Yesterday I took my daughter back to University. Last night I experienced a scary and quite gruesome dream. This morning I woke up feeling sad. My body felt heavy, there was a pain in my heart and a heavy and pre-tear feeling in my eyes. So when I woke up, my inclination was to stay in bed. However, after hitting the snooze button a couple of time, the Nike slogan ‘Just Do It!’ kicked in and I got up, made myself a coffee and went out to my summer house to practice.
First I practiced RAIN, using Fay’s guidance in the Mindfulness section of the new and improved Mindfulness Based Living app (which may not quite yet be available on Android, but is already available on Apple devices). I was curious about this feeling of sadness and keen to understand more about it. I went through the stages of Recognising it was present and Allowing it to be fully there.
Then I gave it Intimate attention, thoroughly feeling the physical sensations that manifested in the body and the emotions that were present. I was already familiar with these. Then I turned towards my thoughts and stories that gave rise to the sadness and there were a few surprises here, as I began to recognise what was underlying the feelings of sadness. Then I explored how I was relating to the sadness I was experiencing. I knew intellectually that the buying into the stories was the problem.
The final stage of RAIN, Non-identification, gave me some space around the sadness and a broader perspective, that the sadness was not everything I am.
After this I went on to do the HIFAWIF (How I Feel About What I am Feeling) practice, from the insight section of the Mindfulness Based Living app. I was curious to understand what emotions were underlying the sadness. During the practice I recognised an agitated ‘I don’t want this’ rage feeling trying to push the unwanted feelings behind me. Then I recognised a feeling of overwhelm, like a heavy weight bearing down on me. Then a familiar sense of ‘poor me’, my old friend self-pity. Underneath this was a big sense of ‘I’. Then I experienced a release, a deeper recognition that ‘I’ did not have to buy into the stories ‘I’ was telling myself and which I first became aware of in the RAIN practice.
Finally, I went on to do the reflection practice, from the insight section of the Mindfulness Based Living app. This had lots of space for just being with my experience and then dropping in the question ‘What am I wanting in this moment?’ There wasn’t much I wanted. Some usual suspects that I was happy to smile at. Then a great sense of joy and appreciation arose within me. A recognition that ‘i’ am and that ‘i’ have more than enough. At the end of the practice, as I walked back to the house, from the summer house, I noticed the beautiful clear sunny morning, the birds singing. And I was happy.
This is the value of insight practice. A recognition that there is no need to buy into the stories ‘I’ tell myself. A recognition that this buying in is the source of all my self-created suffering. A recognition that, whatever happens, ‘i’ can just be present and that is more than enough.
So why not have a go at some of the insight practices on the new and improved Mindfulness Based Living app and see for yourself. They accompany our book ‘From Mindfulness to Insight’. If you want to train in insight and already have a mindfulness practice, or if you just want a pre-Christmas retreat, then you can do an Access to Insight retreat with Choden and myself in December.
Also, watch out this week for a new online Insight course, with talks from Rob Nairn, Choden, Alan Hughes and myself and weekly formal and daily life insight practices. An email about it should drop into your inbox some time this week. Ten weeks of insight practice in the run up to Christmas?
Anyway, just check in with your own stories. Are you buying into them? Believing in them and making them real? Does this cause you to suffer? And see if you can recognise the stories for what they are – a mental fabrication spun by an over-developed sense of ‘I’. I hope that this will bring you some happiness, as it did me.
You can practice mindfulness with Heather by joining her on the following courses:
Teacher Training Level 1 at Samye Ling – 29-31st May, 2020 (date subject to change)
Heather also teaches on the MSc Studies in Mindfulness.