Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

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tonysharp
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Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by tonysharp »

I struggle with depression and anxiety. As far as I can tell, both stem from my pessimism. I often overthink the pain in the world, and reflect on the life, eventual death, and separation of myself and those close to me. Which practices can be utilized to control these obstructive feelings? Or how can one see pain without being overwhelmed by it?

Your responses would be appreciated.
“It is a perfection that does not aim at completion; rather, it is wisdom based on practice through which one is always progressing toward the ideal.”
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Budai »

Even if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, picking up a Buddhist text, so importantly a Sutra, can help you greatly! Even if you don’t notice the immediate effects of the benefits, they are there and they are greatly many, because if you read the Buddha’s words, or the words of someone searching for Enlightenment, you will connect to your own Journey towards Enlightenment, and within, Bodhicitta will start to grow, and that is necessary for Awakening! The adherents of the Nichiren and other Lotus Schools for example chant and meditate on, and recite the Lotus Sutra, and read texts about the Lotus Sutra, and deeply delve into it’s text, and doing that coupled with expounding it’s principles to others helps them be the Bodhisattvas that they determine to be. This kind of Buddhism can be applied openly or inwardly to the entire Ekayana, so, if you feel like you’re lacking your meaning in life, think about reading a Sutric text, or think about focusing on a chant or Buddhist Mantra that you identify or want to devote yourself to. Buddhism is vast. I guess what I am mainly trying to imply is that you should find a way to Practice, daily, in a devoted way where you find your own meaning. You have your own story, and it is connected to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, and you are inseparable from your Buddha-Nature, so connect to that the most, and meditate on the Sunyata within, that extends to all things.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by reiun »

So sorry to hear of your struggles. Treatment by a medical professional would also be advised.
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by DharmaJunior »

As you may or may not know, pessimism & optimism are orbiters of realism. If pessimism leads to a condition of learned helplessness, we can focus upon a combination of realism & optimism that leads to a condition of self actualization via engagement. So you would meditate upon small adjustments to your locality. For example, one of the Lojong sayings is not to demean the teachings by dwelling on suffering. The opposite of this is not to become proud of progress.

Essentially you can meditate upon making a refreshed outlook to life. A small example, ask yourself what can I do a little bit different tomorrow. Keep doing that and with just a small amount of effort plus a prolonged period of patience transformation will come. :group:
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by FiveSkandhas »

If it's really bad do what reiun suggested above. Don't be afraid to get seek out good old unglamorous western medical help.

Otherwise if you think you can bear it, Kannon Bosatsu is always there for you, listening to the cries of the world.
南無観世音菩薩。
"One should cultivate contemplation in one’s foibles. The foibles are like fish, and contemplation is like fishing hooks. If there are no fish, then the fishing hooks have no use. The bigger the fish is, the better the result we will get. As long as the fishing hooks keep at it, all foibles will eventually be contained and controlled at will." -Zhiyi
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

tonysharp wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 12:13 am I struggle with depression and anxiety. As far as I can tell, both stem from my pessimism. I often overthink the pain in the world, and reflect on the life, eventual death, and separation of myself and those close to me. Which practices can be utilized to control these obstructive feelings? Or how can one see pain without being overwhelmed by it?

Your responses would be appreciated.
The Buddha’s first noble truth is
the truth of suffering.
As it turns out,
the Buddha was correct after all.
Human existence of suffering is the constant change of experiencing what we don’t want and not experiencing what we want.

The second noble truth is the cause of suffering,
which results from clinging to these experiences, which is in fact, clinging to the whole “me” experience.

The third noble truth is that there is an end to experiencing it as suffering. You can have sadness without dwelling in it, and happiness without depending on it.

The fourth noble truth is the means of ending
that suffering: the eightfold path.
I would suggest looking that up online.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

tonysharp wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 12:13 am I struggle with depression and anxiety. As far as I can tell, both stem from my pessimism. I often overthink the pain in the world, and reflect on the life, eventual death, and separation of myself and those close to me. Which practices can be utilized to control these obstructive feelings? Or how can one see pain without being overwhelmed by it?

