Memorable Quote: “Sometimes we paint beautiful pictures. We go in a cave, paint a picture and fall in love with it. We build a shrine and we marry the picture. It’s so beautiful that we want to live in the cave forever.”
Synopsis: Anushka describes how the thoughts we think create the world we inhabit. This world can be beautiful, or harmful, and oftentimes this mentally projected world can become more and more divorced from reality. In order to reconnect with the world around us, and interrupt our distracting “thought trains,” Anushka suggests that we bring as much awareness as possible to what we are doing mentally and physically. First, we should recognize that we are thinking, and we can label that “thinking.” Second, we can bring attention to the physical sensations that accompany our thoughts, and recognize those components as they move through us.
As intellectuals, we can often focus on the thoughts we are thinking. Instead, Anushka asks us to look at the emotions that may be lying underneath. With more attention and focus, we better understand our emotions and feelings. If we can read our emotions at a “lower volume,” then we can be connected to them and respond to them more wisely. This gives us freedom. We don’t need to repress emotions, or “vent” them, but instead can make wise choices about which emotions we would like to cultivate, and how we would like to cultivate them. We can also then decide which emotions that we want to let go of.
I like: Anushka’s emphasis on “emotional intelligence” resonated with me. It seems to me very important to explore what emotions are beneath your thoughts, and where those feelings might be coming from.
I wish: One question I would ask Anushka is how we can be wise in our selection of “thought trains” to get on. Since we like painting beautiful pictures and wanting to live with them forever, there may be a risk that we want to ride pleasant thought trains forever, and not face the true nature of life outside our mental caves.
More about the Speaker: Anushka is a lifelong spiritual practitioner who has trained for over 20 years in the Theravada Buddhist tradition in the U.S., India and Sri Lanka. She lives in an urban area and consider how the practices can translate for her fellow citizens with a busy modern life; she is most interested in bringing these ancient teachings to the contemporary world, informed by her love of creative arts, technology, politics and pop culture. To read more, visit www.anushkaf.org