It’s like a dance. And we have to give each being space to dance their dance. Everything is dancing; even the molecules inside the cells are dancing. But we make our lives so heavy. We have these incredibly heavy burdens we carry with us like rocks in a big rucksack. We think that carrying this big heavy rucksack is our security; we think it grounds us. We don’t realize the freedom, the lightness of just dropping it off, letting it go. That doesn’t mean giving up relationships; it doesn’t mean giving up one’s profession, or one’s family,or one’s home. It has nothing to do with that; it’s not an external change. It’s an internal change. It’s a change from holding on tightly to holding very lightly.
You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time
and build your wings on the way down
Practice is not about highlighting all sorts of “good” qualities and getting rid of “bad” ones. No one is “good” or “bad.” The struggle to be good is not what practice is. That type of training is a subtle form of athleticism. We all hope to change, to get somewhere! That in itself is the basic fallacy. But just contemplating this desire begins to clarify it, and the practice basis of our life alters as we do so. We begin to comprehend that our frantic desire to get better, to get “somewhere,” is illusion itself, and the source of suffering.
Charlotte Joko Beck
We suffer a lot through our thoughts, more commonly so in the West nowadays than through physical problems. And in meditation we start to recognize that any physical pains that we do have can be made much worse by the attitude with which we hold them. Much the same goes for pain from a mental, perceptual source. Thinking forms a significant part of the way physical pain is held; it is charged with emotional drives that give rise to that ‘trapped, desperate, this shouldn’t be happening’ mood. Then there are the pleasant sensations or mental states accompanied by ‘more of this, this is the way it should be’ and the neutral accompanied by ‘well, shouldn’t something be happening?’ Although these moods do the holding, they in turn are backed up and incited by the thinking process. ‘I was feeling OK until I started thinking about the rotten deal I got, or what someone else is getting, or the way it was, or the way things ought to be…’
In meditation we discover our inherent restlessness. Sometimes we get up and leave. Sometimes we sit there but our bodies wiggle and squirm and our minds go far away. This can be so uncomfortable that we feel it’s impossible to stay. Yet this feeling can teach us not just about ourselves but also about what it is to be human. All of us derive security and comfort from the imaginary world of memories and fantasies and plans. We really don’t want to stay with the nakedness of our present experience. it goes against the grain to stay present. The instruction is, Stay…stay…just stay. So whenever we wander off, we gently encourage ourselves to “stay” and settle down.
Pema Chodron, The Places that Scare you