Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pema Chodron - Meditation Is about Accepting Ourselves as We Are

I have a client who meditates when she is struggling, then she wonders why it doesn't make her feel better. Instead, troubling feelings and thoughts, memories and fears arise and leave her feeling worse. She thinks meditation does not work, and I keep telling her it's working exactly as it should.

The difference in our perceptions comes in what we expect meditation to do for us and what we hope to get from meditation.

This brief bit of wisdom comes from Pema Chodron - it was posted at Tricycle Insights. This is quoted from Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion.

We Can Still Be Crazy

We may think meditation will improve us, but it’s really about accepting ourselves as we are right now.

Pema Chodron

When we start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, we often think that somehow we’re going to improve, which is a subtle aggression against who we really are. It’s a bit like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” “If I had a nicer house, I’d be a better person.” “If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.” Or the scenario may be that we find fault with others. We might say, “If it weren’t for my husband, I’d have a perfect marriage.” “If it weren’t for the fact that my boss and I can’t get on, my job would be just great.” And, “If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.”

But lovingkindness—maitri—toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.

Curiosity involves being gentle, precise, and open—actually being able to let go and open. Gentleness is a sense of goodheartedness toward ourselves. Precision is being able to see clearly, not being afraid to see what’s really there. Openness is being able to let go and to open. When you come to have this kind of honesty, gentleness, and goodheartedness, combined with clarity about yourself, there’s no obstacle to feeling lovingkindness for others as well. ▼

From Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion by Pema Chodron. © 2002 by Pema Chodron and Emily Hilburn. Reprinted with permission of Shambhala Publications, Inc.,

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