Mindfulness as Waste Management: Reduce, Reuse, RecyclePhoto by Tara Chill

Mindfulness as Waste Management: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Discussion date: Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Recently, I felt stuck in a very persistent personal emotional and mental eddy. Thankfully, the next day I had an insight. In noticing a bunch of empty trash, recycling, and compost bins that needed to be brought in from the street it hit me…reduce, reuse, recycle! Could the same mantra that raised my childhood awareness of the material waste stream also assist me as an adult with awareness of my personal energetic waste streams? Is it possible for whatever arises in me to be transformed into compost through which I can enrich life and spur growth?

Over the years, I have gained awareness of an underlying thread of anger that wells up inside me during times of quiet. Mindfulness practice supported me in looking deeper into this anger – to befriend it and not try to escape from it. In doing so, I discovered anger arises in me as a way to create a barrier between me and those people I am most afraid of being hurt by or losing.

When I face the fear of being left, rejected or betrayed by those I love, I touch the overwhelmingly deep sadness that could ensue from such loss, I can acknowledge my fear of getting lost in such sadness. If I am honest (i.e. aware) I can admit that I have gotten through it before. If I am even more forthright, I can admit that the fiery, externally-directed feeling of anger that arises in me is a ruse to push away my own sadness. It is a frighteningly easy fire hose to open and spray outward towards others. As many of us have learned, if I am projecting anger outward, I do not need to invite the pain and sadness inward into my own heart.

Yes, my fear of loss and rejection are based in my real-life experiences of feeling deserted, ill-treated, and estranged from and by important people in my life. However, this fear of loss also prevents me from enjoying real-time connection and interferes with the healthy vulnerability required to grow in personal and relational wellbeing. Being fearful and using anger to “protect” myself undermines the very relationships I am terrified of losing and causes harm to those very people I love most deeply.

David Richo in Shadow Dance: Liberating the Power of Your Dark Side identifies the difficulties and the benefits in facing directly our intimidating aspects:

The challenge is in accepting ourselves all the way to the bottom: admitting and holding rather than denying and eschewing our arrogance, our self-centeredness, our will to coerce others, and any other dark truths we cannot face about ourselves. All these constitute our negative shadow side, which can turn out to be not so much a threat as a promise: we can find the best in us in what is bad in us. We can see how the counterpart of every negative in the human equation is something positive. Everything is meant for good, says Saint Augustine, even what is bad.”

This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will consider elements in our personal energetic waste streams that we may wish to transform:

  • Are there ways we can reduce our energetic waste stream at the outset? Are there parts of it that we no longer find useful or helpful?
  • Can reframing our experience inspire greater connection, compassion, or appreciation of the human experience?
  • Do certain noxious-seeming items appear time and again in life or meditation? Are there insights we can gain from acknowledging that they keep coming back? Are we ready to face them head-on?
  • Are there ways our mindfulness practices has helped us to reduce, reuse, or recycle the negative shadow components in our waste streams.

I look forward to exploring these questions with you on Thursday.

Peace & Blessings,

Shannon Collier

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Jun 15, 2017


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