Posts Tagged ‘psychological development
the following quote was sent to me thru Tricycle today and it made an impression:
The practice of lovingkindness is, at a certain level, the fruition of all we work toward in our meditation. It relies on our ability to open continuously to the truth of our actual experience, not cutting off the painful parts, and not trying to pretend things are other than they are. Just as spiritual growth grinds to a halt when we indulge our tendency to grasp and cling, metta can’t thrive in an environment that is bound to desire or to getting our expectations met.
In lovingkindness, our minds are open and expansive—spacious enough to contain all the pleasures and pains of a life fully lived. Pain, in this context, does’t feel like betrayal or an overwhelming force. It is part of the reality of human experience, and an opportunity for us to practice maintaining our authentic presence.
– Sharon Salzberg
In one his movies, the comedian W.C. Fields walks into a bank and up to the teller’s window. The teller asks, “Can you identify yourself?” Fields says, “Of course. Do you have a mirror?” When presented with one, Fields immediately states, “Yup, that’s me!”It’s meant as a joke, but it carries a ring of truth. Who among us can say they really know themselves, without illusions, beyond the face in the mirror, their name-rank-and-serial-number role in the world, their personas, defense mechanisms, and self-deceptions?
Do we distinguish between when we are being authentic and inauthentic?
Do we know what we really feel about things, what our true values and priorities are, what lies below the surface of consciousness, and what makes us tick?
– Lama Surya Das, from The Big Questions (Rodale)
Here’s to finding out who you really are in the quiet moments.
After a busy and fun holiday weekend, I am in need of some quiet moments – no tv, no internet, no phone, no family and no friends.
I think a walking meditation on the beach is called for tonight, before I even return home from work.
The sound of water & sand, wind, my heartbeat and my breath – Observing my thoughts arise and then watching them fall away, like the water receding and coming to shore again.
Stripped away and back to me.
About 20 minutes should do it – the rest of the night won’t be the same. The rest of my life won’t be the same.
Yeah, it’s time to prioritize.
With Hands Open and Receptive,
With my background as a therapist there are times when I am struck by the similarities between Buddhist Thought and Certain Schools of Psychotherapy. Several authors have made a living integrating the two (two reputable and favorite authors are: Mark Epstein – author of “Mind Without a Thinker” and “Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart” and John Welwood – author of “Toward a Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation“).
Outside of the fact that certain Zen practices such as sitting and paying attention to the breath, can decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure and relax tense muscles – it can also have a concentrated effect on one’s ability to be with the “uncomfortable” – both during the sitting and afterwards with life in general.
For me, sitting and watching shit reveal itself as though I am watching actors on a stage – engrossed but not over-identified – has allowed me to be mindful in other areas of my life. This way of meditating enables me to be more equipped at being with the shit I step into during the times I’m not meditating. And trust me, my shoes can get pretty messy.
This making friends with my own shadow, outside of being a philosophical or spiritual practice, is also a psychologically therapeutic development – An evolution in my relationship with myself and with others.
A willingness to engage in this observation is perhaps one of the greatest acts of compassion you can give to yourself and therefore, all sentient beings.
The first time you sit with shit as it is thrown in your mind’s face, can be rather frightening. But sticking with the process has remarkable consequences in your personal development and evolution.
John Welwood puts it rather well in this succinct quote below:
If there is one thing I’ve learned in thirty years as a psychotherapist, it is this:
If you can let your experience happen, it will release its knots and unfold, leading to a deeper, more grounded experience of yourself. No matter how painful or scary your feelings appear to be, your willingness to engage with them draws forth your essential strength, leading in a more life-positive direction.
Source: Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart, Page: 106
Ego is like a room of your own, a room with a view with the temperature and the smells and the music that you like. You want it your own way. You’d just like to have a little peace, you’d like to have a little happiness, you know, just “gimme a break.”
But the more you think that way, the more you try to get life to come out so that it will always suit you, the more your fear of other people and what’s outside your room grows. Rather than becoming more relaxed, you start pulling down the shades and locking the door. When you do go out, you find the experience more and more unsettling and disagreeable. You become touchier, more fearful, more irritable than ever. The more you try to get it your way, the less you feel at home.
–Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are
Have you ever witnessed a toddler fall?
Often you’ll notice that they do not cry until they look around and find their mother. It is only when they see their mother (or guardian) that they go running into safe arms and let out their cry. Why?
An evolved parent is a a sturdy and safe container for the child’s unpleasant emotions.
As we evolve in our practice, we too become better containers for the unpleasant things that arise.
To parent oneself can mean facing and confronting the disowned self and embracing it.
I came across this quote by Jack Kornfield from “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book” that made me think about this developmental process:
Even our anger can be held in a heart of kindness
Owning up to your “shadow” – not a bad idea, can be a difficult process though. It’s the Holiday Season so get ready to face it, cause it is going to be in your face screaming a big “Fuck You”, which for me can easily mean, turning around and projecting it onto someone else (I mean wtf, this is the shadow – I ain’t gonna own it – that’s its point).
Tis the season to be with “family” and there’s nothing like family to bring out a little bit of my repressed features. The bigger the jerk, the more likely I’ll project my disowned self (hell, you should see me at work recently – it’s all – “I’m rubber, you’re glue”). But family D-r-a-m-a makes the stunts pulled at drag shows seem tame (and trust me, those queens know drama).
If you head over to http://www.IntegralLife.com, Kelly Sosan Bearer has written some great 101 articles on the Shadow. Really worth taking a look – even if you’re like me and spent quite a bit of time examining this issue over the years. “Hot on the Shadow’s Trail” also includes an informative 10 minute video by Diane Musho Hamilton. Here is an excerpt:
“There are several benefits to recognizing and working with our shadow qualities. For one, we are usually more effective when we are not projecting all over everyone and everything we encounter. By reclaiming our projections, we unburden others from our projections about them, and allow them to just be themselves, rather than as how we see them. In that way we gain more objectivity.
But possibly the most important reason to work with our shadow is that hiding our shadow from ourselves requires an extraordinary amount of energy. What could we do with all that liberated energy? Enjoy life more? Enjoy others more? Accomplish more because we aren’t being constantly triggered into a familiar drama? Maybe even make a developmental stage transition?”
I think one of the greatest benefits of examining and owning the shadow for me is that I have a great desire to open – and part of what the above excerpt points to – is that we are able to be more objective when we own our shadow. Wouldn’t it be great to say, “I don’t ALREADY know how you’re gonna act”, because you’re making it about yourself (your shadow) rather than them?
So in the end whether they are a jerk or not doesn’t really matter.
(sure, easier said than done – but you gotta start somewhere. And you have to have a bit of healthy ego development and sense of self to begin to even look at your dark side, otherwise you’re gonna go neurotic or even psychotic – which probably explains why some of those family members will never try this process.)