I woke up this morning with a mid/lower back pain, actually spasms…oh my…I told myself, here it is! Right in my face, that pain that we deeply feel sometimes. Of course I took some ibuprofen and put some arnica, but I knew that would not help much. My pain was much deeper, deeply rooted somewhere in my body, coming from my deep unconscious. And I decided to let it take its course, I chose to be with my pain, so that I look it in the eye and get to know it. I am sure you wonder if I am sane by this point…
Pema Chodron and mindfulness meditation teaches us to be present, to feel our emotions, to get intimate with our longings, our desires, our anger, our sadness. When we feel all of this mess, because sometimes we are a big mess, we get in touch with our soft spot, our rawness, our vulnerability. We no longer try to escape what it is or deny it. We just live it as it is.
Once we open our hearts to ourselves, we start feeling a sense of compassion and deep love. And once we can do that, then we can feel love and compassion toward other human beings.
I recently came back from my first intensive as part of the Haden Institute Spiritual Direction program. The love and compassion that I encountered was overwhelming. All of us had opened our hearts and were raw, vulnerable, intimate with our own suffering and the pain of others. Only after we did that, compassion came to surface. No pity, but deep understanding that the human experience is the same for all of us and that we are all connected at a deep level, no matter our religion, our upbringing, our experience. It’s all the same…
A nice practice that I start to cherish is the practice of Tonglen. This practice puts us in touch with our own suffering and the suffering of others. It allows us to be open and compassionate; it melts our hearts and opens our souls. So, as you breathe in, you breathe in your own pain and of the others, and as you breathe out, you spread love and understanding.
So next time you breathe, maybe you can practice a little Tonglen for someone that needs it.