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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2010 30 after talking about overcoming obstacles such as depression and anxiety, he was asked about how we can manage our emo- tions in a world of ever-increasing danger and uncertainty, how to cope with feelings of paralyzing dread about our safety and the future of the planet. The monk said, “when you are filled with fear, anxiety, or other difficult emotions, the first thing you should always do is make friends with them.” rather than fighting off unpleasant feelings, it is always best to soften, open, and invite them. Fighting wastes valuable time. allowing them acknowledges the reality of that particular moment and makes it easier to address your circumstances intelligently. For exam- ple, if you’re walking down a dark street trying to pretend you’re not afraid, you might miss the valuable signals fear offers you when you tune in and open to it. and so it is with a broken heart, or any other problem, really. you may have been taught to attack a problem when you encoun- ter it, either by trying to fix it right away or else eradicating it. i’m not suggesting that this is never a good idea, but there is another option which is not often thought of, which is to extend the hand of friendship to your situation. This is an extraordinary thing to do. making friends with your broken heart, instead of trying to mend it or banish it, begins by simply making room for it to ex- ist. you could even invite it to sit down with you, since you’ve probably been hating it or trying to ignore it. when grief and disappointment threaten to overwhelm you, instead of bemoan- ing them, turning away, or shrinking in fear of them, you could feel them. instead of trying to shout them down, either by talking yourself out of what you’re feeling (it’s all his fault, anyway), mak- ing up a story about what it all means (i always attract the wrong guys), or collapsing on the couch with a bottle of gin (to deaden the pain), invite in your feelings and get to know them. For example, when you feel grief, where does it manifest in your body? does it weigh down your chest, close your throat, or make your shoulders ache? how about disappointment or anger or any of the other feelings that have become your com- panions? if your emotion had a color, what would it be? if your emotion could speak to you (instead of the other way around), what would it say? when you suddenly feel a pang of emotion, If your best friend were going through what you are experiencing, wouldn’t you think about her night and day with kindness, hoping for her to find peace? Now ask yourself honestly: have you felt these things about yourself? Monshu Koshin Ohtani The Buddha’s Wish for the World Foreword By Professor Robert Th urman www.buddhaswish.com or contact the American Buddhist Study Center Press 331 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10025 212-864-7424 Now Available In Bookstores and On Amazon For more information For Susan piver’s video-blog on Wisdom of a Broken heart, go to www.shambhalasun.com.