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Lions Roar : November 2014
aCCordInG to dzonGSar KhyentSe Rinpoche, to be enlightened is to be free of obsessions. Given that i have obses- sive-compulsive disorder, i usually feel very far from that ideal. thanks to practice, though, i have my moments. an oCD cycle typically begins with intrusive thoughts— unwanted, painful ideas or images that invade my conscious- ness, triggering profound fear and anxiety. this is the “obses- sive” part of oCD, and it can arise anytime. Sitting here typing, for example, i sometimes feel modest pain in my fingers, and my mind kicks into gear: You’re typing too much and causing iLLuStRatioNSBySyDNeySmitH permanent damage to your hands. Feel those little irritations at the second knuckle of your left ring finger? Those are the harbin- gers of arthritis. then tension begins to build, and i feel as if i will drown if i don’t take immediate action. Here’s where the mental terrorists make their demands. Type slower. Put your wrist guards on. Stop typing altogether. Then you won’t have to feel this way. these are the oCD “compulsions”—ritualized behaviors meant to allevi- ate anxiety. the whole process is immensely confusing, in part because i don’t have a handle on the source of my intrusive thoughts. Some of them do bear at least some relationship to reality— repetitive stress injury does happen—even if the fears and risks i What happens when negative thought patterns are taken to the extreme? matt bIeber on his struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and how Buddhist practice helps. Over and Over Again Matt BieBeR is a freelance writer in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He writes about obsessions, personal and political. GetOffthe W heelofHabit SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2014 56