I have had some visitors staying these past days. The weather so far this year has been very unusual for this area, with clouds and rain dominating in the last few week. This certainly can make touring a little more difficult, but no matter what the weather, once we fix on one desired result, inevitably the alternative seems a disappointment. A useful practice for the larger things in life. When we notice little habits like this we can let go and save ourselves stressing over things we cannot control.
I once led a retreat during a monsoon-like rainstorm: For a few days I wanted to apologize to everyone for the weather until a …voice of deeper wisdom arose “Weather is weather. This is what happens”. We’ve all had weather moments – times when we’ve felt responsible for everyone’s good or well-being. It’s our job, we think, to fix the temperature and humidity, or the people around us (if only we could get our partner to quit smoking, consult a map, stick to a diet). We even think we’re capable of totally controlling our own emotions – “I shouldn’t feel envious, or resentful or spiteful! That’s awful! I’m going to stop”. You might as well say “I’m never going to catch a cold again!”
Though we can affect our physical and emotional experiences, we can’t ultimately determine them; we can’t decree what emotions will arise in us. But we can learn in meditation to change our responses to them. That way we are spared a trip down a path of suffering we’ve traveled many times before. Recognizing what we can’t control (the feelings that arise within us; other people; the weather) helps us to have healthier boundaries at work and at home – no more trying to reform everyone all the time.
Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness
To overcome perfectionism, you’d have to learn to accept reality for what it is at any given moment. I can imagine the objections: ” What? Accept the reality as it is? You must be kidding me!” Not at all. There are two reasons to accept reality as it is. First, there is no other reality at any given point in time than the one that there is. We can think of things being different from how they are at this period in time, but this hypothetically better, ideal reality exists only in our minds. In reality, there is just reality. So what is there to accept but this? The second reason for accepting the present reality as it is? It’s already perfect.
Pavel Somov, Present Perfect
Most of us are trained to believe that if we think something is good, it is good, and if we think something is bad, it is bad. But as we practice simply watching our thoughts come and go, such rigid distinctions begin to break down. If we continue to simply allow ourselves to be aware of the activity of our minds, we’ll very gradually come to recognize the transparent nature of the thoughts, emotions, sensations and perceptions we once considered solid and real. It’s as though layers of dust and dirt were slowly being wiped away from the surface of a mirror
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
As a practice, this process can be summarized. First of all there is the matter of view. This means acknowledging……that the anxiety……however reasonable, is causing you suffering. There’s a tightness in your chest, an unsettledness in your belly, a tendency to go into red alert. Now the point is not to say “I shouldn’t worry” or “It’s a natural concern” but just to acknowledge your feeling of anxiety. Then there’s the practice: you are actually experiencing anxiety as it is happening, as an embodied feeling, with no should or shouldn’t about it. The next aspect is to steady your awareness around that feeling and let go of interpreting it, dismissing or trying to fix it. Just be with that feeling. Then breathe into the feeling, widen and soften your awareness. Relax a little, give yourself time, ease the energies associated with that feeling. Then tune into the spaciousness, the empathy and the direct clarity of the awareness of that feeling and let the feeling do what it needs to do in order to be felt.
Ajahn Sucitto, Turning the Wheel of Truth