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Learning to Stay

Valerie Rickel

“Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it.
Why? Because it is all we ever have."
― Pema Chödrön

Good morning! I'm super excited to share one of my most favorite articles with you, by best-selling author and Buddhist teacher and nun, Pema Chödrön. Pema is the author of "When Things Fall Apart," "The Places that Scare You" and "Start Where You Are." Her article, "Learning to Stay" teaches us the practice of "Sitting Meditation," also known as "Mindfulness Awareness Practice.

I hope you enjoy her article! ♥


Pema Chodron"Learning to Stay"

By Pema Chödrön

As a species, we should never underestimate our low tolerance for discomfort. To be encouraged to stay with our vulnerability is news that we definitely can use. Sitting meditation is our support for learning how to do this. Sitting meditation, also known as mindfulness-awareness practice, is the foundation of bodhichitta training. It is the home ground of the warrior bodhisattva.

Sitting meditation cultivates loving-kindness and compassion, the relative qualities of bodhichitta. It gives us a way to move closer to our thoughts and emotions and to get in touch with our bodies. It is a method of cultivating unconditional friendliness toward ourselves and for parting the curtain of indifference that distances us from the suffering of others. It is our vehicle for learning to be a truly loving person.

Gradually, through meditation, we begin to notice that there are gaps in our internal dialogue. In the midst of continually talking to ourselves, we experience a pause, as if awakening from a dream. We recognize our capacity to relax with the clarity, the space, the open-ended awareness that already exists in our minds. We experience moments of being right here that feel simple, direct, and uncluttered.

This coming back to the immediacy of our experience is training in unconditional bodhichitta. By simply staying here, we relax more and more into the open dimension of our being. It feels like stepping out of a fantasy and relaxing with the truth.

Yet there is no guarantee that sitting meditation will be of benefit. We can practice for years without it penetrating our hearts and minds. We can use meditation to reinforce our false beliefs: it will protect us from discomfort; it will fix us; it will fulfill our hopes and remove our fears. This happens because we don’t properly understand why we are practicing.

Why do we meditate? This is a question we’d be wise to ask. Why would we even bother to spend time alone with ourselves?

First of all, it is helpful to understand that meditation is not just about feeling good. To think that this is why we meditate is to set ourselves up for failure. We’ll assume we are doing it wrong almost every time we sit down: even the most settled meditator experiences psychological and physical pain. Meditation takes us just as we are, with our confusion and our sanity. This complete acceptance of ourselves as we are is called maitri, a simple, direct relationship with our being…

Continue Reading "Learning to Stay"

Copyright Pema Chodron. All Rights Reserved.

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Wishing you a mindful and meditative day!


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