Separation Anxiety

This morning I was doing an exercise called “The Object and its Glow”, which invited me to discover experientially that I (the viewing self) am not so separate from the objects that I view—even though a sense of separation runs deep within my apparatus of perception.

At some point during this exercise I felt very sad, because I realized that I had not been there for a family member when they needed to talk. I realized, belatedly, how defended I am: how fortified against anything that I ‘imagine’ will disturb my established routines and certainties—which are mostly old baggage I’m carrying around from the past.

It also became clear that I reacted to this ‘imagined’ threat before anything (threatening or otherwise) had actually been said. It was as if a ghost had appeared which I treated as real. Then, what might have passed by—like a cloud of mist—instantly congealed and froze shut my eyes and ears and separated me from my own heart.

How I wish that I could melt this separation that takes me over. However, I fear that if life allows this sense of misunderstanding and exile to disperse, I will again not remember this present feeling and what it has to teach me?

Vows and resolutions can ring so hollow, when they are rooted in a mood, a thought, or even a recognition that something needs to change. When, sometime in the future, a flash of unsettling emotion, fueled by an entire complex of conditioning, fills my mind–of what use will it be that there was a morning in late October when I wanted to be a more open and caring person?

Perhaps I need to train myself to recognize milder flashes of anger and panic when they arise and to practice creating a space between that flash and my response to it.

When I hit my forehead on an open cupboard door, I always react with anger, blaming the door for being there—as if it was the door that has attacked me, not that I have stepped into it. I usually curse at the door and at the world that permits such collisions, while instantaneously reacting to the sharp corner that has arisen so unexpectedly out of a space beyond the focus of my eyes–which are always focused on other situations, such as making breakfast. So, even that will be a challenge. I’m so conditioned to react to the unexpected that it seems akin to the way my leg kicks out when a doctor strikes my knee with his rubber hammer. And in that I’m not so different from a police officer, feeling threated by someone, who pulls the trigger before he has understood the situation.

It feels like a major, lifelong task for me to learn to not pull the trigger when an ‘imagined’ threat appears before me. But so much depends on it.

2 comments to “Separation Anxiety”
  1. Thanks Michael
    I am “measuring” my decondiitioning of these reactive tendency by noting changes in the intensity, duration, or frequency of their occurrence. Easing along any dimension is welcomed with a smile.

  2. Thanks for this encouraging, achievable approach to something that can be overwhelming and lead to a feeling that the challenge is to0 great to even work on.

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