A bit of context: what follows is an excerpt from one evening's group chat in our core practice group (aka 'The Monkeys'). They have been practicing daily for 6+ months now, and are sharing a wonderful (and difficult!) stage of insight building. This is what the practice is designed to do. First, you have to notice what's been going on – what your emotional (mammal) and thinking (primate) minds have been doing in the absence of any (human) oversight on your part. It's not their fault, but they've been making a mess of things! 🙊 🐶
In the live practice/discussion this day, we talked about giving up hope...with a smile! Always a tricky topic, and one that I usually don't bring up for a little while, as initially it can obviously be quite dispiriting!
This story and the discussion about hope today was helpful/challenging when I reflected on things I have been processing recently. I have been caught in this cycle of reactivity (sadness, grief, anger) to what I perceived as the loss of what I hoped would be my future.
I am not sure if I have the interpretation correct however it dawned on me today that both hoping (aka imagining) and the future (more imagining) is a flawed construct. I have focused on a loss, which feels bad, when I should say maybe! It has created a mind set of lack.
The interpretation is correct and deeply insightful! Knowing when we're imagining sounds pretty basic, but effectively it's huge. We spend most of our time in our imaginations, thinking and feeling that it's all real – like how you can cry or get mad when you're watching a movie.
You have had a loss, and it'll feel bad, and that'll burn for a while through the cycles of sadness, anger, grief, etc! But you're right to see that some of that grief is for the death of a dream (imagination). As you say 'maybe' – notice how it fits perfectly with a wonderbreath! The breath makes space for the 'maybe'.
To be distracted hoping for a future, that may or may not even occur, means we are robbed of the ability to live in the present in all its shades. So giving up hope is the gateway to creating the ability to fully embrace the present. 🙏
Yes! As you explore this state of 'hope', notice how there's subtle tension in it – you get a bit frozen. It's built on these twin currents of imagination and wanting, both of which require fueling/active doing.
The giving up of hope is not meant to be sad, but, as I understand it, a release from what binds us to the longing for something else. I could also be talking crap!
Eventually it's not sad at all, in fact there's a deep joy in it that can only exist in the present about actual things. Your mind knows when it's creating/imagining the foundation for your happiness, and that it's unsustainable. But, at first (or maybe 'third') it could be a bit wistful-sad...maybe like the childhood dream that never happened. 🚀 ⭐️
It is the wanting/liking/longing/needing that ultimately causes our problems.
'Wanting' is always for something false/imaginary.
Wanting = reacting = stress/suffering.
Reacting powers thinking – which means that all thoughts are inherently tainted and can never be a source of abiding goodness.
All our chatting today around hope and this from you ***** about wanting / longing for etc reminds me of smiley face / frowny face ... I LIKE IT - I LIKE IT ... I DON’T LIKE IT - I DON’T LIKE IT!!
Hey that's the mammal theme song!! 🎶 😄 😫 🎶
I hear hope-less as gently letting go of a kind of wishful thinking.
Yeah, that's really good. There IS a gentleness to it (and to the whole practice...along with an equal measure of strength), and there's a very subtle smile in the place of where the hope used to be. There's something inherently good about letting go of the imaginary and returning to the actual/present.🎁
Makes me think of how 'wonder' is the state of a wish coming true.💫 And how when we choose to create that state physically (with a 'wonderbreath') and unconditionally, we influence/create different emotions, thoughts and behaviours in line with that basic premise ('all my wishes have come true' / 'I got everything I wanted').
As I mentioned in our discussion, our reality is incalculably better than our imaginations could ever contemplate. BUT, it takes some effort to unearth that! We have to first get our minds in order (calm down and focus), and then we have to take a very close look at what's actually going on here.
Yes, [everyone]. I found the discussion rich and a little confronting. I find it interesting how much more I am noticing the wanting at the heart of stress. Yet I don’t have a strong enough connection or trust with myself to really give up the future/hope whether catastrophising (is that a word) or planning castles in the air.
We think we know what our future life will be if we maintain the same path, and try to anticipate how we protect or move away from that path ... but none of those are certain, even the current path.
And sometimes I’m seeing myself stuck rehearsing the same scripts. But because I know they are born of reactivity I can’t trust myself to do anything...
Ha ha...this is true, and a very good (and sometimes frustrating) place to be! You're still stuck, but are seeing things more clearly.
Maybe I just have to observe the catastrophising/planning/rehearsing for a bit and not try to run too soon? And strengthen my self awareness, presence and trust in the outcomes of that....should the practice be helping/making me more consciously leave that behind?
Exactly! You simply observe and accept what you're watching yourself do. As you get more and more resolution on your behavioural patterns and what's motivating them (wanting/reacting!), every piece of the system will begin to change for the better.
Your primary job is to observe well – to hold the human meta-perspective, focus the monkey (and see through her monkey-business), and soothe the mammal (find equanimity). This is the critical first step of mindfulness practice that everyone needs to do to be a good citizen of earth.❤️ 🌏
I think I understand what you mean *******. It can be circuitous. Do I let go and take a different course when nothing is certain or am I just repeating the same story and around and around it goes....
I am making this up as I go along but I think in the face of growing self awareness we can over think it. I have a masters degree in that area!!
Monkey-Business Attack! (MBA) 🙈 🙉 🙊
Important to take baby steps and keep practising.
Releasing focus on future/hope has a degree of difficulty that I both relate to and resile from.
For me connecting with the sensation and trusting my capacity to sit in it and know I won’t be swallowed up by it is enough for now. I am sure the rest will come in time, we just need to keep burning that candle 🔥 🕯 🙏🏻
Yes, yes...YES!! Sitting in it – grounded in the body sensations – is how you change your mind/life. Once you decouple from all that crazy physical, emotional and cognitive energy, so it stops pushing you into action, it begins to change/grow you in very healthy ways.
[Hey I learned a new word! Resile: to abandon a position or a course of action]
Yes thanks ****** if we follow the awareness & acceptance mantra there should come more moments when our thoughts and possible paths are not reactive, and gradually that should be true about the bigger issues.
Perhaps it’s a standard hurdle: when we’re starting to understand the volume of reactivity and the incessant monkey chatter, we have to accept it rather than wanting to be through it, or trying to force it to be different.
Very well said! Y'all are on FIRE! 🔥 😊 🔥