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How to Avoid Self-Created Misery


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I wanted to speak with you today about the gap of misery: the gap between what is, in this moment, and what the mind believes should be, in this moment. The distance between the two is what we're calling the Gap of Misery.


So, an example may be that this moment shows up in the shape of me in a traffic jam--going 14 and a half miles an hour in the fast lane. So long as the mind is in alignment with that experience, I'm at ease, at peace and in harmony. But, when the mind is thrown away from that, when it departs from that particular experience, and it now believes that I should go in 65 miles an hour as opposed to 14 miles an hour. It's created a Gap of Misery.


And of course, the further away the mind is from the moment, the more the misery. If the mind believes I should be going 15 miles an hour as opposed to 14not a lot of misery. 65 versus 14, quite a bit of misery. And, of course, it's not just about traffic. This happens with the numbers for the weight on the scale.


This happens with how much money's in the bank account. This happens with how people treat us. This happens with how we think that we should be. It happens with the weather. It happens with everything. It's a phenomenon that in Sanskrit we call vikshepa. Vikshepa is usually translated as distraction, but it literally means to be thrown out, to be thrown out from the center.


The mind is thrown out from the center, which is this moment, much like something placed on a spinning disc would be thrown out by centrifugal force to the periphery. And if you watch your mind, you will likely see that this vikshepa, this throwing out from the center of the present moment, happens quite a bit for you, because it is the nature of, it's not the nature of the mind, it's the nature of the untrained mind.


And of course, as it does this, it manufactures all sorts of optional misery, stress, anxiety, frustration in our lives. And making matters worse as the mind is thrown out from the moment believing the moment should be over here as opposed to over there. The mind will have you believe, and anybody else who will listen, that the real problem is the moment, that the moment should be over there, not over here.


And it's a compelling argument right up until we remember that this moment is the one thing that can't be any different from the way it is for now. And that's true of every single moment in your life. As each one bubbles up, they can't be any different from how they are including this moment. In this moment right now, you have no choice but to be sitting here listening to me.


Of course the mind will say, "Oh yeah, well, I could have gone to Starbucks," but you didn't. And you're here. And then the mind may say, "Oh yeah, well, I could get up and leave," and while that may be true in a microsecond from now, for this moment, that infintessimally thin slice of time that is now and now and now and now and now...it can be no different.


And when do we want to be happy? When do we want to be peaceful?


When do we want to be at ease? It's not next Thursday. It's not next weekend. It's not five minutes from now. It's, if we're honest, now and now. And now,


But here's the thing that so many of us miss largely because the mind has convinced us that the strategy is to change and struggle and strive with everything and everybody around us in order to get them to cooperate to the mind's agendas. But we forget that if I want to be happy now--and if now can't be any different from the way it is-- then I need to somehow figure out how to be happy with now, how to be at peace with now.


And the trick in arriving in that kind of harmony is to begin to manage the vikshepa, is to counter, that is, to train the mind to stay put. To stay in harmony with the moment as it is. Because the other thing that the mind misses, and by extension, many of us miss as well, is that all of my struggling and striving and complaining about the traffic going 14 and a half miles an hour doesn't make me go one bit faster.


All it does is adds a whole bunch of misery on top of the 14 and a half miles an hour, because again, this moment can't be any different from how it is. So the invitation for all of us becomes to become progressively more interested. Curious about the functioning of vikshepa, of the way the mind is constantly being thrown out from the calm center of this moment. And without trying to fix anything just yet. Just begin to connect the dots between how the mind is reacting to this moment and the feelings that arise within us. And this awareness becomes the first step to taking back control. And finding more and more harmony and peace and ease with our lives as they arise.

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Eric Wal
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