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  • Writer's pictureLama Jigme Gyatso

Turmoil's Antidote: self-talk or contemplation - 22dec22

Turmoil can sneak into our meditation and steal our peace. What are we to do about it? Purveyors of cognitive behavioral therapy (formerly known as a variation of the rational emotive approach) are enthusiastic to use deliberate action and self-talk to modify that which could seem a bit destructive. Could there be a downside?

Why do so many who begin CBT presenting with anxiety eventually develop DEPRESSIVE anxiety disorder? There are some who suspect that the effort of battling our darkness with action and self-talk could so fatigue and even exhaust our prefrontal cortex as to develop the symptoms of depression. What did the Buddha advise?

Liberation’s Right View (the first-fold of his eight-fold path) could be practiced in a quiet, gentle and sustainable manner. Instead of taking the hard, controlling approach of arguing with our thoughts and feelings we could take the soft, laid-back path of playing with a number of rhetorical questions. We could recite them silently, mentally, and in harmony with our breathing (spontaneous and uncontrived).

We could apply the rhetorical question “How could THIS/ worsen stress?” to our survival drives of shoving, reaching, competing, and clinging.

We could apply the following three rhetorical questions to our circumstance, body, relationships, and mind: (1) How could THIS be/ dependent? (2) How could THIS/ always change? (3) How could THIS/ NOT be me?

Gently contemplate these sixteen rhetorical questions four times each and consider those sixty-four breaths to be one set. Follow it with anther sixty-four rounds of passive meditation’s “Notice THIS/ relaxing!” and see how you feel. Do you wish to continue with passive meditation or is it time for another set of contemplations? This is the sustainable path of meditating and contemplating like a Jedi.

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