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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Learning to Not Feed the Emotions

Several days have passed since my group meditation experience, but I keep returning to the two hours I spent sitting cross-legged in a yoga studio. A couple of ideas Bhante Sujatha offered continue to resonate with me, specifically that the sitting and looking inward, breathing in and breathing out, is practice, while the moment I walk out the door of the yoga studio is when meditation truly begins. This makes complete sense to me, for it's all well and good to sit, relax, repeat a mantra, and listen to my breathing, but if I only practice in the confines of a building, with the mindset that when I leave I'm done, then what's the point? Sure, I could find calm and quiet for an hour every day, and there definitely is something to be said for this given the chaotic world we live in, but to go out, face people and situations I might not necessarily want to face, and do so feeling calm and quiet despite the people and situations, is, I think, the real fruit being cultivated through the practice.

And it was a second idea Bhante Sujatha suggested that makes the calm and quiet possible despite the people and situations: recognizing the people and situations as my teacher. What can I embrace and use as a learning opportunity? To illustrate his point, when a student at the session asked how to answer a person who might not be supportive of meditation, Bhante Sujatha said, "Say thank you." Most of us laughed at this as saying thank you to a negative response isn't the usual recourse. The usual for many, and I will definitely admit I am like this more often than not, is to go on the defensive, perhaps flip up the middle finger. When the laughter subsided, the monk continued, saying that in offering a thank you, we are allowing ourselves the opportunity in a calm and quiet way to acknowledge the reaction/emotion we are feeling, observe it, then move on. The more we acknowledge and observe, the less we feed the emotion, thus allowing the emotion less control over us. The person or situation that instigated the reaction/emotion, in this sense, is the teacher helping me grow.

This week, I had the opportunity to grow. Though I didn't tell the individual responsible for my growth thank you during our discussion, I did so the next day, after I had processed the exchange. We were at odds over an issue, and while we didn't reach the point of raising our voices or making each other mad, the other person was visibly upset. I thought through what had happened, came to the conclusion that I still harbor frustration and even a bit of resentment over the issue, and because I do, I responded the way I did. I thought through the issue further, coming to the conclusion that in the end, I needed to let go of the frustration and resentment. Both were doing nothing positive for me, and thanks to the other individual, I was able to recognize this and make a change. So the next morning, I went to the individual and said, "Thank you for helping me recognize I was harboring frustration and resentment." We talked a bit further, both of us able to move on to trying to find possible answers to the issue.

Just thinking back over this week makes me smile; so much good happened. So much.

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