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What do you do when lustful feelings surface during your meditation practice?

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Perhaps one of the last things we might expect to feel or experience when we sit down and close our eyes to get some head space is a feeling of lust or desire. But of course, when we sit to get some head space, we're simply becoming aware, more aware of what's already in the mind. It's not that the exercise itself is making you feel that way. It's that that feeling was already there at some level. We may not have been aware of it because the mind was busy or 'cause we were involved, engaged in doing other things. But in becoming more aware of it is then a question of what to do with it. The first thing to say is that it is in no way in conflict with the exercise. It's not that you shouldn't be feeling that way. Remember, the exercise here is how to witness the mind as it is in this moment. It's not about trying to feel a certain way or think a certain way. Doesn't matter at all what's arising in the mind. It's training to be at ease with that and to witness it, allowing it to come and go. At the same time, we don't wanna spend 10, 15, 20, even 30 minutes sitting there and just caught up in these feelings of lust. Again, it's not because they're bad. They're not. They're simply what they are. But it's not... In the same way we don't wanna be caught up in any chain of thought. We don't wanna be encouraging any particular emotion. In that sense, it's just not helpful to sit there thinking about it. And yet we might feel almost overwhelmed by the feeling, so then it becomes, okay, how do we step out of this loop, of this cycle of thinking where the mind is kind of wandering, the body starts to wander with it, the mind gets more excited, the body starts to get more excited, and we're then caught up in this feeling? And it's a tricky one because on the one hand, it's a feeling which for most people is quite pleasurable. There's an element of excitement attached with it. And it's not something that we necessarily kind of wanna push away. That said, for some people, especially within this context, it will be a feeding which is a bit uncomfortable, that we perhaps don't wanna own for some reason. And so there's a bit of kind of resistance. It's almost like we wish in that moment that we didn't feel that way 'cause we just wanna just relax and (laughs) not get involved in any of those thoughts. Doesn't matter which kind of way it goes. The important thing is to be able to step out of that thinking and to be a little more present in the body, but not focused on the sensation of desire or lust in the body. I think that's really tricky to kind of maintain...


Duration5 min

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  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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