How to undo our Identification with Thoughts, Feelings and Emotions

 

Our psychological and spiritual development involves realizing how identified we are with our thoughts and emotions.  Anyone entering therapy will soon become aware how much our beliefs about ourselves, others and the world are running our lives, often in harmful ways.  We learn how our thoughts can produce fear, how they influence our self worth, how they keep us from reaching our full potential.  We learn how in our families, some feelings were OK to feel, others not.  We learn in the therapy to contact all feelings and free ourselves from thinking that some feelings are bad and we learn to allow them. This psychological approach is very helpful in developing a “healthy ego”. 

Still some of us realize that we are still emotionally over-reacting to our partner, having judgmental thoughts about ourselves and others, and may decide to explore spirituality, mindfulness and meditation in hopes it will help. 

Spirituality does offer some ideas about how to disidentify with our thoughts and emotions in addition to help us first intellectually to understand that we are more than our ego (thoughts and emotions) and offer some guidance on how to reach our “True Self”, “Pure Awareness”, the part of ourselves connected to God, “Emptiness” our “Essence”; many names for the same thing.

An interesting story from Tara Brach goes like this:  You jump out of an airplane with your parachute.  Suddenly you realize, you have no parachute.  Then you realize there is no ground to land on and then you realize there is no one who jumped.

 

She uses this metaphor to help explain that when we step out of our habitual thoughts and open to our emotions, it is like jumping out of an airplane – fearful for many people.   And even more frightening is emptiness, leaving our ego behind.  (Of course one does not leave it behind forever.  People who have had an “awakening” experience say they return to their egoic self and hopefully can bring the knowledge that they are more than their ego into their everyday life.)  This is where it is especially important to have done one’s psychological work for most people say having a spiritual experience has not changed how they interact with their family, friends and colleagues.    Some spiritual and meditation teachers realize that some people need therapy as well as what they are teaching.

 

One therapeutic way to work with beliefs is to tell the opposite to yourself.  Like if you believe you are not lovable, start saying, “I’m lovable” even if you don’t believe it.  This might be a good start for some people. 

Another approach is to contact the feeling in your body that goes along with this belief and ask yourself, “Where have I felt this before?”  Often it can be traced back to something in childhood where you decided on this belief, as it was better to find something wrong with yourself than to believe your parents were not treating you in a loving way.   While feeling the feeling there is more of a chance of making a “new decision” that corresponds with reality today.  Especially if the therapist is communicating that he/she thinks you are lovable just the way you are.  When the client is feeling the feeling connected to the belief and can express it, it may change.  For example if a person is feeling sad and like a victim, he might get in touch with the anger that is also there or a very angry person might start to feel also the sadness or helplessness that is there.  Here the therapist helps the client to be kind to himself and say things to himself like,  It’s is not your fault, or I’m with you and will protect you,  I love you.

 

The Spiritual approach helps by explaining according to Ken Wilbur,  that there are two egos, the neurotic ego and the healthy ego and then a part of you that is not ego, as explained above. 

At the start of a meditation practice, you are asked to notice your thoughts and come back to the object of attention, your mantra, or your breath.  You begin to notice how your attention can go to thoughts of future plans, thoughts of past experiences, fantasies, body sensations or feelings.  You are more and more aware of how identified you are with some thoughts and feelings.  There is emphasis on being in the here and now, not just in meditation but in daily life. 

 

Elizabeth Laser has a prayer to God everyday that goes like this.

“Remove the veils so I might see what’s really happening here and not be intoxicated by my stories and my fears.”

 

We see that our thoughts are connected to our feelings.

