Pain Along the Path

“Perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. Maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast….if we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive.”

Yep, you guessed it – it’s Pema Chodron again. You can read her words and be moved or impressed, or you can read her words and actually let them sink in, and pontificate what it means on the deepest level for yourself.

My life fell apart just about two and a half months ago. Every layer I thought was solid, dissolved and slipped away.

You always think it’s going to be someone else— someone else’e family, someone else in a far away place, the woman with the black eye – how did she let it get that way? Why didn’t she walk away? That couldn’t be me. It’s never going to be ME. I’m utterly ridiculously over-responsible, I make lists, I’m savvy, and tough as nails like my Jewish grandma. I’m educated and a hard-working professional. I’ve never been an addict, I’m self-sufficient. I love my family, all of them. I’ve got some of the best armor so it could never happen to me. We never want to believe that there is evil in others. Because it’s too damn scary. The Jewish-Buddhist in me has subscribed to a firm belief that all sentient beings are basically good. At 10, I swore off eating all animals, my life has been a shrine to them ever since – I don’t even kill insects. Yet, evil often doesn’t come out with horns, fangs and head spinning- he can be innocently disguised, and use tempting bait. I certainly can’t be the only self-aware and educated woman out there who had the self-esteem sucked out of her and ignored the signs of a sociopath she loved.

I’ve been studying myself over these long weeks, examining how I handle obstacles, and this- the most serious obstacle I’ve experienced. How did I get here? the road.jpg

One of the really profound things I love about yoga is that each posture requires a true relaxing into it – even the most difficult and advanced poses. The goal is to stay relaxed and breathe naturally. If it’s difficult to hold – it’s only for a moment. And another moment. And then it’s just one more moment and you can completely relax. I’ve tried to use the same tactics while running, reminding myself that my body can take it, it’s my mind that needs to catch up. Keep going. Needless to say, the metaphors for *life* are loud and clear here between the lines.  An important tenet of the Shambhala meditation practice I’ve had in my life for seven years is that pain is always part of our path. Don’t ignore it, don’t wish it away and separate yourself from reality. Let it guide you.

For me, pain has cast a light on the parts of me that I never saw.

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