I had to do something.
Do you know that feeling when everything and anything around you feels just slightly more irritating?
People walk too slowly. You frown. Someone stands in your way. You ostentatiously walk around and make sure they notice. Your colleague forgot to tell you that agenda changed and you are not prepared for the meeting. You do your best, smiling at the customer, but boiling inside and coming up with tons of sarcastic remarks for later. Someone jumps queue at the airport. You righteously send them back, because they don’t seem to have any good reason for that.
That was me last week. OK, it’s not just things being *slightly* more irritating. I was pre-pissed and anything that happened just confirmed my mindset. It was not pleasant to be with me, and it was not pleasant to be me.
After I made a small drama at home because my husband put butter in a box to store it in fridge (wtf), I realized something is wrong with me and decided to do something. I turned to the lady who already became the calm voice in my head – Tara Brach.
She is a psychologist who teaches Buddhist mindfulness meditation, and is a big proponent of its benefits. I dare you to find a picture of her where she’s not smiling at least with her eyes.
Podcast with Tara is one of my favorite episodes ever. After listening to it I downloaded some of her meditations (she offers free guided meditations on her website).
That time I was already a heavy user of Headspace, but hers have a different feeling. I would listen to her 5 minute “Arriving in Mindful Presence” meditation during morning commute to work, and I would always smile.
Only one of her stories got into Tools of Titans book, perhaps the most important one.
Mara, the evil demon, would keep coming back to tease Buddha with anger, greed, jealousy, lust, doubt. Instead of fighting Mara or ignoring him, Buddha acknowledged Mara’s presence, prepared some tea and invited Mara to join him.
We are likely never be able to get rid of “bad emotions”. Things will happen that will make us angry, doubtful, greedy. It may even be just hormones or lack of energy. But ideally we should not allow these to influence our decisions and our behavior.
According to Tara, the best way to cope with negative emotions is to acknowledge them, name them for what they are, and then go back to those things you want to focus on.
Tim recommends simple trick. When he feels angry, he just says in his mind “anger, anger”. By giving the emotion a tag it makes it easier to spot when the action is lead purely by emotion, and avoid it.
So I decided to invite Mara for tea.
I hope it will help me to avoid the harmful behavior (Really Martina? Fighting over butter in a box?) , and make it easier to find out what is the underlying cause.
|Who is he/she||PhD. in clinical psychology, Buddhism teacher. Also, the calm voice in my head|
|Name||Inviting Mara to tea|
|Claim||Rather than suppresing negative feeling (anger, fear, pain) or ignoring it, we should recognize it for what it is, acknowledge it. That will allow us to return to what we need to focus on.|
|Test||I will try to recognize anger, impatience, frustration or fear as they will be appearing. I’ll tell myself “anger, anger” etc, and return my mind back to what I want to do.
Hopefully that will make me more productive and more pleasant person to be with.