2023-01-18 Challenge Check-In (3 of 5) Accompanying with Wise Awareness
9:07AM Jan 22, 2023
Hello, and welcome to our five part five part series on them kind of mindfulness check in, I guess I'm calling it that challenge check in checking in with ourselves when we are having challenges in our lives difficulties. having troubles, some kind or other. And to kind of present this in a slightly different way, perhaps than I have first couple of days, we're using the Buddha's fun foundational teachings on mindfulness, as a way of reframing our challenges or difficulties, that we are often enough some of us using a framework or an orientation or a belief, that or an attitude, which is not supportive, not helpful when we're in the middle of challenges. And so rather than getting to avoiding the challenge, or pretending it's not there, or fixing it, what we do in mindfulness practice is we can reframe the situation. So we approach it, we see it in a new way, that may be more productive, more helpful for us for how to be in the middle of it all. And since a lot of what our challenges is how we are challenged, with our emotions, our beliefs, our physicality, our fears, all kinds of things that go on inside of us that unless there's a, you know, an immediate danger, it's invaluable to check in with ourselves, how am I, what's going on here for me. And so for example, just simply calming down a little bit, makes us in a much better space, some usually to to really see wisely what's going on. And so, just just take a pause and really check in, and we check in and these four different ways, it's a reframing. And the value of this is that we often will be caught in a framework, that is clearly not helpful. Well, that clearly, it's we don't, we don't know that. But sometimes is self reinforcing. And if I'm allowed to use an analogy, or an example, maybe have if you have a tendency to do really distrust dogs and, and in that distrust, you're angry at them. If a dog comes along, and you angry, and you stare at it, with his angry eyes, the dog will take that as a threat. And as maybe more likely to growl or attack, than if you just kind of are ignoring the door dog and just kind of relaxed at ease. And, you know, not staring at it. And, and so, to go around with an attitude in your framework, that all dogs are terrible and bad and shouldn't be there. And the very attitude, the dog picks up something. And then dogs all become that way. If we're afraid of dogs, the same thing, dogs have a way of picking up sometimes fear, maybe sometimes we're afraid we also stare at them, trying to protect ourselves. And the fear is a little bit self reinforcing. So it's a framework we have of fear, anger, which we believe is true. So this is how things are, and it's accurate. But we don't realize how much we're, you know, kind of sometimes self perpetuating the proof that that's the case. And this can be worked with people as well. So sometimes if we can then see how we are, oh, I'm, I'm really angry, I'm really afraid. And say, Well, that's the framework. That's the attitude which I'm seeing things. Certainly there might be threats out there and difficult things out there. Don't want to deny that as Be careful. But let me take let me reframe this for myself. Let me look at this from a different point of view. And that's kind of the wisdom of the Buddha is to take that different framework and see if there's a different way that's wiser, more beneficial for how to be. So we ask ourselves, you know, how is this physically for me? I was in terms of feeling tones and today the emphasis is, how is it in terms of the mind states. And what's the state of mind with which I'm kind of with this, or state of heart, that with which I'm with this experience what's happening. And for example, so if you notice that, oh, the state of mind is one of anger, or fear, or greed, or doubt, or agitation, whatever it might be, or the state of mind is contracted, or the state of mind is scattered. If you're able to see that, the way the Buddha presents, the mindfulness practice, is to know that the mind or we are with fear, he acts with anger, with desire, with being scattered with being contracted. And this word with I think, is so phenomenally simple, humble, easy to overlook, but it's so powerful. It creates a little space between what's happening with us, and, and the mind or the awareness or in simple lay terms between, you know, me and the experience. And in that gap in that little pause, or that kind of recognizing, then the question is, the reframing is, now that I know that I'm with this, this is here. And it's kind of filling me in many ways, but I'm not it or I'm not, it's not the awareness. How do I want to be with that? How can I be with it? And, and one of the reframing things we're doing for it's so important in times of challenges, is to begin finding some degree of agency and choice to do something that is wise. And in meditation, at least, and sometimes in daily life, it's, it can simply be reorienting, how we're going to be present for something. So So, and this meditation is a fantastic laboratory, to work with this, because ideally, you're comfortable, safe, and your meditation time, maybe you've locked your door. So whatever, you know, close the door, and really kind of feel okay, you're clear