I had no intentions of waiting this long to blog again, but between an extended family vacation, parenting and being at dance competitions with my daughter, it feels like I haven't had a whole day at home until today. Ahhh....sanctuary! And yes the domestic chores are whispering.
So, as soon as I wrote that title above - Naming the Dragon, I thought maybe its better to call it Taming the Dragon, but really naming is what it is all about.
In Vipassana meditation there is a tool one uses to stay present. It is simply naming. So if you are sitting in your meditation, you simply name everything that comes under your attention. It may look something like: sitting, breathing, planning, nose itching, thinking, hearing, thinking, remembering, thinking, shifting, breathing, sitting, breathing, shifting, thinking, itching, hearing, listening, etc.....It's a lovely practice of staying with each moment that unfolds. Well I've taking this simple practice into my daily emotional experiences. This is what Jack Kornfield says about emotion: "When we become skillful at naming our experience, we discover an amazing truth. We find that no state of mind, no feeling, no emotion actually lasts more than fifteen or thirty seconds before it's replaced by some other one".
And out of all the knowledge that I've gathered over the years on trying to understand me, how I tick, why I do the things I do, I must say, this tool has been transformational. Let me give you an example:
Sometimes I find my husband annoying, you too? It happens. So I ran an experiment for the duration of our holiday that I would name my emotions and thoughts as they arose, when it occurred or when I remembered to. So on one of our connecting two hour flights my husband made friends with his seat buddies, and I was sitting across the aisle sandwiched in between our teens. My husband held several conversations with both and each person individually for the whole flight. I like to travel in peace, I like a quiet plane - no babies crying, no drunken partiers etc. It is just the way I am. After about twenty minutes of his cheerful banter I became annoyed. And I watched it and named it. Annoyed, annoyed, annoyed, omgosh please be quiet, annoyed, seriously annoyed etc. ( I have to say that even though Jack says it usually only lasts about thirty seconds, my emotion of annoyed lasted......a..... bit..... longer........). And the emotion changed from annoyed to anger to frustration to an awareness that all of these emotions were MINE and nobody elses. I then recognized that the two men sitting on either side of my husband were thoroughly having an enjoyable time on the flight. That I was not annoyed with them, only MY husband, and his buddies too were talking, laughing and exchanging in the conversations. Lightbulb. I then recognized how easy it was for my husband to create connections and invite warmness in others and be caring and inquisitive with complete strangers that I'm sure he will continue to be in touch with for a long time. The emotion evolved into a warm lovely feeling in my body. I was able to let it go, which for me has been an interesting journey. I'm the hold-it-tight-in-the-grip-of-my teeth-girl sometimes. That I have the possibility to let my annoyance carry into being snippy and short later on kind-of-girl. I let it go. I really let it go. My annoyance turned into deep love and respect and then the thoughts changed to the slight snoring of my son to my left and how cranked his head was on his cervical vertebrae; the yoga teacher never sleeps. And really that I was able to name my annoyance, watch it change and transform -it was cliche liberating.
Today's invitation is to just watch the moment to moment experience and try naming it especially hard emotions of anger, sadness, frustration and see if you can be mystified as it dissolves or evolves. Notice what happens when the state ends and what follows. Try it, in a simple 5-10 min sit for meditation, the next time your sitting in traffic or when you are in a state of emotional turmoil. Name it, and see if it changes. Let me know what your experience was. And next blog we'll talk about expanding this practice. May your naming be fruitful.
I'll leave you with this to ponder:
Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled. ~ A traditional Tibetian Buddhist prayer