…the middle way rules. Body and Mind. Not ignoring either. Tending both.
Some Ways to Well-being and Wholesomeness:
- Be less disturbed by the things of the world.
- Act well: generate harmony within and without, harming less, caring for others.
- Enjoy yourself. Find joy in the things of this day, and in connecting and caring.
The first comes first, though. Without it, it’s hard to do the others.
1. Become less disturbed by externals.
How? Broadly, two ways: through the body and the mind.
We often hear and talk about not getting caught in thought loops while meditating. That’s a key part of the meditative learning we do: to recognize our brains have negative habit patterns, and starting to disengage from them. That is one of the primary lessons of mindfulness practice. We return to the breath, and step away from the thoughts.
We also come back to the body. There’s a lot of work these days on somatic experience, on trauma activation in the body. Learning to feel our body sensations, learning to allow them and let them release, can be part of our development in meditation, though we may need help from trained professionals at times.
“SOS” is an acronym that emerged at Mountain Cloud. Meaning: “Sensation Over Story.” Find the sensation in the body: it will bring us out of perseverative thinking, and bring us back to the here and now.
This, again, interrupts the thinking and undercuts it. But it also does something else vitally important: it can open our hearts. Our hearts can feel touched by the suffering going on, once we’re less closely identified with it. And once the heart is involved, we’re OK. Love flows, tenderness and caring return. We love this being and its suffering, which opens us up to care and concern for other suffering beings, of which there is no shortage.
However, it’s also worth stating that we shouldn’t disregard thinking either. The hazard is that if we ignore our faulty habits of thought, we may allow them to roll right on, whenever we’re less “mindful.” Emotional well-being requires addressing body and mind. We may need to take a look at some core habits of thought that generate misery for us. Common ones are: Catastrophizing and Awfulizing, Must-urbating (he/she/it must be the way I want), and Low Frustration Tolerance (“I can’t stand it, I can’t bear it, etc….”) They are all faulty. Albert Ellis used to say emotional disturbance was caused by our lying to ourselves.
So while it’s great that somatic awareness has become more widely known, it’s a risk if it causes us to overlook our habits of mind. They are critical to our well-being too, as cognitive therapy has proven.
So, once again, the middle way rules. Body and Mind. Not ignoring either. Tending both.
2. Then the good stuff opens up more easily: sharing, connecting, caring, loving, acting on behalf of others. Ceasing from harm. Offering harmlessness as a gift to the world.
3. Becoming freer to enjoy our self, our being, our existence, in this very moment. Don’t forget — it’s once in a universe. You exist right now. Enjoy!
Message from Henry is from our May 3, 2021 Newsletter.