Monday, April 13, 2009
"When we pause, allow a gap, and breathe deeply, we can experience instant refreshment. Suddenly we slow down, look out, and there's the world. It can feel like briefly standing in the eye of a tornado or the still point of a turning wheel. Our mood may be agitated or cheerful. What we see and hear may be chaos or it may be the ocean, the mountains, or birds flying across a clear blue sky. Either way, momentarily our mind is still and we are not pulled in or pushed away by what we are experiencing."--Pema Chodron, from Taking the Leap
I love Pema's new book. It's short and concise like her other books, but is brimming with wisdom. I ended up highlighting something on almost every page. Some of it I had heard before but it was good to reinforce the lesson. Then there were new ideas I hadn't considered.
Today I tried to "lean into" whatever I was experiencing, good or bad. It was very chilly this morning and I was only wearing a short wool coat and no gloves. I missed the "T" and had to wait for what felt like 1/2 hour (more likely it was 10 minutes) for the next train. I was miserable but I tried not to make a big deal out of it like I typically do when I'm uncomfortable. Instead, I thought, I'm very cold, this is true, but that's the weather in New England in the early spring. I'm not the only one suffering. Then I thought of the Italians in L'Aquila, living in their tent cities after the earthquake, and thought, how are they feeling right now? They must be very uncomfortable. My discomfort will end once I'm on the train, but their pain is open-ended.
I thought of my husband last night, sick and miserable with a bad migraine, and how I had wanted to take away his pain, or at least divide it evenly between us. It is easy to think this way when it is someone you love. But I have to take a deep breath before I can consider the suffering of people I have never met.
Later, I started having negative thoughts and my anxiety was high, but I thought, you're just in a bad mood. It's not a big deal and it will pass. Don't take the negative thoughts seriously. You have a job to do that you love, and people in your life who care about you. That's what is important. You have been through this before, and you will go through it again.
This way of thinking didn't necessarily change my mood or make me skip down the street. I'm no pollyanna sunshine. But it does a person good to take a pause, ask himself is it that important? and then move on. Let there be a space between the first negative thought and then the subsequent spinning out, and you might be able to stop yourself from creating unneccesary drama.