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Pema Chodron, a famed Buddhist thinker, meditation master and author, is slowly becoming one of my favorites. I am currently reading, “When Things Fall Apart” and I’m ashamed that I hadn’t read it sooner.
For the purpose of this post I want to share some thoughts that could help you:
- Chill out
- Warm you up to the benefits of meditation
- Remind you again why you need to chill
In our lives we rush, hustle and prepare for the future while hoping to counteract failure, suffering or disappointment. Chodron discusses how we’re so off balance with our belief systems. She says that most people live in two extremes: hope and fear. If you imagine a seesaw, we sit on the side of hope in an effort to keep fear away. Hope tells us that we have to be more, do more and we lack something. Once we reach the other side of the seesaw, which is fear, we are unaccustomed with how to deal with it. We wiggle and squirm and don’t allow space to deal with what’s happening.
When we’re addicted to hope we shift our lives around so much in order to keep suffering away. But suffering will happen no matter what. This reminds me of what I recently experienced with the earthquake in Mexico City. I’m an overprepared, freak out kind of girl. That may seem like total opposites but trust me it’s a mess. When I woke up in a hotel room with the ground shaking I was surprisingly calm. I was actually pleased that their earthquake sirens didn’t wake me up.
An earthquake siren tells you that sh** is about to go down. It’s designed to save lives. And it would have freaked me the hell out. The siren is really telling you that suffering, or an earthquake, is happening no matter what. I calmly rode out that quake and thankfully it wasn’t powerful enough to warrant evacuation.
In the middle of hope and fear, according to Chodron, is a pause.
Meditation is a pause. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes.
Mindful activities are pauses. Walking my dog is a relationship between me, nature and my dogs. That’s it. No lists. No phone calls. No multi-tasking.
Warning sirens can be means for a pause as well. You assess your surroundings and get to safety. I can’t tell you to NOT be afraid when you need to seek safety. I hope you wouldn’t completely freeze in a serious situation, although that’s a natural reaction. But maybe we run around in states of fear without realizing it.
Chodron defines this element of fear as a slow death while living. It’s when things just don’t work out. People panic, try to avoid embarrassment, hurt or disappointment when it’s really unavoidable. Natural occurrences will happen and we wiggle ourselves into exhaustion by trying to escape it. I couldn’t wiggle my way out of a quake.
When you’re fighting a rip current you could kill yourself with exhaustion before you ever drown.
Meditation or mindfulness is the best preparedness tool for suffering. It keeps you from going 0 to 100. It teaches you how to pause.
(Read: A Beginner’s Guide To Mindfulness )
When we stop trying to avoid the inevitable, we may have a better reaction. We may have a clearer head, can seek solutions faster and can bounce back faster. The pauses in between hope and fear make room for resilience. Click To Tweet
How can you find the pauses again?
Unplug from your devices, walk outside, do one task at a time, spend time alone, eat slower, listen to a favorite playlist that brings back happy memories, talk on the phone with someone, engage in pillow talk, talk to your furry family members, draw, paint, listen to live music, read to a child, be creative….
Basically, just chill out. It sounds easy right? Don’t overthink it. Just chill.