Your responses would be appreciated.
It sounds like you are descending into nihilism a bit. One traditional antidote would be to focus on practices centered around loving kindness and compassion.

Also, with pessimistic self talk, the first thing to do is identify when you are doing it, and question it’s veracity.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttadinesso
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Matt J »

You don’t need a practice, you need a program. Picking and choosing practices are unlikely to bear fruit because we tend to choose what we like rather than what we need.

Then you follow the instructions and your mental habits change naturally.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

I don't know if this will help, but here are two resources, the first is a list of cognitive distortions from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the basic practice is just to call to mind this list when you have pessimistic thoughts and to see if they fall into any of these categories of distorted thinking:

http://alexcampbellmft.com/wp-content/u ... rtions.jpg

Basically, gain some awareness of your inner dialogue and it's distortions.

Here are some Lojong teachings from James Low



Learning Lojong requires more study and effort, and of course has a greater scope than the secular practices above. However, they are still (partially) based on accurately understanding how to view relative reality, from a Mahayana perspective. I would think you should take care of yourself first, before looking at this kind of training. If you are struggling deeply with anxiety and pessimism, etc. yourself; these kinds of instructions are much harder to apply.

One simple practice that I got from one of my teachers is a Lojong practice, when you experience anything negative simply generate a prayer or wish "may all beings be freed from this", and when you experience anything that brings joy, do the opposite "may all beings experience this joy". It is a "fake it till you make" practice, at first it does not feel genuine, but over time it changes things. It is a simple thing, but in some ways one of the most profound practices I have learned.

My understanding is also that negative feelings are a place (if we are capable at the time) where we can practice the paramita of Patient Endurance or Forbearance in particular. By cultivating equanimity (some might use the term acceptance) towards the storm of our own minds we practice many of the paramitas simultaneously, in fact.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttadinesso
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Queequeg »

Perhaps contemplating compassion, starting with yourself. You are a being who has gone for refuge in the Buddha - this is a profound accomplishment, worthy of the profoundest respect. Understand that your suffering is part of this path and in Buddhist practice nothing is in vain. Reflect on what you need to advance on the path, reflect on your future appearance of a great bodhisattva, and reflect on what causes and circumstances of support you need to get there. Pray that these causes and circumstances arise in your life. Turn that contemplation toward your close loved ones - what do they need to embody their perfecting path, and pray for those. Eventually, turn that toward those you feel neutral toward, and then those you feel aversion for.

More to it than that, and if it resonates, I would encourage you to seek out instructions on the practice. I found this basic practice to counteract the existential cold and isolation and fill the world with warmth and light.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Upaya Chapter

純一実相。実相外。更無別法。法性寂然名止。寂而常渉照名観。
There is only reality; there is nothing separate from reality. The naturally tranquil nature of dharmas is shamatha. The abiding luminosity of tranquility is vipashyana.

-From Guanding's Introduction to Zhiyi's Great Shamatha and Vipashyana
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

There is also this: placement of the mind.

Typically, we engage with our conflicting thoughts as though we are surrounded by them, trapped inside of them. We are like characters in a movie. The mind doesn’t see itself interacting. It simply interacts, pushed one way or another. This is how it is with most people, the placement of the mind is within that turbulence.

But, you can also watch this interaction as though you were an outside observer, as though you were watching the characters in a movie without actually being one of them.

You can watch your mind experiencing depression and think, “oh, that’s just my mind experiencing depression again!” ...but the mind which is making this observation, that mind itself is not experiencing depression. It’s observing the depression, of course. But it’s almost like watching someone else, in a movie, who has the depression.

It is possible to do this with some effort, some practice (including regular meditation practice where one observes arising thoughts and lets them go) to willingly place the mind into the position of observer rather than within the commotion and turbulence of the depression itself.
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

tony Sharp wrote: The depression sometimes hits, to varying degrees, when I’m enjoying a moment with something or someone. That’s when thoughts of death, separation, etc enter my mind. I think with some effort I could stop or control this.
Did you look at the list of cognitive distortions? Those are a good and simple place to start when you have intrusive thoughts you're fixating on.

