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Lions Roar : September 2016
FEEDING OUR DEMONS rather than fighting them contradicts the conventional approach of fighting against whatever assails us. But it turns out to be a remark- ably effective path to inner integration. Demons (maras in Sanskrit) are not bloodthirsty ghouls waiting for us in dark corners. Demons are within us. They are energies we experience every day, such as fear, illness, depression, LAMA TSULTRIM ALLIONE is the found- er of the Tara Mandala retreat center in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and author of Feeding Your Demons (Little, Brown). anxiety, trauma, relationship difficulties, and addiction. Anything that drains our energy and blocks us from being completely awake is a demon. The approach of giving form to these inner forces and feeding them, rather than struggling against them, was originally articulated by an eleventh- century female Tibetan Buddhist teacher named Machig Labdrön (1055–1145). The spiritual practice she developed was called Chöd, and it generated such amaz- ing results that it became very popular, spreading widely throughout Tibet and beyond. In today’s world, we suffer from record levels of inner and outer struggle. We find ourselves ever more polar- ized, inwardly and outwardly. We need a new paradigm, a fresh approach to conflict. Machig’s strategy of nurturing rather than battling our inner and outer enemies offers a revolutionary path to resolve conflict and leads to psychological integration and inner peace. The method that I have developed, called Feeding Your DemonsTM, is based on the principles of Chöd adapted for the Western world. Here is an abbreviated version of the practice. ILLUSTRATIONSBYCAROLEHÉNAFF HOW TO PRACTICE Feeding Your Demons LAMA TSUTRIM ALLIONE teaches you an innovative technique to turn your inner demons into friends. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2016 33 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE