We all have this challenge; we all have a tendency to get uncontrollably attached to the thought-stream, the self-talk.
Tibetan Buddhist call this “shenpa”, the tendency to fall into the gravity of attachment.
But attachment is not really an accurate translation of the word “shenpa”.
According to Pema Chödrön,
“It is usually translated “attachment,” but a more descriptive translation might be ‘hooked.’ When shenpa hooks us, we’re likely to get stuck. We could call shenpa “that sticky feeling.” It’s an everyday experience. Even a spot on your new sweater can take you there. At the subtlest level, we feel a tightening, a tensing, a sense of closing down. Then we feel a sense of withdrawing, not wanting to be where we are. That’s the hooked quality. That tight feeling has the power to hook us into self-denigration, blame, anger, jealousy and other emotions which lead to words and actions that end up poisoning us…. Shenpa is the urge, the hook, that triggers our habitual tendency to close down. We get hooked in that moment of tightening when we reach for relief… Someone looks at us in a certain way, or we hear a certain song, we smell a certain smell, we walk into a certain room and boom. The feeling has nothing to do with the present, and nevertheless, there it is… Shenpa thrives on the underlying insecurity of living in a world that is always changing. We experience this insecurity as a background of slight unease or restlessness. We all want some kind of relief from that unease, so we turn to what we enjoy—food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work or shopping… So we could also call shenpa “the urge”—the urge to smoke that cigarette, to overeat, to have another drink, to indulge our addiction whatever it is. Sometimes shenpa is so strong that we’re willing to die getting this short-term symptomatic relief. The momentum behind the urge is so strong that we never pull out of the habitual pattern of turning to poison for comfort. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve a substance; it can be saying mean things, or approaching everything with a critical mind. That’s a major hook. Something triggers an old pattern we’d rather not feel, and we tighten up and hook into criticising or complaining. It gives us a puffed-up satisfaction and a feeling of control that provides short-term relief from uneasiness.”
So, the question is…
How do we deal with shenpa?
Again, the answer is mindfulness.
Mindfulness, witnessing, is an activity that allows you to see how shenpa works in your life. And when you see it’s processes, it’s triggers, and so on, you start to be free of it.
Listen to this clip by Pema Chödrön in her audiobook, Getting Unstuck:
So mindfulness automatically creates understanding of yourself. You don’t have to figure things out for yourself – you simply witness through mindfulness, and the system creates the self-understanding automatically.
And this understanding of yourself releases you from getting stuck.
And if you wish your mindfulness to go faster, meditation is the boost that will dramatically speed up your practice of mindfulness.
That was a sample taken from the course, Radical Mindfulness Made Simple in 5 Easy Steps.