I should be able to live a certain way!
My partner, child, family, and friends should be a certain way!
Work should be easy, the weather should cooperate!
When we are hooked by shenpa, the moment is pregnant with the possibility of suffering and freedom according to Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron. The choice is ours to fall into the conditioned hole of habit, or find our way out into the open space of another possible outcome. The idea sounds wonderful, but it’s not that easy.
I spent years nursing old wounds, keeping them closed, bandaged against the oxygen of consciousness. The cut was too deep, and wasn’t ready for the sting of alcohol wipes or saltwater tears.
But when I received an invitation to join Pema Chodron’s online course in my email inbox, I knew the time was right. The wound was ready for full exposure. I could pause in moments of shenpa and notice the stories of old movie scenes replaying over and over in my head. I could feel the elemental nature of anger, fear, and hurt coursing through my body with both palms on my heart in a soothing gesture of kind surrender. I could appreciate Rilke’s quote, “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final” in a very visceral way.
Keep it closed for the first few
days, months, sometimes even years
bandaged against the oxygen of consciousness.
The cut’s too deep, not ready for the
sting of alcohol wipes or saltwater tears.
You’ll know when the time is right,
when the wind that once rattled
your bones with thoughts of
lions, tigers, and bears, oh my
becomes the breath that can save you,
when the wound is ready
for full exposure
to the depths of its darkness
and the edges of healing light.
Maybe the wound, the hole is symbolic of every human journey, venturing into an unknown future, breaking free from past shackles, looking for someone or something to hold on to for dear life along the way. Maybe I can dissolve into the space of compassionate presence, body and breathe holding me till there is absolutely nothing to hold on to but a simple trust in the practice. Maybe we will all know one way or another when the wound is ready for full exposure to the depths of its darkness. Our suffering, our curiosity, our willingness to try something new will collectively make up the edges of healing light.