That Really Takes The Pressure Off

2008 January 30

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. 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 then they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” (p.8)

“The spiritual journey is not about heaven and finally getting to a place that’s really swell. In fact, that way of looking at things is what keeps us miserable. Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly.” (p.9)

-Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

When I read those two passages, I felt every single cell in my body take a huge, deep breath and relax. Because what those words said to me was, “There’s no other place you’re supposed to be than exactly where you are right now, sickness, mess, low energy, uncertainty and all. So relax-you are just fine.”

Whenever I get into the story that being “enlightened” and “spiritual” means that I can only ever feel blissed out and peaceful all the time, besides making me want to gouge my eyes out with a very dull spatula (because seriously, how freaking boring would that be?!), it also makes me judge myself, my feelings, my thoughts, and my life as “wrong” on days like today when every muscle in my body hurts, I can only sit by and watch the undone housework pile up, and I just want to yell at Personal Growth and New Thought and tell them to SUCK IT! And so according to my old story of what “spiritual” looks like, this day is “wrong” and “doesn’t count”, and I have to figure out a way to get to some new, different place that is somehow “right” and “acceptable”.

But not anymore. Because if those paragraphs are true, and they certainly felt true for me when I read them, then the fact that I don’t have to hurry up and get somewhere else or try and measure up to some kind of external standard of “good enough” spirituality means that this moment right now is, in fact, enough, and good enough, and already contains infinite possibilities for lots of juicy goodness, even while I’m feeling miserable.

So I took a breath. And then I took a bath. I listened to a CD of Bach’s French Suites. And I felt sick as a dog. And-it was all good.

Edited To Add: No, I take that back. It wasn’t all good, but it was all okay. And it was all part of my spiritual life for today.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. 2008 January 30

    Jenny, I’m glad you found Pema Chodron. Thank you for the rec, and for sharing some of her inspiring words.

    I’m glad you had a better day, and that the turn-around included a hot bath. I’ve found that during some of my most extreme emotional (happy or sad) times were helped by a hot bath. Water, warm water, is so healing.


  2. 2008 January 31

    This is awesome to witness, Jenny, and awesome to take in myself. I think I’m truly getting it for the first time too, on a level that matters. I’ve not bumped into the book you are reading but am finding it in Awake in the Heartland by Joan Tollifson. Books are amazing oracles…..

  3. 2008 January 31

    Thanks for sharing this Jenny~ I love her work…brilliant and so human. We humans have given ourselves quite the bad wrap. Ya know?

  4. 2008 January 31

    What a beautiful realization! I hope you at least enjoyed the bath, even though you feeling OK in your “i feel like crap”-edness ;) A bath sounds really good right now.

  5. 2008 February 9
    wendy permalink

    yes, yes, yes. a resounding YES! thank you sharing that, jenny. just what i needed to hear. am about to take a few days at the rainy coast to rest/relax with one of my puppies and think some things through. and this was just what god ordered as my mantra for the week………..bless you, my friend. you are wonderful. and quite lover-ly JUST the way you are today! wendy from whidbey

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