|Ben||# Posted on June 4, 2016 at 11:34 am|
Dealing with the sensation of cosmic insignificance is something I’ve found to be a long-term process. I started feeling this periodically a few years ago, and I’m still dealing with it. Maybe it will be a life-long journey that never ends. I’m kind of expecting that :P
I know what you’re talking about, and it comes and goes for me. At times I feel so grateful and so uplifted to be part of such a magnificent thing – this cosmos. Other times I feel so tiny and vulnerable, and really scared of my ultimate impermanence and the impermanence of everything I’ve ever known and cared about. Other times I pet my dog or watch TV and don’t even think about this stuff :P
Alan Watts and his teachings have done something similar for me. On the one hand his perspectives and wisdom give me an empowering way to relate myself to the cosmic hugeness. He talks about how we don’t need to take ourselves so seriously since we’re so small, and we can be cheerfully reverent towards this enormous thing we’re playing out our lives in. But at the same time he also opens the door to all those vulnerable feelings about being so small, and that’s scary.
For this reason I think we need to scaffold our contemplation and reverence for this huge mystery with an ability to be comfortable with discomfort. We need to know how much exposure we can handle to emotionally and spiritually opening to our impermanence and tinyness. We open ourselves to this mystery to the degree we can handle, and practice being at peace with the sensation (that “cosmic insignificance depression) that comes with it.
I think letting yourself feel the “cosmic insignificance depression” opens you spiritually and emotionally, and will develop you. But you need to learn how to ground yourself so you don’t become too overwhelmed by the feeling. You walk a balanced line and let yourself feel what you’re ready to feel.
When you start feeling overwhelmed, go for a run, or pet your dog, or watch a cartoon. Do something you know helps you snap out of it. But go into the feeling just enough to make you slightly uncomfortable. Leaning into the discomfort will open you.
Buddhist teachings and the practice of mindfulness have helped me most with this. Check out the podcast “Zencast”. It hosts a bunch of different teachers, but Gil Fronsdale is the main one. You can learn a lot from that. For mindfulness practice, “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn is pretty great.
I want to hear how “Existential Psychotherapy” interested you? How did it relate to this topic? I haven’t read that one, but I’ve read some of Yalom’s other books and loved them. Tell me about that please :)