Guest Post by Kassandra Brown
Got Pesky Problems? Meditate on ‘Em!
Imagine this – for every problem in your life, there is something you are doing or have done in the past that caused it. You and only you can create the problems in your life. Pause for a moment before you start to feel guilty or angry with yourself.
There is great power in this way of looking at the world. If you and only you cause all the problems in your life then YOU have all the power you need to change your life and create the life you want. But how?
There is an ancient Buddhist meditation technique that uses the problems in your life as the lock and key for your own personal healing and change. Life is like gardening. You plant seeds through your actions, thoughts, and words. These actions grow and flower into the life experience you perceive as your own. Plant different seeds; reap different harvests.
It is neither mysterious nor magical, but a practical way to notice how you are causing your own suffering and, through the noticing, chose to take different action in the future. It is a problem solving meditation and this is how it goes.
Problem Solving Meditation Technique
1. Get comfortable in your body. Breathe and feel the breath expanding and contracting. Get curious about the breath. Feel the breath as ever-present and ever-supporting of you. Notice the part of you that is noticing your breath. This part of you is vast and compassionate, able to notice a great many things in a gentle and curious way.
2. Think of a problem in your life. Think of a time things didn’t go the way you wanted, you didn’t get the help you wanted, or someone let you down. Or maybe your biggest problems are your long commute or vile working conditions? Whatever it is, pick a problem.
3. Remember a time the problem was really bothering you. Get vivid. Who was there? What did they say? What was the lighting like? What did you say? How did you feel? What did you want to say that you did not say? Really bring yourself back to that situation.
4. Be careful not to get too stuck in reliving that situation. Get it vivid, but don’t get stuck in it. Keep some of your awareness with the compassionate part of you that can see there is some goodness in the situation you are remembering and can look for the goodness. Keep that compassion alive. You’re about to need it.
5. Notice your habitual reaction in the situation you remember. Imagine your normal reaction to the hurt or disappointment you imagine. Now is the key moment in the meditation. Imagine you do the opposite. Yes, the opposite. And furthermore imagine you do, say, or think the opposite with kindness and honest best intentions for all involved. If you would normally withdraw or speak angrily, stay and speak with compassion. If you would normally feel like a victim, pause to breathe and connect with the other’s pain.
6. Be acting with kindness in the opposite of your habitual patterns, you are breaking the cycle of reinforcing your own suffering. You refuse to perpetuate the sad story of ongoing hurt-suffering-attack-pain in your life. You step in and break it with your kindness, compassion, and creativity.
By doing this meditation technique daily, you will be practicing in the quiet and calm of your alone time how to act. In the moment of conflict or disappointment, the practice of the problem solving meditation technique will kick in and you will find yourself reacting with more kindness and compassion. You will make mistakes and forget, but you will also remember. The more you practice the easier it gets.
If you are intrigued by this practice and want to learn more about it, please read the Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christi McNally. This meditation is adapted directly from that work. It is also integrated into the work I do as a parent coach. Behavior problems, discipline issues, and parental guilt are all wonderful things to bring to a problem solving meditation or parent coaching session.
Have you tried this meditation or something like it? What do you think of the idea that you create everything in your life both joy and suffering? How is that idea freeing for you? How do you struggle with it? Let us know!
Kassandra Brown is a parent coach, yoga and meditation teacher, and parent living at Dancing Rabbit ecovillage.