A Visit

A Visit

I’ve been listening to an audio book version of ‘Radical Acceptance’ by Tara Brach. Tara is a very well known and respected teacher within the Buddhist Mindfulness tradition. I was introduced to her while taking an 8 week Mindfulness Meditation course about a year ago. In the book she tells the story of Mara and the Buddha. I was not familiar with this story but I think all Buddhists would be as it seems central to one of the fundamental aspects of Buddhism…acceptance.

Mara is a demon god and he tries very hard to tempt Buddha repeatedly with all kinds of provocative ideas and notions in an attempt to throw him off of his enlightenment journey. But Buddha’s response each time is simply to say “I see you Mara.” and invite Mara to tea as a welcomed guest. Tara illuminates how we can learn and use what the story teaches…to accept what ‘is’…to accept that it ‘is’…to even welcome it and in this act we can begin to diffuse the initial impact it may have on us.

The Difference Between A Visit And A Residency

Listening to Tara Brach describe the interaction of Buddha and Mara led me on an inner journey that has resulted in an interesting and simple exercise that has had some good results in terms of acceptance and regulating my emotions. I began to consider the implications of ‘a visit’. I saw in the story that the Buddha did not invite Mara to live with him, to take up residence, he invited Mara to simply visit. A visit has far different implications and feelings attached than does a tenancy or a residency. A visit implies a relatively short stay that has the sense of a definitive end in sight.

Here’s a thought experiment:

If someone, a relative perhaps, who you had difficulty being around, someone you just could not mesh with, someone who you’d had some awful experiences with in the past called and said to you “I need a place to live…I’d like to move in with you…” what would be your felt experience in that moment? The feeling in your head and in your chest…your breathing?

Compare that to the feeling of that same person calling and saying something like “I’m in town for a few hours and I’d like to come and visit for a half an hour at the most, okay?” For me there’s a HUGE difference in the meaning my body and mind make between those two scenarios. I might not enjoy the idea of a half hour visit but there’s a vast difference between the feeling I get from that and the idea of that same person staying indefinitely by taking up residence. A visit seems survivable at the very least.

And I think that’s what we often do when we’re struck with an unpleasant thought or feeling…it can feel like it’s demanding to take up residence…no timeline…just there until the end of time…forever!

So in the middle of the night when I awake and I’m restless I will say to myself something like “Hello worry (shame, uncertainty etc)…I see you…you look familiar…you’re welcome to come for a visit…you can stay for a little while, that’s okay…I’d like to hear what you have to say…”…and invariably I’m back to sleep within a much shorter time span than using my previous habit of trying to detach from the feeling and make it go away. It’s really pretty amazing.

I’ve also used this idea in the third person (like we’ve discussed here) and I will cast myself in the role of the visitor rather than the one being visited. "Hey Glenn…you really seem to like to visit worry (grief, sadness etc)…and that’s okay so have a little visit but you can’t stay too long…it’s just a visit…" That seems to work nicely too.

I’m practicing using this idea of ‘a visit’ more often throughout the day and not just at night which has so far been my habit.

I just thought I’d share this with the community with the thought that someone might take something worthwhile from it. After all, we are all just visiting…



I am going to explore this. “Ah, despair is visiting for a spot of tea – or is it visiting el baño for a pee?”

Visit. A container of time. Not residence.

Deep breath. Thank you!

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That was very insightful. I will definitely use this dialogue on my next encounter with the “visitor “.


Ha! I like that… :slight_smile:

I hope you find it useful Lourdes…I have. It seems like such a simple thing but for me it feels like it changes my whole relationship and orientation to the thing that was initially unwanted or feared. I really need to play with it a lot more myself. This has just unfolded for me over the last 4 or 5 days.

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What a good idea Glenn, I want to try this out on some negative thoughts that have been trying to take up residence in my brain, thanks.


Thanks Jean. Yes! Give it a whirl…and try shifting perspectives…have the emotion/thought being the visitor dropping by to see you and then play with it the other way around…you are visiting the emotion/thought. I hope you get some useful results from it… :slight_smile:

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For me it works quite remarkably. I woke up this morning and just felt very unsettled in my body…maybe from some dreaming I was involved in…not sure. It’s a very familiar feeling/sensation for me…a mix of sadness, uncertainty and anxiety. I focused on where I felt that uncomfortable sensation and said “I see you. Please, stay awhile and have a visit…”…or something similar to that. And then I switched to me being the visitor that was visiting the sensation. I forget exactly what I said…something like… “Hi Glenn…I know you like to visit these kinds of uncomfortable sensations…that’s fine…stay awhile…” I don’t have a script really…I just let it flow out. The thing is the sensations and my emotional reaction to them all vanished very quickly…I realized I’d fallen back asleep and when I awoke a few minutes later I had none of that residual feeling left in me. Typically that would not have happened. Pretty cool.

