“We work on ourselves, in order to help others, but we also help others, in order to work on ourselves.” -Pema Chodron
One of my favorite books of all time is Pema Chodron’s work “When things fall apart- Heart advice for difficult times.” It is the first place I go when things come apart. I am soothed to remember that life is a just a series of circles that build upon each other. The spiral in our learning relationships is one of the clearest signs of how awake we are to the dynamics we are creating in our days.
I am generally one to never say die. I do not give up on relationships easily and I swim in an intensity of emotion that feels normal to me, but overwhelms others, often without my awareness. My emotional impact is one of my blindest spots. I think it is because I am so overwhelmed by my own emotions they unknowingly become a filter. I have worked hard to feel and sense neutral.
It is like a prayer, a vigilant attention is required, and still some days I cannot see far beyond my own heart. Maybe this is why I teach about love and insist that the value of love be so deeply infused in my business mission. I see so well where I fall short even when I am doing my very best.
This is what I love about Pema Chodron’s work. It is the truest thoughts I can have- remembering that loving kindness is the only reasonable way to see the world, developing compassion for my own pain and that of others, and finally relaxing into the groundlessness of our situation.
These structures help me to give up the judgment of good and bad and keep me from believing too deeply in the separations of us and them that I can get trapped in. It was described to Pema by her teacher, Rinpoche as “leaning into the sharp points.” I want my practice to be one that lets me make friends with my weakest moments, let me remain a friend to myself and have compassion for everyone.
I need to learn over and over how to relax into the changes that are happening around me, trust that things happen the way they need to and see the opportunity at least as well as the loss. I love the word Bohhichitta even as it forms in my mouth. I love the idea that just beyond what seems unbearable for another moment is when your heart cracks open to hold more love than you could have imagined. But you must journey there, no free rides.
Rinpoche said, “Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news.” Ok, good to know.