March 9, 2005

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. I have not had the joy to look into your eyes before. I appreciate this fuller use of Barbara's body.

Barbara related to you the challenge of not reading and how she discovered the degree to which she has used reading as a subtle avoidance of experience. All of you do that. It's not bad; it's just part of being human. And yet, the core of spiritual growth is around the heart, bringing the heart deeply into your experience. When the heart is separated even in the subtlest way from your experience, then you are not fully present in the body, not fully present in the human experience. And how can you learn from the human experience if you're not present?

There is some degree of compromise necessary. Sometimes you simply cannot be so present. It's too hard, too painful. You do not judge yourself if you must back out of the experience a bit, but always the intention must be to be as fully in the experience as possible, the heart as deeply connected as possible.

We've talked often about the ways wisdom grows. We see how everything arises out of conditions and passes away as the conditions pass. Thus, everything in the phenomenal world is impermanent, and we see what we call "not self." If various conditions bring something forth, there's no central self that has brought it forth, although there certainly is a human mind and body that experiences it. But the self is not a central figure causing the experience. Karma causes the experience. Judgments, opinions, old biases, outer circumstances, many things cause the experience. We see it's not derived solely from self.

One of the difficulties here is that as wisdom develops, it's very easy to misuse that wisdom as a way to avoid opening deeply into the experience, and then there's no compassion. Life becomes very sterile and feels empty. So many of you say to me, "Is this all there is?" You feel alienated. You feel separate from one another and from the divine. But this is because the heart is subtly closed, withdrawing from the fullest depth of experience. Again I say you cannot always be that fully present with the experience, sometimes it's just too hard. But when you are not present, you must know you are not present. If you don't know, how can you become more present? You dream that you're present, and then you just keep deluding yourself, on and on.

So we ask ourselves, with mercy to this human who finds this situation difficult, still can I be a bit more present with it? You keep asking yourself how am I barricading myself from any experience? From a difficult physical body experience, from responsibility or the weight of responsibility, from loneliness, sadness, fear, neediness, feelings of unworthiness or self-judgment.

When these come up, there's so much habit energy to step back from it, and to some degree this back-stepping has been skillful. It's given you a way to cope with your experience. But my dear ones, you are not here to cope, you are here to learn. At the deepest level, the coping can prevent you from the learning.

So sometimes we have to see ourselves coping and give it up. Or at least release some degree of it. There's got to be a balance. You don't want to give up all the coping strategies before you have the strength to proceed with your lives without the coping strategies. But you also don't want to continue to use the coping strategies long after you've needed them. That would be like someone with a walker after knee surgery still using that walker a year from now rather than putting her weight on her new knee. Right now, using the walker is a very skillful coping strategy, but it would not be skillful next year.

Many of you have heard me talk about the lifejacket story. Many have not so I'm going to repeat it. My apologies to those who have heard it.

It's a hot summer day. You come to a lake and all your friends are out in the water swimming, but you don't know how to swim. You sit on the dock and look longingly, "Oh I want to be out there with them, they're having such a good time." I come out on the dock and see you sadly sitting there. I pull out a lifejacket and say, "Why don't you put this on and go out and swim?"

I show you how to strap it on. You're doubtful. "I can't swim." But you follow my guidance, go down the ladder, and find, "This supports me." You begin to move with your hands and feet, first 5 feet from the dock, then 10 feet, and then you're off. Every day that summer you put on your lifejacket and swim.

To a certain degree we can see this is skillful. It gave you the opportunity to participate in this joyful activity. What was unskillful that at another time of day you did not take swimming lessons, so you kept going with the support of the lifejacket. You held on to the illusion, "I can't swim."

Ten years go by. Every day you strap on this lifejacket. Every day you swim. Now, the lifejacket has gotten mildewed, moldy, and waterlogged. I come back 10 years later. I see you strapping on this rotten lifejacket. "What are you doing?" "I'm putting on my lifejacket." "But it's mildewed. It's waterlogged." "Oh no, I need it." If I said to you at that point, "Oh no, take it off," can you see how you'd clench it to you?

But if I ask you, "Descend the ladder. Remember what we did 10 years ago. Now, don't move your arms and legs, just see what happens." As you sink, you begin to kick with your feet and lift yourself to the surface with the understanding, "Oh, it's not supporting me any more. I can swim now."

For many years you had been swimming. As the lifejacket lost its usefulness, you had been swimming. But you neglected to notice you had been swimming, so you still believe you need the lifejacket. Now seeing that you do know how to swim and that it does not support you, do I have to tell you to take it off? I think you would take it off quite easily, cheerfully, nice to be free of that encumbrance.

