Recognize, Accept and Refer

A wise way of working with difficult emotions

Rather than think about a problem and why you have it, and what you should do to get rid of it, the first piece of advice is to connect to how it feels, a careful process which has three aspects: Recognize, Accept and Refer. First, recognize: instead of a creating a long story about me and her and how things should be, turn your attention to the impact the event is having on you. You try to recognize the tone of the thought – say as ‘irritated’ or ‘prickly’ or ‘weighed down’. That simplifies matters and gets you out of your head and into your heart. Then: accept the presence of a quality that you don’t like and shouldn’t have – but do have! That relaxes the grip on the issue as well as the self who is struggling with it. This does leave you with some emotional turbulence – but you refer that to your body. As in: ‘How is my body feeling with this?’ ‘Where is this in my body right now?’ or even ‘Where is my body now?’ ( No, not your address, but are you conscious of your body as it feels, rather than thinking about it, or yourself.) 

With these steps, you put aside the strategy of solving and understanding – all that is psycho-code for aversion and getting rid of and is based on the view that these phenomena are me and mine, and that me and mine can fix them. And that’s not so, otherwise you would have done so by now. Instead connect – only spread a patient and sympathetic awareness over the stress, only connect the mental to the embodied aspect; only feel the feeling directly as a feeling.

Ajahn Sucitto, Only Connect – the wise angel

The nature of things

The nature of experience itself is change and movement, and this is why so many of us find that we’re to one degree or another being knocked off balance and losing our sense of equanimity. The entire world seems to be shifting, and it seems to be happening very, very quickly. So if we’re looking for a relative stillness, if we’re looking for all of this change and movement to stop, we’re always going to be frustrated, because this kind of stillness is elusive, very hard to maintain, and it can slip away in any given moment. Instead of trying to control our minds or environments by contracting or hiding in order to find this inner stillness, we must throw our senses wide open – listening, feeling, seeing – and become very wide and vast.

When you welcome all of experience into your awareness, a certain type of stillness starts to emerge organically


Saturday silence

Silence can be a plan
rigorously executed
the blueprint to a life
It is a presence
it has a history a form
Do not confuse it
with any kind of absence

It was an old theme even for me:
Language cannot do everything

Adrienne Rich, Cartographies of Silence, 3 and 7 [extracts]