"I’ve known many people who have spent years exercising daily, getting massages, doing yoga, faithfully following one food or vitamin regimen after another, pursuing spiritual teachers and different styles of meditation, all in the name of taking care of themselves. Then something bad happens to them, and all those years don’t seem to have added up to the inner strength and kindness for themselves that they need in order to relate with what’s happening."
Pema Chodron from her Book:
Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears
From the least embarrassing moment to the worst moment of your life, the key element of relating to it with inner strength and kindness is:
You don't abandon yourself.
You can learn to acknowledge whatever happened. You need to survive the experience of it. You can learn to stand up for your own worth, as a valuable Human Being Human.
Here’s an example. Pema says:
A fifty-year-old woman told me her story. She had been in an airplane crash at the age of twenty-five. She was in such a panic rushing to get out of the plane before it exploded that she didn’t stop to help anyone else, including, most painfully, a little boy who was tangled in his seat belt and couldn’t move. She had been a practicing Buddhist for about five years when the accident happened; it was shattering to her to see how she had reacted. She was deeply ashamed of herself, and after the crash she sank into three hard years of depression. But ultimately, instead of her remorse and regret causing her to self-destruct, these very feelings opened her heart to other people. Not only did she become committed to her spiritual path in order to grow in her ability to help others, but she also became engaged in working with people in crisis. Her seeming failure is making her a far more courageous and compassionate woman.
Sometimes it's our turn to experience feelings that we think we should never have —feelings of failure, of shame, of murderous rage; all those politically incorrect feelings like racial prejudice, disdain for people we consider ugly or inferior, sexual addiction, and phobias. Sometimes it is embarrassment, when we find ourselves in the wrong, or rage at somebody else who is in the wrong, we feel impelled to act.
One thing's for sure - "I can't stand it" is usually the thought.
Then we attack: we yell, cut them down or punish ourselves. Actually, if you think of it, it's the same feeling turned in or turned out.
There is a very real chance that what is happening around us could make you feel crazy, or harden your heart, or make you ignore what hurts.
That's a shame, because this is a great chance to grow, instead.
So where does the strength come to get through this?
Admitting mistakes is maturity. Even when we are proven wrong, ignorant, incapable, unkind, cruel, thoughtless, prejudiced, aggressive, or hypocritical.
Stand by your self. Nobody can say it didn't happen, but Stop the struggle against it. Regret is natural.
Stand by your self. Return to your basic goodness with a smile. You are a child. You are human. You can be stupid and you deserve comfort when that happens. You can be wrong, and you deserve comfort when you see that.
Stand by your self. Remember your sense of humor. It's actually kind of funny, if it happened to somebody else.
Stand by your self. Nurture a new story of how you will act next time or (like the lady in Pema's story). You can dedicate your life to it.
Stand by your self. Stand up for your right to be, to learn, to experience and to grow.
Take the ugliness that happened and use it to get better.
Rumi said this.
If that's true, you can allow difficult feelings to affect you. You can see them for what they are - a wound in the heart. And you can confidently stand with your self, as an unconditional friend, and let the light come in.
Encouragement: The light of humanity that comes in is so much greater than the darkness of shame that you may gasp.
So, not surprisingly, the practice of Meditation prepares us for this exercise. We’ve learned how to watch. To one degree or another we have learned to watch our selves breath in and breath out. Now we can use that skill to watch when we are being “hooked” by an experience.
Here's the exercise – Per Pema Chodron:
When Contacting the experience of being hooked, you breathe in, allowing the feeling completely and opening to it. The in-breath can be deep and relaxed—anything that helps you to let the feeling be there, anything that helps you not push it away. Then, still abiding with the urge and edginess of feelings such as craving or aggression, as you breathe out you relax and give the feeling space. The out breath is not a way of sending the discomfort away but a way of ventilating it, of loosening the tension around it, of becoming aware of the space in which the discomfort is occurring.
Let us know if you are successful and an account of your experience.
"Jolly Good Luck!"
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