Posted On 11 Jun 2019
Theres something I've noticed while working deeply with not just awareness of mind and body, but also self-compassion during meditation and in my daily life. And that is this: underlying whatever the details are of my external life experience in any given moment, there often exists some conditioned pattern of emotional and behavioral responses that can only be described as an addiction to conflict/problems.
Here's what I mean. So during a self-compassion (or self-directed "metta", metta meaning loving-kindness for those who don't already know) meditation, I'm directing towards myself intentions and words of love, support, well-wishing and kindness. As I do that, there is a melting away of something. A sense of ease that arises, or rather, shines through. A feeling of lightness, as if some heaviness has been cleared away. There is peace.
When I inquire into that experience and ask, what was that being cleared away? What was the heavyness in the first place? The answer that has come to resonate most is, the compulsion or need to percieve or create conflict within the body-mind. The urge to "find something wrong" is what was cleared away.
Whether the story is "something wrong with me", "something wrong with my life", "something wrong with someone else. The common thread is just, something has to be wrong, there must be something to "fix" or get away from or reject — and this near-ongoing impulse to look for that thing, like a program constantly running in my subconcious.
And the reason I'm calling it an addiction is that, even after the incredibly freeing, beautiful experience of bathing myself in compassionate intentions and being relieved from the burden of "something wrong", what tends to happen is that once I get off the cushion and go back into my life for a while, it's only a matter of time before a sense of awkwardness, or doubt, arises. "Can life really be this easy? Seems suspicious… there's gotta be something wrong somewhere" and then soon, that impulse to fabricate some kind of problem appears again, suction-cupping itself to some part of my life experience, real or imagined (often imagined). I start judging others or myself. I start getting insecure and pissy or even just subtly resisting and rejecting parts of my experience. I start getting frustrated that I haven't reached certain goals yet, even if I was progressing well.
And it's not always obvious, in fact it's usually quite subtle and then gradually snowballs (like the alcoholic that says "I'll just have one drink" that turns into 20). But there's this gradual movement from ease and freedom, into stress and dissatisfaction. And when i reflect on that process, like now, I intuit that it's not just the external life situation that led to that dissatisfied state like most people assume ("it's my job, it's my body, it's my relationship etc causing this feeling"), but in fact, that conditioned urge some part of our mind has to MAKE a problem, out of anything that happens to be available to make a problem out of!
What I'm seeing is that when the body-mind is thoroughly relaxed and there's a sense of ease there, that sense of ease has the potetial to transfer to everything in the life experience. "Problems" become "challenges". "shitty, stupid, irritating events that we hate" just become "events". And that doesn't mean we stop feeling, not at all. Events that lead to experiences of genuine sadness, grief, or pain become opportunities to practice awareness and acceptance, compassion for ourselves and others, and skillful action.
And our lives could just be that simple. A flow of experience and energy without resistance or rejection, met with openness and compassion. It's only that the "addiction to conflict" keeps appearing, or getting "triggered", and then we unknowingly feed it by engaging in a cascade of thoughts and behaviors that feed the sense that something is wrong, ironically creating more conflict. "It" (that strongly conditioned mental tendency, or conditioned sub-mind in TMI terms) doesn't want us to just let things flow. It feels awkward and suspicious about that. It embodies the belief that there must be a problem, somewhere, and constantly projects that into our life situation, causing suffering.
Do you resonate with this? Are you addicted to conflict? I think for those of us who do suffer from that addiction, meditation can help us wake up to, and break it, for good.