Morning Intention: To learn how to work with pain piecemeal rather than getting overwhelmed by it.
When I was a college professor, I used to tell my students, “An essay is a piece of a thought. If you try to write everything you think, you’ll never write anything.” Working with emotional pain is similar: as we go through life, we see how we repeat the same relationships and patterns. But while seeing these patterns can be enlightening, if you constantly try to work with pain on the level of patterns, you will get overwhelmed by it and, worse, turn it into a story about what a failure or basketcase you are — a story that isn’t really about the pain anymore, but about an identity you feel you have to conform to.
So how much looking at pain is too much, and how much is too little? A good rule of thumb is that you should never try to be with pain — emotional or physical — longer than you can take an interest in it. If you can look at your problems with a love of learning and a desire to understand yourself, then great. But if your attitude is one of desperation to get rid of what’s wrong, you need to develop another place to put your mind: your breath, your blessings, or somewhere in your body that doesn’t feel afflicted. Humor is also key. A friend of mine used to say, “I’m uptight. It’s a thing. I’m working on it.” If you can laugh at the prospect of being in the middle of a long process, you’re doing it right. If not, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
So here’s the practice: Today, pick one issue you’re facing and make up your mind you are NOT going to think about it. Then, at key points in the day, when you feel calm and grounded, call the issue to mind and try to feel the pain in your body for a few moments. Don’t dwell there! If you want to be the “spiritual warrior” everyone brags about being nowadays, remember that the first thing a warrior learns is how to retreat.
#morning #intention #pain #insight #dwelling #mindfulness #meditation #love #persian #poetry #rumi