Transcript from a meeting with James Eaton on 18 February, 2017
Q: I’m pretty good at just being with life. Still… luminous… it’s great, really great. I don’t want to dismiss that. But when I move into action, then there’s a whole lot of different stuff that comes into play.
James: Ok, so let’s look at that right now. What’s different?
Q: I’m anxious. There’s a disturbance in the nervous system which I call anxiety.
James: So that’s the starting point. That becomes the thread that leads us back. So what’s behind anxiety?
Q: I am!
James: Exactly. Bullseye. So what’s the ‘I’?
Q: (long silence, then lots of laughter)
James: Feel that right now. Savour it. Don’t move on from it. Yes it’s so beautiful. So it’s “Thank you anxiety.” Anxiety is your friend. It’s saying, “Look mate, this wants to be seen.” And when we follow it back, it leads us home. So it’s these deeply held tendencies to project experience in a certain way; that’s what we’re unpicking. And anxiety is another invitation to come home. In fact all suffering, all agitation; that’s what it’s doing: it’s inviting us home.
Q: Yes. I’ve still got an anxious voice that comes in now.
James: Anxious voice is a great one – I know this very well – especially if you do a lot of speaking in front of people. There can be anxiety, and then ‘anxious voice’ rises up, which tends to bring even more anxiety. “Oh people are hearing that I’m anxious; people are hearing that I might be nervous or not sure”, so that brings in other considerations. What’s behind all these considerations? ‘Me’ again. Why does it matter if I have an anxious voice? That’s ok. ‘This’ has no agenda.
Q: There’s a bottom line that I don’t quite let go of.
James: Did you notice what you did there? You made a fist, and then a pushing movement.
Q: That’s because it’s about survival. I die if I don’t have that push.
James: Yes. That’s where this leads. “I die if I don’t have that push.” It’s absolutely true. But it’s not the death we imagine. We think it means physical death; the end. That’s why we need to push.
Q: I know that. And I am still sceptical.
James: I know you know that. But what we’re talking about is the raw, immediate experience of that; which is different to knowing that.
Q: I need you to follow me around for a bit! (laughter)
James: You can interpret things in infinitely many ways, so why not use this interpretation: that your life, in its precise particularities, is perfectly designed for you to wake up. That’s quite exciting right?
James: So let’s go with that interpretation; not, “Oh shit my life sucks; why do I have to do this?” It’s wow! It’s like a computer game that’s been completely designed, its entire configuration is all made specifically for you to realise what you are and live it. Wow, how exciting!
Q: Thank you!
James: Here you are. Just letting it open out, to include all of yourself. Include the body, feel the heart, into the legs, feel the feet on the ground; include all of it. It feels different. More present; less dreamy. It’s powerful. You are powerful. Maybe have a look around the group here, see what changes.
Q: (looks silently around) Less scary.
James: Did you notice anything change as you looked around? Did you feel things starting to constrain again, or constrict?
James: Great. I say that because this is how you become your own master. You play with it. You start to notice how your body starts to cramp up, which reasserts this subject-object division. You start to notice precisely, for you specifically, because we all have unique ways in which this happens, and you get wise to it, you see it more and more clearly.
Q: In action, I was holding my anxiety in a constricting way.
James: When you notice anxiety, a compliment to that would be to notice in the body the tension that accompanies that. Mind and body are two aspects of the same thing. So the anxiety will be featuring physically too. So you can either notice the anxiety in the mental activity, or you can notice the tension in the belly particularly, or the top of the legs, or the constriction of the breathing. These are all other ways that life rings the bell. Inviting us home again. There’s so many invitations happening all the time.
Q: It’s good.
James: Yes. Really good.
Q: Ok. Maybe you will follow me around!