It Really Is the Demon You Know

By KM Huber

I have avoided putting a name to my “demons,” those thoughts and stories that wrap around the drama of my daily life. This sparring with my emotions was exhausting yet I believed if I put a name to them, I would attach to their drama. No, as it turns out.

Mine is not to disassociate but to experience, or in the wise words of Rosanne Rosannadanna, “It’s always something.” In naming my emotions, I gain the advantage of immediate recognition every time they appear.

Stay watchful of gluttony and desire, and the demons of irritation and fear as well.

The noonday demon of laziness and sleep will come after lunch each day,

and the demon of pride will sneak up only when you have vanquished the other demons.

(Evagerius as quoted in A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield)

Recognizing these demons allows me to look beyond the drama—the storyline–of my emotions to the pure energy that is at their core (Kornfield). In that energy is the experience they are offering—what actually is. The emotional states are familiar but every time they occur is a new experience of them.

The naming of the familiar, whether it is mental anguish or bodily pain, opens us to the experience of the emotion without getting caught up in daily drama. Rather, we recognize the feeling and face the sensation as it occurs.

We might say to ourselves, “I know that feeling,” and we do. If we recognize that naming the feeling is the first step in freeing ourselves from its drama, we are more apt to open ourselves to the experience at hand. We face the familiar with a fresh being.

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All of the spiritual traditions have a practice for facing the demons in our lives. For the Sufis they are the Nafs; some 2000 years ago, there were the Christian Desert Fathers, of which Evagerius was one; Buddhism knows these difficult forces as either Mara (God of Darkness) or the Hindrances to Clarity.

Naming our demons allows us to explore our body’s reaction to our emotions. Recognizing a familiar emotion and not its drama allows our body a fresh and new experience of the familiar without the baggage.

As long as you have all sorts of ideas about yourself,
you know yourself through the mist of these ideas. To know yourself as you are, give up all ideas.
You cannot imagine the taste of pure water,
you can only discover it by abandoning all flavourings.

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj ~

Pure emotion is pure energy. Naming it gives us the green light for a familiar yet fresh experience. Our emotions are our greatest allies, if we recognize them as yet another way to experience any moment in any day.

We feel our emotions with all of our being, in every cell of our body. When we are mindful of these sensations and as Pema Chödrön says, “make friends with them,” we come to recognize that mindfulness opens us to all options.

Blind determination walls in what we want and walls out what we fear. It digs a ready rut. In mindfulness, we name the feeling so that we may experience it anew. We do not experience the same scenario or emotional state twice, similar maybe, but not exactly.

Whether we open to life as it is or whether we try to confine life to our way is the measure of our peace of mind. In every grain of sand there is yet another view.


KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. She blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2014 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.


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