December 6, 2018.
Hey all! We had a wonderfully rich discussion at the NovaPrana meeting last night! I’ve had the inkling to post recap notes of our events for a while, so here is the first one – let’s see how it goes!
We began the conversation by discussing a recent shared challenging experience where things don’t go as planned, and how those challenging experiences can be useful as ways to investigate the reactions to strong or unpleasant situations, and how even the most challenging of situations can serve as the best teachers for learning about ourselves and our own emotional reactions to things. What came out of this was a conversation about how to process these emotions once we acknowledge them, as acknowledgement alone doesn’t provide a “release” from them. It feels good to act out your emotions, but what are the consequences of doing this? Is it ok to act out in the interest of “emotional release?” The Dhammapada sort-of addresses this in the first chapter…
Can anyone think of or post some other resources that are relevant to this? How can emotions be “released” productively? The analogy was made that “unreleased,” or emotions left un-validated are like an inflated balloon inside of you, and only by relieving the pressure through words or actions can the balloon be deflated. However, it doesn’t seem to work this way. The mind can get stuck in patterns of negative thinking, which causes the balloon to be inflated from the inside as it is being released through words and actions.
From that discussion, we the subject of how to process emotion without acting out on them. You may have heard of some instructions to do things like “identify” or “name” the emotion, or to take some time to sit with them. However, how does this play out in practice? One technique that I use is, when a strong emotion takes hold to the extent that I know it’s not going anywhere soon, I take some moments pretty immediately, about 10 minutes or so, to sit and feel the emotions completely, until I can feel them with non-judgement. For me, this happens by literally visualizing a copy of myself with a hoodie on with the name of the emotion written across the front of it. It sits with me as a friend, and I feel what it represents completely. After 10 minutes or so, I wish the emotion well, thank it for spending time with me, and visualize it getting off the couch and walking off to do whatever it does.
We also talked for a bit about the intellectual side of Buddhism, and how I would love nothing more than to pour over an obscure translation of the Satipatthana Sutta. However, as the conversation went, the value of all of this is in the practice of meditation, and eventually one must put down the book and resist the urge to intellectualize it and practice your practice of meditation. The clarity of cutting wisdom taught by a master was discussed in light of a recent experience I had during a sitting with Thu Nguyen at the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax. If you ever get the chance to go there for a session, DO IT! They are masters of their craft!
After productive and very insightful discussion, we practiced a quiet sitting, as we do!
We ended with a quick Mawashi session. Although Mawashi is usually only really encountered in Reiki circles (let me know if I’m wrong here!), it’s a great way to close any type of session where there is the shared experiences that touch us deeply.
And that’s how the meeting went! Our next community meeting is on Tuesday, December 18th at Reston Regional Library, so please be on the lookout for that. HOWEVER, we’re also doing our second “First Fridays” tomorrow, December 7th at 6PM at The Brennan Institute for Mind-Body Healing! We still have some seats available for that, so please check it out! There’s a button that will take you to the info page just below, I’d love to see you there!
Peace, folks! I’ll see you soon!