Buddhist meditation teaches us to welcome any discomfort or “enemy ” as our teacher, staying present to the pain/fear we might feel, rather than trying to ignore it, bury it, or chase it away. Running from something completely paralyzes us from escaping and ultimately healing that very thing or situation we’re trying to stamp out of our lives. Whatever you resist, persists. It’s when we stay put and face those absolute disasters that manifest in our lives, that we get the chance to work on and overcome our greatest challenges. No distractions, no loopholes through which we can wiggle our way out of staying present to the pain. The truth of the matter is that when we face our demons and resist turning away from the painful reality staring back at us in the mirror that we truly begin to erode our fears and dissolve our negative patterns. I wish I could take credit for all of this, but it was Buddha himself who came to this conclusion. It was only when he stopped struggling to find a solution to all the suffering that afflicted him and humankind that he found the answers he was seeking. It’s simple: when we struggle to escape discomfort we only encounter more density and confusion. We must take a warrior’s, or Bodhisattva’s attitude towards discomfort. This is the only way to awaken Bodhichitta. ‘Bodhi’ stands for awakened, and ‘Chitta’ stand for mind or heart. Those who strive to attain enlightenment are known as Bodhisattvas, or warriors of the awakened mind. As Pema Chödrön poignantly puts it ask yourself, “How can I practice now, right on this painful spot, and transform this into the path of awakening?…We need to be told that fears and trembling accompany growing up and that letting go takes courage. Finding the courage to go to the places that scare us cannot happen without compassionate inquiry into the workings of the ego.” The ego, no doubt, is but the reflection staring back at us in the mirror. We must recognize it for what it is, question its motives, delve into its duplicity, and turn away from it – realizing full well that we have a warrior’s spirit, and that it’s reflection is absolute and pure clarity.
Ask yourself: What do I do and where do I run when I feel like I can’t handle what is happening anymore? When the discomfort of my circumstances becomes unbearable – where do I look for comfort? Do I make a run for the first habitual Exit (drinking, eating, etc.) , or do I stay with the pain and try to get beyond blame and self-pity? If you usually run away, where and why do you go to that particular comfort place? What will it take for you to reverse that pattern and become an enlightened Bodhisattva?