Depending entirely on Tara Brach these days. Tara is a fairly famous insight meditation teacher and psychologist who works out of the Insight Meditation Centre in Washington, D.C.. I just recently found her, and she shot to the top of my list.
Reason is I woke up the last three mornings with the sword of depression lodged deep into my chest. I could feel the edges and heft of its path, the ache it left behind. Depression, accompanied by deep fear, existential fear and as butter cream icing, itching, screaming, trapped in a box boredom. It’s genetic in part. The only terrible thing I inherited from my occasionally schizophrenic mother is an outsized emotional affect. Which has driven me ahead of the storm my whole life. And has now become accumulated pain. Pain to power of 10. Luckily, I don’t have reality breaks, though I have observed many of them. They never fail to freak me right out. I run. I run.
Insight Meditation works within the Theravadan tradition of Buddhism, the Thai forest tradition, which is appropriate because I’ve had a forest for almost 30 years and I grew up with a forest behind my house. Trees are my anchor and I unapologetically need them to be happy and stable.
I have been practicing Theravaden meditation for almost 25 years, not well of course, and not formally and any decent teacher would totally bust my chops and send me back to kindergarten for five years of re-learning the basics. But, it helps, it helped. Like, a lot.
I glean from talks archived at Dharma Seed Tape Library in Massachusetts. I have my favorites. Larry Rosenberg taught me Anapanasati, the full awareness of breathing, which is 16 meditations in 4 quartets, upon the breath. The Buddha, it is said, was practicing Anapanasati when he reached enlightenment. Joseph Goldstein, an acquired taste, taught me how to deal with fear first. Then, Gavin Harrison, a young South African living in a foreign country, with HIV, facing a horrible and imminent death. That’s dealing with fear.
So I am learning not to run one more time. I am learning for the thousandth time, how to be intimate with myself. I am a full-bore northern-climate Wasp, trained-to-go-into- battle class, so I had to spend quite a lot of money learning to identify my feelings. Now that I can, as much as I want to, I can’t run when they turn up. I have to stay and feel it all. To open to it entirely. It takes 2.5 minutes for an emotion to work itself through your body and mind, as long as you don’t panic. I can handle 2.5 minutes. Instead of expressing the stern teachings of my childhood, instead of whipping, shaming, and hating myself, I am kind. We’ve been here before, I say. We triumphed, remember? I am gentle. No matter how frightened I am, I am gentle, I remember love. Above all, I remember love.