Hello! It’s a holiday here a student had a very big breakthrough yesterday and it was so inspiring that I felt like writing to you even on a day off. Besides,we’re right in the middle of our discussion about slowing down our moments enough to allow us to escape from unnecessary egotistical suffering. Today we’ll draw meaningful distinction between suffering and pain. The former you can do something about, the latter you simply accept and feel.
Okay let’s say you’re dealing with someone you love and care about a lot, but someone who often makes you angry. Maybe it’s your kid, maybe it’s your parent, maybe it’s a sibling or an important friend. These are the sorts of relationships where no matter when someone asked you, you would always know that in the end you would forgive the person. Maybe not the behaviours, but the person is ultimately accepted without conditions. Despite that they can still be exasperating for any number of valid or invalid reasons.
So you’re in the process of yelling–notice I don’t care about what. No matter why I’m doing it the route out is the same; you must alter the direction of your thoughts. You can’t go somewhere and ask for adrenaline and then take it and complain that you’re all worked up. You asked for it!
Same with the anger you’re feeling. Anger is always masquerading fear, so your anger is really worry that you won’t be able to keep paying these prices. You’re concerned your loved one will go beyond the limit of your life. It makes sense you’re afraid and that you’d have angry thoughts about how the person isn’t cooperating with something so obviously good for everyone involved. And that frustration would impact your voice. Fine. That still doesn’t mean you want to stay there. It’s generally not useful and it’s unpleasant for you. That’s suffering not pain.
If you’re going to think the sort of thoughts that are resistant to what is, what was or what may be, then you will suffer. To bump harshly into the walls of ego can be helpful though. For instance: you catch yourself yelling at the loved one. Your impulse is that you should make yourself stop, but instead I would suggest that you simply watch yourself getting upset.
Understanding will change your behaviour not effort. Your ego is yelling. With this meditation you’re focused on keeping some consciousness with the watcher–the real you, the creator of your ego. Once you recognize that the story you’re telling yourself is colouring your feelings about it, go back to recalling the connection you have and the person you’re angry with.
Look at them while you yell at them. Know in non-word terms that it’s true that you will always love that person. From there you will naturall realize that the current ugliness between you can only be a portion of your journey together, so why not make it as brief as possible for no other reason than selfishness? For no other reason than it feels better? Why not just take the pain but leave the suffering?
That is personal freedom. Taking responsibility for your thoughts to the point where your selfishness creates increased happiness, which increases gratitude, which in turn makes us generous and then our problems end up being solved in surprising ways by things like love.
Once you’re watching yourself semi-regularly you will be able to stay more aware by choice. You’ll have experience over time, so you’ll know with quick confidence that if you’re yelling you must be lost. I know it sounds strange but you can interrupt any emotion just by knowing you don’t want to feel it. Just that desire is like sticking something in the spokes of a moving bike.
If you’re thinking that desire into existence then you can’t be simultaneously using your thoughts to create the undesirable issue. That single step away from your ego allows you to redirect the course of your consciousness onto more productive things, no different than you tune a TV to get different types of shows. You never have problems. Your mind is just sometimes tuned to a painful channel.
As you get better, once you’ve stopped yelling and are in touch with some loving feelings you’ll be more able to take some action like call a friend, cuddle your pet, or dive into a hobby etc. Slowly your wisdom will creep in where the anger was taking up space and you will be able to move toward more thoroughly loving feelings. You’ll also find many more constructive ways to face your challenges.
Yes this benefits the person you’re yelling at, but do this because you love and care about yourself. I’m an action guy. You don’t get better thinking about how to be better, you get better by taking different actions than you have been. These are the actions to take within your consciousness. Fumble through them and learn them until they are entirely natural. That knowledge and practice is the never-ending path to peace and wisdom.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.