Ending the Fight


Very often, this question comes up:

I know I’m supposed to let go of craving and aversion, but I have preferences and desires in my life that I don’t want to give up! How can I reconcile this?

The solution is to distinguish between objective circumstances and sensory events. With mindfulness, we’re taking about loosening the push/pull on sensory events. For example, not needing an unpleasant emotion to go away or a distracting thought to stop. Those internal experiences may still be unpleasant or distracting, but if we are not compelled immediately into reactivity, a space opens up.

In that space, we have the freedom to choose how best to work with the objective circumstances that might be causing them (for example, being overworked, being in a bad relationship, not having eaten lunch, and so on). When there’s something we can do, we do it. Our logic and patience remains in tact. We use kind language and navigate situations with more grace. But even when we can’t change objective circumstances, we suffer profoundly less, seeing deeply that the suffering is not in the unpleasant thoughts/feelings themselves, but rather, in our resistance to them.

So in short, we should do whatever we can to improve our objective circumstances (within the bounds of ethics). Mindfulness simply shows us how to end the fight with sensory events.

Posted in Equanimity, Technique.