Monday, February 05, 2018

But Does Time Wound All Heels?

The reason I rushed out to buy all those crunchy snacks as soon as I decided to make a new effort to eat mindfully is that potato chips and their ilk are very delicious things to eat—at least, I used to think so—and, in theory, if I'm eating in response to physical hunger and stopping when physical hunger is no longer present, I can eat very delicious things and not fear to have them in the house. There don't have to be "forbidden foods," not even sweets. I'm glad, though, that I don't have to experiment with eating sweets because eating crunchy snacks seems to have afforded the necessary insights, and not eating sweets, besides being a vote for good health, is a sacred vow of mine.

I forgot to say a couple of things about my new neighbor: It did occur to me after a couple of days that a chaplain is not supposed to be mean to people. If I encountered this young lady in a hospital bed, I wouldn't have any problem being on her side, a clue that this ill will was definitely optional.

Also, my ire was hurting precisely one person, and not just any person, but the one whose well-being is closest to my heart: myself. For several days, I frequently made the silent wish, "May I be free from enmity." The great thing about that is that just the act of wishing that brings immediate relief, since the three seconds it takes to think that is three seconds free of aversion and therefore of suffering.

This brings to mind the anecdote about Ajahn Chah strolling with his students and espying a huge boulder. "Is that boulder heavy?" he asked his students.

"Yes, teacher, it is!"

"Not if you don't try to pick it up," he corrected them.

How wonderful that being free of enmity is one hundred percent under one's own control, and is a surefire way of lessening suffering.

I also reminded myself to focus on the experience of aversion rather than its object, as mentioned yesterday. Noticing actual sense experiences rather than my thoughts about them. This is what Howie advised me to do when I first told him about F., three years ago now. After I described F., Howie said, "Run away as fast as you can. Attend to the experience of desire rather than the object of desire." This advice I did not take, but the latter has been extremely helpful lately in processing the remaining vestiges of the powerful attachment that doomed relationship gave birth to and reinforced over and over.

It has taken a long time to feel OK about F. being gone, but time—a few seconds plus a few more seconds plus a few more seconds, repeated over and over—has eventually begun to work its healing magic.

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