The mind wants to solve things. Now that I’m aware, I just want to be better. However, processing emotions and traumas takes time. In talking with Tenzin, he recommended engaging and disengaging. Re-engaging with the issues and feelings when I have the capacity to. I’m always rushing. This class has particularly pointed out to me how incredible goal oriented I am. As soon as I realize I want something, I’m hugely impatient in going to get it. Rushing through this process will not help me. It’s a long term project, happening inside me, forever. To try to speed through my pain, especially in this high pressure environment, does not quite process it, but still buries it. It takes time!
I am trying to learn patience. I am trying to learn intentionality. Intentions versus goals… A goal is “I want it, I’m gonna go get it. Now.” An intention is “I will step toward this intention when the opportunity presents itself to me.” I’m trying to go slow. Be patient. And move through life with my intentions rather than trying to always run off my path in pursuit of something else.
My practice has been improved in trying to be patient and in turn improves my patience. Sitting still, in silence, I become more aware of time. I see more clearly how much time I have, and how much control I have of wielding my time.
I’ve been sleeping well.
Not a question of what I want or what You want, but of what can be made between us? What can we do together?
A spider and its web as one.
I’m thinking a lot about observing without judgement. So often these processes happen almost simultaneously, but with closer observation, it’s one after another, quick reactions. By looking more closely, I can respond instead. It’s amazing to me how quickly I respond emotionally (judgement) to anything I become newly aware of.
Vish talked about how we have huge precision in physics and math, but when it comes to the really meaningful stuff (spiritually, interiority, the human condition) it’s so much more nebulous. We don’t have answers to life’s big questions. Could we have answers to the questions? Do these answers really exist?
This class answers few questions. Or if it answers questions, it answers only with more questions. I’m growing an appreciate for nuance and uncertainty.
We spoke about the distinction between infatuation and love… Buddhists believe in the long search for truth, and view infatuation as an untruth. The Buddhists see infatuation and not realistic, and a distraction from the community. The Western view sees infatuation as the beginning stage of the romantic coupling that Western society hinges on. Western society seeks to form nuclear family units while the Eastern version is more community oriented. In the US, infatuation is the high point, the juice, highly desirable. In the Buddhist view, it’s a distortion, which is not desirable. Infatuation is not love… Love is longer, slower, more resigned, hard. Infatuation is trumpets and fireworks. It’s a relationship primer. But infatuation is not a long term thing. It’s not concerned with the actual traits and qualities of the people involved, but rather the traits each member desires and projections onto their partner. How does this interplay with self/other awareness? It is an unawareness of both the other person and of the functioning occurring within oneself. Infatuation is an unawareness of a truth, oh dented rusty truth, in favor of a fantasy. What place does fantasy have in awareness? Does becoming aware of one’s fantasies ruin them?
Every man is an island… or, every man is a tree in a forest, together and alone.
Getting back into practice. It’s been difficult because I’ve been waking up late and having to run directly to class or meetings. Still practicing in small, needed moments.
I’ve been practicing accepting and releasing each day at the end of the day, as I talked about with Tenzin. This feels like nice closure. It helps me to see just how much I do every day. It helps me to feel anew in the mornings.
My practice is again off kilter. When I’ve approached practicing, it’s obvious that it’s been awhile. Lots of mental rubble and debris roll through like tumbleweed.
We’ve been talking about Destructive Emotions. I know them well. For me, much of this class has been about awareness of my emotions. I’m a highly emotional person, and I’ve been working over the past year or so to better understand my emotions and how to deal with them. Looking at the Western underdevelopment of emotions validates me. I am Emotional! I feel and I want to express. In my family growing up, we were pretty passive, especially with negativity. I crave a directness. I crave an acknowledgement of and place for emotions. By becoming aware of our emotions, using them, feeling them, releasing them, we can be more healthy and full humans. Repressing feelings (in some silly attempt to be less animal) buries them, leaving them to fester. “Suppressing is very dangerous because it pushed [negative emotions] into your subconscious which is way harder to deal with.” -Joi Ito.
