We do it. We all do. At least, all the people I know do. We create pain in our lives, we recycle painful memories, we keep re-creating the thoughts and push on the pain buttons of our soul that hurt. And why? To relieve pain? To reach solutions? To work through the problems? No. Maybe we think that that is what we are doing, but we’re not. We’re just making the sores ooze, and take some sick pleasurable comfort in feeling our own pain. Like my dear friend Karen says, “It’s like watching a train wreck, in slow motion, over and over again; and not being able to stop watching that.”
So, using the inspiration of Vietnamese Zen Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, I bring you 15 Ways To Stop Re-Creating Pain. It has helped me a great deal.
In Buddhism, The Four Noble Truths tells us to follow The Eight Fold Path. The Eight Fold Path guides us through eight principles we want to envelope to reach enlightment. The second one, Right Intention or Thought, is privital in reaching Panna (wisdom). It helps us stop ourselves from living in thoughts that bring us more suffering. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests four practices that can help us do this on a daily basis.
1- Are You Sure?
Thich Nhat Hanh says we should make a sign and post it where we can see it everyday. When we have a thought, he suggests we stop and think for a second if it is even a true thought. Because wrong perceptions lead us to incorrect thinking, which leads us to more pain; Thich Hhat Hanh says a constant reminder to examine my thought, can help stop it from escalating.
This is very much what Byron Katie teaches us to do in “The Work”. Socrates did this too. Before we run off and have an emotional rollercoaster, hand-made soap opera from our thought; how about examine it. “Are you sure?” is our invitation to stop and really think logically about this emotionally-charged assumption, before we go spiralling down our own next victim-story of pain.
Am I sure my husband needs to love reading my excessively long emails?
Am I sure I’ll get so fat because of all the pizza I ate last night?
Am I sure my kids should go to bed at 10pm and stop jumping around hysterically?
Am I sure? Am I really sure?
Do I want all of those alternatives to what is? Am I sure? Maybe it is alright, as is, even if it frustrates me. Am I sure? Examination leads to freedom from being stuck in my own emotional inferno of unexamined beliefs. Am I sure?
2- What Am I Doing?
Thich Nhat Hanh, like us, knows that a great deal of our life is spent thinking of the past or the future. And therfore, we waste a great deal of our lives re-creating painful memories from the past or creating worries and fears about the future. “What Am I Doing” is our inviatioton to return to the present moment, and live here and now.
Modern therapy does a beautiful job in doing this by inviting us to use our five senses. Let me explain for a second here. The mind is a simple machine. A delightful one, but a simple one. It cannot deeply think of two thoughts simultaneously. It can’t. Try.
I’m not talking multi-tasking, I’m talking deep thought. Try to solve a details math problem and remember in detail a memory, and you can’t. Not at the same time. So, if the mind is going into painful memories (again), give him another assignment to fulfill simultaneously. Manually, take your mind to aonther task, and it will have to drop the former one.
Ask yourself, and answer:
What do I see? (in details, relish in the details of the sights around you. in darkness too)
What do I feel? (pysically around you, on your skin, clothing against your skin, breeze, sheets)
What do I hear? (notice and you’ll hear tons. we usually don’t listen in detail. listen to silence too)
What do I smell? (there is always smell, even air again. nuetral, our skin, clothing, soap)
What do I taste? (no need to put something in your mouth, there is taste there too, always. note it.)
Once we command our mind to focus on the senses that are, we cannot simultaneously be trapped in our emotionally wheel. It takes time and practice, but it works.
3- “Hello, Energy Habit!”
I think Thich Nhat Hanh was a cute, enthusiastic sort of guy. I like him.Here, he is telling us to notice our own self-destructive habits. I have some. You do to. Do you eat when you get sad? Do you go pick a fight with someone? I stay up late at nights when I am too tired to get anything done, and start abusing myself in thoughts and eating. Rather than put myself to bed and respect my limits, I have a destructive energy habit of creating drama at night.
Energy habits are anything we do, out of habit, to avoid the real issues, and deflect ourselves to anything else. Energy habits are things we do that pull our energy away from us in unhealthy ways. We want our energy to spiral within us, not to drain away. We want to cut the energy habits. Thich Nhat Hanh invites us to call the fraud by it’s name. “Hello, Energy Habit! I see you! Hi there!”
Buthichitta is “a compassionate wish to realize enlightenment for the sake of others.” It is the absolute purest form of Right Intention). This, is powerful. Why? Because it shifts the focus from us to others.
I have always done things because of me. I have volunteered because it makes me feel like a good person. I have worked on cleaning up my issues and my pain, because I was sick of feeling that I can’t breath. Simple. I do because I want to gain from it.
Buthichitta says ‘do it for the sake of others’, meaning for me, I will clean my soul and heal my own pain so that my children can have a mother who is calm and loving and attentive and not wrapped up in her own dramas. For me, buthichitta means I will clean my soul and heal my own pain so that my dearest Kobi, who has held me up for years, can take care of himself, of our children, and can pursue a life not so heavy because of his wife’s issues. Buthichitta means I do what I do because I want to have more light to give others, to inpsire others to heal their lives. Buthichitta means I know that the collective consciousness deserves more love and joy and light, and less recycled pain.
Buthichitta means I do for others. Wow.
Another Gift (from Gabi)
So Thich Nhat Hanh gives these four precious gifts to help stop us from re-creating our own emotional inferno. He inspires me, and I’m grateful for that. I’ve created another ‘note’ (like his “Are you sure?”) that is helping me stop myself. When I start ‘going there’ I look at my note, I answer my questions, and I manually force myself out of my own re-created spirally depression. I call it “CATCH MYSELF”
There are 11 questions in total. You simply ask yourself, “Is this thought, is this line of thinking I’m walking into, is this memory going to __________ (fill in the blank using the phrases below)? It is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. You’ll know.
Cause me more pain or create in me more light?
Add to a positive life view and positive emotions or create more negativitiy in me?
Time well spent doing this or are there other things that would bring me more joy/happiness?
Change my actions in a positive manner/empower me or weaken my behaviors?
Help me enter new, helpful information into my system or simply recycle unhelpful baggage?
Make me make a wise decision about something relevant in my life today?
Yearn, jealous, needy, angry, victimized- is this what this thought will lead to?
Shine light on my healing process? If I go through this, does it clean my soul?
Eleviate pain and bring solutions or just plays in the pain with no progress in sight?
Leaves me englightened? Brings me to new insights that can help me heal or just hurts?
Finds more light, love, peace, relief, direction, inspiration in my soul and life?
Two very related articles written write before this one are: Conscious Suffering- How I Drag Myself Back Down and Ending That Suffering- Four Decisions To Pull You Back Up. I think you may enjoy them both.
I’ve put it into a pretty pdf that you can print and hang it in your home. Just shoot me an email or leave a comment, and I’ll send it to you. It has saved me from walking into it. Let me know if it helps you too.
So, friends, again we’ve shared, we’ve walked a bit together. If you feel like saying something, do so. I am listening. If you feel like staying quiet, do so. I am listening.
I bow to you,
Deeply, slowly, silently,
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