Dear Integral Meditators,
How much happiness does your aversion for or resistance to sadness cost you? This is the topic the article below explores.
Beneath the article you will see some information on i-Awake technologies latest track Profound Releasing. You can read my own thoughts on this type of meditation technology HERE.
In the spirit of the pendulum swing,
The Pendulum Swing of Happiness and Sadness
Two days ago a couple of my daughters most cherished dolls were chewed up by the dog. She phoned me in a haze of tears and sadness about this, seemingly wallowing in the upset. Two hours later when I saw her, her mood had changed, she was still a little sad, but already talking jokingly about it, and explaining to me how she was going to fix the dolls, and lightheartedly telling me it was my fault for leaving the door of her bedroom open (which it may well have been!) Over the course of a couple of hours her mod had swung from open hearted sadness to acceptance, humour and smiles.
In the recent Pixar movie Inside-Out there is a moment when the character Joy realizes that many of the happy memories that the child she is in charge of possesses are dependent upon a preceding sad experience that sets up the happy experience. Up to this point in the movie she has been trying to remove sadness from the life of the child, but once she realizes its value, she knows when to get out of the way and let sadness play its part in the life of the child; indeed it is eventually sadness that saves the day!
My basic observation here is that our happiness and sadness are like a pendulum swing; if you allow yourself to experience your sadness, to ‘swing toward it’, then naturally once it has been experienced you will start to swing back again towards happiness. If however you block your sadness and prevent yourself experiencing it, then in some ways you lose the ability to feel genuinely happy. You just find yourself stuck in a state where you don’t feel happy or sad, just neutral, ‘comfortably numb’ as the saying goes.
Learning to swing with the pendulum
So the basic practice here is simply to mindfully learn to swing with our moods from happiness to sadness and back again, without blocking or interfering with the swing too much. Learn to swing naturally into a sad mood and gain confidence from the experience that after a while it starts to swing naturally back towards happiness after it has reached the extremity of its movement.
First of all get used to asking yourself; ‘How am I feeling right now?’ and really cultivating awareness and connection to your feelings and moods.
Secondly, use the image of the pendulum, when you feel yourself feeling a little sad, relax into the swing of it, don’t try and block it too much; allow yourself to experience it without getting swamped.
If you do this then after a while you will find yourself swinging back towards happiness. Relax into that too, enjoy it while it lasts, but don’t try and cling onto it beyond its time. Learn to participate in the swinging to and fro between moods of happiness and sadness, to enjoy it with mindful awareness.
PS: One thing that I’ve become aware of with myself and with other people is that as soon as we start to feel emotionally uncomfortable or sad we distract and block ourself from that feeling by taking out our phone and fiddling with it. Becoming aware of this tendency and choosing to just sit with the discomfort or sadness instead of taking out the phone can be a simple mindfulness practice that we can set ourselves that will help us to manage our happy-sad pendulum swing a little better.
© Toby Ouvry 2015, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
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Integral Meditation Asia