Learning To Be More Gentle With Myself

My lesson of the week: Patience, letting go, and allowing for things to unfold without forcing or getting so caught up in expectations, fears, and comparing mind.

It’s been a little over a month since we started going to a Buddhist center. As the category suggests, it is an adventure. I will say that I didn’t go in naively expecting nothing but bliss and harmony (within myself). For me, a place that is centered in genuine intention means looking at ourselves and our way of being through the lens of reality not illusion. In other words, if we are focusing on how we live, and how to diminish suffering or dukkha, then our shadows will bubble to the surface.

Image by jurvetson

It has been mentioned multiple times that one aspect to lessening dukkha is to allow ourselves to recognize moments when we are experiencing an absence of suffering. This may seem like a simple task, but it is not always so. I am able to recognize those moments, but I find myself at an interesting crossroads. The shadow that is bubbling up seems fully attached to sabotaging my well-being.

Ahh, there it is. Underneath the peace and nurturing support is the face of a heckler. The unconscious desire to cling to the familiar by whipping my neuroses into a frenzy. Fear, doubt, and the usual questioning of my value and strengths present as a chorus that creates stress and a desire to run.

Funny thing is: Run from what? Me, myself, and I. The justifications seem so valid that initially I don’t even recognize what’s happening. Oppression is exhausting. Freedom and empowerment are energizing…. if we allow ourselves to be present with the energy instead of pushing it away. And, that is the intersection where I realize I took a wrong turn. Not wrong so much as an unnecessary side trip.

I’m learning some things from my recent jaunt with dukkha. I realize that I can resist that which is supportive and kind while feeding that which is referred to – in the Eightfold Path – as self-mortification. I was a bit surprised at how much I tricked myself into confusion based on a fear of discomfort, but I shouldn’t have been. It’s certainly nothing new for me.

As I steer myself back on a more peaceful path, I am reminding myself – again – to be gentle, patient, and kinder to myself. It’s always been easier for me to be supportive of others than with my own self. As I continue to let go and release the tension of self-mortification and the dukkha it births, my energy starts to return. The oppression lifts as the bubbles go flat. Slowly, my motivation and energy to live more fully in the present return.

May you find peace, patience, and loving kindness within yourself. May you find strength to let go. May we nurture that which is supportive and diminish that which simply feeds suffering.


© Sallie Odenthal 2012

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