4 Ways to Deal with Your Emotional Black Hole.

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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.

So, what can we do?

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

Photo Credits: Yoga, Zen, Tree

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anonymous May 10, 2014 4:50pm

Thanks for the Blog!
To me the four ways in addressing black holes are incomplete because they do not address the samskaras directly. They are effective in identifying/naming the black holes, connect them to one of the six "enemies" and offer ordinary mindfulness style of recognition and habit breaking. The real "enemies" are the samskaras as subliminal impressions that give rise to them. However the root of the problems that caused that black holes in terms of feeling state and the consequential compulsive behavior it creates, all of these are not addressed directly. When samskaras are not addressed directly the black holes will not be resolved and until then we are dealing only with the symtoms and the resultant emotions. Further more these strategies and their implementations and maintenance are but another mental constructionfluctuation. Ok as positive as they are they create positive smaskaras to counter balance the negatives ones but life is short and these strategies require a long time to produce effective results ( complete healing, coming out from compulsions etc). Until then we can spend some time in black holes causing others and ourselves to suffer.
In my view Black holes therapy requires deeper thought farther then Pratipaksha Bhavana Vipasana and popular/new age psychology and draw on from professional profound psychology for more effectives ways.

anonymous Nov 27, 2013 4:16am

Thank you!

anonymous Oct 6, 2013 7:59am

Thanks. This was a big lightbulb. I knew I was in a black hole, but you illuminated it for me. Saw that a black hole is just a pattern I get stuck in.

anonymous Oct 5, 2013 8:23pm

I want to print this out and keep it in two places: My office wall and my forehead.

anonymous Oct 5, 2013 5:11pm

This process can be accelerated by Voicemapping (aka: EVOX/ Perception Reframing) on the topic, The voice will exhibit patterns of stress that reveal blockages and false programming. A simple way to understand this is to remember a time you spoke with a friend or loved one, and you could tell within a few words that something was up with them…the voice tone tells much about what's going on in our subconscious, and that's where most of the sabotage lives…

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anonymous May 18, 2011 9:11am

Your smart, insightful post is thoughtful–so much more so than that Eckhart Tolle quote. His words are dangerously reductive. Whatever happened to honoring your sensitivity? To be bothered by the small things is an uncomfortable, temporary experience, yes. But it doesn't mean you are small. Such an idea can be so destructive to a yogi prone to depression. Care to discuss or comment?

    anonymous May 18, 2011 1:20pm

    Hi Suzanne. Thanks for your comment – and great point to discuss! Tolle's comment – the way I interpret his quote is more like an observation versus a judgment. When we realize our mind is reacting 'small' – we can observe it instead of attaching any sort of drama to it (judgments toward ourselves or others) and eventually rise above it. And, perhaps when we practice to observe more than to react, perhaps this process gets easier and perhaps it will also help to build strength and belief in the self, self confidence. What do you think?

    anonymous Oct 5, 2013 5:13pm

    Good point re: Tolle

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anonymous May 14, 2011 11:36pm

Anger is my black hole. I found your Tolle quote very relevant, too. In my lunch meeting today with a good friend and mentor, he said to me that I need to just accept how big I am and move on from all the years of thinking that I'm little. But that angry black hole is so powerful…

    anonymous May 15, 2011 1:10am

    Thank you so much for your comment. It means a lot and I have been there. We all must stop thinking that we are small and stop battling with our minds. We are only small because we are led to believe that we are…we can't do this, can't do that, only one can do this, one can do that. It is not true. Everyone has a part to play in this life. You and we are not small, we are truly infinite and unique and connected. We just have to believe it. Much love and peace to you.

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anonymous May 13, 2011 1:05am

Thank you 🙂

anonymous May 11, 2011 3:12pm

‘Black hole’ is a perfect description, as they have their own gravity that takes in even light and makes them seemingly impossible to get away from.
A minor correction: the verse as quoted is only 1:30. 31-32 continue, “The obstacles are accompanied by trembling in the body, unsteady breath, sorrow and anxiety. Concentration on a single subject is the best preventative measure.”

    anonymous May 11, 2011 11:28pm

    Thanks for your comments Luke – awesome!

anonymous May 11, 2011 8:17am

People suffer when they are not getting what they wished for. And they always will if not get less self obsessed and egocentric believing that their wishes are the most important thing in the world.
Cherishing others and the life around us will keep the inner life always on.

    anonymous May 11, 2011 10:47am

    Thanks Dace! Perhaps it's also good to think that realistic wishes can possibly come true through hard work and that it is not something that happens instantly. 🙂

anonymous May 17, 2011 2:34pm

Erin! Thanks for your comment. I think a positive thing is that you have NOTICED your cycle…that is important to realizing that you can go beyond it, you just have to figure out how….and you will! Try not to battle the mind so much, but practice tapping into that what is beyond it. Much love to you! I am glad you are out there!

anonymous May 18, 2011 1:23pm

Thanks Lizlady – your point about feeling ashamed…..we have such high expectations of ourselves and can be so unforgiving, especially toward ourselves. I LOVE the reminder that we are so much more than what our 'mind' leads us to believe. We know it deep down inside, we just have to remind ourselves to trust and believe it more often. Thank you so much.

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Tanya Lee Markul

Luring the magic of what is natural back into our daily lives, Tanya Markul is a freer of creativity, of inner beauty + power, and an enthusiastic igniter of the wild spirit! She re-writing the wild flower sutras, and offers a refreshing & badass view on spirituality, wellness & authentic living. Sensitivity is her tree trunk, flower stem, and nucleus. It is her belly, and her heart. Tanya is an artist of life, a faery of trees, a wanderer of the dark, a writer of heart, a misfit yogini, and an Urban Priestess apprentice. She believes in the power of your personal weird, quirky, magic, and that only path toward inner freedom & light, is through the dark — eyes closed, heart open. Tanya is the creator of The Urban Howl, Yoga Write Now & Waking Wild. Join her free forum for monthly yoga & writing practices here. Join her free forum for 30 days of exercise for 30 days here. Join her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & get her free weekly & quirky newsletter here.