Your habit energies are just like this. So many of you have outgrown the reasons for which you put on certain kinds of habits. Strapping on the idea of unworthiness, for example. Am I touching home with anybody here? Holding onto the habit of having to be the good one, the one who takes care of everybody; holding onto the habit of judging yourself or others; the habit of quick anger or impatience; the habit of fear. Sometimes these have not been outgrown yet and you need to do more work investigating them. But often, as Barbara has been finding with her habit to back out of discomfort and to turn to a book, if there is no book and she's right there with the discomfort, she's fine, it's not a problem, because she's learned how to open her heart and connect. It's no longer seen as "my discomfort" and something that has to be fixed. There's no fear around it any more but a softness of the heart, and that heart softening is essential for spiritual growth.

How do you open your heart to your experience? How do you allow yourself to connect more deeply, especially to difficult experience? Each of you will have places where you are most likely to withdraw. It might be a situation where others are blaming you, and that blame feels too uncomfortable, so you go someplace else. It might be a situation where people are keeping you waiting, and the experience of impatient anger feels too uncomfortable. It might be a situation where people are praising you and your sense of unworthiness says, "I'm not worthy of this praise." It's too uncomfortable. It might be a situation where there is what seems to be a hard task and you think, "I can't do it." It might be a situation where others are uncomfortable, and you think, "I have to save them, and I can't do it." There are so many different examples; these are just a handful.

I want to challenge you to reflect. In what situations is it most difficult for you to be present? I do not ask you to strip yourself of the lifejacket. Rather, I want you to ask yourself first, what is the situation. Second, what is my habitual coping strategy with this situation. For example, if somebody is blaming you, one habitual coping strategy might be to retaliate, to strike back. Another might be to fold into a place of guilt. Just because they're blaming you doesn't mean you did something wrong, but under the pressure of blame, you feel that you must have done something wrong. So that's a second place where you might go. Sometimes when people are blaming you, you might just space out, disassociate from it completely.

I'd like you just to pick one recurrent situation that is difficult for you and watch it with four questions: 1) What is the situation? 2) What is the coping strategy that you've used, the particular lifejacket you've put on? And then the 3rd question, do you still need this lifejacket? What is this lifejacket protecting you from experiencing? What if you find you figuratively can swim, and let go of this myth that you can't swim? So I'm using the lifejacket as metaphor here. What if you CAN swim? What if you CAN respond compassionately to abuse, saying no without anger? What if when you are blamed you can hear the other person, neither needing to own to fault, nor to find someone else to blame, but simply hearing and opening the heart with compassion? This leads us to the 4th step. Can you deeply experience the heart opening as you work with this process? What is the experience of the open heart, right here in this moment of discomfort?

First I want to hear any questions about what I have said, and then presuming the ice has not melted, we're going to do an exercise that some of you have done with me before with an ice cube. It's a very simple physical exercise. I'll explain it after we have had some discussion about what I have said…

May I hear your questions? Are you clear on the 4 steps I have suggested? (Pause)

Q: Can you go over them again?

Aaron: I can but perhaps I should ask you to do it so you can remember them. Who can tell me what the first one was?

Q: Be present, open heart.

Q: Notice how you avoid some experiences, what coping mechanism do you use.

Aaron: Okay. I think you've given us both one and two. One was simply to note when you pull back. What is the habitual situation? Feel that withdrawal, as a contracting energy. So yes, be present, feel that withdrawal. What is the situation that prompted the withdrawal? Each of you will find a certain consistency, certain situations that consistently trigger withdrawal, trigger contraction.

Then #2 as you said, what coping mechanism do I use? When I contract because something is unpleasant, where do I go? Do I move into the idea, "I am unworthy"? Do I move into anger? Do I suddenly become strong and powerful, aggressive? Do I become helpless? So #2 is the predominant, let us call it the color and texture of your lifejacket. #3, who can tell me #3?

Q: Keep your heart open?

Aaron: I would say that sums it up nicely. Keep your heart open. Keeping the heart open allows you to ask the question, "What if I do not go into this coping strategy? What might I experience? Can I keep my heart open with whatever I might experience, for example, the fear of somebody else's blaming me? Can I keep my heart open with this?"

And #4?

