Thursday, December 15, 2005

Cultivating joy


"How do we cultivate the conditions for joy to expand? We train in staying present. In sitting meditation, we train in mindfulness and maitri*: in being steadfast with our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts. We stay with our own little plot of earth and trust that it can be cultivated, that cultivation will bring it to its full potential. Even though it's full of rocks and the soil is dry, we begin to plow this plot with patience. We let the process evolve naturally.

At the beginning it is just a feeling that joy is workable. We stop looking for a more suitable place to be. We've discovered that the continual search for something better does not work out. This doesn't mean that there are suddenly flowers growing where before there were only rocks. It means that we have confidence that something will grow here."

Excerpt from: The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness
Pema Chodron
*Maitri is defined as elsewhere in the book as meaning a complete acceptance of ourselves as we are.


Blogger MB said...

This doesn't mean that there are suddenly flowers growing where before there were only rocks. It means that we have confidence that something will grow here.
Oh, that's helpful. I like this quote you posted. Are you enjoying the book? Finding it helpful?

7:00 pm  
Blogger leslee said...

Great quote. I am bookmarking it. :-)

11:25 pm  
Anonymous Kurt said...

Hi, Mary. I'm reading that book, too!

5:16 am  
Blogger Tamar said...

I have read quite a bit of Pema Chodron. While I am in the process of reading her I find that I sigh ... in peace ... just as I did with this post.

11:34 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank you for the comments.

Moose: Yes I am enjoying the book, the first one I have read by this author. It is a very Buddhist book - after all Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun - and so I am on a steep learning curve with the technical terms - tonglen, maitri and so on, and with the various practices she mentions,and fortunately the latter are summarised in the appendices. But there is a great peace and wisdom in her writing, allied with a down to earth practicality. Definitely recommended. I think I will have to buy my own copy (the one I am reading is from the library)

Leslee: yes, isn't it. So simple but sometimes the simplest things are the most profound.

Kurt: that made me smile. It's nice that someone I kind of know is reading the same thing that I am.

Tamar: Welcome! Lovely to have you here. Yes, I am coming to the conclusion that peace is the operative word with this author. Thanks for dropping by.

7:51 pm  
Blogger zhoen said...

Wisdom of No Escape. On my bookshelf. Picked at, treasured. I knew the sound of that quote that moose pointed out, it had to be the same author.

1:58 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Zhoenw: don't know Wisdom of No Escape - will look out for it. It is a great quote though ....

5:03 pm  
Blogger Susie said...

Thank you for this reminder and the beautiful photo to go with it! Pema Chodron is my constant companion when I drive. I listen to her words on cd and find that I am able to "stay" with what's uncomfortable in my life a little more each day, knowing that in the staying I will soften.

Here's a favorite Pema quote from "Comfortable with Uncertainty"

"Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allowing ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion; to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance."

Blessing to all,
Relationship Coach Susie Collins

10:24 pm  

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