We learned that emotional states change one’s interpretation. Being aware of our emotional states can help us to understand why and how we are reacting in certain ways.
Emotional Awareness notes:
Identify emotional state
Which are negative, afflicted, or toxic?
Desire to move away from toxic emotional states
Choose one to work with
During silence or stillness, begin to ruminate on Why I experience it.
Move quickly through “blame game” and environmental triggers, these are things to which the emotions are affixed, not the cause of the emotions
What is Really causing these emotional states?
sit through the drama… discover distrust under anger (or whatever)
Become aware of interactions which may trigger toxic emotions, explore how to redirect them
I’ve been practicing meditating on and releasing my emotions. I’ve been sleeping well, too much probably. More strong in taking meditation when needed than in sticking to my routine.
What even is awareness? Is it an awareness only of your own perspective: attachments and aversions? A friend of mine argues that to be aware doesn’t mean tapping into some kind of objective, Universal knowledge. Awareness is personal, they say. But, as we come to be aware of others, while awareness might happen through a personal vantage point, the awareness deals with someone else. We talked about non-duality, removing the strict boundaries between self and other… I struggle with this. I’ve learned from a western perspective, always. My sense of self is both personal and universal. My boundaries of self are wavy—sometimes things I identify with, I subsume. Sometimes they subsume me. Awareness of “others” is complicated. It’s best approached with compassion and a bit of distance. Understanding and empathy for a position totally outside myself that is totally constructed and valid. I’m learning about acceptance. Acceptance is not a co-sign; it’s a gentle, distanced nod. An awareness, perhaps observation without judgement.
My practice was more solid this week. Beyond just the morning silence and meditation, I’ve found myself seeking out and using meditation during the day to recenter. After moments of extreme stress or intensity, taking a few minutes to breathe and slow myself has allowed me to respond rather than reacting.
This week feels a little different. I’m beginning maybe to make some answers for myself about what mindfulness is. I told my therapist that impatience is my greatest weakness. She said the antidote for impatience is mindfulness. I’m beginning to feel a sense that I am sitting in shit, but I’m aware of it, and stuck in it, and can see that acceptance would help me to feel better. My mindfulness recently has been an awareness of a situation and its context even as that situation is uncomfortable.
I’ve been thinking a lot about transition periods. In the larger arc of my life, I’m about to go through a transition (graduation). I’ve been paying special attention to the in between moments—the morning commute, waiting for someone, the 30 minutes between one meeting and another. I realize I feel especially anxious during these moments and especially impatient. I am trying to be mindful and not think of these times as wasted moments but as moments of potential! Not in a productivity sense, but trying to appreciate more and engage with these in between moments.
I’ve been also thinking a lot about the compassion lessons we learned about. I like this idea that we Should be compassionate, and that the giver, receiver, and object of compassion can be empty values. I feel so good when someone is kind to me for no reason. I don’t find that enough here in Boston. I’ve been working to be compassionate without regard for the individual in question specifically. It’s interesting. I notice aversions. For example, a homeless man began talking to me at the park and I worked to be both compassionate and guarded. I felt a sense of balancing compassion with my own safety. I didn’t want to be too inviting as a young woman talking to a strange old man alone in a park. But navigating this question of compassion versus guards vs safety vs time invested has been very interesting.
I’ve struggled to feel like I'm making any progress this past week. Life has gotten hectic; my general discipline is becoming unraveled. I feel myself becoming more distressed, less generally healthy. It’s been an interesting, uncomfortable, and worthwhile experience to sit in this process. The change and progress feels extremely incremental which is a challenge for me, but one I’m trying to embrace. I don’t have a goal necessarily, but (especially when stressed) I feel very goal oriented.
