Chozen noted toward the end of her talk last night at the Dharma center that the small mind is like a very young child. When it sinks down to those feelings that bring suffering it needs to be picked up and moved to something like metta meditation. She said that the Buddha had taught that the mind either moves towards thoughts that cause us further suffering or those that move us towards happiness. When we pick up the mind as it spirals into fear or anger, turning it instead to something like metta, we are moving the mind purposefully towards happiness.
When we are able to do this we begin to reside in the space of the Big Mind. That place of boundlessness, within the heart of wisdom. Without judgment and able to contain everything. As Patantaji would say, the Essential Self.
There are nights I can't seem to shake the fear, the shame. Times that it is so close and I'll toss and turn, startling awake until dawn. Or rising up when I am struggling, aching in my back & hips in asana practice, and feeling tears springing to my eyes. Very certainly it is my small mind sliding down into an abyss. My skills at recognizing, stopping, and moving my mind are not strong enough. Yet.
I was editing some older posts in this blog and noted the times I've mentioned doing something like metta when I'm feeling anxious. When I've done this, it has worked and pretty well at that. I perhaps didn't drop off into blissful dreams on those nights, but I was able to more peacefully rest. I actually sleep. So, clearly it works.
Like everything else, this is practice. It is the same practice my therapist reminds me of, watching for the overwhelming shame, panic and fear. When I do recognize those things coming up, stopping myself so I can see that the emotions are too much, misplaced. If I add Chozen's direction it is at this point I should strive to do metta. For anyone at all, myself if I can keep focused on it. Just pick up my small mind, with deep compassion, and turn it an activity of the Big Mind, generating loving-kindness.