All of us have difficult situations and unpleasant people to deal with throughout our lives. If only we could find yogic solutions for having loving engagement with others, easy truthfulness, powerful articulation, clear insight into issues, untouched by manipulative ploys. Our lives might be more peaceful, more fulfilling and more effective. Meanwhile. even, dealing with pleasant people sometimes has its difficulties!
What are yogic solutions?
Yogic solutions engage us lovingly and without fear. When we are driven by fear of consequences, we find ourselves bargaining, or defending, or attacking, or manipulating, or holding back, or giving up. In a yogic solution,when bad things happen, we can make clearer decisions with awareness instead of only being driven wildly by reaction. Or even if you do, it is momentary, and the moment serves to show you the difference… and so you return to the yogic solution.
The good times
In peaceful times when life goes well for us, we don’t even think of anything needing to be solved. However, those are times when we really can easily see how our mind sets us up as a “good person”, as a “successful person” etc. But taking the mind’s construction of self is problematic in those times, because what happens when the “good person” finds he or she just doesn’t feel loving, kind, peaceful? What about when the “successful person” feels humiliated, betrayed, a bit of a loser? In unawareness we congratulate ourselves during the good times, never preparing for the touch of reality on our bubble. A yogic solution then has to be found in extremity of emotional hurt or confusion. Good yogic teaching prepares the mind for the good and the bad. In that preparation, we have yogic solutions at hand, starting with meditation and mindfulness.
The bad times
Ah, then the bad times come. Typically, the “good person” then becomes the hurt person, the angry, blaming person, the vindictive person. The yogic solution, which would have been easy when it meant looking to see what was so comfortable about being the good person, is so much harder when it means looking to see what is uncomfortable about being the hurt person.
Investment in a self-description is not a solution
Just as the “good person” relies on external circumstances for self-definition, so does the hurt and angry person. If, by any means, we can move a little from that investment in personal description, perhaps we can find a solid way to deal with our situation or people that are hurtful. How? Well… one way is to learn Mindful Living. It is how we learn spiritual realism – to be comfortable with self even when situations and other people are not. We find, as we dig into our emotional reactions that underneath them there is something you have invested your “self” in. It is a patterned way of looking at life, that we cling to and make our basic assumption in life, and about ourselves, and about others. It is one where we expect that reality will be the way we say it should be. And of course, reality doesn’t oblige. What about if your situation cannot be changed, or if the person you blame cannot be changed, if your desire for punishing someone is futile? There must be another way to strength, truth and love.
Talking through trauma
When you or someone you wish to help has been emotionally traumatised, talking matters. Talking with loving friends allows the hurt to be expressed, and eventually, a wider context might be seen that eases the personal hurt a bit, the sense that the hurt is not something by which you have to describe or define yourself. After that, though, there is a choice. On the one hand, you can go for a good vs bad view where your self-description now takes the role of the hero opposed to the villain. Or you can begin to do the work of becoming comfortable with reality. This is where yogic solutions can be found. If we are comfortable with reality, not only do we allow ourselves a bigger space than “hurt, injured”, we allow the same space for other people – maybe we no longer define them as “hurter, injurer”, In looking deeper, yogic solutions abound.
The apex of Yogic Solutions – being comfortable with Reality
Becoming comfortable with reality gives us a solid base simply to say what is, what happened – not having to push an interpretation of it, not having an ego agenda in the saying, not having an attack on the other in our repertoire of responses. Easy? No. Then how? Two ways, both difficult!
The first method is still-mind meditation, for at least an hour a day. Not mantra, not visualisation, not prayer, not mental rehearsal of your tale of woe – just bringing the mind back to stillness again, and again, and again, Why? It gives you a chance to see that your mind is constantly making a model, and revising the model, and reconstructing the model, over and over. When you finally see that, you see the demarcation between “what has happened” and “what you are”. What has happened is one thing, and the mind’s model of what that means is quite another. Reality itself doesn’t hurt, most of the time – it is how we construct the model of our life around it. In making a model for ourselves, we are also making a model version, a wooden or plastic version, of the other, too.
This one is self-investigation – digging and digging until you see the bunch of personal attributes that you take to be your self. This means searching and searching for your patterns of assumptions till you can look them in the face and say, “My assumption does not fit with reality”. Then you might be able to notice your self-attributions, which are also just a mental model of what you are. Then you might notice that your attributions and assumptions might actually be getting in the way of your capacity for freedom and truth, because you will be making other-attributions, too.
Oh dear, this is all too hard
Writing this, I wonder how anyone gets it at all, But we do. And the yogis for millennia have been pointing to the “pairs of opposites” that must be overcome in order to experience freedom and truth. Those “pairs of opposites” amount to a polarised state of mind where the prevailing ethos is fundamentally me/not-me, but which plays out pervasively in attitudes like good/bad, nice/mean, right/wrong, hero/villain, praise/blame, reward/punishment. For many, the dominant aspect of the polarisation is a punitive approach to not-me.
Not a phrase one hears much in yogic environments, in fact, I made it up myself. It seems to me that reality is where to find the spiritual, not in philosophy or theory or scripture, not at the feet of someone else, either, unless those things point out that reality is the only place to find the spiritual. A mental construct, or idea, or model, of reality is not an experience of reality. A theory about God is not an experience of the divine. A mantra is not an experience of reality or the divine, though the mantra may assist in managing rogue thinking. The reality of your life is the one way of experiencing fully what Yoga says is possible – the shift from an ego-described and ego-invested idea of self to one that is simply comfortable with reality.
From there, what you wanted in your moments of hurt: loving engagement with others, easy truthfulness, powerful articulation, clear insight into issues, untouched by manipulative ploys. And then it is oh so easy to see through people’s “stuff”, as it is… and if it is indeed ignorant and self-serving, perhaps you will feel compassion for them.
and you might like to read Mindful Self