Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Like This

One of my teachers, Phillip Moffitt, likes to say about anything that arises during meditation practice, "...it's like this." "Shoulder pain is like this," for example. Or "Boredom is like this." Or "Feeling peaceful is like this."

"Like this" gives us the opportunity to be with anything that happens. Using this phrase, we can acknowledge whatever is present right now and allow it to be, without changing, fixing, or getting rid of whatever "this" is. This kind of perspective gives us a chance to hold any experience in a spacious and non-judgmental awareness (see 11/13/09 posting).

Many times during the day, you will have the opportunity to use this phrase. There will be moments in which you would like things to be other than the way they are, or when you would like the mind to be thinking thoughts other than what it is churning out in that moment. That's when you can deploy "like this" to your advantage.

Acknowledging that something is already present is always the first step. "Anger is here, and anger is like this," will go a long way to decreasing levels of ill-will. This simple adjustment can open up a lot of space, where before there was just the tightly closed fist.

When a strong feeling, such as anger, has space instead of constriction, we can then breathe. Feeling the breath can help ground us in a present-moment sensory reality so we are not trapped by the habitual thoughts produced by the reactive mind (see yesterday's posting).

Throughout your day, keep the mantra "It's like this" close at hand. At first, use it constantly with everything that happens. "My tea tastes like this." "The shower feels like this." "Walking out my door feels like this." "The sky looks like this." Over and over with each conscious experience.
Later on, you can just utilize "like this" whenever there is some pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral experience that you particularly want to acknowledge.

If you have a meditation practice, use "like this" for any event that arises during your practice. This repetition will help to gently train the mind to acknowledge anything that happens, and then to just allow it to be.

In doing "like this" practice, you will find that you are able to be present with many difficult or upsetting events a little easier, and that you will be more aware when positive and pleasant things happen, as well.


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