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Environmental trigger

techietechie India Veteran

Friends,

This is regarding how something out there might trigger something inside of us.

Let's say I go out and see a guy getting out of a fancy car. This triggers the following: Ten years ago, I squandered an opportunity. If I had taken that opportunity, I would be the guy getting out of the fancy car.

This thought immediately leads to depression, self-pity, regret, etc.

You wrestle with these emotions, suffer a lot, but eventually they fade. Life goes on ... until another day some other event triggers the same set of negative emotions. You go through the same cycle.

How do you deal with this?

Do you allow this process to take place, or do you curb it right at the start?

How does mindfulness work here - is it about merely observing this process or actively suppressing the the very first thought (that is being triggered by the event/environment)?

I think a discussion on this might be fruitful.

Snakeskin

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    How do you deal with this?

    The untrained meandering ... meanders and drives us as its fancy vehicle ...
    I enjoy being in the moment, walking in the moment, driven to stay there ...

    Practice. B)

    SnakeskinKundo
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I would say mindfulness could be experimenting with allowing and experimenting with curbing. See how each is effective or not. At the same time you could reflect (or read others reflections) on same question.

    Snakeskin
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    I think there are generally two approaches. A cognitive one where you actively apply reasoning and antidotes contrary to your mental habits, like @federica laid out. And a mindful meditative approach more akin to what @Kerome mentioned.

    To add to the mindful approach, I would say that the goal isn't to curb or suppress the thought pattern but instead to let it go. Gil Fronsdale has the analogy of sitting on the bank of a river. Boats go up and down the river, the boats here are our thoughts and triggering events that bring them up. We can either stay seated on the river bank or we can get on the boat and let it carry us down river. Sometimes we want to go where the boat is going but sometimes we don't, mindfulness and insight let us see when we get on the boat and practicing meditation gives us the power to get off again... and again.

    SnakeskinJeffrey
  • Personally, if I could nip a process like the example in the bud, I would. If it's stronger than that, I say it should be contemplatively observed with the intent of renunciation.

    Herein, monks, when sense-desire is present, a monk knows, "There is sense-desire in me," or when sense-desire is not present, he knows, "There is no sense-desire in me." He knows how the arising of the non-arisen sense-desire comes to be; he knows how the abandoning of the arisen sense-desire comes to be; and he knows how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned sense-desire comes to be.
    -- MN 10

    Jeffreyperson
  • I'm working on this as well. Second foundation of mindfulness, mindfulness of feeling tones. If you can recognize the feeling tone that accompanies an experience/thought/emotion you can then (after much practice!) start to see it before the thought/emotion arises. By recognizing that our thoughts are empty and emotions are not innate to an experience they are put on the experience by your mind, you can observe them and let them go a little easier as well.

    This is my shorthand version of my experience with it. I would suggest doing some reading/ research on feeling tones/sathipattana sutta get a better feel of it for yourself, since that's what Buddhism is all about!

    I've found videos through seattleinsight.org with rodney smith who goes through each foundation they are great!

    JeffreySnakeskin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I think being mindful of the fact you are aware it is happening is a big step alone. Just knowing our habit tendencies are there before we react is monumental for most people. I talk through them in my mind, usually. Recognizing and naming them helps me to see what is going on, and then I can make a better decision. yesterday I was working on my laptop keyboard and was so frustrated I was ready to cry. So i stopped and looked at what was going on, and then decided to set it aside until my husband was here to help. Not too long ago, I would just continue to work on it until I likely broke something and then would be cranky the entire day over it. I find it helps me to avoid reacting to people online as well. Instead of just hammering out a response, I stop and think about how I am feeling and if my response is appropriate or needed.

    When jealousy specifically comes to mind I try really hard to focus on being happy for the person rather than mad it is not me. Today my very good friend told me she and her family of 8! made an abrupt decision overnight to take a roadtrip to Colorado for a couple of weeks. My initial sense was to be jealous because I love CO, but picking up and going isnt an option for us right now like it is for them. So I focused instead on being excited for her and giving a few suggestions of places to see. Instead of focusing on what I did not have, I focused on the fun my friend would have, and I was and stil am truly happy for her. I have been before, and I will go again. The other day I had a slight twinge of envy over someone with a new car, too, one I happen to like a lot. But I realized quickly that the reason I do not have that car is I do not want the payment. So i wished her well and was content with our slightly older car being fully paid for. I just try to turn it around I guess.

    SnakeskinKerome
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    How do you deal with this?

    Just as we practice mind stilling, we can also practice emotional and body stilling. Which is why meditation which has all these components is so fundamental.

  • ToshTosh Veteran

    I think some problems can't be tackled head on. I'm thinking of my alcoholism; trying to stop drinking wasn't the solution to stopping drinking, because I couldn't (not for any length of time).

    The approach which helped me isn't much different from a religious practice, such as Buddhism, where I had to learn how to live an ethical life (that's not as simple as it sounds), take a look at myself, make amends to those I'd harmed (if it wouldn't cause further harm) and in so doing created some 'good karma', with a practice of prayer, meditation, and compassion chucked in too.

    And funnily enough this lead to a more stable, happier and meaningful life, and the obsession to drink just left me.

    It's weird how it works.

    I suspect your problem would be similarly solved - or reduced - with a practice like that.

    I kinda think many problems are.

    lobsterperson
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited April 5

    @techie said:
    Friends,

    This is regarding how something out there might trigger something inside of us.

    Let's say I go out and see a guy getting out of a fancy car. This triggers the following: Ten years ago, I squandered an opportunity. If I had taken that opportunity, I would be the guy getting out of the fancy car.

    This thought immediately leads to depression, self-pity, regret, etc.

    You wrestle with these emotions, suffer a lot, but eventually they fade. Life goes on ... until another day some other event triggers the same set of negative emotions. You go through the same cycle.

    How do you deal with this?

    Do you allow this process to take place, or do you curb it right at the start?

    How does mindfulness work here - is it about merely observing this process or actively suppressing the the very first thought (that is being triggered by the event/environment)?

    I think a discussion on this might be fruitful.

    I've found that with conscious effort, we can notice the cycle happening at ever earlier points. Once we actually notice what is going on we can stop it. Eventually, we will notice it arising and be able to stop it before it starts.

    personShoshin
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