OU blog

Personal Blogs


Difficult but not impossible

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 8 Feb 2022, 14:37

I have been practising a strategy I heard in a dharma talk about preventing negative states of mind arising. And I have been getting some success with it, although I still get caught out at times, but it makes sense to me and the concept is easy enough to understand.

What one does is say to oneself 'for the next five minutes I am not going to get irritable.' or swap it for any unwholesome state of mind ' I am not going to get angry... stressed... criticise myself... feel any ill-will. I am not going to cling... I am not going to doubt... I am not going to be greedy... I am not going to be conceited... I am not going to be lazy for the next five minutes.'

Or try the inverse 'For the next five minutes I am going to be content... generous... kind... clear-headed... lucid... calm... mindful... interested/curious... persevere... smile.... be serene...be still... be equaminous,' and so on... just pick one mind-state to work with at a time - keep it simple.

Make it into a game you play with yourself. It doesn't matter if you don't manage the whole five minutes and rubber 🦆 it up, even a few seconds of getting it right is enough to begin the process of training the mind. And the good news is, just doing it once even for a few seconds is enough to get the ball rolling, and means you can do it again, and again, and find your way back over and over and the effect will snowball and get stronger, and in time with repeated practise it will become easier.

If it fails and a negative state of mind does arise and manifest itself, then it's no bother, one simply moves on to the strategies for abandoning/letting go of the negative state of mind and then just have another go (-: 

One is just training the mind, creating a new habit, it's nothing intellectual, one doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to do this. But one does need to be determined, patient and persevere. Like anything we learn in life it takes lots of repetitive practise, and if you mess up it's okay, just try again. Don't be hard on yourself, give yourself some encouragement for trying, be kind to the mind. Eventually the mind will get better at it and you will get a nice flow going.

I like this idea anyway, this strategy is hopeful, gives one the power to change oneself and not be fettered to the psychic irritants of: wanting, aversion, stagnation, agitation, and doubt. Those are the five unwholesome states of mind that cause all the problems in our psyche and disturb our peace. The good news is one can fight back, and make a stand, things are not hopeless, we do not have to be at the mercy of unhelpful past conditioning, we can change ourselves, train our minds, master our emotions and become happy and free. 

Share post