 

We notice that  we define our self as being a “wanting self” , a “fearing self”, an ashamed self”.   Our thoughts may go in the direction of, I should be different, more loving, more caring, not so judgmental.  You may be asked to “drop” these identifications and realize this isn’t who you really are.  To dis-identify with these beliefs.  In accepting what is (a spiritual principal) we accept without judgment what we are thinking and feeling. As one feels the feelings of fear, anger, helplessness, or sadness, and doesn’t   push the feelings away, doesn’t act them out, but holds them, and surrounds them with love, you are saying, “yes” to what is there. The therapeutic way would be to decide to change to a positive thought, but the spiritual way says hold the feeling connected with the thought. Feel the sensations, the emotions and all that is present there. Feel the awake space around them.  Let your awareness go deeper, perhaps to another feeling, perhaps to emptiness or some kind of spiritual experience.

This can be a daily practice of noticing what is going on right now in your thoughts, feelings and emotions, and your body sensations.  Checking in many times a day to what is going on right now.  (Idea from Bruce Tift, in his book Already Free.)

To do this you become even more aware of your Inner Observer or Witness who knows where your attention is.  As you become more and more aware of your Inner Observer, you may be asked to let the thoughts come and go, not be identified with them, perhaps by asking “Where did these thoughts come form?”  “Where do they go?”  Start noticing the space between thoughts.  As your meditation deepens you may find that the thoughts are less and less and perhaps even finding yourself becoming one with your inner awareness – a spiritual experience.

 

 

 

 

Wie man die Eigenschaften von Herz und Bewusstsein in den Alltag bringt 

 

Beinahe jeder, der meditiert, stellt die Frage, “wie kann ich diese Eigenschaften der Präsenz in meinen Alltag bringen?“ Während ich auf meinem Kissen sitze, erlebe ich Augenblicke von Präsenz, Bewusstheit und liebevoller Güte, aber schon Augenblicke nachdem ich meine Meditationsübung beendet habe, bin ich bald zurück in meiner Persönlichkeit und in meiner Reaktionsweise.

Du magst das Ziel haben, den Tag über geerdet und zentriert zu sein, und dann feststellen, wenn du am Abend auf den Tag zurückblickst, dass du oft in deiner Reaktionsweise warst mit Zorn, Gefälligkeit oder Rückzug oder was auch immer dein persönlicher Stil ist. Dann ertappst du dich dabei, wie du dich wegen deines Verhaltens kritisierst, zornig auf dich bist und dich verurteilst.

Der erste Schritt aus diesem Muster heraus ist, die Negativität dir selbst gegenüber zu beenden. Wir sind alle hochgradig konditioniert, auf bestimmte Weisen zu reagieren. Es ist nicht leicht, das zu ändern. Liebe dich trotzdem. Du bist nicht vollkommen.

Tara Brach, eine Zen-Lehrerin in Amerika, bietet diese zu kurze Übung als Hilfe an, um diesen Prozess besser zu verstehen. Es geht folgendermaßen:

„Wähle jemanden in deinem Leben, der für dich wichtig und nicht einfach ist. Es ist nicht angenehm, mit dieser Person zusammen zu sein. Frage dich, was du möchtest, was diese Person in dir sehen soll? Wie möchtest du von dieser Person wahrgenommen werden? Was ist dein Verhalten? Wie versuchst du, dies zu kontrollieren? Wie überdeckst, verschleierst, übertreibst oder präsentierst du nur bestimmte Teile von dir? Wie wird dein Verhalten davon geprägt, was diese Person sehen oder nicht sehen soll?“

Mit dieser kurzen Übung stellen wir fest, dass wir alle attraktiv, gut oder spirituell wahrgenommen werden wollen und nicht langweilig oder unattraktiv. Wir alle haben Anteile, die selbstsüchtig oder unethisch oder kontrollierend sind, und wir verbergen sie vor anderen. Es fällt uns ebenfalls schwer, diese eigenen inneren Anteile zu akzeptieren. Wie John Roger in ‚Loving Each Day‘ sagt: „Wenn du dich selbst genau beobachtest, wirst du bemerken, dass deine dunklen Seiten zum Vorschein kommen, weil sie Liebe suchen. Das Beste, was du tun kannst, ist Ihnen diese Liebe zu geben.“

Wir sind eng mit unserem Selbst-Ideal identifiziert, und wir vergessen das Mysterium, wer wir außerdem sind. Buddha sagte, dies sei das größte Leiden. Wenn wir an unserer eigenen Persönlichkeit haften, fällt es schwer, die Maske anderer zu durchschauen. Aber wenn wir uns an unser wahres Selbst erinnern und sehen, wer wir sind, dann können wir auch andere auf diese Weise sehen.

