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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


When Things Fall Apart

"We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience. Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we’re going to have an experience we can’t control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we’re going to find out we have cancer, a brick is going to fall out of the sky and hit us on the head …

The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100% healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.

To be fully alive, fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that’s life.”

- Pema Chodron, “When Things Fall Apart”, pp. 71-72

i am in an additional training two days this week. the subject of the training is a corporate program called crucial conversations and is certainly relevant for our workplace, as well as much of my own life. having the skill to distill the process of a difficult conversation by looking beyond the content is not what i would call my strong suit. the idea is that productivity and the ability to just get things done really falls apart when our reactions to life get in the way.

it is so normal to have an internal processor that regulates our reactions to encounters and situations. it separates our emotional reactions from our verbal responses. in the training it is delegated to the left hand column responses and the right hand column responses... i.e. our feelings and thoughts versus our verbal retorts. what is said to happen is that our core reponses-fight or flight- also come into play and have a subsurface effect on our verbal responses. we can sense another's left hand column agenda and respond to that from a left hand column position and communication shuts down.

i find this completely valid and very much in line with my spiritual program i have adopted for my recovery. i don't however find anything simple about it. once i have had a visceral response to a situation, it is quite a task to recognize i am in a primal mode and walk myself back down a tightrope.  but it is possible. it is a healthy direction for me to attempt to steer my awareness. i react in a very visceral way to many many situations i find myself in. it may be helpful initially, but i feel those genetic responses need to be developed into something less cut and dried, less black and white.

the connection between the pema chodron quote and my perception of crucial conversations is the willingness. many folks in 12 step understand this concept. if i want my life to be healthy, i must be willing to have the difficult but crucial conversations in my life. sounds very simple, but a very daunting task.

i have popped open a new "back to mine", this one by richard x (photo above). his bio reads a bit like a 21st century cinderella story. he began his career working in the bootleg aspect of the music industry and has emerged in the sunlight and become quite successful. the collection he offers is quite lovely and has some vintage gems as well as some modern mini-classics. i am thoroughly enjoying myself. today's sound choice is animotion with "obsession"
have some fun!! i think he takes us on a very pleasant journey...



1 comment:

Sheria said...

I find the passage by Chodron very potent. I've never conceptualized of control in this way, never thought of striving for perfection as actually not living life but trying to avoid life. Yet I see his point. Life is messy, it's not neat and orderly. I can see how seeking control only leads to disappointment and frustration because there will be things that you cannot control. Maybe the way to fully experience life is to roll with the punches. You've given me much to think about; I need to read more of Chodron's work.

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