Four, let us simply say, what is the result? If I take the lifejacket off, do I drown? Do I find I can swim? Let us phrase this again in terms of the lifejacket. We start with wanting to swim, wanting to be loved, wanting to feel successful, wanting to feel safe, and the feeling of being attacked. Feel the contraction. What is the catalyst? What is the color and texture of the lifejacket? See how habitually that lifejacket goes on. And then the question, "What if I don't put it on right now? What might I experience? Can I go into that experience? Can I open my heart and allow myself to become intimate with this difficult experience?"

And #4, what happens there? Some of it will be painful and some of it will be delightful. There will be an experience of direct contact of the heart with pain or fear or sorrow. There will also be the experience of the whole self that is able to be with that pain, sorrow, or fear, and know, "This is okay, it will pass." That, "This is okay" comes with a deep compassion for the human being experiencing it. It's not an intellectual statement. The deep wisdom is there, and the ability to stay present with the experience so the heart opens with compassion, knowing this as the human dilemma. On the ultimate level, everything is fine, and on the relative level, everything is shaky, unbalanced, falling apart. We cannot hide out in the ultimate, feeling everything is fine, and turn our backs on the human experience, and we cannot get lost in the human experience and deny everything is fine. This brings us back to that pole meditation we did last October. Feet planted on the earth, head in the heavens. You cannot hide in either space in order to do the work you came into the incarnation to do. You need to hold the whole pole, to be deeply connected with the human experience and deeply connected with that which is whole and radiant, that divine essence of your being.

Barbara discovered in Brazil that when she's uncomfortable one of the things she does is to move into meditation and a deeply blissful light-filled joyful place. But she does it at the cost of escaping the human experience. I say "at the cost of" because she's no longer there with the human experience, so compassion is gone. It's a denial of the human. What was hard for her was learning to be there with sadness and joy at the same time, to feel the immense joy of knowing her eyes were healing. And yet to know for the human right now this is hard. To acknowledge the thought, "It's only 10 in the morning; what am I going to do all day? I can't talk to anybody. I can't read or write. The human is feeling restless." Then there can be compassion for the human, and deep-seeing into the fact it's okay to be restless. It's okay to have an unpleasant experience. We don't have to fix the unpleasant experience, just open the heart to it. Although certainly if one can shift it in a skillful way, that's fine too.

Do you understand the exercise I wish you to do? Not just once but frequently through these 2 weeks, deeply to investigate the habit energy using yourself as the microscope, and your own experience as the slide under the microscope. Are there questions?

Q: The question that I have is a universal question based upon what you said, Aaron. For most people it's very comfortable to be in the lifejacket.

Aaron: Is it, for you? Tell me.

Q: For most people, it is.

Aaron: Is it more comfortable for you?

Q: Not for me.

Aaron: Good!

Q: It's not for me. However, for most people, it is. That comfort zone.

Aaron: Let me ask you, are there some occasional times when you still do go for the lifejacket? (Yes.) Yes. It is wonderful that you no longer put it on mechanically. It is not wrong to put it on. If you're feeling that you'll drown, be kind to yourselves. Only put it on mindfully, don't just put it on mechanically. Can you speak to Q's question? For how many of you do you find more comfort with that lifejacket? At least in some situations.

Q: It's habitual; we don't even know we're doing it.

Aaron: Exactly. When you say you are more comfortable without the lifejacket, that's because you've developed a degree of mindfulness of when you put it on. The lifejacket is limiting. It closes you in.

Q: People are aware that they should not do it.

Aaron: Ah, please don't say you "should" not. That's too judgmental. People are aware there is a danger to doing it, that it entraps them. But if you start to think about it in terms of "should not", then you trap yourself in judgment. If it goes on, just ask yourself, is it needed or is it just habit energy that's putting it on?

Let me go back here. In January Barbara was in Florida with her children. They went out on a boat to snorkel at a coral reef. It was a very rough day. There were waves, not breakers but swells 4 or 5 feet high, lifting and falling. Barbara is a strong swimmer. They gave everybody a lifejacket, just a small vest. She felt it would get in the way so she did not inflate it. So she got into the water. She was snorkeling and doing pretty well, letting the waves lift her and just snorkeling. But finally she saw she was putting too much effort into staying on the surface. Inflate the lifejacket! Then it can be skillful.

Are there other thoughts about this question, the habitual putting it on? I want you to be very gentle with yourselves, no judgments. Just the question, what is this lifejacket doing on me? Is it still supporting me? Do I need it? If I take it off, what might I experience?


Q: That feels really scary to me sometimes. How can I move past that?

