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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Perfect Teacher

"The peace that we are looking for is not peace that crumbles as soon as there is difficulty or chaos."  

~Pema Chödrön

So, hmm.  Where do I begin?  Referencing the above words written by  Pema Chödrön, there has been quite a bit of difficulty and chaos around here lately.  In her book, When Things Fall Apart, Pema continually writes:  This very moment is the perfect teacher.  She talks a lot about being with what is, not running or hiding from what is (or booking the next flight out of here) but BEing with what is.  Being with what is, not reaching for the closest thing (left over b-day cake, for example) that might temporarily numb the intensity of what is. 

So, what is?  For me, in this moment, what is is a house that very much "needs" cleaning.  Groceries that very much "need" to be bought.  Phone calls and emails waiting for my response. Fifteen pounds of extra (very much unwanted) weight on my body.  Hair that hasn't been cut since September.  The after effects of a wild, out-of-the-ordinary week last week (a very sick, feverish little one that was home from school most of the week, a scary trip to the ER, my sis and her husband visiting, no real routine whatsoever, too few deep breaths).  A sick husband.  Serious hormone craziness (this morning at yoga I imagined myself tackling the woman who very noisily dragged her yoga mat across the floor during Savasana).    My mind trying to get me to think that everything is an urgent emergency, that I really must  take care of all of it right now.

Oh, but wait...what really is?  Right now, in this very moment? Me taking breaths in and out, the clicking keyboard, the old sleeping dog next to me, the cat trying & trying again to weasel her way onto my lap (now she's biting my toes), a cup of coffee beside me, a warm house, me noticeably slowing down, the heart part of me realizing there really isn't anything that is that urgent.  A quiet house.  Falling rain.  More deep breaths.

Here's what I know.  I know that I want the kind of peace that doesn't crumble when things fall apart.  I know that I want to be able to stay with what is, to let this living open and soften me, to allow whatever is to wake me up rather than put me back to sleep.  I know that when I allow myself to feel what is, even if what is feels painful and ugly, my heart opens and love and compassion pour in.  I know that feelings don't hurt but running from them/pushing them away/resisting them/judging them does.  I know that my mind loves to spin me into a frenzy and make a really big deal out of things that really aren't a big deal. I know that there is room for it all; the messy, the neat, the beautiful and the ugly and that all of it is just right if we simply let it be.  I know that no amount of "success" or other's approval or feeling like I have it "together" will bring true peace.  True peace is an inside thing.  I know that the more I nurture and love myself, the clearer I become about everything else.  I know that when I empty my mind, when I let go of all I think I know, when I get absolutely present with WHAT IS,  true knowing and peace bubbles to the surface.  

I know that when I slow down and look closely, this very moment can be the perfect teacher.  And that it can be your perfect teacher too.  

"Rather than indulge or reject our experience, we can somehow let the energy of the emotion, the quality of what we're feeling, pierce us to the heart.  This is easier said than done, but it's a noble way to live.  It's definitely the path of compassion-the path of cultivating human bravery and kindheartedness."    ~Pema Chödrön

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All of you who sent along birthday wishes and get well wishes, I can't really convey in words how deeply I appreciate each of you.  Thank you.


  1. I am right there with you, trying to learn this, for the millionth time. I read this quote this morning, and it made me laugh at myself: "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it," (Flannery O'Connor). What I can't seem to get right, to embody, no matter how much I know it intellectually, is there is no ground--no safe and happy place that I can build or find, move in and stay there forever, protected and content. I know it doesn't exist, that finding it isn't the point, but I still keep on this trip of "if I just adjust that or do this, I can get everything set up just right and it will all work." It is such a relief when I have those brief and precious moments of being able to drop all that, sink into the moment, just as I am and just as it is. Silly humans :)

  2. I've been thinking a lot about quiet versus frenzy, and the huge landscape between those two, how it's not just one or the other, but a continuum, over which, if we're really lucky, we move with some grace...

    Still working on this theory.

    I absolutely relate to the way your mind can spin things out, make them bigger, scarier, more insurmountable than they actually are. The importance of breathing in those moments cannot be overstated (and yet, I'm so quick to hold my breath).


  3. Jill, J, Julia...just realizing all of the J goodness here--feeling something catchy coming on- J times 3, perhaps. Hmmm.

    Getting comfortable with groundlessness, knowing that we'll never "get it together" (at least not in the way we think), being with what is with as much grace as we can muster, knowing that finding "it" isn't the point, remembering to breathe. Yep, all of that. I take such comfort in knowing that we're in this together, that's just the best.

    Thank you, both of you, for being right here.

    Love and more love,


  4. To witnessing the love and compassion pouring in...and to breathing in the moment

  5. Beck, my friend. So good to have you here.

    Sending giant love-filled hugs to you,



What are you thinking/feeling? I'd really love to know...

♥ Julia