Although I’m not a Buddhist, I’ve always had an attraction to Buddhist teachings. Lately, it’s been to the work of Pema Chodron. I love her book Taking the Leap, and I’ve been trying to remember to use the practice she recommends concerning shenpa, which is when you get hooked or triggered. I’ve read and re-read this section many times because it’s so hard to remember to put into practice, and yet makes so much sense to me. What I like about it is that it doesn’t deny or turn away from the feeling. You acknowledge that you’re hooked (as soon as you catch yourself in the feeling). You then drop the storyline by pausing, “leaning into” the feeling (how it feels in the body, what it makes you think), taking three breaths, then relaxing and moving on.
One of the things that happened this week was I that I got the results of some blood work that did not make me happy. On top of everything else that’s happened, it tipped me over into a pretty deep pit of distress.
Last night I had a really helpful phone conversation with one of my oldest and dearest friends (and very wise woman) Judith Lynne. We got around to the idea of acceptance. I realized how much I had been resisting the state I find myself in and caught up in the story I’d made up about this string of unfortunate events. I’ve been indignant about the seeming futility of all the work I’ve done and all of the discipline I’ve had (diet, supplements, seeing lots of practitioners – you get the picture). She said that she felt this all happened after I retired because I no longer had to keep myself geared up to deal with the 8 - 5 world. I think she could be right. But I’ve done lots of work in the last year and a half to attempt to figure out what has been going on with me. It’s not that I haven’t had some results and insights, but they haven’t gotten me clear of the problems. It’s all made me good and tired of trying to figure it all out, though.
This morning, in my morning pages, I had the thought that maybe my body has been trying to communicate something to me and that I just wasn’t getting it (and none of the practitioners were, either). I don’t trust myself to know what I need to do and have been too dependent on the “experts.” It’s challenging because I don’t get the kind of instant feedback other people do. For instance, I haven’t eaten gluten in over a year, but I can’t tell that it’s made a difference. I’ve done it because I’m “supposed” to. I have friends who know right away when they eat something that doesn’t work for them. Not me.
I’ve been hooked big-time – so big that using the shenpa practice didn’t even occur to me.
So, now the question is: what do I need to do to get into a place where I feel aligned, both physically and spiritually? I know that one of my core issues is around trust. The rare times I feel truly aligned in myself and with my purpose, trust issues don’t arise. When I’m out of whack, like I feel I’ve been, I don’t trust much at all. I don’t believe the universe is a safe place, and I have lots of evidence to back that up. It is sort of a chicken-and-egg thing. If I had trust, I wouldn’t feel so off, and if I felt more aligned I wouldn’t experience a lack of trust.
I don’t have any answers, but I feel like I’m at least asking the right questions. Three breaths, lean into the unknowing, move on.