Monday, April 30, 2012

The Moment of Choice

“If we were to make a list of the people we don't like, people we find obnoxious, threatening or worthy of contempt, we would find much about ourselves that we can't face. If we were to come up with one word about each of the troublemakers in our lives, we would find ourselves with a list of descriptions of our own rejected qualities. We project these on the outside world.

The people who repel us unwittingly show us aspects of ourselves that we find unacceptable, which otherwise we can't see. Traditional lojong teachings say it another way: other people trigger the karma we haven't worked out. They mirror us and give us a chance to befriend all of that ancient stuff we carry around like a backpack full of granite boulders”.

Pema Chodron

We can expand on Pema Chodron’s idea about how we project our unhealed hurts onto others by being curious about how we ‘stew’ in our stories. We can ask ourselves if we are wallowing in self-pity or using the experience to heal our need to project our unpleasant thoughts outward.

In this sense, everyone we encounter appears on the screen of our life story to show us where we still need to bring our awareness. Our emotions can assist us by signposting these unhealed aspects of ourselves. They show us the ‘moment of choice’, where we can feel into the unpleasantness and move through it, or carry on spinning our story of victimhood.

Sometimes it is helpful to tell our story so that we can notice where we are hooked or triggered. This is where it is essential to have a trusted friend who sits with compassion as we traverse the inner terrain of our heart. Their role is to keep reminding us to use emotions as a guide to the places we need to bring our awareness.

We can stop, even for a nano-second, and breathe long enough to feel the feeling that arises during our story telling. Amazingly enough,the hurt does not arise and overwhelm us as our ego would have us believe!   

One thing we know for sure: What we resist, persists. If we notice a pattern of discomfort that keeps arising over and over again, perhaps it is a friend after all. What if we just sat with it and waited patiently for it to tell us why it keeps showing up? It is possible that when we feel it fully, it will reveal something we have been resisting and dissolve back into nothingness.

Clearly, healing is a process of undoing: When we keep peeling back the layers of seeming  unworthiness, anger and disappointment we find our True Selves. We simply forgot what is true and lost our way for a while. We don’t need to stay hooked into old hurts because we know there is a way out that is safe and gentle.