archery

04. Q&A: Disturbing emotions and thinking of presence

[From meditation November 30th, 2020]

This evening we had a question and answer session and most of the conversation evolved around two questions:

> How to handle disturbing emotions?
> How to move from thinking about being present to being present?

How to handle disturbing emotions?
On the first question I shared my experience working with Kegan’s subject to object move and NLP. Don’t know what Zen says about it but it has worked for me and my clients.

The first step is to be mindful of our language as language shapes our thoughts. We can’t conceptualise something we don’t have words for so we can say that the words we use shape our understanding of the world.

When we say I am happy, I am sad, I am angry, there’s an identification with the emotion, the words we use are connect to being, what I am.

But we are not our feelings, feelings are like the clouds in the sky, the come and go. Just like the sun always shines behind the clouds, so do we always shine strong behind the feelings that sometimes obscure our power.

So instead of saying I am angry, say I feel angry. And since feelings come and go you can now be curious about the feeling.

Do what is called the subject to object move. Take that feeling from your heart, lift it out and make it an object of study.

Observe it, poke it, and ask yourself:
Interesting that I feel anger now, I wondered what triggered that?
What did that person say or do that caused this feeling of anger to dwell up?
What inside of my does this anger point towards?

Be curious about what is causing your feelings and with time you’ll see patterns emerging. This is a door to shadow work. More about shadow work in a coming sitting.

How to move from thinking about being present to being present?
The second question it reveals some experience with meditation or other reflective practice. My answer, based on my own experience is: get physical.

Get your body busy and let your mind follow your bodily experience. Dance, wash the dishes, pour tea, do archery, paint, the type of bodily experience doesn’t matter as long as you can do it without getting caught in how to move. Pick something you have experience with.

I do longbow archery. It’s the perfect tool for me to practice presence. In that nano-second just before the arrow leaves the bow I already now if it’s a hit or miss. I sense it from my level of presence with the bow. Was I thinking about being one with the bow, or was I one with the bow?

A simpler every day way of practicing how to move from thinking about being present to being present is to wash your dishes by hand and focus your mind on what you’re washing.

Examine it. Let the cup become one with your hands, feel the shape of the cup, the slipperiness of the soap, the temperature of the water, see how the light breaks on the wet cup. Explore every aspect of the cup as let your mind follow, not lead.

This practice of letting your mind follow your bodily experience is intertwined with sitting. I find that both practices support the other. It allows me to bring my sitting into my every day life, and what I do in my every day life helps my sitting.

Great meditation and wonderful conversations afterwards.

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