The Emotional Black Hole – also known as hitting the self destruct button, self sabotaging goals, aspirations and dreams and existing in a negatively charged emotional state that makes life nearly unbearable for yourself and everyone around you.
Are any of these familiar? They are to me:
I don’t feel like it. I hate the way I look. Life would be better if I looked…
I am so frustrated. I can’t do it. I’d try more if only I had…
It’s not worth it. Nothing will work. If he/change changes then I can…
No one understands me. I don’t know who I am. It’s not my fault it’s…
I don’t like myself. I’m all alone. I can’t tell the truth because…
I just want to sleep. I’m not fixable. I just want to hide.
I’m so angry. I’m the victim. I don’t care anymore.
It takes time to change accumulated patterns, or in yoga terms, to remove the layers of poison that surround our hearts and keep us from discovering who we really are. Emotional Black Holes can be triggered by any one or combination of these six obstacles or poisons: kama, krodha, moha, lobha, matsarya and mada. These are desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy and sloth.
These poisons, translated into Emotional Black Holes, often result in many forms of self destruction – unhealthy habits (both physically and mentally), an overload of physical toxins (heedlessness) and emotional hang-ups. These obstacles keep us from knowing the deepest part of our selves and further more from developing an understanding of all life.
1. Recognize the symptoms of sabotage. Symptoms like…giving up not based on anything reasonable, insatiable cravings, procrastination (waiting for something unreasonable or unnecessary to happen in order to start or to move forward), carelessness (not believing in what you are doing, not believing in the process), the inability to retain your efforts (even the slightest effort – always starting from the very beginning), an inability to focus (or at least the inability to make a sincere effort to focus) and being easily distracted.
Yoga Sutras 1:30-1:32 vyadhi styana samshaya pramada alasya avirati bhranti-darshana alabdha-bhumikatva anavasthitatva chitta vikshepa te antarayah
2. Recognize the thoughts that lead to sabotage. Buddha says ‘we are what we think.’ Sometimes hearing our inner voice, our inner wisdom is hard when we have twenty other ‘voices’ screaming for our attention. Learning to observe these ‘voices’ versus attaching reaction, an emotion (or stress) to them can be a very good way to give ourselves some space to ‘think’. Perhaps things aren’t as intense or horrible as they seem. Perhaps they are even manageable.
What are your thoughts upon starting a project or goal – are they positive and self-affirming or are they full of self trashing and doubt? What are your thoughts during yoga practice, better yet, during more challenging postures? What is your inner dialogue during meditation? When you look into a mirror? When you supposedly f*ck something up? When you are faced with a challenging situation or person?
Learning to recognize the negativity and judgment that we alone instill upon ourselves can be a HUGE way to instigate a positive change from within – remove (or replace) anything from our inner dialogue that isn’t of compassion and support. Practice makes easier.
3. Don’t attach to the drama. To achieve we must get our life together and we must not get caught up in the drama. When we sense that an obstacle is flirting with us, we need not attach to it, but observe it and learn from it. There will always be obstacles – this is easily predictable! However, we can learn to deal with them better – like my Grandma says, we don’t need to make a mountain out of a molehill. When we make an honest effort to understand them (our obstacles), without attaching drama, we open up to learning something about ourselves. We will eventually evolve from thinking ‘what is wrong with me’ to understanding that everything is temporary and that despite its presence, we can maintain or manifest peace of mind.
‘If small things have the power to disturb you, then who you think you are is exactly that: small.’ –Eckhart Tolle
4. Break patterns. I can hear the voice of one of my yoga teachers, ‘Anything meaningful in life usually comes at the expense of a little sacrifice and hard work.’ In many ways we are deeply attached to these obstacles and therefore we need to work hard to understand and accept them before we can rise above them. We all have a black hole within – we all have things like fear, insecurity and shame. Retraining our minds and bodies is a step toward unconditional acceptance and compassion for all life, including our own.
DETERMINATION, DISCIPLINE and PRACTICE. When we practice vigilantly, continuously with sincerity and with focus, we eventually allow our inner light to shine through.
The Way is perfect like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
-An excerpt from Hsin Hsin Ming on Believing in Mind