How do you remember teachings when triggered?

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leorose8888
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How do you remember teachings when triggered?

Post by leorose8888 »

Hi everyone,

It's my first time posting so apologies if I don't get the etiquette quite right.

I've suffered my whole life with deep insecurity and anxiety issues. I have been practising buddhism for a couple of months now and am doing so much better! The teachings all really make sense to me and it has given me self-compassion and a sense of calm over the uncontrollable I never thought possible (I have OCD).

There is one area of my life however, in which buddhism is not yet bringing me peace and I would love your help with this. Like I said, I am very insecure and that plays out in a big way in my romantic relationships. I am in a relationship now, but as always I am making myself miserable with insecurities over it all.

My question is, when something happens that triggers my insecurity, how do I remember my buddhist teachings? With all my other issues i have been able to apply the teachings really well and it has had a dramatic impact on my life, but with this it feels that when I am triggered I forget all of it and have an intense emotional reaction and feel like I can't cope to the point that I sometimes feel suicidal. Basically I'm wondering, how do you remember to apply the teachings when you are really upset by something?

Thank you so much and sorry for the long post. I really appreciate your support.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: How do you remember teachings when triggered?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

I think this question applies to everyone. So, don’t feel self-conscious for asking. The details don’t really matter.

The whole point of dharma practice, and the main challenge of dharma practice, to everybody, lay people, monks, the Dalai Lama, is to apply the teachings when you most need them. It’s like remembering what to do when you are in a building and there’s a fire.

Remember fire drills in school?
Meditation is the Buddhist fire-drill. So, you need to practice meditation on a regular basis, every day for five minutes, then ten minutes, the longer you can practice, the better. Do five minutes in the morning and ten at night. Or whatever works for you.

When you meditate, and I mean shamatha, such as breathing meditation, all your mental shit floats to the surface and distracts you. Then you return to your meditation focus (such as the breath). This is your fire drill.

Returning to your calm mind is a habit you have to develop. It isn’t difficult at all. But you have to practice it.

Then, when something triggers you (for me, it’s my spouse criticizing me over something I forgot to do) you will automatically apply the teachings. It will be your spontaneous, without even thinking about it.

Also, quite often you will fail at this and forget, and your anger (or whatever) will get the best of you. Don’t worry about it. Just keep practicing the fire drill.

Eventually, the teachings will be your immediate response.

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EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
PSM
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Re: How do you remember teachings when triggered?

Post by PSM »

Have you read Pete Walker's book Complex PTSD- From Surviving to Thriving? I think you'll find it very useful.

I work on the principle that you have to be mindful and see any triggering of the fight/flight/freeze/fawn response as it appears. It then needs to be recognized as a faulty response based on old data (the original trauma) and deliberately relaxing and being present as much as possible. The brain eventually lets go of the old response and updates itself.

The specifically Buddhist element is the mindfulness of experience and the relaxation in the face of conditioned arousal to a trigger.

Maybe that is of use...
leorose8888
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Re: How do you remember teachings when triggered?

Post by leorose8888 »

Hi both,

Thank you so much for your replies, they are extremely helpful.

I like the fire drill analogy and that makes sense. I will keep practising and trust that with time it will get easier! It's reassuring to know I am not alone in this.

I have downloaded the CPTSD book. It's funny you should mention that as I have actually been diagnosed with CPTSD!

Thank you so much for all your help

x
SteRo
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Re: How do you remember teachings when triggered?

Post by SteRo »

leorose8888 wrote: Sat Apr 18, 2020 10:33 pm My question is, when something happens that triggers my insecurity, how do I remember my buddhist teachings? With all my other issues i have been able to apply the teachings really well and it has had a dramatic impact on my life, but with this it feels that when I am triggered I forget all of it and have an intense emotional reaction and feel like I can't cope to the point that I sometimes feel suicidal. Basically I'm wondering, how do you remember to apply the teachings when you are really upset by something?
That's what mindfulness is about. It's the basic buddhist practice and the most difficult because everyone suffers from certain main afflictions that have the potential power to overwhelm.
From my perspective the grounding is: no self-reproach if it should happen again and certain knowledge that the affliction is a baseless habit. To gain that certain knowledge analysis of the affliction is required and its causal arising should be known so that one may get to know and be mindful of initial signs of its arising.
If there is certain knowledge of the baselessness of the affliction and mindfulness of its initial signs of arising then the affliction does not evolve into its full-fledged version but dissolves when its signs are mindfully detected.
PSM
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Re: How do you remember teachings when triggered?

Post by PSM »

leorose8888 wrote: Mon Apr 20, 2020 1:28 pm I have downloaded the CPTSD book. It's funny you should mention that as I have actually been diagnosed with CPTSD!
I haven't been diagnosed but I'm quite certain I have it, though thankfully a minor case. The work of Pete Walker has helped me, anyway. His website is really useful too: http://pete-walker.com/flashbackManagement.htm

I also really like Tim Fletcher's work:

And Richard Grannon:

Hope this helps...
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: How do you remember teachings when triggered?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Having had similar issues, here's my personal take as a Dharma practitioner, and someone who has done a little counseling on both ends of the relationship- which does not substitute for the advice of a teacher or professional in any way:

I found shamatha without an object (to begin with, you need a teacher for this to become something more), Lojong and various meditations on compassion to help. One simple instruction I got from one of my teachers is that when these things obstructed my meditation, proceed as normal but pray "may all beings be free of this feeling of dread" or "may all being be free of this panic and racing thoughts" etc. Over time it has a real effect, and pain becomes an opening for compassion, which is an incredibly beautiful thing that will change how we are in the world, even if it only works every tenth time.

Over time a relaxed form of shamatha where I simply release grasping and rest helps with compulsions and compulsive thought patterns. It becomes a break from compulsive thinking, which is practice, not just therapy. Over time there are glimpses that our compulsive thoughts are just another fantasy. I found as someone with anxiety and OCD, as well a lil PTSD the worst kind of meditation is meditation with a purpose. Stop meditating to do something, meditate to do nothing and you can get a break from your compulsions. Eventually if you want you can take this meditation much deeper.

Anyway, you cannot "bring peace" to yourself. Peace is omnipresent and it never comes and goes anywhere, you do, your mind does. So let go of coming and going, including trying to find the destination "peace", that is another fantasy, and not the real McCoy.

On the secular therapeutic side of things, EMDR did wonders for my PTSD.

Martin Seif's book is the best "self-help" book I've read on intrusive thoughts:
https://drmartinseif.com/intrusive-thoughts/

Most important is not to see these things as enemies, to have compassion towards your pain, and to dedicate the merits of all of your efforts to all sentient beings, perhaps focusing on those who suffer from the same problems you do.

Also don't define yourself by these kinds of problems "I've had these problems my whole life"..that's ok, lots of people have these problems their whole life and do fine, they don't make you special, nor do they make you broken in any way.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
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Matt J
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Re: How do you remember teachings when triggered?

Post by Matt J »

I would say it sounds like you need to take it easy with yourself. You have an entire lifetime (many lifetimes, per the Buddhist teachings) of habits to work through. Buddhist practice may take some time to deeply sink in and alter the deep down habits we have.
leorose8888 wrote: Sat Apr 18, 2020 10:33 pm There is one area of my life however, in which buddhism is not yet bringing me peace and I would love your help with this. Like I said, I am very insecure and that plays out in a big way in my romantic relationships. I am in a relationship now, but as always I am making myself miserable with insecurities over it all.
"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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