|Brain Storm by Thomas Dodd|
A few minutes ago I noticed I was grinding my teeth. "What's going on with me?" I wondered.
What seemed at first to be "anxiety" turned out to be more like sadness or guilt on closer inspection.
Some very good things have happened today and, as far as I can tell, they are happening without any effort on my part. So the unconscious chatter in my mind ran along the lines of "Undeserving!" and "You lazy piece of shit!" and resulted in teeth-grinding and a general feeling of malaise.
Wow (again). Ego is relentless.... Tireless in its efforts to weave a dark, dramatic cocoon for me to live in.
Of course, that's like saying "My lungs are relentless about oxygen intake!"
Lungs do what lungs do, eyes do what eyes do and ego does what ego does -- create suffering.
It was when the message began to shift from "You worthless piece of shit" to "I feel bad; I need a cigarette" that a little bell rang inside me. One of those mindfulness bells that Thich Nhat Hanh talks about.
"Wait a minute.... I don't need a cigarette. In fact, I actually don't want to smoke. Who said 'I need a cigarette?'"
Just because I think it, doesn't make it true.
Doesn't make it false, either. Just makes it a thought.
A few days ago I was returning from a rich three hours at piano in the home of a generous acquaintance. The Bay Area A.M. fog was just beginning to lift; the sun shone high and strong. It was another one of those situations -- good things happening without my control or contribution.
Within minutes, my thoughts turned to self pity: "I don't have a home with a piano...my mother didn't encourage my artistic yearning when I was young....I lost too many years trying to be what she wanted...I'm out of time now to make my dreams come true...how pathetic!--an old homeless lady begging for practice time on somebody else's instrument..."
I was feeling bad. "What's going on with me?" I wondered.
I looked at my thoughts. I became aware that I was believing my thoughts, i.e., taking my identity in that moment from the stream of thought. "Oh, this is how I feel...this is who I am."
"No" said the wise and loving heart of Practice. "That is not who I am. That IS what I'm thinking but it is NOT who I am."
It is true: awareness of Thought as Thought automatically removes identification with the thought. It's not that I stop thinking what I'm thinking. It's more like I abandon the thought and become Awareness.
If I think of my life as a house, it's as though after an eternity of staring at the floor and feeling cramped, I have recently looked up and discovered that there are no walls or ceiling, no doors to lock or blinds to draw... There's nothing wrong. Nothing very good (or very bad) is happening; things just are the way they are.