Attachment to Pain

When something deeply stirs me up in the realm of fear or pain, I outwardly express my internal emotions by smiling less or not at all, by feeling and being impatient with myself and others, by staying to the point in communication and speaking in monotone so much so that it may easily be perceived as rude especially at work since I work in customer service where interacting with people is the job!

Before I get into what needs improvement, I would like to first acknowledge the progress that has already been made. There was a time when my highs and lows were miles apart both in frequency and in their heights and depths. Cyclical depression was my norm and I was depressed for months at a time. Depression is now a thing of the past, it no longer exists in my self-descriptive vocabulary.

Hurt, pain, irritation, annoyance, anger etcetera can still have a hold on my emotions. The strength of their hold depends on how attached I am to a given situation. I would like to point out that in some circumstances where one or a combination of these emotions would have been a default reaction three-years ago (or even six-months ago), they don’t arise at all! I am very aware of this and surprise myself each time this happens.

Habitual practice of observing sensations without identifying with them thus choosing not to react to them … has indeed weakened the hold of this mind’s attachment to and identification with I, me, myself, mine. It’s fascinating!

There are also instances when I roll in reaction without awareness. The most recent one that gave birth to this blog post lasted for, I think, a-day-(or-two)-and-a-half. Compared to months of depression, rolling in misery for only two-and-a-half day’s is pretty great! But misery in general is blah. Period.

As I gained awareness of my deep internal reaction to this incident, I realized I did not want to let go of the emotions I was feeling. I wanted to feel angry. I wanted to give space to my worry. It was depleting my energy, affecting me and my interactions negatively, yet I wanted it to stick around. I wanted others to read that something was going on. My mind was somehow getting a kick out of it, these emotions made me feel important somehow. “Wow, I’m attached to my pain!” I thought to myself. I was waiting for someone to ask, “hey, what’s going on? Are you okay?” And I imagined myself acknowledging their concern but not answering their question. Leaving a sense of mystery around it, feeding my mind’s need of feeling important.

It was easy to switch to equanimity and practice loving-kindness after awareness took hold again. My interactions returned to a place of where I no longer was spreading my negativity onto others. I even came up with actions to address my emotions around this incident which is a deep rooted sankhara. And so today as I write this post, the external situation has not changed, however, my internal perception of it continues to get addressed. It feels as if 90% of the battle has been won!

Needless to say, I wouldn’t be here without Vipassana.

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