Making room for strong emotions: Many places at the table

This week we look into ways the mindfulness traditions help us learn the skills of greeting and handling strong emotions.  Doug will lead on Friday and Barry on Thursday. After the third meditation, Doug will share how these teachings influence his practice.   

Doug writes:

The second function of shamatha is calming.
When we have strong emotion, we know it can be dangerous to act, but we don’t have the strength or clarity to refrain.
We have to learn to become solid and stable like an oak tree, and not be blown hither and yonder.
In the Zen tradition, the center of the body, the solar plexus, is known as the “wise mind”.   Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we learn to bring strong emotions into this wise mind, allowing the emotion to follow the in breath deep into our center.  We delicately rest the anger, jealousy, fear…on the cushion of the in breath.  And we invite the feeling to loosen its grip with the out breath. 
The wise mind is the trunk of the tree, stable and calm in the fierce wind.  If we allow the strong emotion to stay up in our head, we are blown hither and yon.  As the storm grows, the breath guides us to shelter in the solid center.

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