Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change - by Pema ChödrönISBN: 1611802725
Date read: 2016-04-20
How strongly I recommend it: 6/10
(See my list of 360+ books, for more.)
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Everything she writes is wonderful. All a similar theme. See the other books here for other (maybe better) examples.
Repression or acting out: they’re equally harmful. Once you speak or act, other people’s emotions become involved.
If you repress your feelings, everyone is affected by that too, because you’re like a keg of dynamite that’s about to go off.
Refraining from speaking or acting out slows us down and enables us to see our habitual responses very, very clearly.
Until we can see our reactions, we can never know precisely what causes us to stay stuck and what will help us to get free.
Don’t believe everything you think.
We’re either speaking or acting in order to escape, or we’re not.
Don’t speak or act out. Period.
By training with everyday irritations, we develop the knack of refraining when the going gets rough.
When the urge comes on it’s irresistible. The seduction is too strong.
Refraining from harmful speech and action is outer renunciation; choosing not to escape the underlying feelings is inner renunciation.
Unless I also include inner renunciation and admit to the ways I’m propping myself up by building this virtuous identity, then simply following the rules can be just another way of shoring up my self-image as a virtuous person, as someone who’s purer than others.
The basic instruction of the first commitment: Don’t act, don’t speak. That’s the outer work. And then there’s also the inner work of exploring what happens next when you don’t act and don’t speak.
When you’re refraining - when you’re feeling the pull of habitual thoughts and emotions but you’re not escaping by acting or speaking out - you can try this inner renunciation exercise: Notice how you feel: What does it feel like in the body to have these cravings or aggressive urges? Notice your thinking: What sort of thoughts do these feelings give birth to? Notice your actions: How do you treat yourself and other people when you feel this way?
Commitment to sanity: refrain from something you habitually do to escape. It will put you in touch with the underlying anxiety or uncertainty that you’ve been avoiding.
Sojong takes place twice a month, on the full and new moon days. The day before, each person reviews the preceding two weeks and reflects: What have I done with my body? What have I done with my speech? What about my mind: is it steady or all over the place and never present?
This gives us an opportunity to reflect on where we are in terms of refraining and, when we feel that we’ve really made a mess of things, to put that behind us and start anew.
Instead of holding on to the view, “I’m hopeless. Week after week, month after month, year after year go by, and I can never stop lying” (or whatever your habit is), you can say, “Well, this is where I am now. I fully declare what’s happened now and in the past, and I go forward with a sense of a fresh start.”
You can always connect with your true nature at any time and be free of everything that went before.
Practice meditation to nurture the natural ability of the mind to be present, to feel loving-kindness, to open beyond fixed opinions and views.
How easily we’re distracted and become lost in planning and remembering, escaping into thoughts and daydreams.
Label the thoughts, let them go, and come back to the here and now.
First, contemplate your intention for this practice session.
Mindfulness means paying attention to all the details of your life, from how we make dinner to how we speak to one another to how we take care of our clothes, our floors. We’re either present when putting on our sweater or tying our shoes or brushing our teeth, or we’re not. We’re either awake or asleep, conscious or distracted.
Contemplate what you do when you’re unhappy or dissatisfied and want to feel better. Does it work? Has it ever worked?
Reputation is about as flimsy as a child’s sand castle.
Up the mountain at the retreat center I was nobody. Down the mountain at the teaching I was a special guest, worthy of respect. But these were just shifting, ambiguous labels. I couldn’t ever be labeled definitively.
Awakening is not a process of building ourselves up but a process of letting go. It’s a process of relaxing in the middle - the paradoxical, ambiguous middle, full of potential, full of new ways of thinking and seeing - with absolutely no money-back guarantee of what will happen next.
When we set out to support other beings, when we go so far as to stand in their shoes, when we aspire to never close down to anyone, we quickly find ourselves in the uncomfortable territory of “life not on my terms.”
Move consciously into the pain of the world in order to help alleviate it.
Invite all sentient beings to be our guest.
Opening our door to everyone, not just to the people we like.
Saying to myself when I wake up, “I wonder what will happen today.” That’s the spirit of taking a leap.
Continually ask ourselves: How can I be of service?
When we feel uneasy, we tend to become very opinionated and cling to our views, trying to get rid of that shaky, edgy feeling.
Leonard Cohen once said about the benefits of many years of meditation, “The less there was of me, the happier I got.”
You have to decide for yourself what gives you inner strength, what minimizes your confusion, what helps you get unstuck, what brings you closer to experiencing life without a story line.
Reach the point where there’s nothing you can’t deal with, nothing you can’t work with.
There are those fortunate few who seem to consider everything an adventure, no matter how challenging or painful it is, but most of us don’t view life that way. And if someone suggests that our suffering is a great opportunity for practice, we’re not likely to take it kindly. It’s built into our DNA that when things are unpleasant and fearful, we look for the nearest exit. If we find ourselves in a burning building, we instinctively head for the door.
When I first started to approach life with a more warrior-like spirit, I was dying for something to go wrong so I would have something really juicy to work with. But I soon discovered that as keen as I was for my propensities to arise so that I could free myself from them, when it happened - when the dog got its teeth in my arm - it was very humbling. I felt deep compassion for what we’re up against as human beings.
Look at it as if for the last time. If you knew you were going to die in a few minutes. Very open, very receptive, to everything that happened in those minutes - the sights, the sounds, the feelings of your final moments.
You need a raft to get across the river, but when you arrive at the other shore, you leave the raft behind. You don’t lug it around with you forever.
My job was to make sure that the meditation hall was running smoothly, that everything was on schedule. I would be so pleased when everything was working like clockwork - and then Chögyam Trungpa would throw us off completely. If the regular afternoon talk was scheduled for 3:00 P.M., he would arrive at 3:00 on the first day, he would arrive at 4:00 the next day, and then on the third day, he would keep us waiting until 5:00. By the fourth talk, we were waiting until 10:00 P.M. Talk about groundlessness! The practice department didn’t know how to set up a schedule. The cooks didn’t know when to serve meals. After a while, we almost weren’t sure if it was day or night. This turned out to be the best sort of training possible for embracing the fundamental ambiguity of the human condition.