Aaron: With mindfulness. If it's scary, know it's scary. The scariness becomes primary. When something is scary, do you judge yourself and say, "I SHOULD do it this way, I SHOULD do it that way"? Can the heart be open to the direct experience, seeing perhaps this more skillful choice and that unskillful choice? The heart can open to the human dilemma. I want to make a more skillful choice but I'm too scared. When the heart opens and connects deeply with fear, often you break through fear. You see that just holding fear in itself is a habit energy.

Let me phrase it this way: that which aware of fear is not afraid. Think about that. So there is fear, and there is a vast awareness that can observe fear without separating from fear. This is the crucial point. We cannot use the awareness to dismiss the fear. The awareness is there AND the fear is there. When there is no dismissive attitude then you can be deeply present with fear with a kind attitude that's willing to deeply experience the fear, not have to get away from it, not judge yourself that it's there, but also not have to act upon it.

Put yourself in this situation. If you fell out of a small kayak that tipped over and floated away in a fast moving river, with rapids all around, of course there will be some very appropriate fear. There are rocks; there is debris washing past and hitting you. Fear comes. You know if you panic you may drown. But you can't just say, "Well, I won't be afraid"; there is fear! If you can open to the fear, you are much more likely to be able not to have to enact the fear but to hold space for the fear and still act appropriately. Strike out on an angle towards shore, move yourself out of the fierce current. You can grab a big log to hold onto. So these become skillful behaviors but they come out of a willingness to be present with fear, not to dismiss the fear nor to become lost in it. Does that answer your question? (Yes.) Others?

Q: I realize that part of my habituation is projecting into the future, like I need to do this because if I don't this might happen and I don't want that to happen, so I'm imagining. I'm projecting into the future outcome.

Aaron: To force the outcome? I am getting different words than thoughts from you, as I pick up the thoughts preceding the words.

Q: I'm imagining, or thinking, "I will know what will happen; if I do this, then I do this, this will happen in the relationship," so that I stop moving entirely. I lose the opportunity for something else, because I can't really know what will happen.

Aaron: So it sounds to me that this issue is about fear and control and resting in that place that doesn't know. We cannot always know what the outcome will be. That's when we're in the river. You don't know what's around the next bend. You don't know if the water is going to calm down or pick up in ferocity. How can you rest in that unknowing? It's about watching that which wants to control, which wants to be safe. This is not a negative characteristic. Wanting to be safe can come from a place of fear or a place of love, do you understand that?

So it comes from both, sometimes simultaneously. Watch to see that portion of the wanting to be safe that comes from a place of fear. You don't have to knock it out, you don't have to say, "This is bad." Presence and seeing deeply creates the shift. When you see deeply into the fear, the whole impulse energy of it dies. Then you may still choose the same action, but it's coming from a place of love.

I think the important thing here is watching that which wants to be in control, which is a situation most humans experience. This comes back to opening your heart directly to your experience. Fear, an exercise we might do here tonight if we have time. With groups of perhaps 5 people, four catchers and a faller. You take turns being the one who falls. You simply stand and lean back, letting go of control, and knowing the other people will catch you. Letting go of control, exploring that which wants to control. It does not mean that you cease to control in skillful ways, but control can come from a place of love.

In your question, please note that #1 is feeling out of control. #2 is mind rushing to see the outcome. That grasping at knowing is the habitual response to not feeling in control. #3, Do you still need to stop the flow in that way. If you let the experience continue to flow, what might happen? Can you hold the space for fear, and not act it out?


Q: It seems very useful because I felt my emotions are very young. But I haven't known how to help them grow up.

Aaron: With presence and kindness! Any other thoughts or questions?

Q: I wonder if you can give us some additional thoughts, ideas, what to look for, tools to begin to recognize, particularly the more unconscious or really deep habits, and the reason for them.

Aaron: Let us use the image of a frozen lake. Underneath the ice, people have pushed hundreds of pieces of wood. It grew cold so quickly that the ice covered the surface and the wood is underneath, pushing up. If you let the ice thaw, whatever is on the top will come up. You don't have to dive down under and say, "Which piece of wood should I go for?" Just trust that the one you need will come up. The question is, how do you thaw the ice?

You thaw the ice with mindfulness, with presence, and with the stated intention of willingness to be present with these habit energies, and watch them. That's all it takes. You must state the intention. "I have worn this waterlogged lifejacket too long. I am willing to see in what ways I'm attached to old habit energies that hamper my ability to live lovingly in the world, that keep me disconnected, and trapped in old karma." Just offer that statement of intention. And then, keep your eyes open. Thaw the ice. Whatever comes up, be with it. If you work through it, and it floats away, something else will come. Don't worry about it.

