Welcoming the Unwelcome: a Path to Happiness
Contributed by: Fern LaRocca
In meditation and in our daily lives, there are three key qualities that we can nurture, cultivate, and bring out: precision, gentleness and the ability to let go. We already possess these, but they can be ripened. There is a kind of innocent misunderstanding that we all share, something that can be turned around, corrected, and seen through as if we were in a dark room and someone showed us where the light switch was. It isn’t a sin that we are in the dark room. It’s just an innocent situation, but how fortunate that someone shows us where the light switch is. It brightens up our life considerably. We can start to read books, to see one another’s faces, to discover the colors of the walls, to enjoy the little animals that creep in and out of the room.
Precision, Gentleness and Letting Go
In the same way, if we see our so-called limitations with clarity , precision, gentleness, good heartedness, and kindness, and are then able to fully let go and open further, we begin to find that our world is more vast and more refreshing and fascinating than we had realized before. In other words, the key to feeling more whole and less shut off and shut down is to be able to see clearly who we are and what we’re doing.
The innocent mistake that keeps us caught in our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is, with gentleness.
Instead there’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to move away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, then we would be happy. That is the innocent and naive misunderstanding that we all share, which may keep us unhappy.
Open Minds and Open Hearts
Mediation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness. Throughout this meditation practice, we will work with cultivating gentleness, innate precision, and the ability to let go of small mindedness, learning how to open to our thoughts and emotions, to all the people we meet in our world, how to open our minds and hearts. -excerpt from Awakening Loving Kindness- Pema Chodron