I’ve been sleeping A LOT the past week. Like 9 hours a night and a nap. Or 10 or 11 hours straight. I’m not sure why this has been happening. My logic mind begins prying: “exhaustion? depression? both?” I’m trying to observe without casting judgement, but it’s hard not to feel guilty about sleeping so much.
I’m still thinking a lot about the boundaries of my sense of self. I see my self spilling out into other facets of my life or into projections on people. I don’t feel at all as if my understanding of self is confined to my physical body or the spaces (physical or otherwise) which I actually inhabit. Weird. For example, last week I felt generally angry because of some stuff, and when people would irritate me, I would feel that anger shift to them. It’s been interesting to consider how much of the emotions I feel towards other people are a result of interior things I’m feeling anyways..
This week my practice has been a little shaky. I’ve been dealing with some things in my personal life which have turned a lot of my usual focus on its head.
I’ve been thinking a ton about repression. I suppose I see repressing as the opposite of seeking awareness. In this class we are looking to become more aware, but in so much of my life I see people moving in the other direction. The quote “ignorance is bliss” or people saying “don’t think about it” ring around me. I had a strange experience in a theater class this week. A girl performing as if on MTV turned upside down in her chair, kicked her feet, giggled, and delivered a poignant line with wide, upside-down eyes: “Seeing is Suffering, keep your eyes closed.” It hit me like a force. I’ve been actively trying not to repress, but finding a lot of pain. I’m starting to think more about why one might repress, and how much repression is controlled by my subconscious. How do I get my conscious and subconscious in conversation? How do I know what’s safe to uncover?
I’ve also been thinking a lot about external versus internal awareness. I realize that so much of my experience of self is externalized through projecting on other people or objects. For example, I might be talking to a friend and recognize their behavior and think “oh, he’s repressing.” Suddenly, I begin to see in my environment multiple people repressing or acting in X way. Eventually I discover that I myself am repressing or exhibiting that behavior. I could only recognize it in myself after first becoming aware of it as an external phenomenon. I wonder if I am unusual in how much of my experience is externalized or if other people do it just as much. It seems to me a great weakness to be unaware of projecting on others. As a white american from a long line of white americans, I see repression and projection as tools which my slave-owner ancestors used to justify and abilify their slave ownership. They must not have been able or willing to internalize these horrors. Without being aware of how one’s internal world becomes external, white slave owners demonized Black people instead of seeing their own demonic actions. Or that’s how I understand it. Repressing to me seems very bad. It gives root to the potential for unintentional acts or intentional acts with hands over one’s eyes; denied responsibility. It’s hard for me to reconcile the need for repression as a defense mechanism with the moral distaste I have for this mechanism.
So far I have been thinking a lot about resisting the urge to share about this class. I’ve found it very difficult because I like to talk, and, as I’m finding, I like to share. I like sharing because it helps me to externalize an event. It helps me to make sense of or narrativize something. Sometimes I don’t feel as if something has really happened until I’ve told someone else about it. Thinking about this sharing urge is helping me to recognize how much I crave external validation. Resisting this urge makes me hold things for my self, valuate them, and respond rather than react. Much of my sharing seems to be a “what goes in, must come out” system in which I immediately externalize or react based on whatever I’ve just taken in. By not immediately trying to push things out, I’m becoming aware of what I’m holding inside myself—and its a lot. There’s a lot of noise in there: planning, anxieties, considering steps to take, the time, a lot of sounds… Holding these things and considering them with more awareness helps me to choose carefully what I put out or how I put things out rather than reacting to the situation.
I’ve felt the most stillness in quiet moments during which I am physically engaged… Petting my cat, feeling swirling snowflakes on my face, performing embodied rituals. These things bring me stillness. Being removed from my sense-making machine helps me to feel still.
I’m thinking a lot about how I narrativize things (internally, and externally, through sharing) and how that removes me from my surrounds. Also, how the narratives are very much based on my moods, which are very much based on reactions to my surroundings. Bad days make my story blue. Without being aware of this happening I can become very hard on myself..