The thoughts of death and separation are (from a Buddhist standpoint) quite accurate on the face of it, but fixating on them and interpreting that loss in the conventional way - focusing on the loss- is basically falling to a nihilistic state of mind. While it is true that one day whatever comes together has to come apart, it does come together, things and people are all the time coming together and apart. There are some real up sides to impermanence too.

One thing might be to focus on how fortunate we are to have people with whom we have closeness in this life, at this moment, and think about the kindness others have shown us, rather than dwelling on the fact that we must separate one day. That is kind of like being sad or upset about gravity. So there is our attachment, where it is natural for us to grieve separation, etc..but then there is fact of death and separation, which just is. Again, it's like gravity, it's not good or bad without the fixated attachment on our loss.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttadinesso
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by SilenceMonkey »

tonysharp wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 12:13 am I struggle with depression and anxiety. As far as I can tell, both stem from my pessimism. I often overthink the pain in the world, and reflect on the life, eventual death, and separation of myself and those close to me. Which practices can be utilized to control these obstructive feelings? Or how can one see pain without being overwhelmed by it?

Your responses would be appreciated.
This is a good program.
https://tergar.org/programs/what-is-the-joy-of-living/
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by tonysharp »

I really appreciate the practicality of the suggestions posted here. Thank you all.
Könchok Chödrak wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 12:38 am Even if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, picking up a Buddhist text, so importantly a Sutra, can help you greatly!
You’re absolutely right. I’ve been reading the Book of Verses in the Samyutta Nikaya, and listening to the Bodhicaryāvatāra audiobook. They’ve helped ease my mind.
reiun wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 12:39 am So sorry to hear of your struggles. Treatment by a medical professional would also be advised.
You’re probably right. I’ll consider this if my condition worsens.
DharmaN00b wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 12:49 amEssentially you can meditate upon making a refreshed outlook to life. A small example, ask yourself what can I do a little bit different tomorrow. Keep doing that and with just a small amount of effort plus a prolonged period of patience transformation will come. :group:
Nicely stated.
FiveSkandhas wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 1:05 am Otherwise if you think you can bear it, Kannon Bosatsu is always there for you, listening to the cries of the world.
南無観世音菩薩。
I’m unfamiliar with Kannon Bosatsu. I’ll look this up.
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 1:36 amThe Buddha’s first noble truth is
the truth of suffering.
As it turns out,
the Buddha was correct after all.
Honestly, I think the constant reminders and focus on suffering, as I experienced while under the Theravada, exasperated my depression and anxiety.
You can watch your mind experiencing depression and think, “oh, that’s just my mind experiencing depression again!” ...but the mind which is making this observation, that mind itself is not experiencing depression. It’s observing the depression, of course. But it’s almost like watching someone else, in a movie, who has the depression.
This is really interesting. I can see greater mindfulness achieving this.
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 4:53 amAlso, with pessimistic self talk, the first thing to do is identify when you are doing it, and question it’s veracity.
The depression sometimes hits, to varying degrees, when I’m enjoying a moment with something or someone. I start thinking about death, separation, etc. I think with some effort I could stop or control this.
I don't know if this will help, but here are two resources…
Bookmarked. I’ll listen to the video tonight. I’ve never heard of Lojong until this thread.
Matt J wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 1:00 pm You don’t need a practice, you need a program.
Which program?
Queequeg wrote: Mon May 03, 2021 12:56 pm Perhaps contemplating compassion, starting with yourself. You are a being who has gone for refuge in the Buddha - this is a profound accomplishment, worthy of the profoundest respect.
I hadn’t thought deeply about this before.
SilenceMonkey wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 2:32 am This is a good program.
https://tergar.org/programs/what-is-the-joy-of-living/
I’ve bookmarked it.

:namaste:
“It is a perfection that does not aim at completion; rather, it is wisdom based on practice through which one is always progressing toward the ideal.”
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by pemachophel »

Happy heart mantra:

A A Citta Sukha Sam Sam
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Hazel »

pemachophel wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 4:00 pm Happy heart mantra:

A A Citta Sukha Sam Sam
Thank you! Do you happen to know where I can find this written/typed in Tibetan?

