Sunday, May 15, 2011

Emotions, From All Four

Fear, anger, excitement, . . . it's been quite a ride lately, and a marvelous opportunity to practice Gil's recent teaching on The Four Foundations of Emotions. Many times I took a mindful pause, and took turn watching from each of four places. 

First, the body. 
Heat rising up to the head, down all the way to each fingertip. Anger.
Butterflies dancing . . . It's getting cold. Fear.
Flesh effacing. No blocks. Only gladness.

Second, the feeling.
That one usually comes easily into awareness.
Unpleasant, unpleasant, unpleasant, 
testing my ability to bear.

Third, the state of mind.
Noticing aversion, lots of it,
and never far behind, its close cousin: 
greed for what cannot be had.

Fourth, getting into the subtleties.
Which story is being whispered
by deluded mind,
that's causing all the trouble?

The words popped up at once. "Can't be trusted." I felt anger towards myself as I recognized the familiar voice, that threatened to take me down once more. Only this time, I heard it loud enough that I could talk back, and say "No, not buying it." and I could think of a million reasons why I could count on myself.

What is your story? How do you approach your emotions, particularly the difficult ones?


  1. Terms such as blind rage, blind love, blind anger - these are often more on-target than we would like to think. To be awake to our emotions, to see them arise, to have our eyes open is a great gift. Just as thoughts arise and pass away, our emotions are also impermanent and influenced by much that is out of our control, even our conscious awareness. If we can see emotions rising, perhaps we can sit with them without acting, without judging. I tend to head for the pantry or fridge when I am bored, upset, or down. I find jealousy, greed, grasping, and fear to be powerful forces driving me toward my own destruction. Walking, meditating, Dharma, sangha - gifts to let the emotions flow past without the river bed (mind) in which they rage.

  2. Yes. And thank you for sharing the many gifts from your practice.