I’m thinking that one of the reasons it’s working is because it’s introducing a different sensory system into the experience. So what I mean specifically is that the sensation/feeling/emotion I was experiencing is a physical experience, felt in the body but I’m switching sensory systems by saying ‘I see you….’. So it’s a sort of change in perspective. I’m no longer only engaging with the sensation on a kinesthetic level but from a visual perspective as well which adds different information into the experience… a sort of ‘sensory reframe’. The same thing happens when we are asked questions like “What colour or shape is that feeling/sensation.

One thing that seems to make it work best for me is to keep it really simple. I don’t delve into asking questions from a sensation/thought or explore it’s shape, colour or intention. It seems to be enough if I simply acknowledge it warmly… “I see you…”…(I notice I say it in a playful way, almost like playing hide and seek with a child…) and invite it to visit for a while. That’s all it seems to take. After that I just seem to space out a bit and notice that the sensation has changed. I still haven’t played with this in the daytime yet so it might work a bit differently in that context…I’ll have to see.

I’m going to keep playing with this idea and see what more I can experience and develop. Thanks for visiting this idea with me… :slight_smile:


That’s awesome Glenn. I also tried it this morning as I was waking up and playing some games on my Ipad. I had negative, fear thoughts running around in my brain so I also played with them, saying, “I hear you, negative thoughts running around in my head, what’s up with this? You can all go out for breakfast if you want but Jean does not need to hear any more from you today. Have a cup of coffee or two and enjoy your outing, goodbye.” They actually left! :grin:


Fantastic!! I’m glad you found it useful…:slight_smile:

I’d be interested in what your experience might be if instead of saying ‘I hear you’, you say instead (or also) 'I see you’…‘I hear you and I see you’. Hearing and seeing bring in different types of information and I’m curious how it might be different for you. For me, as I think about it, the act of seeing something brings a much more solid, stable sense of acknowledging that something is there and just what that something is. Hearing something but not seeing it can bring in a bit of anxiety or uncertainty. I’m thinking of all the horror movies that rely on scaring the crap out of us when we only hear something present or approaching but can’t see it…it’s dark…it’s foggy…what the hell is that…I CAN HEAR IT BUT I CAN’T SEE IT?!! …lol. Seeing something can still be scary but at least it gives me the sense of knowing just what I’m dealing with. Also I have the sense that ‘being seen’ and not just ‘being heard’ by people we love and trust is very important…so, to my mind, it seems useful to give these parts of us (voices/thoughts) the experience of ‘being seen’…'I see you anger…frustration…etc”. And I do like the idea of saying both things…'I see and hear you anxiety…”

I’m just kinda thinking out loud here Jean and my thinking is rooted in a lot of experience with Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) which is entirely based on how we use our five senses to experience the world around us and most importantly how we then use those same senses to create the world within us…and NLP meshes very nicely with EFT. Fascinating stuff these inner worlds we create…and then fully invest in as being reality… :slight_smile:


I’m curious too Glenn. When you say “I see you” do you actually get some kind of picture in your mind’s eye? Or do you just say it along with “hearing”? I could conjure up some image as I said “I see you”. What about “I feel you”? I totally understand about the holy crap scary horror movies and hearing but not seeing until it shows its horrible self.

This brings me to angels. I believe in them, I can feel them sometimes. I talk to them both in my thoughts and out loud. I actually saw one in my tub one afternoon. I didn’t go HOLY CRAP but I asked it what it had to say. It was awesome!


When I say ‘I see you’ I’m not really aware of an image and I’m not concerned with forming an image. I just speak it to the feeling/thought. I’m guessing there may be an unconscious image but I don’t sense a need to make myself aware of it consciously. I gotta say I keep it very simple. Not a lot of talk seems to work with me quite nicely. Just the act of letting this ‘part’ of me know I see it and the invitation to visit seems to be enough so far.

I think it would be useful to explore the other senses too as part of this. As you suggest, “I feel you” would be good too…that seems right to me. “I see you”, “I hear you”, “I feel you”…all good. “I smell you” and “I taste you” probably don’t have as much use but who knows, there might be contexts where that’s appropriate too…it just sounds a bit funny which might have some use. Next time I feel anxious I’ll say “I smell you…you’re welcome to come and visit…” …who knows, It just might do the trick with my stinky old anxiety. :slight_smile:


Glenn you got me laughing. Ok bad thoughts, I smell you. You need to leave now! Get out the spray can, I don’t like how bad thoughts smell. Because I have a quirky sense of humor this actually might work for me. With other “smelly” thoughts too. :rofl:


Applying a healthy dose of mental Fabreeze may resolve all our problems…?!!