Wie erkennen wir, wer wir wirklich sind? Der erste Schritt ist, den inneren Beobachter zu nutzen, um unsere Persönlichkeit, unseren Enneagramm-Typ und die entsprechenden Verhaltensmuster zu erkennen. Wie bin ich aggressiv oder rechthaberisch, wie übe ich Kontrolle aus, wie weise ich Schuld zu, wie ziehe ich mich zurück, wie helfe ich, oder eine der anderen Verhaltensweisen meines Typs? Wenn wir in unserer Persönlichkeit sind, denken wir, dass andere diese Eigenschaften nicht mögen, und daher ziehen wir uns aus Nähe und Intimität mit anderen zurück, oder wir geben vor, liebevoll zu sein, wenn wir in Wahrheit zornig sind.

Nachdem wir unser Verhalten bemerkt und erkannt haben, ist es der nächste Schritt, innezuhalten, wenn wir merken, dass wir uns reaktiv verhalten. Schalte für einen Moment ab und richte deine Aufmerksamkeit nach innen. Was geht in dir vor? Was für körperliche Empfindungen hast du und was sind deine Gefühle? Schiebe sie nicht weg und sei bei dem, was da ist. Es erfordert Mut, ohne Wertung zu akzeptieren, was da ist.

Nach dem Enneagramm bin ich eine Neun, und ich erkannte meine eigene Reaktionsweise: dass ich mit Zorn reagierte, wenn ich fand, dass mein Einser-Gatten kontrollierte, und dass er mir immer sagte, was ich tun sollte. Ich reagierte mit Zorn und Rückzug. Als es mir gelang, innezuhalten und meine Aufmerksamkeit nach innen zu richten, spürte ich Traurigkeit und Angst. Ich erkannte, dass ich in meiner Kindheit entschieden hatte, dass ich mich hilflos und ohne eigene Identität fühlen würde, wenn ich Kontrolle über mich zuließ. Darunter lag das Empfinden, ich würde nicht existieren, wenn ich unter der Kontrolle von jemand anderem stünde. Mit Hilfe meiner Frauengruppe vergab ich mir dafür, dass ich geglaubt hatte, dass mein Wohlbefinden von einer anderen Person abhinge. Es gab viele andere Dinge, für die ich mir zu vergeben hatte: etwa, nicht den Teil von mir zu lieben, der Recht behalten will, oder zu meinen, Überreaktion sei schrecklich; aber am meisten dafür, vergessen zu haben, dass ich ein göttliches Wesen bin. Es war heilsam, mich zu akzeptieren, und die Liebe und Akzeptanz meiner Freundinnen zu spüren. Ob dies meine Reaktionsweise beim nächsten Mal bremsen wird, wenn mein Mann mir sagt, was ich tun soll? Möglicherweise nicht, denn ich bin sehr konditioniert. Aber wenn ich mich daran erinnern kann, innezuhalten und meine Aufmerksamkeit nach innen zu richten, werde ich präsenter sein, und die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass ich überreagiere, wird geringer.

Wenn ich sehen kann, was hinter meiner Reaktionsweise liegt, kann ich leichter spüren, was hinter der Maske anderer ist. Wir neigen dazu, andere in Schubladen zu sehen (eine der Gefahren, jedermann als Enneagramm-Typus zu sehen), anstatt zu fragen: „Wer ist da wirklich?“ „Wie ist es, diese Person zu sein?” „Was braucht diese Person von mir?“

Wenn ich innehalten und sehen kann, was in mir vorgeht, wenn ich für den anderen wirklich präsent sein kann, dann werden meine Worte und Taten Mitgefühl haben, ein Segen.

