Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Meditate on What You Resent

Meditate on what you resent is about noticing when you shut down or get annoyed, and using that to wake yourself up. The original lojong slogan is: Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment, and it encourages you to practice tonglen meditation with the things that get your goat.

This slogan asks you to pay attention to the things that disturb your peace of mind and work with them rather than pushing them away. Every time you react automatically and get annoyed because something hasn’t gone the way you hoped, you’re giving in to the smaller, petty side of yourself – the ego.

When you notice yourself reacting negatively and feeling resentful, turn it into a meditation practice. The idea is to transform your resentment into acceptance. On a simple level, you can just take a few deep breaths and let the negativity go. But if you want to go deeper, you can practice tonglen with it. Breathe in the resentment, the irritation, or the anger, and breathe out acceptance.

Resentment is resistance to reality – but resistance is futile! When you stop resisting reality the truth is revealed.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by working with negative reactions to your writing. You can’t control how people will respond to your work, but you can control how you respond to their responses.

If you watch yourself through an average day, you’ll probably notice yourself reacting with irritation more often than you would care to admit.

You go to print out a story and the paper jams in the printer. You’re just sitting down to write and the phone rings. You come up with a brilliant idea while you’re doing the weekly shop and what with one thing and another by the time you manage to find a piece of paper to scribble it down, you’ve forgotten it.

Use this slogan to practice with the little things that irritate you through the day, and then when something major happens – like your book gets rejected, again! – you may be able to accept it more easily.

You can learn a lot about yourself by observing how you react to disappointments and setbacks. Meditating on your resentment can reveal where you feel stuck and scared, and that can help you to zone in on what needs more work.

Your writing prompt this weekend: Decide on the top five things that you resent the most and explore your feelings about them. What can you learn about yourself from your negative reactions?

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers

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