Monday, August 30, 2010

Proving Rinpoche Right

Using Substitution to Deal With Grief and Other Difficult Emotional States.

"Make a different emotion", was one of the ways I was taught by Mingyur Rinpoche, to deal with a difficult emotional state. At the time, I had wondered . . . 

Today, I finally experienced firsthand what Rinpoche meant. Actually, I did not make a different emotion. Rather, a different emotion made itself. 

I woke up feeling the effect of the day before at Zen Hospice. A feeling of intense grief from having accompanied two of the residents there, close to the death door. I knew to take it easy, and cleared my calendar. Slowly drank my morning tea, read all three sections of the New York Times, sat in the sun, petted the dogs, went swimming . . . All good, but not enough. The fragility was still there.

A petty argument with my mate, about bread gone stale, succeeded where all the earlier TLC had failed. So annoyed I was by such a ridiculous episode, that I was soon filled with hot energy. Previously weak heart, started beating furiously again. Gone the grief, in the anger. I could move on now . . . 

This is what Rinpoche meant. The heart can only be filled with one strong emotion at a time, just like the mind can only entertain one thought at once. 


  1. Isn't it interesting how emotions change? One minute you can be wary of "X" and the very next moment you can be laughing about "Y". The thing i really find interesting that no emotion shows up exactly the same way. It has changed and morphed a bit. With mindfulness we can decipher these subtle changes, and even allow them to melt into something all together different than what we would like to label and be familiar with.
    All phenomena is impermanent, emotions and thoughts included.....:)


  2. Yes, that's the good news about impermanence . . . :)

  3. Isn't it funny how our partners get to see the worst in us, lol.

  4. Or we get to see the worst in them . . . :)