that right now, things are safe. You've looked around and checked all the corners and under your bed and in the closet. And it's clear, like, okay, it's okay, for now. And then to, to ask the question of yourself, how should I be with this? Simply asking that question, is an expression of agency of your own kind of beginning of your own strength? How do I want to be with this? I'm with it now, how do I want to be with it. And it might be that you'll learn very quickly, I shouldn't be with us. This is not useful, I, I don't know how to be without spinning out or getting overwhelmed by it, I need to take a break, I need to break the way in which I get sucked into it, the whirlpool of it all. And so we go off and do something different, something that, you know, stops that kind of being swept up in it. Or we find a different framework to hold it so that we don't get swept up because the framework itself creates a nice container and nice balance of foundation and grounding, that that we can be with it in a good way, healthy way. And so in terms of just awareness, practice, being with something, you can ask the question, should I be intimate with it really close? Should I be very spacious. And there are some times I have difficulties physical pain or emotional pain. And I find that it's most helpful to be with it right in the in so intimate way that that I feel like I'm sitting at the heart of it. And sometimes that's useful. And sometimes I find isn't as not useful at all. And what's useful is to step back and kind of create a spaciousness, a really be really wide with it, within a kind of expansive awareness, expansive mind. And sometimes we can use our imagination to support this. We can imagine that we're in this very, very large room and the room and the awareness is as big as that cathedral like room and we can hold the challenge or we're on a we're standing on a hilltop you know, 100 yards away. A and with that distance, and we're not holding it all. We're just it just like so far away that oh yeah, I can allow myself to be aware of it now.
Or perhaps we have some ability to shift the focus of attention. So maybe we come back to the breathing. That's the center, that's where we stay grounded to the rhythm of breathing. But then in the peripheral vision, kind of on the side, we're kind of aware, oh, yeah, I'm afraid, I'm upset. I'm sad, I'm whatever, I tend to get pulled into, I'm distracted, the mind is really busy. And it's but it's there. But you're not looking at her directly, just like with a dog, don't look at it directly, but kind of look away. But you want to stay aware that it's there. So use that peripheral vision to kind of, you know, know what's going on. So in this third foundation on mindfulness, there are two ways that I think it's helpful that's emphasized here. One is this word with. And the Pali word that's used is the prefix meeting with saw essay. And so with greed, with ill will, with delusion. And then also as possible, do it with healthy states. You know, so the opposite whatever the opposite is of greed, ill will and delusion to know I'm with this. I'm with generosity. I'm with love, I'm with wisdom. And there's a fascinating thing that goes on, when we make this when is that some things get weaker, the difficulties, the things that we that we are most reactive, most react reactivity tends to get weaker, tends is an operating word when we're with something that's really coming out of our inner reactivity, and it's if it's coming out of our, our inner Wellspring, of, of wisdom, it wellspring of innate capacity to be in within the world in a nurturing way, then that is it tends to grow. And as it grows, that tends to be subtle, we start recognizing more and more that spacious mind the expansive mind. And and that's a reframing and learning how to reframe to be with stuff in an expansive way. spaciously so it's a little bit complicated, maybe what I said today, but it's well worth kind of beginning to see how the Four Foundations of Mindfulness all four of them are reframing. How is this challenge from the point of view of my physical experience? And once I'm aware of it physically, that may be gives me a foundation to learn to be with it in a helpful way. Be present mindful in a compassionate way. How am I with the feelings is a pleasant or unpleasant? And this gives you the power or the strength to choose is it useful to stay with the unpleasantness or would be useful to be more more bring in more of the pleasantness which is here that's overlooked? And, and today, the mind state? What's this? How are you? What's the state of you years of you? How are you with this? What's the state and to switch to, um, with this to help you find a more supportive way to be with things. So you might try today as you go through your day, to have when there's difficulties, maybe start with a smaller ones. To notice how you fall into it or lean into it or get preoccupied in it. And see if you can switch to accompanying it accompanying how you are being with how you are so that how you are is not driving you almost subconsciously. But you're really present. And you're with it so that the reactivity doesn't have the upper hand but you and then see if you can figure out how to be with it wisely. So thank you, my friends, and I look forward to tomorrow