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Lesson 3 - "I Want" and Difficult Emotions

We can lessen our suffering by letting go of our mental anguish that accompanies all the negative emotions we experience. The calming result is experienced within need to practice for years.

Wanting what we don't have and not wanting what is present is the cause of suffering. Learn how to deal with one of the things not wanted: difficult emotions.


Wanting and its opposite, not wanting, both lead to suffering. Everything in our known world has 3 characteristics: inconstancy, unsatisfactoriness and no unchanging core. Not wanting reality to have these characteristics is a major cause of suffering eg. not wanting pleasant experiences to come to an end or change.

Experiencing difficult emotions feels like being shot with two arrows. The first arrow comes out of the blue: loss of a job, death of a loved one, someone being unpleasant to us. The second arrow, we reach down to the ground, pick up the arrow and stab ourselves with it! The Buddha's teachings are all about throwing away that second arrow. We can do that with the "holding technique": - as soon as we realize we are experiencing a difficult emotion


- scan our body and find out where we are holding tension.

- when we find the tension, hold our attention on the tightness as tenderly and lovingly as we would while holding a hurt child.

- keep our attention out of our head, away from any thoughts.....the "woe is me" or "that's so unfair" type of thoughts - once we have calmed down,

THEN we determine what is the most skillful response, if any, to the situation.

Dealing with Emotions - You tube talk by Ajahn Brahm

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Download the PDF of the entire Lesson Three

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More resources for Lesson Three


Satipatthana - The Direct Path to Realization - by Bhikkhu Analyo: view book on Amazon

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness - by Bhante Gunaratana: PDF

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