So whenever we wander off,
we gently encourage ourselves to “stay” and settle down.
Are we experiencing restlessness? Stay!
Discursive mind? Stay!
Aching knees and throbbing back? Stay!
What’s for lunch? Stay!
What am I doing here? Stay!
I can’t stand this another minute! Stay!
That is how we cultivate steadfastness.
by Pema Chödrön
I was trying to choose between several deep, meaningful poems and newly discovered inspiring writers for this week’s post, but ended up coming back to the simple but powerful teaching from Pema Chodron. In case you’ve not come across her before, she’s probably the most popular American Buddhist teacher of the last 20 years or so, and she’s brought a vast array of books and teachings into the world.
I’d heard her name spoken with respect and glanced at one of her books at a friend’s place, but it wasn’t until I found myself in a relationship crisis with all the drama and heartbreak of a 22 year-old, that I ordered her book ‘When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice in Difficult Times’. Such wise, loving words, such a balm for my tumultuous heart.
These days, my challenges have got a different flavour but Pema’s words remain fresh and relevant no matter how often I read them. The above pith-instruction that my dear colleague Rosina likes to read out, comes from the book ‘The Places that Scare You’, you can find the longer teaching here.
In the midst of the pandemic, her advice to ‘stay… stay… just stay’ has got an extra poignancy to it. On the one hand, not many options other than to ‘stay’ – but the question becomes: how do I stay with a soft heart rather than with gritted teeth, and how can I meet myself with a radical welcome so not just my body stays, but my mind also comes to rest, right here in the midst of it all.
Let’s just say it’s a practice!