One of the habit energies many of you have is to make things much more difficult than they need to be!

Are there further questions? (No) I am going to withdraw my energy from Barbara at this point, and she will lead this exercise. We'll see if there is time to do both exercises. If not, we will do the falling exercise next class. I thank you for your attention as I have talked tonight. We will stop the tape here.

(Tape turns)

Tape has been reviewed to here

Barbara: Everybody has an ice cube and a towel. We're going to do a very simple exercise. Holding the ice cube, you can hold it that way, in your towel. Place it on the back of your hand. It's going to feel cold, unpleasant.

Lift it off again. Now, I'm going to ask you in a minute to hold it against your hand, to feel, there's an unpleasant sensation. A little bit of painful. You know it's not going to do any real harm. We're not going to hold it long enough that it could freeze you in any way or really harm you. But it's unpleasant.

I want you to watch different steps. These are not the precise four steps of Aaron's teaching just now, only related to the ice cube. First, just the physical sensation level. Touching, cold, unpleasant. Ice touching hand, the sensation of burning, and the feeling unpleasant, assuming it's unpleasant. If for some reason it's pleasant, watch that!

Second, given this unpleasant sensation, and perhaps rising aversion to it, don't want this, watch, does aversion come? Or are you just there with unpleasant sensation? If there is aversion there, know the aversion.

Third, how is the aversion felt in the body? Does the belly tighten, the jaw? Where do you hold the tension of "I don't like this"?

Fourth, what is your relationship with that aversion and the tension. In other words, is there a thought, "I shouldn't feel this," some kind of judgment. Is there a very openhearted, "I don't like this experience," the whole body is tensing around it. Can I hold this whole mind-body experience with love?

So we start to see how, first, the physical sensation, second, the feeling of unpleasantness, third, the arising of aversion if it does arise, and fourth, how do we relate to the aversion.

Now, here's an important step. The aversion itself becomes the next primary object, or the tension held in the body around the aversion. Does that make sense to you? First that contact was the primary thing. That's what you were watching. But now, what's really happening is you're caught up in a knot. The ice might not be uncomfortable any more. There might be barely any sensation left around it. The hand has become cold, used to it. There may not be a lot of sensation. What's really primary in your experience is just the thought, "I don't like this." Or tension. Or judging of the tension.

So that shift is what I want you especially to watch. What happens when the heart moves into that shift, really connects and is open? In what ways do we pull back from the whole thing? It's just what I think Aaron was talking about. He's just given me a 30-second summary of what he talked about, so I don't know exactly what he said. But, how much can be in the heart with our experience? When we are really openhearted and fully with our experience, does it make a difference? Does the whole body soften to just be with the experience? Do you understand the exercise?

Just try it. Take your time. There are more paper towels here if anybody needs an additional towel to catch the drips…


(Tape off and on)

Barbara: Please share your experiences.

Q: I could feel a contraction in my jaw. Resistance. I wanted to push it away and not have the experience.

Barbara: And how did you relate to that not wanting the experience? Was there a certain habit energy that came up? Judging or mercifulness, or?

Q: Just that real familiar desire to be out of there. That was it.

Barbara: As you became more aware of that "don't want this," did it change?

Q: I contracted less. I don't know that it was ever less painful.

Barbara: Thank you.

New Q: I had an interesting experience. My bare hand got used to the ice quickly. My other hand with the towel became cold. So I became fascinated with the unexpected. And I thought, this can't be this way. So I was resisting that experience. And I also had a rare feeling of spaciousness that I could feel around that, once I began to think about my heart. (Request for repeat) Once I began to just think about feeling with my heart.

Barbara: I'm curious: at that point did it affect the ice cube <melting>? When I reached that point where my heart really opened, suddenly I must have brought more warmth into my hand and the ice cube started melting very fast!

New Q: I had an unexpectedly pleasant experience. I immediately, because of being here, I was able to hold compassion for my hand that was stinging, and that compassion took me to a higher level of compassion where I in a way was dreaming of a compassionate experience, nothing to do with the ice cube. Then I became aware of the ice cube again and I noticed I was one with it. In a way, I loved the ice cube, and I felt myself melting it.

(Request for repeat) I felt myself actually feeling love for the ice cube. I knew my warmth was melting it, so I was a part of the ice cube's experience. And the ice cube felt cool, felt very nice in my warm hand. We made friends, I guess!

