We hope you enjoy these Socratic Email Class excerpts showing Awareness Practice at work and the wisdom of the Guide!
Participant: Communication feels like my biggest issue. I grew up bilingual with parents who didn’t speak English so well and were domineering. I stuttered occasionally. Then grew so silent, I couldn’t even laugh out loud. I have changed countries three times. I am a writer now. I can overcome my inability to express myself straight away but when something happens, I often hear the words I need to say in my head but just watch and do nothing. By the time I respond, the matter has already been settled. I build up anger about things but can’t express them.
Guide: I hope you’re reading along with your fellows such that you know how many of us share that karma. There’s so much conditioning designed to make us feel alone, like “I’m the only one,” that I always feel comforted by the awareness that, for the most part, we’re all just alike! So, it sounds as if the place to begin is with the “I often hear the words I need to say in my head but just watch and do nothing.” The cliché “like a deer in the headlights” applies? The system keeping that reaction, and the attendant suffering, in place would like us to believe the whole process is too quick and too subtle to change. Not so, is it? That’s where you need to focus attention, and the only trick might be finding a situation for it to come up so you can watch it. In the meantime, it might be helpful to consider that matters are rarely irrevocably “settled.” Rather than letting anger build you can practice, at the first hint of the voices in the head stoking the anger, re-visiting the subject with the other player. It’s an, “After further consideration….” moment. Gassho
Participant: I guess the Buddha wouldn’t take others’ opinions personally, so I experimented with that. Talking to my colleague this week I stayed very polite, unemotional, just asking questions. I thought he was way off-base, but didn’t show it. Seemed very passive, but it was calmer and showed respect. R/L
Guide: Did you reflect at all? If not, try that next time. Often people have no idea what they’re saying. They’re not listening. Attention is on egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate and that system is doing the talking. When we reflect, the other person has a chance to hear what they’re saying, and maybe, just maybe, they might hear something they don’t actually agree with! The additional boon is that you are not a passive recipient. It takes great presence to reflect well and it’s marvelous awareness practice. Gassho
Participant: Resistance to making a commitment to R/L more. All kinds of other things are distracting, most prominently breathing difficulties where the breath gets stuck and it feels very strenuous to catch a breath. Going to make a recording now “it’s okay, just let it go.” R/L. Gassho
Guide: Resistance is not a problem as long as we don’t go along with it, right? Little kid says, “I don’t want to put on my coat.” If we respond with, “I hear you. Now put on your coat,” we don’t have a problem. If we go with the voices in the head, we’ll panic about how to convince this kid to put on the coat. We don’t need to engage in that! “I don’t want to R/L more.” You respond, “I hear you,” as you pick up your recorder and get with the Mentor. (The Mentor will even assist you with getting through the breathing difficulties, you know.) I know you know. Gassho
Participant: Between Anger or Silence, this time I chose anger. I felt righteous. I tried to clarify each time but the other people didn’t understand. I realized I didn’t need anyone to understand. Mentor said it’s all ok. Now, ego uses the anger to beat me up with shame. R/L
Guide: Of course it does! Of course self-hate is going to attempt to throw you off. Of course! That’s just what it does. You, however, realize you’re in a workshop designed to save your life. Right? You’re saving a life here. If going into anger is the way you see through anger’s hold on you, then you go into anger! You are a warrior! Just ignore the self-hating voices and get on with the next exercise in the workshop that Life is offering you. Okay? You’ve got this! Gassho