Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Constellation of Woes

I awoke at 4am and stared into the abyss for an hour or so, before remembering to do metta which soothed me into a more relaxed state which wasn't sleep, but was skimming the surface of it. I got up at dawn prepared for a tired day, but actually feel fine. Yesterday I had just been listing all the things that were wrong with my life, starting with global stuff, then politics(so many disappointments there this year), then the list of woes regarding the trip home, the slide blocked road, the snow, the potential of wet furniture in the back of the truck, the caring for the dog who is has lost the ability to know when he is pooping, the failed repoint of the internet satellite. I listed these troubles with some satisfaction to see how really unpleasant my world and my homecoming was going to be. I could indulge and pity myself at how the woes seem to pile on, to constellate around certain times or events and this homecoming in particular.

But last night I awoke, defenseless from this onslaught. The fun was over as very dark negative energy paralyzed me. This is a very tricky place for someone who practices the art of mindfulness whose rules are don't push it away, don't engage it, just let it be there. The foremost impulse is to get rid of it, in my case, by finding out what is the cause of it. And this approach is like touching a Tar Baby. The more you probe and try to figure it out, the more you get stuck until you are wrestling with the darkness and hopelessly entangled.

I have spent a lot of time with this black stuff. It is, I think, old trauma, a black hole which has gathered a orbiting array of old injuries around it. It has tremendously powerful magnetism so that it is difficult to resist falling into orbit around it and being sucked into darkness, completely forgetting it is a trap with no exit. I have dealt with this enough that after the initial shock and the arising hopeless fear, I begin to remember that this is trauma, and that I know everything I can know about it and that leaving it alone is the best response. I am usually by this time focusing my attention as much as possible on my breath and if I can remember to do metta, the black hole diminishes, the constellation of woes recedes in importance as I wish myself well over and over again.

I have had trouble doing metta because I thought it was a cop out, that I needed to engage with the blackness, that it was the truth and so needed to be investigated. But the truth is I need concentration to deal with the Tar Baby and metta produces concentration and gentle loving kindness simultaneously, replaced dread and fear with their opposite. For the first time I wonder if indulging in the constellation of woes was a prelude to the darkness. Maybe the indulgence is not much fun or so skillful after all.

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