We experience thousands of uninvited thoughts per minute, accompanied by their sidekicks: emotions. Many people move through life in a state of feeling overwhelmed by these emotions, as if it’s an avalanche that is pouring over them. They become stressed, depressed, sad, angry–the list goes on. This perpetuates the everlasting search for the hidden treasure, the secret key that will relieve these unwanted emotional symptoms, these feelings. We become convinced that more–more money, a more loving relationship, or a new house will offer relief. And of course, there is the obvious answer for many–a substance, something that will step in as the salve for our emotional wounds.
The real salve, for me, as for many who will read this, was the introduction to the Twelve Steps, the superstar being Step Eleven. Through the practice of meditation I have learned to just sit and observe. I love the magic of my breath, which I feel by paying attention as I breathe in and breathe out. This practice also brings my awareness to uninvited thoughts as they arise; I find the practice of hyperawareness is like an introduction to these uninvited thoughts and emotions. I’m able to sit and note their presence, let them travel on as I say goodbye, while I just return to the breath.
When the nature of mind is not observed, it’s as if the mind has a mind of its own. Soon, we are once again lost in our emotions. I’m confronted many times a day by obstacles my thoughts try to convince me are real, but the practice of seated meditation acts as a translator to what is going on within. When feelings arise unobserved, they can take us captive, and we become subject to anything they suggest, which may be anger, fear, or sadness. Going to our cushion each morning, we can look forward to the practice of observing what arises. With a sudden awareness, we pinpoint what we are sad about–the loss of a job, perhaps, but with clarity we see many areas of our life are full of loving kindness. We can then let the sadness be with us, but it is not about our whole life. I learn to make friends with these uninvited guests, these emotions, learning to embrace them as they arise, which brings an intimacy to the mystery of my mind.
The daily practice of mindfulness brings spiritual discernment to the forefront. I would love to sit with you when it is time–I do it again and again.