June 19, 2013

We Can't Jump Over Ourselves

I often hear Pema Chodron's words in my head: "We can't just jump over ourselves as if we were not there. It's better to take a straight look at all our hopes and fears." There are times when I really want to step around myself; I want to avoid my feelings of shame, fear, helplessness, and grief. When I'm in avoidance mode I search for external validation and distract myself in varied ways. Eventually I awaken from this trance. And that's when I hear Pema's words in my head. I can't jump over myself; I must sit compassionately with myself, as I would with a good friend. 

I sit with the fear and doubt of having made such a bold professional decision. I let it wash over me and realize I'm strong enough to deal with fear (to listen but not follow). Wave after wave of fear and I'm still here; I'm okay. This process is actually easier--takes less energy--than jumping over myself. But I need consistent reminders.

I sit with the raw helplessness I feel about my mom's emotional and physical state. Helplessness is a difficult place to sit. I want to soothe and save; I want to feel like I have some control. Yet I remind myself that helplessness and compassion can coexist. I deeply love my mom and also know I am helpless. This is new territory for me--a particularly tender place. All the more reason to sit gently and explore.

I sit with my creative excitement. I watch my mind ping between multiple creative projects. I notice what's authentic and what's ego. I sit until my mind calms enough to take intentional action. 

Interestingly, when I desperately want to leap over myself--to avoid at all costs--that's exactly when I must sit. It needn't be formal meditation. I only need sit down, calm my movement, notice my breath. And ask myself, what's going on right now? In order to understand the answer, I quiet my mind and listen to my heart. Yet, I regularly forget this lesson. That's just part of being human. We want to jump over ourselves, but gradually we learn that staying with difficult emotions takes less overall energy. Through the process we become more whole; more in touch with our true nature.


  1. Good lesson there. That is what I need to do! Thanks . . . . . One of the marvelous thing about being a parent is that you learn from your offspring. It is a truly wonderful feeling.

    1. and that goes both directions--i've learned so very much from you. our relationship feeds us because we learn from each other. big hug!