Tibetan Buddhist Exercise: Feeding the Demons

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In our Tuesday class we continued to work with our inner critic who keeps us from our truest creative expression. We did an exercise based on the teachings of the American Tibetan Buddhist leader Tsultrim Allione who has taken the wisdom teachings of a 11th century female Tibetan Buddhist teacher Machig Labdrön and developed an experiential exercise called ‘Feeding the Demons.’ (Demons, dragons, Mara — it’s all the same. Don’t get caught up in trying to distinguish between them. They are just imaginary personifications of obsessions, fears, habits, chronic illnesses, addictions, depression, anxiety – all the things that sabotage our highest intentions.)

This powerful exercise, as I said in the last post, goes beyond conversing and negotiating with whatever is sabotaging our highest intention. I have had profound changes in my life made instantaneously by having participated in this half hour exercise. Judging from their faces as they left class yesterday, at least some of my students had profound experiences as well. I encouraged them to make notes and sketches of their ‘demon’ before and after feeding, as this enhances the exercise and its benefits, though is not required.

The basic premise of the exercise is the same as the exercise I developed for myself years ago, as mentioned in the last post: That these saboteurs are well intentioned but unskillful, and doing battle with them just fuels their power to disrupt our lives. As indicated by the title, the answer is to find out what the demons need and how they imagine they will feel when they receive what they need, and then to imagine ourselves as an infinite source of that feeling and imagine feeding it to the demon. Ultimately the sated demon is transformed into something benign or even an ally we can call on when in need. Pretty powerful stuff!

Although I will not talk through the exercise here, here is a link to an article in Tricycle magazine that does so, if you want to try it on your own. Or, better yet, buy Tsultrim Allione’s book titled Feeding Your Demons.

Comments from anyone who has experienced this exercise and would like to share them are invited. Click on ‘comments’ below.

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