So lately some of my work has been to not push away the uncomfortable experiences in my life. To allow them to be what they are and to somehow find a way to become friends with my life, my circumstance, no matter what it presents. And of course, the work becomes harder when the circumstances become painful or uncomfortable. The comfortable and joyful experiences in our lives are most often easy to embrace. It is the painful experiences that we sometimes try avoid, try to somehow circumvent. So I am trying to contemplate a different relationship with discomfort and pain; trying to cultivate maitri, a concept in buddhism which is essentially a sense of unconditional love and friendliness with oneself, one’s life. Shit happens no matter how much we try to avoid it, but courage is required to stay with experience even when it’s at its worst. And one way to stay with pain, as Pema Chodron would say, is to keep coming back to the immediacy of your situation. Be present to what is directly in front of you. That may be your breath, perhaps your child, a friend, your drive to work, it may just be the pain within your heart. This allows you to feel what you are experiencing, but then to not attach to the thoughts, the emotions, to not engage in an entire commentary about the circumstance. Simply or not so simply, acknowledge the experience and practice letting it going and continually coming back to what is present right here, right now. Not the thoughts of what was, what could have been, what should have been, what may be. This practice allows you to slowly become friends with your circumstance, no matter how difficult. It helps you to find a space to be okay with whatever arises. It does not define you or your life. It is simply a fragment of experience that will pass, that will clear if we allow it to. And this does mean that change will not follow, but when it does, it will happen in a more organic and natural way, through the lens and space of acceptance and love.
“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross