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Lions Roar : July 2013
can be reparative, making us more able to be there for the other people in our lives. Our views of human nature take on a more positive outlook as our negative modes go limp. It can make a huge difference to have someone who is inter- ested in and cares about us when our primal needs are unmet. But if there is no such other person, it’s not too late to connect with those qualities within our own minds and hearts. There are two doorways to the secure mode, one inner and the other outer. While we can turn to loving people to prime this mode, we can also look inward. There are many ways we can build the foundations of a secure mode on our own and become that source of nurturance for ourselves. When a gardener tends to plantings, a host of conditions must be in place for the plants to flourish: tilling and fertilizing the soil, creating beds, seeding, watering, weeding, and protecting the seedlings. The more such tender loving care, the more the plants will bloom. The life-giving force you dedicate to caring for the plants in turn yields their growth. Likewise, we can nurture the qualities of our secure mode by creating the conditions that let this inner safe haven flourish. Joining up in connectedness with nourishing people can be one, and so can joining up within. There are different levels of joining up. Our distorted modes are patterns that disconnect; our secure mode connects. Acts of kindness, clear communication, caring concern, and empathic attunement all prime our own secure base. So does nurturing our positive qualities, finding meaning in our lives, seeing things with an accurate discernment (rather than through a distorted lens), and creating safe inner harbors. The more we use these internal paths, the greater our confidence grows in our inner resources. Mode work itself frees our minds and hearts and lets the life- enhancing secure mode emerge as our default stance, the place inside that we return to over and over. Beyond repairing our individual modes, this work is also about holding the view of interconnection; our confused modes obscure that view. As we transform our perspectives, we can more often live in ways that express that view. Safe Haven That epiphany with the crying baby came during the same period as when my first boyfriend gave me a copy of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha—the novel based on a spiritual seeker who encoun- ters the Buddha—and then went off to college and broke up with me. At the time, I couldn’t imagine being without him; this was my first heartbreak, and it primed all my abandonment fears. I dove into that novel as a profound refuge. I found solace in passages like the one where the seeker Siddhartha comes upon a river and a voice within instructs him to sit there and learn from it. He saw that “the water continually flowed and flowed and yet it was always there, it was always the same yet every moment it was different.” Such insights helped me reframe my heartache within a larger dimension, one that affirmed the permanence of change, the nature of suffering, and the attachment that underlies it, which in turn helped me get over the loss of this impor- tant relationship. Even years later, when I once again spent time with that first boyfriend, we considered getting back together. As I look back to that time when I was seventeen and recall the pain of that sep- aration, I now see it as freeing myself from my attachment, which led to other worlds unfolding for me. If I hadn’t been willing to let go, hadn’t been open to change, I would have missed those opportunities. Those weeks and months of emotional hardship fostered a new direction in my life; the adversity transformed into oppor- tunity. I began to meditate for the first time. Having the guidance of these teachings, while going though this painful time, made me wholeheartedly plunge into meditation practice. I found I could connect with the inner refuge of a secure mode. That led me to intensive meditation retreats, travel to India, my connection with wonderful meditation masters, and my eventual enrollment in a graduate program integrating Eastern and Western psychologies, which in turn led me to the work I do now. I sometimes feel like an inner tour guide, encouraging others to connect with the adventure within and free their minds and hearts. Practice has been such an illuminating path to emotional freedom, awakening deep insights into my life, that I have par- ticularly felt the need to share the benefits of meditation. These include redefining our limited sense of ourselves and of others and embracing an expanded, more spacious view of our world. A compelling fruit of meditation practice for most of us may be in finding a path to the inner refuge of the secure mode. The secure-mode benefits of mind training include finding rich inner resources, such as feeling replete and self-contained or being more accepting of things we cannot change and feeling less need to control what we cannot. We get a more balanced perspective, one that gives us a larger view of events; we can see the sky behind the clouds—or at least remember it’s there. These are all qualities we might hope our childhood caretakers had brought to us early in life. But whether or not they brought these secure-base qualities to their caretaking, these are still qual- ities we can nurture and develop within ourselves. In this sense, training in meditation is a form of inner re-parenting. Among the many other qualities of the secure mode that meditation enhances, a few stand out. For one, we become less Our sense of calmness and security grows stronger as we turn toward a nurturing awareness within, instead of depending on other people for this. SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 70