Happy Pride month to my queer dharma siblings!
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Losal Samten »

Hazel wrote: Fri May 07, 2021 2:49 am
pemachophel wrote: Wed May 05, 2021 4:00 pm Happy heart mantra:

A A Citta Sukha Sam Sam
Thank you! Do you happen to know where I can find this written/typed in Tibetan?
ཨ་ཨ་ཙིཏྟ་སུ་ཁ་སཾ་སཾ།

Also do you know where this originated from, Pema?
Lacking mindfulness, we commit every wrong. - Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔
ཨོཾ་ཧ་ནུ་པྷ་ཤ་བྷ་ར་ཧེ་ཡེ་སྭཱ་ཧཱ།།
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by pemachophel »

You can find it here:

https://lhaseylotsawa.org/library/multiplying-mantras

Need to scroll down to health and happiness.
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Ardha »

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 1:36 am
tonysharp wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 12:13 am I struggle with depression and anxiety. As far as I can tell, both stem from my pessimism. I often overthink the pain in the world, and reflect on the life, eventual death, and separation of myself and those close to me. Which practices can be utilized to control these obstructive feelings? Or how can one see pain without being overwhelmed by it?

Your responses would be appreciated.
The Buddha’s first noble truth is
the truth of suffering.
As it turns out,
the Buddha was correct after all.
Human existence of suffering is the constant change of experiencing what we don’t want and not experiencing what we want.

The second noble truth is the cause of suffering,
which results from clinging to these experiences, which is in fact, clinging to the whole “me” experience.

The third noble truth is that there is an end to experiencing it as suffering. You can have sadness without dwelling in it, and happiness without depending on it.

The fourth noble truth is the means of ending
that suffering: the eightfold path.
I would suggest looking that up online.
Maybe something more practical instead.

Also watching depression sounds more like avoiding it than dealing with it and doesn’t help much. Therapy and meds seem to have the best track record
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Re: Practices to Control Pessimistic Feelings

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Ardha wrote: Sat May 08, 2021 9:33 pm
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 1:36 am
tonysharp wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 12:13 am I struggle with depression and anxiety. As far as I can tell, both stem from my pessimism. I often overthink the pain in the world, and reflect on the life, eventual death, and separation of myself and those close to me. Which practices can be utilized to control these obstructive feelings? Or how can one see pain without being overwhelmed by it?

Your responses would be appreciated.
The Buddha’s first noble truth is
the truth of suffering.
As it turns out,
the Buddha was correct after all.
Human existence of suffering is the constant change of experiencing what we don’t want and not experiencing what we want.

The second noble truth is the cause of suffering,
which results from clinging to these experiences, which is in fact, clinging to the whole “me” experience.

The third noble truth is that there is an end to experiencing it as suffering. You can have sadness without dwelling in it, and happiness without depending on it.

The fourth noble truth is the means of ending
that suffering: the eightfold path.
I would suggest looking that up online.
Maybe something more practical instead.

Also watching depression sounds more like avoiding it than dealing with it and doesn’t help much. Therapy and meds seem to have the best track record
Meds don't really have a great track record, the jury is out there. They are a stopgap when the depression is severe enough, but they can't even reproduce the results of some of the seminal SSRI studies. Nothing has that great a track record really, if you wanna get right down to it.

Of everything that's around right now that we have studies on, CBT and Mindfulness have the most consistent results. Mindfulness "works" (even outside the Buddhist context) precisely because of what PVS is saying above. Part of growth in mental health - or- spirituality is becoming a true adults and accepting our minds as they are - working what what's there, as it were.

Basically, a part of what is used in therapy today to treat depression comes almost directly from Buddhism, and lots of stuff that is indirectly congruent with Buddhist concepts....because it works.

So, your idea that "dealing with it" is what you need to do is misguided in some ways, and in fact the above advice is pretty good. For someone who asks for advice on mental health yourself regularly, you have a questionable habit of simply nay saying anything anyone says, even when you don't seem particularly informed on the subject.
There's no hoarding what has vanished,
No piling up for the future;
Those who have been born are standing
Like a seed upon a needle.

-Guhatthaka-suttadinesso
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