Spirituelle Entwicklung ist viel mehr als zu meditieren. Meditation kann helfen, den inneren Beobachter zu trainieren, aber nur du kannst innehalten, wenn du bemerkst, dass du in deiner Persönlichkeit feststeckst, und kannst dann deine Aufmerksamkeit nach innen richten und im Hier und Jetzt präsent sein. Und nur du kannst liebevoll zu dir sein und dir für all die anderen Male vergeben, wenn du dies nicht kannst.

Ein Schlussgebet von Tara Brach: “Mögen wir in der Gegenwart ankommen, in der liebevollen Gegenwart, die allein unsere wahrhaftigste Natur ist, und mögen diese Leben, unsere Worte und Taten ein Ausdruck davon sein. Möge Friede auf Erden sein. Möge überall Friede sein, und mögen alle Wesen erwachen und frei sein.“

 

 

 

What gets between Us and Happiness?

 

A woman who works with the dying wrote an article and mentioned the regrets of people who are dying:  they said: 

         -I didn’t stay true to myself.  I let myself be pulled around by the expectations and wishes of those around me.

         -More men said:  I worked too much.

         -Others said, I didn’t let myself be happy.

This shows there is a choice.  I let myself be pulled away from happiness, from joy and playfulness.

What gets between us and happiness?

Explore for yourself,  “When are you really happy?  What’s going on? What is going on inside you?”  Tara Brach, a Zen spiritual teacher in American suggests that there are probably two dimensions

  1. One is presence.  There is a quality that you are here for what is going on.
  2. Second is aliveness.  When happy there is a sense of life flowing through you.

How can one reach this aliveness and presence?  Some people are drawn to meditation.  Meditation is training to come to presence, to find this place in yourself where there is no more doing, no more thinking.  Away from your false self to your true nature.  A coming home.

So how do we keep ourselves from being in this flow of aliveness and awareness and presence?

Tara Brach suggests three ways we remove ourselves from the flow.

One way is our desire to control, the second is a demand that things be different and third way is we argue with what is. 

I will explore each of these ways and suggest what we can do to stop our reactivity and come back to happiness.

         Let’s first look at our desire to control.  We all know this in ourselves.  Each of us no matter what number in the Enneagram controls in some way.  A “1” (in Enneagram) may do it differently than a “9”, but we all know how to control.  Who hasn’t felt the tension with a child or our spouse ?  When it is not just “Oh my child didn’t cooperate”, but a surge of anger because our controller ego feels really violated.  We also know it with our spouses.  When we want our spouse to be that person we want him to be and meet our needs in a certain way and treat us in a certain way. Our controller is removed from presence and our capacity to respond from a more compassionate place.  We are tight and contracted.  Our controller is concerned about safety.  The more insecure we are, the more the controller gets activated and we spend a lot of time trying to control what is going on around us.  We learn as children what will get us what we want and this follows us into adulthood.  We can control by manipulation or by withdrawing or mentally by worrying, obsessing, planning.  It is normal to want to manage things, but is our identity wrapped up in it?  A deeper question is do we have the wisdom to know that we can manage many affairs of our lives but the big things we cannot manage.  Aging, we can’t do a thing about it, sickness. Dying, other people dying, other people acting in ways we don’t like.  It is out of our hands.  When we are controlling we are caught in our ego self.  We are no longer in the flow of aliveness.

 

         The second way that we keep ourselves out of the flow is a demand that things be different.  When I first learned of Eric Berne and Transaction Analysis he talked about the way that people are “waiting for Santa Claus”  We have a lot of “if only”s”.  I can only be happy,

         If only I were healthier.

         If only my partner were different.

         If only my boss was different.

         If only I had a partner.

         If only I could lose 20 pounds.

         If only I had more money. 

These are demands that things be different so I can be OK and be happy.  We are waiting for something to change. 

