Have you ever been ill for a long time, and nothing you've tried seems to help? Have you ever been sick and tired of being sick and tired, as the saying goes? I have been that sick and tired... and scared because of it. But I'm even more tired of continuing to be afraid of what sickness brings or might portend.
Certainly there are times in our lives when we need to withdraw in order to heal, but we can let that time drag on too long and not push ourselves -- gently -- to resume our lives to whatever extent we can manage. We know this to be true, but when we're in the thick of the suffering and fear that can accompany illness, it may not be readily apparent to us.
We can make a different choice at any time. Yesterday, I came across a gem of a thought by Pema Chödrön that speaks to paralysis and fear and how to view and use them. May her words be helpful to you, too. (Warning: they're kind of a kick in the pants.)
[There is] no promise of happy endings. Rather, this "I" who wants to find security—who wants something to hold on to—can finally learn to grow up. The central question of a warrior's training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear, but how we relate to discomfort. How do we practice with difficulty, with our emotions, with the unpredictable encounters of an ordinary day?
All too frequently, we relate like timid birds who don't dare to leave the nest. Here we sit in a nest that's getting pretty smelly and that hasn't served its function for a very long time. No one is arriving to feed us. No one is protecting us and keeping us warm. And yet we keep hoping mother bird will arrive.
We could do ourselves the ultimate favor and finally get out of that nest. That this takes courage is obvious. That we could use some helpful hints is also clear. We may doubt that we're up to being a warrior-in-training. But we can ask ourselves this question: "Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly or do I choose to live and die in fear?"
for Mindful Monday
© March 24, 2014, post, Donna Pierce
Excerpt: Chödrön, Pema. The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. Boston: Shambhala ©2001.
Photo credit: Nest, Ellen Macdonald, 2009.
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