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Violence against Self

Are you relating to yourself in a manner that results in your life being more emotionally or physically violent than it need be?

By Phillip Moffitt

Another method you can use to cope with overscheduling is to notice each time you experience fear or wanting while thinking about all you have to do. Consciously label these feelings as fear and wanting in your mind and then see for yourself that they originate as impersonal mind-states, the way a storm forms due to weather conditions. The land that receives the storm does not own it, and the storm is not the land; it's just a storm, which due to its own characteristics can cause damage. So it is with the stormy situations in your life where there is a tendency to both deny and take ownership of fear or wanting. This misperception leads you to believe you should be able to control them, which in turn causes the physical contractions and the mental anguish that constitute violence to self.

Stopping the Violence

In seeking freedom from violence to self, practice noticing over and over again that you are constantly, and usually unconsciously, wanting things to be different than the way they are. You become a little dictator to yourself, sitting on a throne, arms crossed, pouting and demanding that things you like should stay the way they are forever and what you do not like should disappear immediately. This craving to hold on to what you like and to get rid of what you find difficult is considered the source of suffering in life and the origin of violence against self. By practicing living with things as they are, you will discover that while life may not be less painful, your experience of it is immeasurably better. Also, fully accepting what is true in the moment is the only firm place to begin to make changes in your life. Living in the moment is not a one-time commitment but something that has to be done again and again.

Nonviolence to self is a lifetime practice of which there are ever more subtle levels to discover. The more you are able to be with yourself in a nonviolent way, the less harm you will do to another. Be gentle with the body and mind; refuse to get caught in believing that things have to be a certain way in order for you to be happy.

At some point each day, softly close your eyes, relax your shoulders, let your mind settle on the breath without trying to control it. In the ensuing quietness, see for yourself how mysterious life is. Maybe we should create a new T-shirt, one that reads: "Life is interesting, and then I'm not sure what happens!"

Phillip Moffitt began studying raja meditation in 1972 and vipassana meditation in 1983. He is a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council and teaches vipassana retreats throughout the country as well as a weekly meditation at the Turtle Island Yoga Center in San Rafael, California. Phillip is the co-author for The Power to Heal and the founder of the Life Balance Institute.

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