If I thought that ten days of Vipassana (silent Buddhist meditation retreat) would alleviate the craziness that arises within when my lower self meets my higher self then at least I am a tiny bit wiser, because I now know that it didn't and doesn't. At least not for me or any of my beloved, dharma sisters and brothers to whom I cling because they understand how hard it is to be present to the awfulness that is uncovered in the process of becoming fully alive and present.
What it did do, I would say, is make it glaringly obvious when my lower self is operating and my higher self is effectively being drowned out -- which is all the more painful. At least, before, I could comfortably, and with great inner conviction, accuse the person who triggered my lower self into action, of 'making me' anxious, angry, sad -- or whatever the nasty, uncomfortable emotion might be. Then all I had to do was get the hell away from said person and then do something, anything, to alleviate the unwelcome inner state.
Being that I don't use intoxicants, I really considered myself a person who is willing to 'be with what arises' - I am using quotation marks because this is such yoga lingo. But not really so. I don't want to feel what arises when it feels like shit; I squirm like a bottom feeder in the net when these emotional states arise within -- and run. Somewhere. Anywhere. To a friend mostly. Because as soon as we are talking about how terrible I feel, then it's not so terrible anymore because the terribleness has been moved from that awful, visceral feeling in the gut or elsewhere in the body -- to the intellect where he and I, or she and I, get to process it using all of our yogic wisdom and pretty soon, it's all so clear. Until it's not. And until next time the same uncontrollable feelings are triggered.
Today I am starting a new job at yet another treatment center for drug and alcohol -- it's the third center I work at. In getting ready for that, the guy who hired me asked me to read a book about yoga for trauma and it didn't take a whole lot of reading to realize that that we are all on that spectrum. Of carrying trauma, wounds, experiences that were too painful to process properly so they are lodged like little landmines inside, ready to go off when an unsuspecting individual (or a very suspecting trickster sent from the Divine) trespasses and steps on them. Then a sophisticated process of biochemical reactions are unleashed and real life panic sets in. And who is that? Reacting and feeling so self-righteous about the reaction? It's also me. The unevolved me. The me that we are not greeting in yoga when we say namaste (may the Light in me see the Light in you) -- the me, that needs transformation. The me full of samskaras -- which is the Buddhist term for negative impressions or imprints that we carry and from which these undesirable reactive emotions arise.
What we learn in vipasanna is to stay. Feel it all. Every last, nasty bit of the awful anxious, angry, sad state and try, as best we can, not to have it out with the messenger who came into our lives with the explicit purpose of shining a harsh light on these samskaras. That the drama we create when we battle with the messenger from God, the trickster, is effectively diffusing the process of allowing Higher Consciousness to penetrate the knots in our Being that tie us to our ego and abort that process of giving birth to more of the Higher Self into our earthly vessel.
What we learn is to stay and watch, like an eagle from above, how we run way. And we all have our ways of running away from feeling awful. We can't stop the running until we recognize the sneaky ways in which we do it. And then we just stay and feel it and feel it and feel it and accept that it may be a hundred years before we can even make sense of it and we just feel it and stay with it and we build a tolerance for feeling it all. Being with it all. And then, maybe, we can become so good at being with it all that we also don't run away from each other anymore. That we stay when the other is in that place of pain and has nothing to give, when their Higher Self channel seems all but shut down and all that's visible is an unattractive ego display or downright tantrum.
Maybe we no longer just greet the Highest Light in ourselves and one another. Maybe we also greet the bullshit, the suffering ego, the impossible child, the shadow who kicks and runs and squirms. Maybe we can make friends with this process that we are all in and use our Highest Light to forgive and even hold and embrace the patients we are, as we subject ourselves to the painful surgery of surrendering the ego and peeling away the layers that cloud our vision from understanding our True Nature. Here's to hoping. Off I go to my new job.