Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Path Obscured

One of my favorite Pema Chödrön books is Comfortable with Uncertainty.  Because I'm not.

Wikipedia, that great lowest common denominator resource, tells us this about Pema Chödrön. 

Pema Chödrön (formerly known as Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) is an American woman who was ordained as a Buddhist nun in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 . . . and a teacher in the lineage of Chögyam Trungpa. The goal of her work is . . .  to apply Buddhist teachings in everyday life.
A prolific author, she has conducted workshops, seminars, and meditation retreats in EuropeAustralia, and throughout North America. She is resident teacher of Gampo Abbey, a monastery in rural Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.
My meditation group, in Buddhist circles a sangha, was introduced to her writings by the minister who got us started and has since retired.  Part of our weekly meetings is devoted to group reading from a selected text, and we have spent a lot of time with Pema Chödrön, and with uncertainty.  But I guess I'm a slow study.

At present, my overly anxious mind is tantruming about a number of things whose outcomes I can't foresee.  I want to know, and know now, whether my blood pressure is going to come down; whether the SSRI discontinuation syndrome, triggered by my doctor's decision to switch me to another antidepressant, which required discontinuing the first medication, is going to be alleviated soon; whether I will be able to quell the panic I am beginning to feel about the possibility of panicking at the triathlon; and oh so many other things related to my overall stress level right now.  Of course, stressing about stress, and about uncertainty, are not helping any of this.  

But since I can't see around the corners just now, or very far ahead on the mist-shrouded path, I have decided to take the advice I gave a friend lately, a strategy that has worked for me in the past.  I am going to try to proceed from working decisions in moving forward.  For now, one working decision is to continue preparing for the triathlon.  Another is to do what I can not to invest in panic, and to be gentle with myself in accepting that this is one of my challenges right now.  I will act as if things will turn out okay, and as if I know what I'm doing.  I will just keep putting one foot in front of the other, as Therese Borchard (Beyond Blue) tells us to do.  I will keep training, keep practicing compassion for myself and others, and keep going.  Without attachment to certain destinations and results.

I will keep in front of me these words of 13th century Sufi poet Rumi:

Guest House

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

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