Monday, July 23, 2012

Buddha in my Belly
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Sometimes I wake up in a state of total panic. Sometimes I go to sleep in a state of total panic. Sometimes I do both in the same day. It's really no way to live, and it's something I wish only on my worst enemies. Let's face it, I'm no saint...and I kind of hope that wretched people feel this miserable. I shouldn't feel this way about others and occasionally I work on being more compassionately connected to the people I loathe, but mostly I wish for them the same state of "flying apart at the seams" that I feel.

It does occur to me that maybe I'm the recipient of some loathing and *that's* why I get to feel this way, but I put those thoughts aside. In addition to chronic anxiety, I also possess a healthy dose of narcissism. Whatcha gonna do? People are complex creatures, no?

More and more I notice something around me: people who are legit in pain (people I like no less!) and how scary it is to move beyond the pain we know into a new possibility. I see people stuck in jobs, in relationships, in whole modes of thinking about the world, which leave them truly trapped in their self-made cell. Change is really scary, that's certain, but it's also the only way out of misery.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy in our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns... We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.                    -Tara Brach

Tara Brach is a teacher of Buddhist meditation and a clinical psychologist. I imagine she's the type of person who likes to hug other people. (Please note: I do not. There is nothing wrong with a high five to say hello or good-bye.) She teaches, through the practice of mindfulness and Buddhist philosophy, how to stop being in that small space of conflict. Because whether you realize it or not, if you're stuck in old patterns which do not leave you feeling nurtured and well, then you're in a state of conflict. 

She says that we need to "intentionally stop...our rushing around" and for just a few moments "simply pause and notice our inner experience." In that moment of pause, it's possible to "become conscious of...the feeling that something is missing or wrong." And it's here that we have a choice in response, but only if we pause. When we let go of the control we think we have in our life, of being in charge of every possibility and every outcome, "we can meet our vulnerability with the wisdom of...Acceptance."

How cool is that? You know, being vulnerable to what feels like chaos, or like the hippy dippy notion of "going with the flow," is what's going to happen anyway. There is very little in this world that we actually control in the truest definition. Other people create detours, economics create diversions, geography, health and scheduling can stop a plan dead. There's no real control to be had if we look with a clinical eye. 

Breathing, at the most fundamental level, is really all we can control; and even that is beyond our control if we insist upon doing it wrong. So taking a moment in each moment to pause, to breathe, and to NOT react for just one moment, may be all we need to break out of the rut and the usual mold of bad decisions. Of course that means letting go of our filthy dirty security blanket and letting it get some fresh air and means we might have to trust someone else or something else. 

But it also means that we might get a different outcome than the one we've always gotten in the past -  the one that causes us to wake in a panic, go to sleep in a panic, or spend our days trying not to fly apart at the seams.

So try it out, and from me to you: high five!

1 comment:

  1. Lizzie, this is spectacular. And we don't hug good-bye. We KISS good-bye. :)