Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lean In

I'm a great fan of  Buddhist nun  Pema Chödrön, and find her gentle but no nonsense advice very helpful many days.  I find reading her books like talking to an older and wiser friend, one who knows what it is to live with pain and ill health and neither pities nor blames me for my feelings.

"The next time you lose heart and you can't bear to experience what you're feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering - yours, mine, and that of all living beings."  Excerpt from "Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears", page 55 Pema Chödrön

I tend to get wound up in what I am unable to do, and I do this worst when I feel worst. So instead of just staying with the moment, and allowing my body to rest and recover I tend to replay the tapes in my head, "Lazy, useless, better if you'd never been born, millstone, could if you would… yada yada". Then I predict that if today is this bad, tomorrow, next week, next year are bound to be worse, and I just feel like curling into a ball and giving up completely.

Pema tells me not to buy into those old voices in my head, stop flagellating myself and just stay with what's happening now. Not to worry about the past, what tomorrow will be like, just stay with *now* and be like a cork in a pond. Bob along, sometimes washed over by a wave and briefly submerged but quickly popping up again.

All in all, the practice of peace must begin with being at peace with yourself, your life, your particular strengths and weaknesses. Lean into your own heart, your own pain, see them for what they are, and rest.

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