2023-02-01-Gil-Hindrances and Assistances (3 of 5) Freezing and Stilling
6:56AM Feb 4, 2023
So welcome to this third talk on strategies for working with challenges we have. And one of the skills one of the ways of developing skills for being with life's challenges is to train on the small challenges. Life gives many of us huge challenges, from time to time. Some of them are so big that the legacy of them still live in us in difficult ways, fear and anger and grief and different things. And sometimes it's too much to be able to sit with it, be with it, to open to it. And without having trained without having prepare the ground for be able to do that. Some challenges possible, you know, especially personal inner challenges that are legacy of other things that's happened to us. Sometimes it's better to do our best to kind of manage with them wisely, put them on the side, until we spend that time preparing ourselves for really addressing them in a useful way. And then training with the small challenges. And the training for this week, is to start become started asking yourself the question, oh, what's that? What strategy are you using? In relationship to this challenge you're feeling? What are you trying to do with it? And simply asking that question and stopping to investigate that is a powerful thing to do, because it begins to pull you out from being entangled or lost in that challenge. It's like stepping back and trying to get the overview what's happening here. And given what's happening, how am I responding what is my mind, my heart trying to do here. And there are two general ways the things to notice whether what's going what the direction you're going, makes it harder to be aware, shuts down awareness kind of you get wrapped up or entangled in what's going on, or trapped by it or hindered by it. Or it's a way or there's a strategy that has more the effect of helping you to open more help you see more clearly help the wisdom in you to come forth, the wisdom that can only come forth. If you're not entangled. If you're not lost in it, or caught up in it, you have to be able to step back, pause and make room for some for wisdom, clarity, compassion to kind of show itself in a way it can show itself if we're entangled or caught in what's happening. And this is also why it's so powerful to really ask the question, what's happening here, and what am I trying to do. And so, in terms of trying to this week, using the hindrances as a reference for the five hindrances for what is dysfunctional ways of being with challenges, today, it's the third hindrance, which is usually translated into English as sloth and torpor. And I don't think that that is quite right, translation of the Pāli. The first word that's translated as SWAT more literally means to become stiff or rigid. And maybe it's akin to the modern psychological idea of freeze, like when you put some people freeze in the face of challenge, freeze, fight or flight. And so it's a shutting down, of something shuts down, something closes down, and we freeze, maybe go numb. And, and this can often be a product of fear. Fear gets the upper hand and kind of shuts us down, it's too much what's happening. There can be other strong emotions that has that effect on us. And it can have a good have the byproduct of turning away from what's happening. Part of the reason to shut down or to freeze or to become rigid is so that we don't have to deal with something. And so sometimes it's like the ostrich that puts his head supposedly head in the sand to not see the danger. So that sometimes the freezing is kind of a shutting down and, and, and sometimes when it's really really extreme, it happened to me when I was young, I remember something that made me really frayed afraid. And I that clear feeling that I just disappeared. I wasn't there, I couldn't understand what people were looking in my direction because I disappeared. And, and it wasn't an imminently dangerous situation but so there was no immediate threat to me. But I remember that later, I found myself walking down the street, and no idea how I got there. Something inside of me had turned off and, and I guess I'd left the place. And, and I don't know how I left what I said. So this is something shut down. And, and, and so we can feel that. Or we can feel kind of shutting down, closing down closing up resisting, kind of, I'm not going to deal with this. Something gets rigid, something gets tight, something gets closed, locked. And now we can feel it physically, sometimes we can feel it over the heart. I remember when I was I think I was 1615 or 16, maybe 15. A friend of mine said something to me. And I literally felt like the doors of my heart just closed, like locked up. And I remember having this thought kind of like, I'm never going to open that again. And it wasn't until I started meditating some four or five years later, that something that had closed that day began opening, so the shutting down closing up. And the so that's kind of the dysfunctional way of responding, the more functional way the healthy way, the wise way, also involves a stopping stilling, both of these are kind of a stopping. And the but the other side of it, the functional side of doing the same kind of thing is to stop, to pay attention to stop to be present more for what's going on, to take a step back, either metaphorically in the mind, or sometimes physically, to get the overview what's happening here. If there's an argument and you're caught in the in the heat of the argument, sometimes it's a really healthy thing to stop to pause, ask for a pause. And maybe even, you know, step away a few feet of pause, I need to spend time thinking I need to kind of feel what's going on. And maybe kind of make it a little physical distance. He also may be explaining why. So you can catch your breath. So you can get your bearings and really understand better what's going on. And so to the degree to which there can be an inner stilling the stopping in the form of an Inner Inner stilling, not a numbing the inner stilling is, again, allows us to feel make room for what's there. There's a feeling not of closing down or locking up. But there's a stilling, which has more a feeling of opening up of becoming more full or, or a kind of a sacred pause what's happening here? What am I feeling? What am I thinking? What am I trying to do? What's happening with, with a person that I'm with or the situation number it? Can I take it take a second look what's happening in the day of pausing and looking, pausing and reflecting, I find invaluable, because even to this day, my mind will produce interpretations or bias or jump to conclusions about a situation. And if I'm kind of moving along kind of fast, I don't see my mind has done it. That's there's something in my mind that predisposes it sometimes to certain confidence in my ideas. And so I have a erroneous idea, but the confidence, I have rides along with it thinking that it's right. But I know myself well enough, that if I can pause, stop, become little bit still, then I can see oh, that's an interpretation. I'm overlaying a guess on to the situation. And then I've learned to put a question mark, after my assumptions, my guesses my conclusions that I make. Even what I'm confident sometimes that I'm right. I'll learn to to put a question mark after it. What is this? Is this really so? And and the more consequential my view is my decision is my ideas are about what's out there. The more important I feel it is to stop and pause and live for a while with that conclusion. Reflect on it see if it comes up repeatedly. You know, if it comes up two or three more times, like oh, this is right, this Since right, then, then maybe I give it more credence, then maybe I give it more attention and explore a little bit more what's going on.
But this stopping, so we can see stopping so we can question stopping so that we could catch our breath and really kind of look at things in a fresh way. So there are two forms of stopping. Just like in relationship, the hindrances, there's two forms of each kind of movement of the mind. One is the hindrance, and one is opening to wisdom. And so with the first hindrance does desire that there sensual desire, there's desires, which are causes problems, and there's the desire to open up our desire to see and to be free. There's healthy desires. And when we're with challenges, can we see the difference? Which desire we operating on? In challenges there's averting, and there's healthy averting turning away or saying no. And so can we see a difference between the healthy and the unhealthy. And today, there's the healthy, the unhealthy kind of hindrance of sloth and torpor, freezing, getting still getting numb, getting shutting down and go ahead and going asleep in a certain way. And there is stopping pausing that it opens us up, that makes us more clear, makes room for wisdom. So so this is my words for today. And what I'd like to suggest is that you take a look at this, the movement of shutting down, turning off, getting bored, going numb, losing interest, all that as a symptom of this third hindrance. Waking up being interested clear investigating, even a situation that at first might seem boring, certainly, there's something about it that you can study and look at and kind of see what what's the interesting thing what's going on here. To do the little bit of work, pausing, stopping not to be lazy, but pause and stopping so you can figure out what is the minds work here that is beneficial and healthy and creates maybe a better connection and empathy for the person with the situation I'm with with myself. So you might look today for opportunities for this. See what goes on with your mind your awareness. Is it in some way or other shutting down? Or is it opening up in the situation you're in? And if you see the difference, choose opening up. So thank you very much and look forward to being together tomorrow.