Perhaps at some point you have experienced an injury in your body, a reoccurring pain or discomfort in one part of your body that limits your range of movement.
At first you are inclined to ignore it, pretend it’s not there. You hope it will go away if you just don’t think about it. But then because of it’s reoccurring nature, its persistence, the gradual increase in discomfort, you realize that ignoring it is only making it worse.
Finally you start paying attention to the discomfort. You try to observe it as an entity of its own. You try to understand it better. When it gets triggered? What movements or yoga postures exacerbate it? What movements or postures render relief? You even try to understand better the psychological nature of the injury. What thoughts or emotions got you to this point? This is what one would call “making friends with the enemy”.
In our continued discussion of how to overcome our mental afflictions (kleshas), we encounter our tendency to pretend our destructive habits don’t exist by believing their triggers reside outside of us (‘if only this person didn’t say what they said, I would not have lost my marbles!’).
In the teachings of Shantideva, we are told that by indulging our mental afflictions we willingly injure our natural ease of being. That nothing or no one outside of us can cause us greater harm than our own negative disposition. Being too embarrassed or ashamed to admit our patterns, only lays fertile soil for them to get stronger. It is suggested that befriending these emotions with our wholehearted attention, watchfulness and mindfulness is the best way to work through them, before we are completely debilitated in our range of movement & experiences with others.
No other enemy indeed
Has lived so long as my defiled emotions-
O my enemy, afflictive passion,
Endless and beginningless companion!
All other foes that I appease and wait upon
Will show me favors, give me every aid,
But should I serve my dark defiled emotions,
They will only harm me, draw me down to grief
Shantideva, Way of The Bodhisattva
Pema Chödrön’s No Time To Lose , a commentary on the Way of The Bodhisattva by Shantideva