Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Leaning in

“Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we're holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we'd rather collapse and back away. They're like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we're stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it's with us wherever we are.”

Pema Chodron


Our explorations using the felt sense as a guide to self-awareness have shown us the value of ‘hanging in’ when we are in physical and emotional discomfort. As Pema Chodron advises, we are learning to “perk up and lean in” rather than run, hide, or create a new story.

Sometimes we are not all that successful, and we uncover our disappointment just under the surface. We are frustrated that we missed it again, were seduced by a familiar story; got lost in its allure. We don’t like this person, or are disappointed that we sold out in that situation. We missed a chance to stay true to ourselves…AGAIN!

When we find ourselves expressing this kind of disappointment, it’s helpful to remember that all we have to do is hang out and observe what is happening. We stay present with it. We may not like it but we don’t let ourselves be hooked for another ride on the merry-go-round. We are patient and resist the urge to repeat the usual response. 

We can notice how we have felt compelled to deal with it. We don’t try and dress it up and fix it somehow. Sometimes the feelings that arise are very powerful and uncomfortable. If we just sit tight they unravel right before our eyes. No magic, no fuss, just patience.

If we can make this kind of response our default strategy we can find our peace much more quickly. Hanging out with discomfort isn’t always fun, but eventually it gets tired of the game and moves on. From here we can hang out in a place of relief and insight. We see the drama more clearly when we are not hooked into it.

Sometimes it takes a few days and we may need a trusted friend to help us make sure we are not just wallowing aimlessly in the feeling. Rather, we are sitting patiently, neutrally, trusting it will unfold. Certainly this is an opportunity to forgive ourselves for getting lost once again. We can choose peace instead of this.

We can stay alert and ‘lean in’ by being curious. We resist the urge to develop strategies to ‘deal with it’ into the mix. Insights and strategies will unfold all by themselves, effortlessly and clearly. We just have to get out of our own way.