I have been on countless flights where I have heard the dreaded voice over the intercom stating to all passengers to please return to the seats and fasten the seatbelts as there is unexpected turbulence.
At that moment, I can feel my entire body tighten with fear as my hands begin to grasp the corners of the armrests, white-knuckled. My heart quickens and my face pales as the blood rushes to my toes, aka, panic attack.
Have you experienced those sensations in reaction to your own mind?
Oftentimes in life, we can’t avoid the more turbulent moments that literally jolt us awake and possibly even rob our minds of peace. Most of us could also agree that the past year has been one hell of a ride. Our life experiences do influence us and our internal states of being. However, sometimes these response patterns, like weather, can arise from nowhere and shift again. Our minds resemble changing weather patterns creating peace and joy one moment or becoming like a storm filled with worry, stress, pain, fear and so much more. To think, we don’t have to hop on a plane to experience turbulence, it often happens inside of us and the way we are relating or not to our direct experiences of our moment-to-moment life experiences.
Have you ever noticed your mental weather shifting from calm to stormy in an instant? Is it really some external factor or a personal “GPS” system responding to what we deem as threatening or rewarding?
These mental states or shifting internal weather patterns in our minds are referred to as the five hindrances. When they arise in our minds, we have an opportunity to get to know it and be curious instead of resisting what is. Simply being. The hindrances are coverings of our true nature. Our true nature is peaceful. I equate it to a picturesque sunny day with blue skies. Spacious, empty, present, and vast.
Let’s be curious...what are these mind states and how could we work with them?
The first klesha or hindrance is desire. Desire or craving is one of the main causes of suffering. When we are filled with desire, the sensation is a clingy and sticky feeling, a wanting quality, or we are simply lost in planning and fantasy. This sense of desire can actually disassociate us from the present moment and our bodies. As humans, we can also recognize the qualities of aversion, judging, getting caught in hatred, aggression, or ill will. This actually has nothing to do with what’s happening now.
What wall am I putting up? Is there a vulnerability or fear that my aversion is covering up as part of my defense system?
The energy system of restlessness is yet another type of internal weather or mind state. That sensation of not being able to be still, a worry, hypervigilance, or high state. It is also referred to as agitation. There can also be mental and/or physical sluggishness or torpor. The feeling tone is sleepiness and heaviness. We can overcome this by arousing our energy. By simply setting a goal, we can arouse energy and pay more attention to the task at hand. Begin to view each moment with a beginner’s mind and meet each moment fresh with curiosity. Just be.
The last of the hindrances which can impact our mental equanimity is of doubt and ignorance. There is a true sense of doubt of self, choices, meet the ruthless critic. Have you experienced that inner critic that drags you around all day? Hello, doubt, one of my personal visiting mind states.
Everything you seek is found within. Perceptions and thoughts in the body.
What is the felt sense of the experience? How is it showing up in your body or mind?
Find the voice of your felt sense.
The ever-shifting mind states happen to all of us each and every moment of every day. We can feel angry but instead of becoming our anger, we can be with our anger. We can be the witness and observe it without becoming it. As we recognize what is happening as it's happening, we can soften that gripping to our minds and begin to be with all things and the turbulence begins to smooth out for a gentler and smooth ride. This does not mean we are bypassing an experience but instead, we can explore what is happening in the body and mind and something begins to shift. We can also see how we respond to our habitual ways of reacting and instead choose to respond to life instead of reacting to it. There is a true opportunity for each and every one of us to wake up out of our very own personal trance, the place we get lost in.
Mindfulness and yoga therapy with me are great ways to support your very own personal discovery and transformation.
Connect to your inner freedom from these mind states. Ask yourself, can I be with this? This becomes our life practice. Let’s take a seat and begin to hold everything with a loving presence.
Here’s to sunny skies and smooth rides!
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