An idea I Enjoy from Zen Buddhism is becoming a Larger Container. My understanding of the idea is that:
There are a good deal of difficult/bad/sad/scary things happening in the world, which range from serious global problems, war, famine, terrorism, etcto matters in your city such as homelessness or joblessnes; to matters on your loved ones, like hard relationships or substance abuse; to tiny matters in life like a daunting job at work, or your inbox, or moving through bills or cleaning your desk.
It’s tough to open up yourself to all these items, because the are overwhelming and frightening. So the easy thing to do is turn off — to prevent.
Becoming a larger container means making space on your own to face an increasing amount of those things, with empathy and without fear.
What’s created, what develops, is the quantity of life I will hold without it bothering me, dominating me. At first this distance is quite limited, then it is a little bigger, then it’s bigger still. However, as long as we live we find there’s a limit to our container’s size and it’s at the point that we have to practice. And how can we know where this cut-off point is? We’re at that point once we feel any amount of angry, of anger. It’s no mystery in any way. And the strength of our practice is how large that container gets.
When am most proud of myself, I am in a position to earn space within myself to take care of hard things. To look them in the eye, be with them, rather than look away. When I am frustrated with myself, it is often because I am avoiding doing this.
The visualization that is suitable for me is that if you turn into a larger container — when you are able to generate some perspective — every one of those individual things becomes smaller compared; less dominant.
It can be tough to do sometimes but I find it to be a very useful construct.