Waking up May 15: uncomfortable thoughts
I’ve been meditating daily for more than 173 days now using the Waking Up App to sustain my practice. This post is to help me remember one of two memory-worthy recent daily meditations. This other one on May 8 and this one today, May 15.
Think of something
In the daily mediation for May 15, after setting the scene, Sam Harris said:
Take a moment to think about something that has been bothering you or worrying you; something you find annoying or embarrassing or a source of anxiety. Any negative thing.
What came to mind was my frustration about writing.
Days have gone by with nothing written. Many more days have gone by with nothing finished.
More accurately: I’ve written and completed emails. I’ve written stuff in chat channels. But nothing of the kind of writing that matters most to me. This kind of writing.
No finished blog posts. No completed articles.
Nothing. Nada. Nichts!
Simply bring it to mind and see if it produces any negative emotion and then feel that emotion clearly as a pattern of energy in your body and mind.”
That sure produced a negative emotion!
My face contorted. Tears began to flow. I felt the frustration that I’d been whining about to Bobbi again and again; the frustration I’d been complaining to myself about, endlessly.
Where is it?
What is it?
What are its implications?
Just feel it as an object of meditation.
So I did.
Again, bring these negative thoughts to mind and feel whatever feelings follow in their wake. But clearly. Precisely. Become interested in the physiology of these feelings.
So I did. The feelings didn’t change at first, but my feelings about my feelings changed right away. I stopped fighting. I became interested in them. I experienced them as clearly as I could.
“Watch them change and dissolve.
And they did.
“In the final minute of the session, simply rest your mind like an open sky and let whatever appears pass through.
My mind opened. It was like an open sky.
Resolve to react to nothing for just one minute
I tried to do that, but my mind was too full of excitement. I wanted to tell someone, anyone—everyone—what I’d experienced.
Finally, the minute ended, and Sam continued:
And what I’m hoping you discover when we do this sort of thing is that there’s a place to stand prior to it that is not implicated in it. You can simply let it arise and subside. And this is no less true for emotion that comes on you unbidden in direct reaction to something that has happened in your life. You can find this place of simply witnessing once again.
I’m going to do that meditation several times more, so that I can find that place again, and more quickly. It’s a great place from which to experience life—both good and bad.
And it’s incredibly useful to do this. So as you go about your day and you find yourself entangled with strong reactions, or emotions, see if you can find even a moment before you’re swept away, to become interested in the pattern of energy.
And to be clear, this is not a way of distancing yourself from the emotion. In fact, it is a willingness to feel it even more intensely, to fully experience it. It’s that willingness to give it all of your attention that cuts through it. Because your thoughts in that moment, are part of an effort to no longer feel what in fact, is arising, whether it’s anger or sadness, or fear.
That’s something I realized from reading “Get out of your mind and into your life.” Some of the problems we face are due to the thoughts and the emotions that we experience. But most of the suffering comes from resisting them. By fighting what can’t be fought.
Simply be willing to burn up with whatever emotion is appearing. If you do that, you’ll see that the half-life of any emotion is very, very short. We’re talking moments, not minutes, certainly not hours.
If you want to listen to that meditation, I’ve put it here.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai