Helpful Tips for Turbulent Times
Working with emotions from the Mahayana Buddhist perspective is a lot like composting. The basic idea is that nothing in our emotional world is to be discarded. The practice is to refrain from rejecting or indulging any aspect of our experience and learn to face it directly. By welcoming our challenging emotions and channelling the energy in useful ways, we see how emotions are like messengers, telling us something about our relationship to ourselves and others. Emotional maturity is not about creating more interesting stories about your feelings, but rather is about mastering the ability to be with the continuous flow of emotions as they rise and fall. In other words, emotions are to the psyche as waves are to the ocean. Emotions bring energy and information forward. If you learn to listen and stop resisting, they will simply fall away. The Buddhist tradition offers excellent remedies for the five kleshas, turbulent mental states, which include all of our challenging emotions. Here are some practices and things to consider when these feelings arise:
None of us like to feel jealous, but if we can accept the truth of our experience enough to work with it, there are some important questions to ask. For example, are you jealous in the sense of envy (wanting what others have) or are you jealous in thinking that someone you are committed to has betrayed your trust? Try to listen and reasonably evaluate what your feelings are telling you to determine the proper remedy. Should you trust your intuition that suspects your relational boundaries have been crossed or are you feeling lousy about yourself, impoverished, and depleted? Sorting through the truth of your experience in this way will help you resolve your feelings and create more stability for yourself and your relationships.
The remedy for jealousy is to practice rejoicing in the happiness of others. This is harder to do than the first line of inquiry, but you get more results from even just trying. The practice starts to chip away at the self centeredness that believes there is only a limited amount of happiness and if someone else has it, than you won’t. We know this is not true when we remember what it feels like to be around genuinely happy people. We can appreciate the generosity of their experience as a reflection of our own potential to enjoy our life as much.