Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Huber Cure

Here’s a saying everyone who has been to the Monastery is familiar with: “We have many guidelines but only one rule: We will use everything in our experience to see how we cause ourselves to suffer so we can drop that and end suffering.” The often overlooked piece of that is “We will use everything....”

Egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate wants to be in charge of awareness practice, just as it wants to be in charge of every aspect of a human life. One of its most successful techniques for gaining and keeping that control is to highlight what works best for it while distracting a person from seeing what supports awakening and ending suffering. (Good to remember that “awakening and ending suffering” is synonymous with “getting out of the control of egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate.”)

With little if any conversation, the person is given to understand that there are some areas of life suitable for practicing awareness and others not in practice’s purview. Meditation is an acceptable place for practicing awareness—particularly acceptable as few people are allowed actually to do it. But “larger, more important” life content, such as work, money, children, and health, must be left in the domain of conditioned mind where they can be dealt with “thoughtfully and intelligently.” (As I’m fond of pointing out, there are very few people who will entrust really important matters in life to that old bungler God. “Oh, sure, I believe in God and will pray like crazy to get what I want, but I’m going to look to conditioned mind to make the big decisions.”)

With that arrangement in place, egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate can relax into assurance of a steady diet of human suffering. (Good to remember that “human suffering” is synonymous with “dissatisfaction.” The person looking to conditioned mind for direction is guaranteed to live in a world of “something wrong” and “not enough.”)

I want to set the stage with that perspective because, at first glance, it can be difficult to see just how “The Huber Cure" is awareness practice. But awareness practice it is, pure and simple. Here’s how.

For years I’ve been fine-tuning the awareness practice of “being sick.” Sick, like many other things in life, doesn’t seem to show up as often when we start scrutinizing it. Not a bad thing, certainly, but it does make it harder to practice with that particular content. Fortunately, just as many of the monks were recovering from various types of bugs, one found me. Let the games begin!

I will now go step-by-step through the process I hope each of you will follow should you “get sick.” After you have practiced in this way for a bit, please let me know what happened. Perhaps we can change lives throughout Sangha and beyond.

I woke up in the morning feeling fine. At about 2:00 p.m. I had the first inkling that I wasn’t feeling well. There was enough congestion in my sinuses that I thought I might be coming down with a cold. I DID NOT “WAIT TO SEE.” (Very important steps will be in caps.) I immediately took a hot shower, wrapped up in layers of clothes suitable for a tour in bed, and donned a hat. I got in bed, turned on the heating pad I keep for these situations, and prepared to sleep and sweat until the bug could no longer maintain lodgings in my person. This process usually takes about two days, as few as 24 hours is not uncommon, 3 days would not be unusual. That’s the physical part.

While resting I only rest. I don’t read, do email, talk to people, text, watch movies, etc. I remain as immobile as possible, and, yes, you may have guessed it, I do prone meditation. I have all sorts of attention-directing practices that I enjoy, and I rotate through them as I rest. ABOVE ALL, I DO NOT ENTERTAIN ANY VOICES. I don’t allow any conversation about work I should be doing, obligations I have, what a misery this is, why me, what did I do to bring this on. I welcome this as life’s gift to me—a complete time-out to give the body an (always) much-needed rest. I don’t take medications that will mask symptoms so I think I feel better than I do. If I can’t breathe I will take something to open a nasal passage, but that doesn’t alter the resting behavior.

Now, here’s the really, really difficult part. When a body is truly ill there’s very little ability or desire to do anything other than rest. THIS ENABLES THE SYSTEM TO USE EVERY BIT OF LIFE FORCE TO HEAL ITSELF. But when one starts to feel better, egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate slides in to siphon off any “extra” life force. For instance, if I felt a little better the voices might say, “You could do some email now; that wouldn’t be a big strain,” and conditioning would slip a foot in the door. Soon I’d realize I’m tired again, and if I’m not paying attention I won’t notice the healing energy is being skimmed off to feed egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate. Now that the voices have an entry, they can start in with their, “you should, what about, oh no, it’s all your fault” torture. Know what I mean?

