“Making a lemon into lemonade,” is, in psychological and social terms, the most powerful predictor of successful aging (Aging well, by George E. Vaillant, Harvard Medical School).
These are experiments with turning difficult situations or emotions into palatable experiences.
- Blaming experiment: Take turns in taking the blame with in family or friends. Each day choose someone else who takes ALL the blame of whatever happens to anybody – upon himself. How does blaming feels during and after this experiment?
- In the aftermath experiment: After experiencing an uncontrolled emotional storm (or even before), choose a quiet place, in solitude:
- Following inhalation note I and exhale and note – angry (for example) for a minute or so.
- Reverse: inhale and note – angry – then exhale and note – I- (imagine you get rid of the I while exhaling) as if the only thing left is ANGRY-Angry- angry. Do it for a minute or so.
Dealing with Kleshas- afflictive Emotions
- Acknowledgment and Decision:
First, One must identify the afflictive emotion: anger, fear, jealousy, guilt and then be persuaded that the habitual immediate reaction to this emotion is usually unskillful and promote damage for myself and others. This conviction is set by pondering on past reactions to kleshas and the fruits they gave. Last, one may take a decisive resolution to practice not reacting immediately but instead take care of the emotion in a skillful way.
Not to react to a strong affliction that is-bravery. To deal with emotions skillfully-that is a hero.
Think: did I inflict such an emotion on others in the past? If yes, you can see the person inflicted by you with compassion as you are now acquainted with this harsh emotion much better.
- acknowledge harming another and making him feel the affliction you experience now.
- Honest regret
- forgiveness to be imaginary asked from the person I harmed.
- resolution: I will do my best not to inflict such emotion on others.
In Buddhism: You have certainly inflicted such emotion on others either in this life or a past one.
Whether or not one recalls inflicting this emotion on others you may imagine others suffering from the same harsh emotion right now, and how they usually react and create more difficulties and suffering for themselves and others. Perform Tonglen- bring forth this emotion by pondering its apparent causes , Inhale this emotion from yourself and others and exhale a feeling of freedom from it, of great relieve.
Ponder your great luck: to skillfully deal with afflictions
When a strong afflicting emotion arises is where the ego is exposed with all its mighty. It is a great opportunity to look for it every where: who is he (my I)? who is the I that is so jealous? angry? fearful?Is it in this body? this brain somewhere?
Imagine what would have been my reaction to this emotion if ther was truly No fixed, never changing I ?
END NOTE: It is advisable to treat these experiments as challenges: can I pay attention to… Could I notice my response when…
Devise your own experiment: If you repeat it at least 3 times and find it useful, you are welcome to post your experiment and results in this blog.