It’s all well and good to practice surrendering to LOVE in the face of returned love, and it’s easy to see greater LOVE when we are relaxed, open and present with loved friends and family…but what about those moments when our demons rear their ugly heads? Do we love them, too?
In her bestselling book, Feeding your demons: Ancient wisdom for resolving inner conflict, author and Buddhist teacher Lama Tsultrim Allione tells us demons are our addictions, fears, obsessions, pain, and chronic illnesses like anxiety and depression.
“…they are not bloodthirsty ghouls waiting for us in dark places…they are within us, the forces that we fight inside ourselves.” (p.3)
Her teachings entreat us to turn toward our demons, to seek understanding about their purpose in our lives, and to nurture or feed that higher purpose. The end result is not that our demons become stronger, or that we are giving them more power over our lives, or that they will completely overwhelm us. Actually, when you truly investigate the underlying energy, you will discover a deeper truth about yourself, and the “demon” – that negative, encumbered, destructive energy – is liberated on it’s own.
When we are freed from the self-perpetuating and ultimately self-defeating energy-sapping demons in our life, we have more vital, spiritual, emotional energy to give to LOVE. We discover LOVE in a new light: a LOVE that is unencumbered, freed from expectations, cleared of skewed perceptions, a LOVE that is truly unconditional and based in wisdom.
(the following meditation is based on Lama Tsultrim’s teachings from Feeding Your Demons, I highly recommend the book in it’s entirety and the complimentary audio teachings for a more comprehensive understanding of these profound teachings)
Begin by sitting comfortably in a quiet space. Take a few long, deep breaths to center yourself. Once you have established a calm and open presence, turn your awareness within. Watch your mind for a few moments – that is, follow the track of thoughts without attachment or judgement, simply observing where they land. Return to the breath.
Now, think of something that is hindering you, that is sapping you, anything that is keeping you from loving fully, from giving and receiving love freely, from enjoying love in your life. If you find yourself identifying someone or something external, like your spouse or lack of money, ask what lies beneath that external phenomena. What feelings arise when you think about those situations? Frustration? Anger? Resentment? Anxious? Our very personal, unique experience of these external situations is where we begin. Identify the emotion that is triggered around these situations, give it a name, write it down.
The next step is to find this emotion in your body: where is this energy held? Say the word out loud, or meditate on this word and pay attention to areas of tension. For example, your word might be “inadequate” and the sensation might be a tightening knot in your belly.
Having clearly identified an emotion and the physical sensation attached to it, your task today is to turn toward the emotion and the accompanying tension or pain, simply to acknowledge it. More often than not, our first impulse is to ignore our negative emotions and the tension they produce. But wisdom and freedom are found in these difficult, painful places. Our demons help us to grow, underneath their terrible outer mask is truly enlightened energy.
Whenever you find yourself feeling triggered by an external situation today (I promise, this will happen!) turn toward the underlying emotional reaction, feel deeper into the accompanying physical sensations. Acknowledge them. Honor them. Give them a little more attention than you’d like. Ask them what they have to teach you. Even if you get no answer, even if it is uncomfortable, turning toward your demons is a powerful step toward turning toward a deeper, fuller, more truthful, more universal experience of LOVE.