It’s Spring in Kansas City, despite the cooler than average temperatures. Everyone is a bit on edge, cranky that we’ve been robbed of the Springtime weather we deserve. When will all this cold and rain stop they ask? But as I sit here writing, I can hear the robin’s song and they are not worried. They sing because the can and they do, and they don’t complain.
Recently I have been bone-tired, feeling sluggish, bloated and off-center physically which, I have attributed to a new awareness of my age. Alex, my Arvigo therapist, also suggested it is the result of the work we are doing together- as I have let go of lifelong trauma stored in my body, I have softened and am more connected with how I really feel. I am smiling right now because a larger part of me liked feeling a bit taut, tense with adrenaline, even if that energy came from anxiety and holding and grief. Now, it seems, I am softer and more compassionate, but tired and still dealing with anxiety and grief.
I know from experience this is temporary- that in fact, it is simply life. I also know that my feeling the pain is not as painful as my resisting pain, and if I am honest with myself, that is probably the reason I am exhausted and sad. Bracing simply isn’t as effective as it once was, taking more energy because my spirit has shifted and doesn’t flow that way anymore. Of course, embracing the pain because is the lesson here. Embracing what “is” is always the lesson.
For whatever reason, as I was preparing to meditate this morning, I reached for a book that someone (perhaps Peggy Peterson) gave me years ago. Written by Buddhist Monk Pema Chodron, it focuses on the Lojong Teachings on awakening compassion and fearlessness. Who couldn’t use some of that, right?
The book uses 59 slogans and simple commentary to help train our minds when we run into resistance in our lives. This resistance is innate, so these slogans can pack a powerful reminder if we employ them. It’s mindfulness training to help us remember we have a choice- not simply a reaction to every moment.
Four Reminders for your daily life—- try to:
- Maintain awareness of the preciousness of human life.
- Be aware of the reality that life ends; death comes for everyone.
- Recall that whatever you do, whether virtuous or not, has a result; what goes around comes around.
- Contemplate that as long as you are too focused on self-importance and too caught up in how you are good or bad, you will suffer. Obsessing about getting what you want and avoiding what you don’t want does not result in happiness.
Wow, sounds familiar. At night, when I wake up, which is often, I often ask my angels to speak because I am quiet and can hear them better. Last night they repeated what they have been saying for a while now, “let go, trust, you are loved, all is as it should be.”
Of course, that should be the easiest thing in the world, because they are just trying to help me remember that the pot of gold that is already mine; but as a human, an emotional human, I tend to forget, be fearful and want to insinuate myself against the flow of the Universe. Seems kind of funny as I actually write this.
In Buddhism, the belief is that we can use everything we encounter in our lives, pleasant and painful, to awaken genuine, uncontrived compassion. By making friends with what we reject, what we see as “bad” in ourselves or others, or learning to be generous with what we cherish and see as “good”, we can gradually reach Bodhichitta, or “awakened heart.” This is something we already have but usually have not yet discovered. Our confusion and misery come from not knowing that the gold is right there- but unnoticed, from always looking somewhere else.
The Lojong’s message is that if it’s painful you can learn to hold your seat and move closer to that pain. Reverse the usual pattern which is to split, to escape. Go against the grain and hold your seat. Lojong introduces a different attitude towards unwanted stuff; if it’s painful, you become willing not just to endure it, but embrace it, to let it awaken your heart and soften you.
And if we experience something that is delightful or pleasant, usually we want to grab it and make it last. We’re afraid it will end. We’re not inclined to share it. The Lojong teachings encourage us to think of other people and wish for them to feel that way too- to share the wealth and be generous with your joy. Give away what you most want. Be generous with your insights and delights. Instead of holding tight, fearing that they’re going to slip away, open up and share them.
Whether it’s pain or pleasure, with practice, we begin to let our experience be as it is, without manipulating it, pushing it away, or grasping for it. The pleasurable aspects, as well as the painful ones, become our key to awakening our Bodhichitta- our hearts.
I’ve been wearing a rose quartz heart necklace around my heart for a few weeks. When a young woman at the coffee shop counter commented that she liked it yesterday, I smiled and replied, “Thank you. I’m working on my heart.” She replied, “It’s a good time to work on our hearts.” We were both right, except maybe it’s not supposed to be work- maybe our hearts are just fine already, and we just need to stand down.
Standing down. Not my strong suit, but I’m trying to accept that, too. If the robin can, perhaps I can, too.