Even when life brings one lemons, I’ve found the most helpful attitude is to be curious:
To me, spiritual practice is like a mystery story in that we stumble onto something we have never encountered before. At that point, the intelligent approach is “Wow, what have we here? Let me take a closer look.” – Cheri Huber
I share in a post about Cheri Huber’s work: There is nothing wrong with you
The below excerpt from Tricycle Magazine about dealing mindfully and skillfully with physical pain can be done with emotional pain too:
One night when I was still new to meditation, I lay awake for hours in agony from a badly sprained ankle. Finally I decided to see what would happen if I meditated with the pain as my object. The result astounded me.
I recalled a teacher’s suggestion: “Get curious about your experience.” I had never before stayed with pain long enough to be curious about it, much less to investigate it. Whenever my knees or back hurt during meditation, I escaped into counting breaths or repeating my koan. I might notice when the pain stopped, but I noticed nothing of its nature. Was it burning, stabbing, throbbing, dull? Was it steady or intermittent? Were my muscles clenched or relaxed? What thoughts did the pain trigger?
Lying in the dark that night, I greeted the pain as a sensation I’d never met before, and explored each flutter and twinge. In time, the pain eased, and I drifted off to sleep.
– Joan Duncan Oliver, “Do I Mind?” (Summer 2007) — Click here to read the complete article.
From wildmind Buddhist meditation website:
The American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron suggests what this might be like in her book, The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness
There’s a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on the earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You can see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same.
A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is. If we’re committed to comfort at any cost, as soon as we come up against the least edge of pain, we’re going to run; we’ll never know what’s beyond that particular barrier or fearful thing.”1
What she’s alluding to here is a kind of contentment and confidence that comes from a deeper place than simple ego-driven pursuit of pleasure or avoidance of discomfort. Rather than being at the mercy of our feelings, we learn to stay and hold our ground from a different place of knowing. We’re able to stand firm no matter what’s going on, whatever storms blow us around. We make our choices from a fuller awareness of who we are rather than what feels good. And because we’re acting with a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us, we can choose to flow in harmony with the world as it is, rather than fighting our way through it.
For those of us who sometimes suffer from great distress this is also, as I understand it, what healed my friend Jayme and very much what my practice has been for a long while too. She shares her journey in: How I deal with mental breakdowns
Three books by Cheri Huber:
Two favorite Pema Chodron books: