“Lighten up, do something different.” Pema Chodron
I came across this line when I was looking for quotes for our July Mindfulness retreat at Yokoji Zen Mountain Center. We opened the retreat with a practice called the Poetry Bazaar which I learned from Elizabeth Lesser. Instead of getting to know each other by sharing where we come from, what we do, who we’re related to, and the floor was spread with quotes from many different sources, including the one above. People were invited to choose a quote or two that spoke to them. They then sat with one other person and talked about why they chose it. We then met as a whole group, and shared with everyone. I was surprised how much people loved this and jumped right into it and also pleased that it created the atmosphere I was hoping for. Right from the get go the connection was a soulful one.
I have kept this one percolating within me. Pema Chodron talks a lot about seeing our habitual patterns and then trying something different. This is exactly what goes on in a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Class (MBSR). By practicing Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness in our daily lives, we begin to recognize when we’re in a reactive pattern; for example in a relationship. I sometimes joke with couples that take the class together to look for moments in their relationship when they might as well get out a tape recorder and push the play button, because he says something ( let’s say about her driving ) , and then she says something that they always say . During the mindfulness class they have the opportunity to try something that’s not on the script and then many possibilities open up.
The other day I got home from an exceptionally rough day at work. My days of practicing medicine have been very challenging lately, because my patients are suffering so deeply. They are experiencing extreme economic hardship due to unemployment or stress from fear of layoffs. It is impacting their health tremendously and at times it is overwhelming. I was pooped, physically and emotionally. After dinner I was considering lying on the couch reading a novel, when Hugh asked if I might want to go out side and throw a Frisbee or kick the soccer ball. Even though I was tired, I thought about this Pema Chodron quote, what a perfect opportunity to lighten up and do something different!
Just as we went outside and started tossing the Frisbee, the full moon rose over Mt. San Jacinto. It was spectacular. The air was cool and soft , the dogs watched the Frisbee go back and forth as if it were Wimbledon, and soon we were all smiling. My body and my spirit felt light and free and the weight of the day lifted off me. Playing Frisbee on a summer evening is great way of letting go, and becoming free. Carrying the suffering with me does not serve anyone, not my patients not my family and not myself.
The next time you are experiencing the weight of the world on your shoulders, lighten up and do something different. Even just for a few moments. To learn more about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction or to take a class, visit our website; www.mindful-way.com or watch our You Tube Channel, Or come to our next day long retreat!