Monday, June 14, 2010

Heightened Neurosis

It has been a rough day. Knight was with his other lover for more than 24 hours and I have been struggling with my emotions and my fears all day. I have felt sad, almost depressed, and couldn't find anything in my reading or writing or anywhere else that would lift me up. But then tonight I noticed and picked up Pema Chodron's book The Places the Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.

I looked at the table of contents and was drawn to a chapter called "Heightened Neurosis." I am comforted by this:

"We might assume that as we train in bodhichitta, our habitual patterns will start to unwind--that day by day, month by month, we'll be more open-minded, more flexible, more of a warrior. But what actually happens with ongoing practice is that our patterns intensify...this is called 'heightened neurosis.' It's not something we do on purpose. It just happens. We catch the scent of groundlessness and despite our wishes to remain steady, open and flexible, we hold on tight in very habitual ways.

This has been the experience of everyone who ever set out on the path of awakening. All those smiling enlightened people you see in pictures or in person had to go through the process of encountering their full-blown neurosis, their methods of looking for ground...

A first step is to understand that a feeling of dread or psychological discomfort might just be a sign that old habits are getting liberated, that we are moving closer to the natural open state. Trungpa Rinpoche said that awakening warriors would find themselves in a constant state of anxiety. Personally, I've found this to be true."

I am still having nervous belly issues. While my rational mind has been trying to tell me that the physiological and emotional anxiety I've been experiencing is a sign that I am doing something wrong, my deeper self has been telling me that it's just heightened fear that I will eventually work through. It is so encouraging to find this passage, this validation, that what I am experiencing is entirely normal for the process of awakening. All I can do is continue to sit with it, hold space for it, rather than my habit of withdrawing, avoiding, and criticizing.

Even though today was rough and pervasive, it was different. Not as sharp, not as dark. Something is shifting.

1 comment:

teresanamita said...

This is just incredible. She really nailed something I've been trying to find words for.