         This can happen in small ways.  For example, you are driving and the person in front of you is going very slowly, not your speed.  Even though you are in no hurry to get some place, you start to feel impatient and angry.  It keeps building.  On some level is a demand that you can’t feel well unless this changes.  It is hard to let go of this demand.  This is a small thing but it can happen with big things too.

         I experienced this with chronic pain.  I had the belief that unless I feel a certain way, can exercise and walk a certain amount, it’s not a good day.  I can’t feel OK.  Happiness is linked to pain and mobility.   If I can start to notice my demand that it be different in order for me to feel OK,  I can ask myself, what would happen if I let go of this demand.  When I do this, when I remember, some space opens up.  I remember that I’m more than my body.  I can remember Angelika Glöckner’s story she told me about meeting a highly spiritual person who was quite ill and in pain and as Angelika spoke to her in empathy and care about her condition, she looked up at Angelika and said, “It is only my body”.     In that space there is a  sense of peace and well being even though I have pain and lack of mobility.  There is more space. 

We lose contact with flow and aliveness and presence when we demand that things be different. 

         The third way we pull ourselves out of presence is to argue with what is.  When something is going on that we don’t like, we think, “It should be different.”  The key word here is should.  You should be different, the world should be different.  With this comes blame and resentment.  Someone hurts us, we think he should be different.  Someone has a addiction, and we think, he should get over this.  Or I get irritated with myself and think I should be different.   The moment we argue with reality we lose.  No matter what we think it should be like, it is as it is. 

         One example is that some people on the spiritual path, think that we should be non-controlling, never angry.  Everything becomes a should.  This is how I should be.  There is a subtle sense that I’m not there yet, I’m not OK.  There is violence when we expect a should and it is different from what is.  There is violence whenever s spiritual teacher or a religious leader or our own Superego tells us that it is not OK how it is.  It should be different.  Shoulds lock us into our ego self of I’m not enough.

         So what is the way out of our controlling, our If onlys, our shoulds and demands that things be different?

         The first step is to recognize that we are out of the flow and into our personality, our false self, our enneagram number, our adapted child or critical parent.  When we notice, then we need to come into our body and notice where in our body is this demand for change, or need to control or to argue with reality?  What goes on in your body, your heart, your mind.  Can you sense the contraction.  How it pulls you away from aliveness and presence?  

         As you are feeling your sensations in the body, you can say, “Welcome, I see you, I love you” to this part of yourself.  You can move between the false self and the witnessing self.  Finally you can say, “ I let go”.  Thomas Keating suggests saying the mantra, “ I let go of my desire for security and survival.  I let go of my desire for power and control, I let go of my desire for affection and esteem and I let go of my desire to change the situation”.  He suggests that these are the energy systems that run the false self system.  It sends the false self a strong message.  When we let go of resistance, we fall into love.

This is an ongoing practice:  How not to get caught in reactivity, but to come to the aliveness in the body.  To come home to presence, this space, where happiness is.  When in flow, when in presence, love naturally flows through us. 

         There is a story of Kafka, that he is sitting in a park.  A little girl comes along and is crying and very sad. She says she has lost her doll.  He says he would look around for it.  Several days later she comes again and Kafka says,  “I don’t have the doll, but I have a note from her.”  He reads it to her,  “I’ve gone off to travel around the world.  Don’t worry about me, I’m fine”.  The girl is somewhat relieved.  She comes every week and Kafka reads a note from doll as the girl can’t read.  So he would tell her the doll’s adventures.  Kafka, becomes much sicker and comes to the park one last time.  This time he had brought a doll and he said,  “The travels have really changed her.”  Some years later when the girl was a young women, she found a note that had been rolled up and placed in the doll’s hands.  It said,  “You will lose everyone you love, but the love will always return in a new form.”

         Remember:  The eye with which you seek God is the eye with which God is seeking you.  Even before you start, you are found. 

 

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© Arlene Moore