As you continue your soul work you will eventually discover the repeated patterns of thought, feelings and sensations what Jack Kornfield called the “Insistent Visitors.” In this video/audio blog post I take you through four basic principles for dealing with these difficult and repeating problems.
The four principles are: Expand the Field of Awareness, Come to a Full Awareness of the Feelings, Discover what is Asking for Acceptance, and Open through the Center.
When facing difficulties our automatic response (our egoic response) is get rid of the difficulty. Ego uses defense mechanisms like repression, denial, intellectualizing, reaction formation, projection, acting out, sublimation etc, to distort reality. In contrast, Buddhist and Jungian thought teaches us to turn these difficulties into alchemical gold. They teach us that our wounds that ego is protecting with these defenses are the very pathways to our soul and our highest potential.
To take the one seat in the center is to commit to meditation as your central spiritual practice. Kornfield warns against the practice of trying many different spiritual practices which move you left and right, forward and backward without ever drilling deep into the depths of your being. In this blog post, rather than, re-capping the chapter, which I hope you read, or recapping my audio comments, to which I hope you listen, I am bringing in another Buddhist book I often recommend — Wake Up to your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention by Ken McLeod.
In Chapter 3, “Cultivating Attention”, McLeod describes in great detail the practice of attention which is a critical precursor to meditation¹. McLeod distinguishes two types of attention: active and passive. He wrote,
When an experience absorbs emotional energy, whether the experience is a flower, a thought, a feeling, or a belief, attention goes passive and we are less present with what’s going on. Emotional energy shifts to a lower level. We are, in effect, passive participants in the experience.
In contrast, active attention occurs, “when attention remains directed at an object and there is a shift in clarity and vividness.” He goes on to say,
Active attention is volitional, stable, and inclusive. We choose to direct attention; we aren’t simply reacting to stimulus. Active attention is not disrupted by sounds, thoughts, sights, or other events in our experience…. Because active attention is not disrupted by habitual patterns, the more we live in attention, the less we fall victim to the reactive processes that are operating us.
With out further adieu, here is the visual/audio portion for Chapter 3, Take the One Seat!
In this chapter (chapter two) Kornfield likens the war in our head between all the ego voices to the wars in the world. He suggests the way to have peace in the world is to stop the war inside. He suggests that adapting to our society leads one into denial and addiction saying
We use addictions to support out denials.
To wake up to these voices can be overwhelming and depressing, but if you persist you will eventually find peace inside. The most important thing to remember when you begin to pay attention to the voices inside is to simply notice without judging. It’s important to NOTstart a war with these voices for that only exacerbates the war.
In Jungian terms the process of paying attention and accepting “what is” is called taking back one’s shadow because what gets denied gets repressed into our unconscious. It distorts reality. So to take back one’s shadow is to see wholly.
Another important point in this process of “stopping the war” is to NOT identify with the voices. You are the observer of the voices; that is your true self. The voices have created the false self or what Jung called the persona.