New Q: First I decided I would tough it out. And then it started hurting, and I was aware of the pain. I felt like I was a victim, something was hurting me. So I tried to find compassion around that. And I do have a way of moving into a spaciousness, and then it was fine. And when I went back to think through that pattern, I could feel the pain again. And then into spaciousness and it was OK.

New Q: I found that once again that what allowed me to have more space with the experience was the knowledge of the impermanence of it. Then I could relate to it better.

New Q: I didn't experience pain from the cold as much as annoyance from the water dripping down between my fingers. I experienced a lot of tension in my neck, shoulder, and arm, and a deep desire to do this (gestures). The way I dealt with it was similar to K, in that I was able to put up with it knowing that it would soon be over.

Barbara: Did you come to a place of softness with that at all? (Yes) So it wasn't just putting up with it, it was relaxing into it. Seeing impermanence.

New Q: I also relaxed once I remembered the temporary nature of it. And that's a difficulty that I feel when I'm in the thick of something, when I don't know how long it will last, or how difficult it will become.

Barbara: So it's a control question, safety question. (Q: Safety.) Was there also an element of wanting to control it, feeling like you couldn't control it?

Q: If I know something has a definite time limit, I can relax with it much more.

Barbara: Did bringing attention to this whole thing allow it to soften some?

Q: I pretty quickly made space for it and relaxed with it, with this experience.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron, he's asking, "A number of you have said that you quote 'made space.' Did that making of space come through separating from the object or entering deeply into the object?"

Q: For me, I take a deep breath and physically uncontract. And that helps me to move into it.

New Q: It's interesting because I, like Aaron-- the term space is something that I do not use as a normal term. However, I use surrender. With that in mind, when the ice cube initially, I thought I had not heard the time limit expressed. So I said to myself, "Self, this is not comfortable." So the control factor came in immediately. I said, well if something's not comfortable, I better stop. Because I thought that perhaps you forgot to tell us about the time. So, I looked around and saw everybody else was continuing this process. Not being one to ever not know that I can do something, I cannot do something, I said, "I can do this so I might as well enjoy." At that point I surrendered and I enjoyed the process. It's just like meditation for me. When I surrender, I actually can have a meaningful meditation.

Barbara: I'm paraphrasing Aaron, and he says he thinks the way you are using the term surrender, this act of letting go and coming fully into the present moment is your way of quote "making space."

Q: Yes, it's the same way, I'm just not accustomed to that space term.

Barbara: We use space in terms of creating a bigger container for something.

Q: Yes, I'm familiar with what they're saying, it's just not part of my vernacular.

Barbara: I purposely did not give a time because I did not want people to be watching the clock and thinking, "One more minute, 30 more seconds…"

New Q: I found quickly I wanted to do it right. I felt the pain but the first thing I did was to begin to visualize warmth. And then I thought I wasn't doing it right and I was supposed to be in pain, and see how I'm dealing with the pain. I thought I better feel the pain, the discomfort, and see how my body reacts, and my mind reacts. So I did that, and I found my mind was, like in meditating when my mind would go off in other ways so I wouldn't think about the hand. Very automatic. So I would come back to being present with it and then open my heart to the experience of it. And I didn't mind it so much. And was surprised at the ability to hold the physical pain and not feel tension in my body.

New Q: I stopped. It was too hard. I withdrew. But then I noticed I was doing that and went back to putting the ice on.

Barbara: As you watched yourself withdraw in this way, was there any heart opening just coming back with compassion to this human that doesn't want this?

New Q: The ice cube was very easy to experience. A thought came to mind, what if someone else was holding the ice cube on my hand? And then I wouldn't be in control. And then I saw that I'm always in control because I have a choice in how I react. I transferred that to other life experiences and saw how the same rule applies. And at the same time, I was noticing how much easier it felt to accept the physical discomfort compared to an emotional discomfort.

Barbara: Many different responses. Reflect on the experience that you had with the ice cube, with the question, what habit energies that I have might I see in this experience? Remember this is not a judgment of the habit energies, just seeing deeply into them. The way you were with the ice cube, the individual experience, is probably very reflective of your individual experience with any kind of discomfort, physical or emotional. What does it point out to you? What might allow you to go deeper with your heart into that experience? Look at this with little irritations with things and the people around you in the coming 2 weeks, with little body discomforts, with the mind that's restless or jumping around. What would allow me to go deeper into this particular uncomfortable experience?

(Taping ends on this tape, in middle of side B)

Copyright © 2005 by Barbara Brodsky