14 Jul


Emotional turmoil begins with an initial perception a sight, sound, thought- which gives rise to a feeling of comfort or discomfort. This is the subtlest level of shenpa, the subtlest stage of getting hooked. Energetically there is a perceptible pull; it’s like wanting to scratch an itch. We don’t have to be advanced meditators to catch this. This initial tug of “for” or “against” is the first place we can remain as steady as a log. Just experience the tug and relax into the restlessness of the energy, without fanning this ember with thoughts. If we stay present with the rawness of our direct experience, emotional energy can move through us without getting stuck. Of course, this isn’t easy and takes practice.

No. 72

“Getting unstuck”

I carry this passage in my wallet and look at it numerous times a day because I am one of those people who get’s swept up in the waves of their emotions quite easily. Even as I was writing this post- I had just finished it when I clicked on something I shouldn’t have and lost it all. I found myself yelling at the computer “I’m going to lose my shit computer!” Clearly this type of behavior wasn’t going to solve anything.

When I first read the passage above it resonated with me very deeply and is probably one of the reasons I am so drawn to Buddhism. If I am not indulging my emotions with negative thoughts then I am often resisting them.I hate feeling sad, angry or fearful. I don’t think I am alone here. I simply have a feeling many others are better at sitting with the emotions than I am. I have a habit of avoiding them because they make me feel out of control. The truth is they exist and trying to avoid them only leads to suffering. So I carry this passage to remind myself to let the waves of the day pass through me without getting stuck and fanning the flames with negative thoughts.

I remember when I first heard about Tassajara. One of my nearest and dearest friends Rachel spent time there last summer and when she shared it with me I knew I had to go. It sounded so very peaceful and I longed for that quiet. The idea that I will be without a computer, phone or tv is peaceful enough. But, I am also drawn to the idea of going through my day in silence. Not filling the space with words. Just being.

I had breakfast with Rachel yesterday morning and I of course grilled her for details about her experience at Tassajara. Probably attempting to control the “what if’s”. Here are some tidbits..

– “The work”, is less about getting a job done and more of a moving meditation through the process of doing the job.  If I am placed on garden duty, I may be given the task of picking weeds. Just simply picking weeds all day long…in silence.

– I could also get the job of serving meals to the people who actually pay to go to Tassajara. That should be interesting considering this does not come naturally to me.

– Rachel also informed me I could be sleeping in a room of 4 or 20 depending on where they place me. This piece of information immediately brought up fear in me. I have always hated having to go to sleep when others do. It gives me anxiety.

I have to admit I do have fears about staying at Tassajara. What if I can’t handle the silence. What if I am bored? What if I hate the food? What if I think I can handle the experience but really I can’t? Another long list of “what if’s”. More than anything though I am excited.

Today I will be working on my application for the Tassajara work program and mailing it out! Let’s hope come September 12th I will either be waiting on people or picking weeds in silence. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be exactly what I need.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: