Author Topic: The difference between 'getting caught up' and 'being with'  (Read 1487 times)


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The difference between 'getting caught up' and 'being with'
« on: April 11, 2020, 01:04:41 AM »
So a very common and repeated teaching in Buddhism and meditation is learning to 'be with' or accept difficulties; emotions or what not during meditation and all the time; versus identifying with them or getting caught up in them.

What I'd like to hear thoughts on is exactly how does one tell the difference?
Up until now I guess I believed that if you spend a time day dreaming and forget what your doing or you're simply not aware of your thought or what's going on; that means you're caught up.
While if you're aware of a thought like "I am angry right now, this is anger" means being with it.
But I'm feeling and reading that there is much more to it than that. And sometimes even despite being aware of my emotions I'm not so sure I'm not getting carried away by them.

Sometimes simply being aware that I've gotten needlessly angry/worried etc is enough to bring me back to reality and the angry melts away. Other times its not enough and I find myself knowing I'm thinking stupid or useless thoughts yet I just keep on going... like I have no control over my own mind. It feels bad. But of course it passes eventually and I feel better later. My only consolation sometimes it remembering that.

This is a bit of a side note because it's more technical but; Intellectually I believe that control and  the self and all of the conceptual things of life are not real in the first place. But I don't know it experientially; I haven't really felt it yet. As of now; whenever I feel like I'm losing control it's very frightening.
"Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away."
-Hakuin Ekaku

"I have seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it has never come to pass" - Mark Twain


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Re: The difference between 'getting caught up' and 'being with'
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2020, 10:38:24 PM »
Hi Mobius,

I do not have much wisdom to offer, I just wanted to thank you for asking this because I%u2019m dealing with the same thing. Over the last year I%u2019ve really become aware of how much overthinking I do, and over the last month of practice I%u2019ve become more mindful of my emotions and negative thinking as well.

 I am part of a 12 step program for recovery for drug and alcohol abuse and I found, through this program, that overthinking would literally drive me to take insane and illogical actions (Such as relapsing at the worst possible time).  Since I developed this awareness, I%u2019ve caught myself thinking too hard on many occasions, but instead of being able to just %u201Clet it go%u201D I would then overthink about how much I was overthinking, and being completely aware of this!

It must have been a funny experience, my friends (Also in recovery) seeing me come up to them and exclaim %u201CI can%u2019t stop thinking!  Help!%u201D (I might have freaked a few people out, lol).  I%u2019ve found that a few deep breaths and focus on the sensations of the body help in those emotional moments.  I like to make a mental note, just like you said, but then I just try and continue on the task at hand.

This morning I became very angry as I couldn%u2019t find my phone and was running late to work.  I finally got in the car, was still angry, and then had one of those moments you mentioned when I was able to tell myself %u201CI%u2019m irritated right now, and what is it solving?%u201D And it almost seemed as if it disappeared.  My point with all of this is that I relate to you 100%, and I am eager to hear someone with more wisdom than I respond to this thread, but this is my take on it:

We cannot wish all of our negative thinking or emotions away by simply becoming aware of them.  An expectation I had coming into meditation was that I would be able to, but it%u2019s simply not true.  Sometimes yes, but not all the time.  I%u2019ve found it helps me a lot when I simply note the bad mood I have and remind myself that it, as everything else in the universe, will pass.  My standard is to not act out of my emotions. 

I tutor children.  It%u2019s my job.  Children can be irritable when you are in the middle of a nine hour shift and you%u2019re addicted to caffeine but tapering off.  I think some pretty awful things about those children sometimes, but when I do I just take a note of it and then let it be.  I will still probably be feeling irritation, but I take a mental note that it is just that: irritation.  I May feel joyous thirty minutes from that point, I may even feel sad or depressed, so there is nothing to figure out because it%u2019s temporary.  I will try to be loving toward the child in my actions, but I%u2019ll just be aware that I%u2019m irritated in my emotions.

I don%u2019t know if this helps at all, because I am very new in my practice.  I just wanted to chime in that I am excited for an answer as well. :)

Much metta,

EDIT:  Something has been helping a lot is adding Metta Bhavana to my daily practice.  Whereas mindfulness meditation helps me build awareness of my mind, metta Bhavana helps me actually develop a sense of love for others.  I usually leave my breath meditations feeling aware and relaxed, and I usually leave my metta Bhavana feeling joy.  They go hand in hand for me, for when there is more joy, there is less room for resentment, anger, and overcomplication. :)
« Last Edit: April 11, 2020, 10:43:28 PM by NewPathForward »


  • stillpointdancer
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Re: The difference between 'getting caught up' and 'being with'
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2020, 11:38:13 AM »
I think that it is all about changing your relationship with your thoughts and emotions, rather than trying to control them by sheer will power alone. Just by raising the issue you start to bring this about, as most people don't question their thoughts and emotions at all. "He made me angry" misses the point that the anger that arises is not down to him. The action might be, but the reaction is owned by the person feeling the emotions.

Once you see this, there is no going back to pretending you are not responsible for your emotions. You can still have them, anger can still arise, but you now can't unsee it for what it is, an emotion you are responsible for and which you can work on in the long term.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

dharma bum

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Re: The difference between 'getting caught up' and 'being with'
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2020, 05:34:42 PM »

Regarding the mind, the Buddha taught when the
mind has craving in it, we should know that the mind has
craving in it. The Buddha never taught, ‘Monks, make sure
that you don’t have any craving in the mind.’ He never
taught that. He taught to know. So, when there is craving
in the mind, know that there is craving in the mind. If
there isn’t craving in the mind, know that there isn’t
craving in the mind. If there is anger or aversion in the mind,
know that there is anger or aversion in the mind. If there
isn’t, know that there isn’t. He never taught, ‘Don’t have
anger arise in the mind.’ He never taught that we aren’t
allowed to let anger arise. He taught to know when anger
does arise in the mind.
If there are any impurities that arise in the mind,
then we know the impurity that has arisen in the mind.
That’s what it is to be mindful of the mind. If we do this
incorrectly, what we’ll end up doing is controlling ourself.
When an impurity arises in the mind like anger or aversion,
we’ll try and force it away. We’ll try to suppress it. Let’s just
try to know things as they actually are. If we know that
anger has arisen in the mind, for example, if we know it
properly with mindfulness, then the anger will disappear.
Mostly ignorant


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