August 27 Don't Bite the Hook


This Monday night Mick will facilitate.  He shares:

       Over the years, In conjunction with Thay's teachings, the teachings of Pema Chodron are a  reliable guide. Don't bite the hook. In many of her teachings Pema Chodron teaches that we are often like moths to the flame when it comes to playing out long time patterns of getting triggered or getting sucked in. Very often these emotional entanglements and instances of repeat occur with those closest to us. In conjunction to teaching us to not "bite the hook", Pema teaches to learn to stay with what is arising. In an article in Lion's Roar magazine entitled What to Do When the Going Gets Rough she writes:


So with this person who is scaring us or insulting us, do we retaliate as we have done one hundred thousand times before, or do we start to get smart and finally hold our seat?

Right at the point when we are about to blow our top or withdraw into oblivion, we can remember this: we are warriors-in-training being taught how to sit with edginess and discomfort. We are being challenged to remain and to relax where we are.


Part of our mindfulness practice is to know why we sit, why we turn our energy to observing our body, mind and thought patterns throughout the day.The theme of transformation and healing are often a goal and a by product of practice. We sit, we come to the sangha, we read, we write. We undertake these actions to learn how to "sit with edginess and discomfort". Pema Chodron continues:


The problem with following these or any instructions is that we have a tendency to be too serious and rigid. We get tense and uptight about trying to relax and be is helpful to think about the person who is angry, the anger itself, and the object of that anger as being like a dream. We can regard our life as a movie in which we are temporarily the leading player. Rather than making it so important, we can reflect on the essencelessness of our current situation. We can slow down and ask ourselves, 'Who is this monolithic me that has been so offended? And who is this other person who can trigger me like this? What is this praise and blame that hook me like a Ping-Pong ball from hope to fear, from happiness to misery?' This big-deal struggle, this big-deal self, and this big-deal other could all be lightened up considerably."


By stepping back and softening, often after we have bitten the hook, we can do as Pema teaches and lighten to recognize that there is an essencelessness to the situation.


Can we step back to recognize that the words or actions that someone has spoken that lead to our reaction are words and actions that come from that person's personal story or current struggle and suffering. This is the big deal struggle of bringing to much I, me, mine to the story.  By coming back to the heart, and the breath and the body, we give wisdom a chance to shine through. Wisdom, that reminds us that the challenging situation and person are our present moment teacher. Although it is not always easy to be with edginess and discomfort, the present moment gives us all that we need to practice.


Life itself will provide opportunities for learning how to hold our seat. Without the inconsiderate neighbor, where will we find the chance to practice patience? Without the office bully, how could we ever get the chance to know the energy of anger so intimately that it loses its destructive power?


Several weeks ago, Annie wrote about Thay telling a friend of hers that the sangha and books are important, but the present moment is our true teacher. Pema Chodron says similar in teaching about not biting the hook.


Each time we are provoked, we are given a chance to do something different. We can strengthen old habits by setting up the target or we can weaken them by holding our seat.


This Monday we will have the chance to explore and share about what happens when we get triggered. What is our experience of holding our seat and seeing clearly and of strengthening the less skillful habits of reaction? I look forward to our time together.