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Jan Chozen Bays explains how to recognize and tame the critical commentary we replay in our minds.

Once when the Buddha was injured by an enemy, he spent hours meditating on the physical sensations of pain, without giving in to mental or emotional distress. Finally he lay down to rest. Mara the Evil One appeared and berated him. “Why are you lying down? Are you in a daze or drunk? Don’t you have any goals to accomplish?” The Buddha recognized Mara and said, “I’m not drunk or in a daze. I’ve reached the goal and am free of sorrow. I lie down full of compassion for living beings.” Then Mara, sad and disappointed, disappeared.

In this story Mara is depicted as an external entity. However, I have found that the most insidious obstacle actually arises from within. It is called the Inner Critic. If left unrecognized and unchecked, it creates a pattern of negative inner comments that can undermine our well-being and destroy our creativity, attacking our work when we’ve written just a few sentences, sung just a few notes, or painted only few strokes. Even worse, it can destroy our spiritual practice.


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