We’ve been in retreat with Rupert Spira this week. He has often said that the apparent separate self hides out in the body–in our thoughts and feelings–and even after understanding is quite deep at the level of direct experience, the unwinding of patterns in the body is “a never-ending revelation.”
The teaching offers a couple of approaches to repeating patterns–thoughts with feelings attached that remain lodged in the body–that hook and yank us into suffering.
For me, anxiety is the constriction that plagues the most. Sensations build in the solar plexus and thoughts coagulate around those sensations, creating a story of sometimes agonizing proportion. Most of my life, I’ve tried to push away, change, or dilute this discomfort. But now I’m ready to meet the contraction fully.
The first approach is don’t touch it, metaphorical hands off. When we become aware of a constellation or constriction of thoughts and feelings, rather than getting involved–which is just what the separate self yearns for, so that it can sustain its apparent reality–instead, take note of what notices the constriction in the first place, and rest there.
The second approach is to become deeply curious. I can invite anxiety in for a visit, as though it were a cranky neighbor that I’ve always disliked, although I’ve never actually spent time with her because I’ve been so busy avoiding contact. As Rupert suggests, invite her in for a cup of tea. Get to really know her, to understand what she is made of. This invitation needs to be wholly openhearted; I must be willing for her to stay forever.
I’m more drawn to the second approach, although I’m sure I’ll try both. Stay tuned for reports from the field.
© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013