Adyashanti teaches an advanced practice he calls "conjoining the opposites." A more easily approachable practice is to hold difficult emotions, as they arise, within the heart area. This is instead of usual tendencies: acting out and or intellectually fighting difficult emotions. Holding the physical manifestations of these emotions in the heart area to me is quite similar to dealing with "open questions." In both cases, we let all of our intelligences slowly, without time limits, work away on big, complex issues, that our (modest) intellect alone is ill-equipped to handle.
Below is, IMHO, a clear, helpful excerpt from a superb book:
“It is not easy to maintain mindfulness when our primary defenses are activated. These defenses are forged in reaction to intense feelings, felt from conception through our preverbal years. Our psychological defenses are not ‘bad,’ they are simply strategies we learned that helped us survive as tiny babies. Neither are they necessarily there because of a lack of care. Just our vulnerability or waiting to be fed as babies can evoke powerful feelings of abandonment, fear, and longing. These feelings overwhelm a tiny baby and infant. In response, our defenses were built to protect us from these feelings. However, as we grow up our defenses become imprisoning. They split us away from our innate energy, and we become locked in dysfunctional patterns and end up limping through life rather than having access to the fullness of our energy.
The desire for nonexistence or annihilation (vibhava-tanha), which manifests as psychological desolation, despair, depression, and self aversion, is a common primary defense. As we bring mindfulness to this dynamic, behind the sophisticated ways we deny and dissociate, we will encounter unsettling feelings. We will find ourselves faced with our ‘shadow,’ a term Carl Jung coined to refer to powerful emotions and beliefs held in the unconscious that influence our life. Behind our ‘shut down’ can be fear, rage, or a fog of confusion. At times when these become triggered, we need to take a lot of care. When touching deep areas of primary feeling, behind our defenses, we need to take space, have kindness, and be patient.
Instead of crashing out, we can be mindful, one breath at a time. Gradually this becomes a strong container to help us withstand our deepest pains without defaulting to self-harming or acting out. This container is strengthened through moments of kind attention and awareness to the feeling tones that are present. When these factors are in place, then as painful feelings emerge, like despair, or the wish to annihilate ourselves in some addictive pattern, we will know an opportunity has offered itself.
As our capacity for awareness strengthens it is possible to tolerate the deeper wounds within the psyche. Often these are disguised beneath the restless momentum of desire and our attempts to fulfill its demands.”
Kittisaro & Thanissara. "Listening to the Heart. A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism." North Atlantic Books, 2014.
|with kind permission from: www.buddhadoodles.com|