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Hitting the Wall of Truth

pema chodron on being present

At some point, if you’re fortunate, you’ll hit a wall of truth and wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. At that point you’ll feel highly motivated to find out what frees you and helps you to be kinder and more loving, less klesha driven (having a clouded mind) and less confused. At that point you’ll actually want to be present—present as you go through a door, present as you take a step, present as you wash your hands or wash a dish, present to being triggered, present to simmering, present to the ebb and flow of your emotions and thoughts. Day in and day out, you’ll find that you notice sooner when you’re hooked, and it will be easier to refrain. If you continue to do this, a kind of shedding happens—a shedding of old habits, a shedding of being run around by pleasure and pain, a shedding of being held hostage by worldly concerns.

- Pema Chodron,  “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change”

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Top 25 Inspirational Quotes from Pema Chödrön

When I was a boy and I would see scary things….my mother would say to me; Look for the Helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers

This not only great advice for children, but for adults as well. If you feel yourself stuck or in need of a lift, look for the people who are out there helping – you can spiritually and energetically shift yourself to a different vibration when you align with the beauty and good that is yours to embrace. And Pema Chödrön is a helper if we’ve ever seen one.

Help yourself to a healthy dose of wisdom as we share some of Pema’s most notable insights – we’re printing this out and tacking it on the office wall:

1.  “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”

2.  “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

3.  “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”

4.  “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

5.  “The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”

6.  “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.”

7.  “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”

8.  “We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart.”

9.  “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”

10.  “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

11.  “I used to have a sign pinned up on my wall that read: Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us…It was all about letting go of everything.”

12.  “Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear? ”

13.  “A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. ”

14.  “We don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people’s hearts.”

15.  “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. ”

16.  “If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart…”

17.  “Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it.”

18.  “We can spend our whole lives escaping from the monsters of our minds.”

19.  “As long as our orientation is toward perfection or success, we will never learn about unconditional friendship with ourselves, nor will we find compassion.”

20.  “No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear…the advice we usually get is to sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, or distract ourselves, but by all means make it go away.”

21.  “We are all capable of becoming fundamentalists because we get addicted to other people’s wrongness.”

22.  “The more we witness our emotional reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain.”

23.  “At the root of all the harm we cause is ignorance.”

24.  “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”

25.  “Without giving up hope—that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be—we will never relax with where we are or who we are.”

You can support Pema and her mission at the Pema Chödrön Foundation.  Pema Chödrön is a beloved Buddhist teacher, author, nun and mother, and has inspired millions of people around the world who are touched by her example and message of practicing peace in uncertain times.

 

ARTWORK: Lynn Cornish – check out her beautiful work at:  http://www.lynncornishwatercolors.com/lynnhome.aspx

Did we miss any of your favorites?  Share your favorite Pema quote or clip below!

 

If you enjoyed this article, you will also appreciate: “Smile at Your Fear: How to be Fearless”

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Smile At Your Fear: How to be Fearless

Fear can go in the direction of chaos, violence, aggression, or in the direction of sanity.

The only way to experience fearlessness is to know the nature of fear. It’s not something we get rid of or cast out, but something we become so intimate with that the journey of knowing fear is actually the journey towards bravery.

Examples of how we unknowingly connect with fear is blaming others, gossiping and slandering. Sometimes it gets to the point where people go looking for security through stealing, lying and acts of violence. Generally speaking, no one does any of these things because they want to feel worse.  They do it because their situation, at the pit of their stomach, is such an uncomfortable experience that they just want to find something to represent security.  Others turn to entertainment, drugs, alcohol or divide the world up into our views and opinions.

So, how do we face towards fear, leap into our fear – and smile at our fear?

The main practice is to stay with your fear rather than letting it set off a chain reaction.  Fear itself is the entrance to wisdom and courage. Being present is not being open to just the comfortable, secure and pleasurable parts of life; but being open, receptive and available to the uncomfortable parts as well.

Working with fear in the way of appreciating fear is the basis of sanity and the way to connect with the fundamental goodness of ourselves and others. One way to put this practice into play is through a disciplined meditation practice. This is the main key because in meditating, you remain present to whatever might arouse.  Briefly touch the feelings then let them go. You don’t repress them that way.  This way you turn towards the fear.

Once face to face with it, place your fearful mind in the cradle of loving kindness. In the shade of fear, fan it with the fan of joy and happiness. This atmosphere of warmth allows yourself to be as you are. This makes you very decent, very sane and very open to the world and other people.

These applicable teachings come to us from Pema Chödrön, a notable American figure in Tibetan Buddhism.  She is an ordained nun, author and teacher, and is widely known for her charming and down-to-earth interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism for Western audiences. Her mantra: The nature of fear is the basis of fearlessness.

Watch this video and connect with your courage. Ask yourself, “Does my fear go in the direction of confidence, gentleness, courage and tender-hearted bravery?” If not, your fear could use your smile.

Who are some great teachers in your life?  Send us their link or videos.
If you enjoyed this article, you will also like: “Can You Trust Your Intuition?”
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March 6 – The Three Bite Practice

praying at a meal

Pema Chrodron offers today’s Daily Bit of Gladness and beautiful (yet simple) practice to bring in gratitude and compassion:

“You can do this anytime you eat a meal. Before taking the first bite, just pause and think of those men and women of wisdom and mentally offer them your food. In this way, you connect with the virtue of devotion.

Before taking the second bite, pause and offer your food to all those who’ve been kind to you. This nurtures the virtues of gratitude and appreciation.

The third bite is offered to those who are suffering: all the people and animals who are starving, or being tortured or neglected, without comfort or friends. Think, too, of all of us who suffer from aggression, craving, and indifference. This simple gesture awakens the virtue of compassion.

In this way—by relying on our teachers, our benefactors, and those in need—we gather the virtues of devotion, gratitude, and kindness.”
(-From Pema’s book No Time To Lose)

 

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Feb 20 – Take on the Task of Training Your Thoughts

daily intention

Pema Chodron sets today’s intent. This is our task at hand.

TRAIN IN THE THREE DIFFICULTIES:
The three difficulties (or the three difficult practices) are:

1.  To recognize your neurosis as neurosis,
2.   Then not to do the habitual thing, but to do something different to interrupt the neurotic habit, and
3. To make this practice a way of life.

Pema Chodron presents this challenge. It’s simple but it’s not gonna be easy. Are you up for it?

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