Yesterday was a pretty meaty test – the ‘demons’ came hard and fast. Demons as in scary thoughts tempting me into fear. Thoughts tempting me to try and escape the pain in some way. To get my head involved in finding solutions to its perceived threats. To find some food to bring comfort or some substance to make the pain go away.
When I know I can meet life as it is in the moment and solutions appear and all I have to do is walk onto the already prepared ground and be led by a greater wisdom than my ego driven thoughts can come up with. And yet this is how we seem to need learn to allow us to stabilise in that truth, through testing.
It was so strong that I turned to search for and use some of the tools I have gathered.
As I was doing so I ‘got’ why adversity is useful and beneficial – it makes us develop our resilience and inner muscle. I was on a journey in the car quite a long one, taking my son to the airport in another city and home so not much escape available.
This is what I used while in the fire of a physiology-already-aroused and on high alert with adrenaline and other fight or flight hormones. None of these took away the pain but presented an opportunity to turn towards pain instead of running, since I had no choice anyway.
It reminded me of the scene in the Little Buddha which I always thought depicted these attacks almost all of us go through so very well. Attacks of illusory fears, temptations of the senses, of the ego pretending to be us and during which the Buddha was able to maintain perfect poise. He makes it look so easy! Just sit there and let what wants to arise come, and stay still.
Well I was far from perfectly poised. More like in a state of desperation, though along with that came the courage of desperation to the rescue which got me taking firm committed action to use my toolkit as I drove along the motorway.
– tummy breathing – this is always a great help and can often remind me of the background place of stability even when a highly alerted state has been succumbed to. I often put my hand on my stomach to make sure that I’m breathing from down there.
-stating over and over inside a willingness and commitment to surrendering and trusting despite not feeling it that moment…..something like a deep felt experience of devotion to trusting the truth and wisdom will prevail and a handing over of the fear
-being present – noticing my body on the comfy seat, the passing trees, the beautiful music on, my hands on the steering wheel
– finding and feeling compassion for myself and extending it to any others who are suffering
-actually practising surrender…by physically moving my attention inside – moving it way back back back as far as possible inside and feeling, noticing and witnessing the tornado of turbulence to the front. While experiencing the turbulence this allows some witnessing – some space is created by also sitting back inside and watching while it’s being experienced
-noticing the thoughts. Already feeling raw with fear, I was vulnerable/susceptible to further scary thoughts coming in. Each of these thoughts I noticed as they were enticing me to have a painful response. And I was already feeling enough pain for one moment! I remembered that I can let them come and then release them without interfering with them in the slightest or getting hitched onto them. Watching the thought arrive…..feel the movement of it…..and let it disappear again. No interference or elaboration on it.
– and doing all these together at once and repeatedly over and over.
– nature – I then arrived back – drove straight to the woods, parked up, got out and appreciation kicked in – immediately my senses opened to the smells after the rain, the sounds of excited squirrels and birds, the sights of the nearby relaxed horses and I walked off the path. And explored right in that moment breathing deeply still, noticing and letting go of the thoughts. And was rewarded by a beautiful discovery by getting still enough to notice – fungi colonised by another fungus.
“Forget about looking.
That’s just how you keep your distance.
You have to
Step into the jaws of experience.
Chew and be chewed,
Until nothing is left”.
Ken McLeod’s commentary on the Heart Sutra