Michael Kammers joins David Nichtern to discuss working with strong emotions as a practice during meditation and in daily life.
Dharma Moon’s 100 Hour Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training led by David Nichtern starts May 18: https://www.dharmamoon.com/
Thoughts During Meditation
David and Michael dive into this talk by discussing all the silly things that pop into our brains during meditation. While you meditate, do you find yourself thinking of what to eat for lunch, how much gas prices went up, and what groceries you need? When you notice you are thinking random thoughts during meditation, it does not mean you have failed. Noticing your mind wandering means you are aware and it is simple to just bring yourself back to your breath. David tells us:
“We might have a dream that there is some way to stabilize, to clear the space from any type of thought patterns or processes. But quite frankly the approach that we’ve been taught is not based on trying to suppress thoughts.” — David Nichtern
Discover more from David at Dharma Moon– a website offering Workshops/Courses, Teacher Training, Mentoring & more.
Acknowledge The Feelings (6:24)
Some practitioners of meditation may use a similar re-routing approach when emotions come up. However, when we have those deeper thoughts that create strong emotions, it can be hard to steer ourselves back swiftly. David says we should allow the feelings to be for a little while instead of shutting them down. We can witness feelings and be curious about them without attaching a narrative to them.
“Just acknowledge the feelings. You can feel the feelings. Let them be as they are, but cut into the narrative, the discursive part, the storyline.” – David Nichtern
The Nature of Emotions (13:43)
David and Michael discuss the intrinsic nature of emotions. Can an emotion really be negative? David posits that any negativity from working with strong emotions comes from the stories we tell ourselves surrounding that emotion, rather than the emotion itself. What might happen if we just felt the feeling without diving into the rabbit hole? Having a feeling is experiencing wisdom, we just need to take care of our relationship to feelings. We do not want to spiritually bypass our feelings and repress ourselves, but we do not want them to take us over.
Check out Ep. 62 of Healing at the Edge to learn more about creating a space for feelings: The Tantra of Emotions
From Affliction to Wisdom (19:25)
When we experience an emotion that afflicts us, we can take the negativity and change it into wisdom. David shares an example of someone kicking our seat at a movie theater. What may quickly bubble up as annoyance and anger, can be transformed into an opportunity to practice. Michael explains:
“We are sort of unwinding that habitual conditioned response of grasping, repressing, and ignoring. And that is a profound portal to walk through of transmutation from affliction to wisdom.” – Michael Kammers
We can notice how we are feeling and use conflict resolution to gain wisdom for the next time we experience a similar emotion.