Considering Different Options

Our patterns, thoughts and beliefs with our relationships to our families, our wealth, our society, and ourselves have caused us many problems and suffering. Learning to identify and work with these habitual patterns is the key to transforming our relationships.

Here are three steps to assist the process of transformation

  1. Notice what you are doing. Pay attention to how you respond habitually to any event in your life.
  2. Do something different. Consider responding to the event in a very different way. This will loosen up the pattern.
  3. Make it a way of life. Keep doing something different. This will bring about your own wisdom, strength and fundamental goodness of hearth and mind.

Pema Choldron suggests:

Whenever you see yourself spinning off in some kind of habitual way, you could aspire to catch yourself and do something different as a way of cultivating compassion for yourself and compassion for others. But don’t be surprised or give up when it’s difficult.

It takes courage to undertake this journey; however, it will open up different options so that we can choose to do it the habitual way that causes us suffering or choose a fresh alternative that transforms us along the way.

2 Replies to “Considering Different Options”

  1. Do you have any tips for doing something different?

    I often find that doing something different or more appropriate does not come to mind, not because of a lack of awareness but because creative thinking is inhibited in the moment of fear/pain. How to be open to the pain and think creatively…?

    1. Good question. I suggest you start with a minor painful experience; one you can catch at the onset. When something hurts us initially there is some softness there—if you’re fast, you can catch it—but usually you don’t even realize there is any softness. We find ourselves in the middle of wanting-to-get-rid-of, or wanting-to-fix, or wanting-to-resolve state of mind: it has a very hard quality to it. We use words or actions to escape the pain and we create more pain. When we can stay with the ‘soft spot’, experiencing the pain directly, it will transform/heal by itself. Being open it’s about relaxing the struggle, not mentally trying to figure out something different.

      Here are some ways in which to elicit this process of opening to the pain:
      – Pause, then breathe with the experience
      – Refrain from acting out or repressing, let the experience pierce your heart
      – Drop the storyline and relax with the underlying energy
      – Get curious about the experience
      – Stay with the experience with loving-kindness, whose aspects include gentleness, honesty, openness, curiously, warmth
      – Lean into the sharp points
      – Let it all be
      – Become intimate with the experience
      – Abide in your experience without believing in your judgments and opinions about your experience
      This practice is about learning to be with the intensity of your own physical and/or emotional pain, knowing your edge, making friends with yourself.

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