be present in the moment, grateful for this life, and take a time-out when needed. More and more we can develop this unconditional love for ourselves. And as we benefit from this, so to will all of those around us.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.