Question: The past keeps coming into my thoughts when situations arise that bring rehearsed doom and gloom feelings that hamper the chance for success in the present. What do I do in that moment? Meditate? Pray? Try to think of another more pleasant time? I have trouble and fear with all of this. What is the mind to do at this point to overcome the present problem?
Answer: The great axiom in all such cases — that answers all questions arising up from out of them — is that resistance to the disturbance is the disturbance. This means that resistance — wishing the fear (or whatever) would go away — doesn’t actually create the distance we imagine it will between us and the suffering we want gone; resistance makes real what would be otherwise transformed by our quiet awareness of it, so instead of breaking free, we further encapsulate ourselves in that pain. The task is to see (which you will, if you persist with your wish to be free) that we are what we don’t want at that moment through an unconscious act of becoming identified with the negative state. We can’t escape these troublesome parts of ourselves; we can only outgrow them, like a child that loses interest in a favorite pair of shoes that are no longer comfortable to wear.