What to do when the mind runs amok? Can Focusing help?
‘Lots of buried anger and frustration’
Q. What to do when the mind runs amok? I’ve been doing some loving kindness practices but it’s as though they are bringing to the boil lots of buried anger and frustration rather then calming my heart/mind. There’s a lot of clarity, insight and wisdom in the anger, but no compassion. In that state I am like a banshee and see most of the people in the world as stupid! I’ve tried keeping it company when I am Focusing, but it is wild energy that just seems to want to break free.
A. I sense there is a lot of life energy right there in your anger and frustration. It is wild energy that doesn’t want to be contained, held back or patronised. It wants to break free!
If you try to contain it or calm it, it will only get stronger and wilder. Life energy that is curtailed will try to find a way, like a river building up behind a dam. Perhaps there is something in you that is afraid of its power, and what it might do if it was set free. Using words like ‘run amok’ and ‘like a banshee’ is an indication of the fears you may have of what happens.
Both these aspects of you need your loving attention. Not that they themselves are loving, but you can be accepting and caring towards them. Both the wild energy and the part of you that is afraid of your mind running amok, need to be listened to and heard, without judgement. You say bringing loving kindness to the anger does not calm it down. No! It needs space to come out, to be allowed to be itself, and to have that be OK. (I can’t do that, I hear you say. I’ll run down the street shouting and calling everyone stupid.) Maybe that is what this part of you would love to do. In the safety of your Focusing session, with a good listening partner, you can give it all the space it needs to express itself safely.
If you see it not as a negative force, but simply life energy, and indeed you recognise it has clarity, insight and wisdom, that can help you to be with it. You can try saying to it, you have every right to be there just as you are, and maybe there is good reason for you to feel as you do.
Let it have free reign in your imagination and staying in touch with your body. You’re not going to act it out in reality. Find out what it doesn’t want. Slow down and really listen to how it feels in your body. Receive what it is telling you without judgement. ‘So that is what you don’t want. No wonder you feel like that.’
Maybe it can tell you what it wants. What would it really like to do, if it could? Give it the space, and then check into the body. It might intensify for a while, as you let the lid off the pot, so to speak. It might need to let off steam for a while. It might need you to return again and again, until it feels really heard and accepted.
Helpful hint – if you find it hard to be friendly towards it, you can try being interested and curious. That helps you to be open towards it, even if you don’t feel accepting.
I think that Focusing can be a really helpful support, working alongside meditation. It can help you to address the issues that arise from your meditation practice, keeping your meditation space clear, and helping to reduce thoughts that go round and round.