A friend asked by email:
What has really worked for you?
Different things helped at different times. It’s hard to know what helped the most, but if I had to recommend a single practice, I’d say the most important thing was destroying vasanas, especially painful vasanas, by seeing them as fully as possible without any effort to change them and by abandoning resistance to them.
When I say “vasanas” I mean memories and facts and thoughts that haunt us, that arise repeatedly.
I don’t think I’ve ever discussed vasanas on this blog, not a single time, so this answer may be surprising, but I didn’t realize the importance of destroying vasanas till the last two years and I never got around to writing about it.
The technique that worked for me was to look at the vasana as calmly and objectively and completely as possible. I remembered the painful memories and events, reviewed how I feel about them, etc. I faced all that and admitted to myself, “These things are part of ‘me’ and part of my life and I hate them. I hate them, but they are there and that’s the reality.”
I didn’t try to stop hating them. I didn’t try to stop regretting them. I didn’t try to change my feelings. I didn’t try to change anything. I only tried to see everything about the vasana as completely and objectively as possible with all my intelligence. When I say “intelligence”, I mean my ordinary intelligence. My ordinary life experience.
The key was that I stopped resisting them. Whatever fact or memory they are based on, so what?
Vasanas are the fuel of the mind. When the vasanas are gone, the mind becomes quiet.
When I get time I want to write about one particular vasana that I destroyed this way. It will be a good example.