If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.
Sitting with an emotion sheds light onto the truth of the experience
In preparation for my travels to India I sat down in front of my computer with fearless determination to transfer all of my books, music and articles from my laptop onto my iPad so that I would have something to distract me for the treacherous 20+ hours of hang time. It was my day off so I had all the time in the world, but I did not want to spend too much of it staring at my computer screen.
When I was younger I used to be proficient with computers; I understood the intricacies of them like the back of my hand. Apparently this was no longer the case. Everything that I wanted to do, which seemed so simple in my mind, was so difficult in application. I wasn’t even trying anything complex – that was the baffling part. If I was writing code or hacking into some government files I would be okay with spending a little extra time but all I wanted to do was drag one file into a new home. With each failed attempt, images of infants navigating through their parents’ iPads, as if they were the next Steve Jobs, would pass through my mind. “Damn those kids,” I thought.
As the tension rose and I could see myself clearly becoming heated. I hit the pause button. It was obvious that I was getting quite agitated. Typically when emotions such as these begin to surface I like to sit with them on the cushion. This is the favorable method since the alternative is to slap a label on it and walk around holding that flag of defeat. We say, “I am pissed or I am agitated.” But that does not encapsulate an emotional experience, it only holds us bound to it. The end of the sadness can only come through entering into it.
So, as I sat with the experience of frustration in my body and breath for some time, I started to laugh. I laughed because frustration is a very funny emotion when you start to see it clearly. It works like this:
- We know (deep down) that something is not going to work out or someone is going to disappoint us.
- We proceed to act anyway.
- When the person or thing meets our initial expectation we still get frustrated, even though we knew they or it would.
- And then. This is the best part. We try again! AND AGAIN!
That is pretty hilarious if you ask me. And we all have been there. In that moment of clarity sitting on my cushion, the heat in my body, the inconsistency of breath, the lackluster of mind all passed. I felt calm and grounded; clear. Instead of going back to my computer I walked away and spent a few hours outdoors. With a new prospective came a new solution and later that day my iPad was full of everything I needed.