So, how is this awareness practice “pure and simple”? This way of approaching this particular life content is how we learn to approach all content in life. Each situation that arises in a person’s life is there as an opportunity to make a choice for suffering or for freedom. The body knows how to heal itself, but it needs support and cooperation. If we keep taking energy from the body and giving it to egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate, the body will weaken and egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate will get stronger. If we give attention, awareness, energy, life force to what life is offering us in each moment—pure, undivided focus on WHAT IS, HERE/NOW—our experience will be freedom.

One other item for your consideration: Sugar and “upset” (read: negative voices) are the quickest way for egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate to “get” you. They each take a terrible toll on the immune system and leave a person vulnerable to any and all attacks.

Again, I’d love to hear your experience. Shall we take on children, money, and work as next conversations? By the way, that bug held on for just about 24 hours!

In gassho,


  1. Reading this it occurred to me, that when I was young I was told "Unless you're throwing up or can't stop coughing you should go to school/work" I once worked twenty five years and called in sick only twice. Once to get married and another when my son was born. I just got released from having double knee replacement and two more surgeries for complications. Was off about seven months. I have to look for a job now and I hate that. About every other day I feel sick. I do not want to look for a job. It's sort of good to become aware of that, but I'm also just realized and was amazed all the times I did not have compassion for myself all those years. I punished and hated my self and acted out of conditioning. That's a long time to trip over a room full of elephants.
    Thank you.

  2. This is so compassionate and just-plain-smart! "I welcome this as life’s gift to me—a complete time-out to give the body an (always) much-needed rest." What a wonderful way to look at it. But yowza! My conditioning did not like this blog post! I was nodding yes, yes, yes as I was reading. And I watched conditioning telling me no, no, no. Especially at this line: "While resting I only rest. I don’t read, do email, talk to people, text, watch movies, etc." Fortunately, I'm not sick, so I can't give it a try. But am grateful for the "Huber Cure" for possible future needs. :-)

  3. As always, this is very helpful and thankyou. I look forward to tackling the subject of 'money' - this is my own many-headed monster which seems to always rear another ugly face just when I think i've dealt with it. Somehow, I seem to have a block around how to deal with this one, I end up stuck and unable to hear or see any way out.
    Thanks again for all the wonderful support.

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  5. Best prescription for good health I have ever heard. For a lifetime I have been upset (mildly put) with my body and how it lets me down. I see now how it is the other way around. Thank you, Cheri, for the most valuable gift of the season. Now to apply it! (Resistance is already squawking)....I would love a dialogue on money. How Conditioning has caused such dissatisfaction, suffering, self-hate and tremendous misery throughout the world.

  6. "It's not use. If I can't get a full rest, then I should just do email or read. My son will wake up from his nap soon, so I can't baby myself with a 30 minute full rest." "People will judge me if I take time out AGAIN for being sick. I need to just power through this one and once I'm well again, I can begin to do self-care." "I'll never learn how to take care of my immune system. I shouldn't try, because failure is too painful." "My friends suffer from physical symptoms much worse than this one, chronically. Out of loyalty to them, I shouldn't take care of myself over something so minor as a cold." "Who died and made you princess?" "Self-care around minor colds is weak. Strength is pretending you're fine and getting things done." My conditioning is really mean when it comes to colds. Thanks for the alternative!

  7. The first line should read, "It's no use..."

  8. I love how I stumble upon just what I need at the exact moment that I need it. I happened to check the blog today, just to see, and it happens that today I am struggling with this very thing. The story I hear most of all, is "how unlucky I am that I am sick all the time and struggle with various maladies daily, and how others that are young like me aren't punished in this way by life." How cruel for the voices to frame it that way! I've been working for years now to accept my health Just As It Is, for the Gift that it truly is. I'm holding on to this with all my might: "ABOVE ALL, I DO NOT ENTERTAIN ANY VOICES. I don’t allow any conversation about work I should be doing, obligations I have, what a misery this is, why me, what did I do to bring this on. I welcome this as life’s gift to me—a complete time-out to give the body an (always) much-needed rest." I am returning again and again to "Thank You," as this challenge is a gift from Life, bells of awareness of the Here/Now that can not be ignored. Thank you, Body, for the reminder. Thank You, Life, for this happy, blessed opportunity. Thank You, Guide, for your inspiring commitment to practice. Thank You, Sangha, for your support.