Transforming Regret into Possibility

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to get insight from Pema Chödrön,  who began an amazing journey into Tibetan tradition in the 1970’s following a second divorce.  Here’s an excerpt from her book, No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva:

At least once a year, I imagine that I am about to die. Looking back as truthfully as I can at my entire life, I give full attention to the things I wish hadn’t occurred. Recognizing these mistakes honestly but without self-recrimination, I try to rejoice in the innate wisdom that allows me to see so bravely, and I feel compassion for how I so frequently messed up. Then I can go forward. The future is wide open, and what I do with it is up to me.

Chödrön’s words speak to me because learning self-compassion has been one of the most important lessons of my life.  “Learning to rejoice” in all that I have experienced allows me to move into possibility and away from self-defeating regret. It took many years for me to develop this ability and awareness, but it’s been worthwhile.   Difficult circumstances forced me to face truths that were painful.  Yoga helped me to cope by allowing me to learn the lesson of non-judgment through my physical body. Luckily, I’ve had inspired yoga teachers to guide me.

I’m grateful. I feel an ease in myself that allows me to enjoy more of everyone I meet, and everything I do –even when things go wrong.  And trust me, they do. My journey has taught me to value myself more, one of my key lessons in this life, without which I would still be lost.

But just because I used yoga, doesn’t mean that there aren’t countless paths that lead to self-compassion – so whatever approach works for you, wonderful!  In an interview with Chödrön in the Shambala Sun magazine, she discusses meditation as another possible tool:

A big part of compassion is being honest with yourself, not shielding yourself from your mistakes as if nothing had happened. And the other big component is being gentle.

This is what meditation is about, but obviously it goes beyond sitting on a meditation cushion. You begin to see your moods and your attitudes and your opinions. You begin to hear this voice, your voice, and how it can be so critical of self and others. There is growing clarity about all the different parts of yourself.

Meditation gives you the tools to look at all of this clearly, with an unbiased attitude. A lot of having compassion toward oneself is staying with the initial thought or arising of emotion. This means that when you see yourself being aggressive, or stuck in self-pity, or whatever it might be, then you train again and again in not adding things on top of that—guilt or self-justification or any further negativities. You work on not spinning off and on being kinder toward the human condition as you see it in yourself.”

And with that thought, I wish you many blessings on this day.  May you learn what you need to learn in this life, and may you enjoy the peacefulness of gratitude in so doing.

For more about Pema Chödrön, visit the Shambala Publications website where you can also read the Shambala Sun magazine interview   in its entirety.  You can also visit Shambhala Sun Magazine — http://www.shambhalasun.com for articles about Buddhism, meditation, and culture.

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Date: Friday, 28. October 2011 15:38
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