Difficult situations are more often than not what defines us. How we react, and how we continue to behave beyond a tough experience significantly impact the direction of our lives. Through each situation, our heart either hardens or opens up, all depending upon how we choose to perceive what we have endured. According to Buddhism, and many others, the situation is fundamentally good.
Perhaps the most annoying phrase to hear when something is causing you great suffering is, “let it go.” Letting something go in action requires an entire process. The three words, “let it go,” are merely an end result to an undefined and arduous journey, if you are even considering attempting it.
How does one move through a difficult time with grace? If someone has wronged you, how do you keep your heart open? How do you forgive, while still honoring yourself? How does one accept a situation, that deems itself unacceptable?
For these questions, I have turned to Pema Chodren, and her lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Her antidote is the following:
1. No More Struggle. This is to boil the situation down to its bare bones, by peeling away the layers of stories and perceptions imposed by the ego. See the situation as it is, without you in it. Identify the judgments you have made on the situation, and what is the expected and prescribed reaction not only for you, but that which is common to society. By seeing the experience boiled down, we can begin to make “space for grace.” It is an opportunity to hold truth in the light, rather than making yourself right, or even worse, a victim. It is also to acknowledge that the world is not as dualistic as we may believe, but that good and bad are just two sides on one coin.
2. Poison as Medicine. This is practiced in Tonglen meditation, where one breathes in suffering, and sends out love. The suffering is energy, and we are capable (even responsible) of the alchemy to transform it into love. Tonglen connects us to others, so that we may become more aware of others enduring difficult times; it is to cultivate compassion and benevolence.
3. Seeing What Arises as Enlighten Wisdom. This is so much easier when we trace the dots backwards, and yet wouldn’t it be wonderful to know the fundamental goodness in the moment while it is happening? A simple exercise here is to look for the clues, as what you might learn from your highest self. Next, meet this with gratitude.
I hope these tips help you!
Photo: Christopher Campbell via Unsplash; Jessica Riley-Norton