Thursday, January 10, 2013


Most of us are very familiar with distress.  It is our habitual mode of existence- the non-stop busy-ness, distraction, projects and responsibilities that compose our day to day life.  I think all of us are looking for a way to reduce or escape this distress altogether.  We long for a relaxing weekend getaway, a sunny beach vacation or even just a sound nights rest.

Our efforts to escape this endless pattern of distress has been futile to date.  How many times have we said, 'After this project' or 'once I get this finished'.  How many dreams and resolutions have we formulated to excise this aspect of our lives once and for all.

A lot.

The thing about distress is that we cannot escape it, no matter where we go or what we gain.  This was the First Noble Truth of the Buddha, the truth of dukkha- the inevitability of suffering or distress.  The tricky thing about distress though is that we create it.  Reality hands us a stressor and we react to it in such a way that it causes distress.  There is another way though, we can use that same stressor that reality deals us and use it to create eustress.

Eustress is a positive response to stress that is healthy and gives one a feeling of fulfillment.  Here is one example of eustress: 

What if in our meditation we took our obstacles and negative circumstances onto the path?  What if we could actually use attachment and aversion, all of our negative mental states and conceit as catalysts for awareness, insight and realization?  I know it doesn't seem likely, but this is exactly what we are asked to do when practicing the Vajrayana, the Indestructible Vehicle.

As we sit here today that doesn't seem very possible.  However, there are two simple steps we can take to get started:
1. Discover your fundamental ground
2. Train in mindfulness

Both of these will require instruction from a qualified teacher and daily meditation to establish a solid footing.  All in all though, neither are too far from where you are currently sitting. 

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