As soon as I start paying attention, the gnawing makes itself known. Starting in the stomach, then slowly making its way up, to the throat where it gets stuck. This morning was no exception. During the half-day retreat with Gil Fronsdal this morning, I felt it during both sitting, and walking meditations. A physical sensation, that went along with feeling of frustration, and recurring fantasies of being gainfully employed, doing good for the world.
During my interview with Gil, I shared earlier dream also. After a short investigation, it became clear this all has to do with my difficulties in loving self. Gil had me do a short guided meditation, starting with sensations in body. Feeling gnawing in stomach, completely, without commentary, letting it move . . . Feeling stuckness in throat. Gil asks what does it feel like? Image of a golf ball. Exploring the roundedness, the places of contact between ball, and throat. Ball dissolving. Gil asks again, what do I feel. Expansiveness in the heart, and tears. There was a lot more to it than what I relate here, including some thoughts that I shared and discussed with Gil as they came up. The overall experience was profound, and gave me a sense of the power of laser pointed mindfulness, using body sensations as gateway to deeply held emotions. Gil suggested I continue process on my own.
Gil expanded on self-love topic, during his mini-lecture. Here are my notes:
Story of King and Queen. The King asks the Queen, who she holds most dear? Myself, she responds. Disappointed King takes matter to the Buddha, who confirms it is indeed best to hold ourselves most dear. Story shows importance of self-love. Having very positive feeling about self, self-worthiness, self-respect, . . . is what allows us empathy for others' own worthiness.
Question is how to discover love for self? In typical Buddhist fashion, do not pursue ideal directly. Instead understand what are obstacles? Obstacles to self-love are all activities of the mind, that create ideas/feelings of unworthiness. These mind activities need to be put to rest. This requires clear seeing, and more importantly feeling effects of mind in body. Once obstacles fall away, this leaves room for something else to bubble up, not necessarily self-love. Could be some inner well being, purity that does not relate to self at all. Last, it is important to look at obstacles with kindness . . .