Lessons from Pema Chodron, Buddhist International Author and Teacher


Getting Unstuck and Changing Triggers:  Choosing a fresh alternative

I have often found that Pema Chodron is a wonderful teacher when your life seems to be changing, when you want things to stay the same and they won’t, or even when you need to release destructive habits. She asks “What is Happiness?” She suggests that it includes relief from anxiety, depression and stress with a positive expectation of good, positive groundlessness, a state free of bias and predjudice, no preferences and full openness to the moment without expectation. It implies openness and freshness.

There is a term called Shenpa, a Tibetan Buddhist term for sticky habits of reactivity. Pema offers a way to get unhooked from those habits with compassion and awareness. She reminds us first, to be careful of speech patterns that can imbed you further in your problem. No one is seeking to create a life of stress and problems, so speaking about it won’t serve you.

Buddhism also offers the term koan, an unsolvable question. With sincere intention of seeking relief you instead dig yourself further into the hole. But to solve the problem, begin to realize you’re hooked into a habitual response to stress, and discover how to choose a fresh response instead of habits that cause suffering.

“Do what you can to practice the three difficult practices,” offers Pema Chodron:

Acknowledge that you’re hooked. Most people can catch it pretty quickly.

  • Do something different – this step isn’t as easy. Everyone has a challenge here. Skip resentment – don’t give one second to resentment of the problem or outcome, no blaming of self or situation. After you catch the hook, no “yes but” because it reclaims the hook. It’s a blind spot of the human race. It’s the cause of “escalating suffering” in the world. Instead of “yes but” get extremely excited about choosing a fresh alternative to loosen and loosen and loosen the habit. At a certain point you’re no longer a slave to the habit. It has no more power over you and then it goes away. It takes time, but is a path of freedom instead of pain.
  • Make it a way of life If you get it right and then wrong and then right and then right and then wrong and then right more often, it becomes a way of life. There is nothing wrong with you that you’re still “hookable.”  It’s a process to notice that you’re hooked, choose something different, and make it a way of life.

His Holiness TheDalai Lama doesn’t understand what it means for us to be hard on ourselves. It’s a western problem. In western society, it’s easy to get stuck in self- condemnation, but instead choose the three steps without blame. The process is to become more intelligent about the root of suffering (habits, being stuck, blame and anger at self and others) and what leads to more relief and freedom and openness, instead. No more sowing the seeds of suffering. Embrace the basic wisdom and goodness of our own being.  Don’t cut your self off from your own wisdom by following the stuck pattern because it blinds you to your own potential.

With shock or trauma you become groundless and realize that you have been making up the ground to achieve false security. Choose positive groundlessness, and be kind to yourself and others.  In local and global crisis, reach out to others and learn to relax into the groundlessness. Choose to never go back to the status quo. Realize that you have created and attracted the groundlessness. Instead of   digging in your heels and fighting for the right to be right, accept groundlessness. Be aware of your efforts to get grounded and hooked again, and to blame others for the pattern.

War is one form of aggression to get back the ground, but having the ground pulled away can trigger the old response, of more aggression and digging in the heels. Instead take a fresh look at what brought you to that situation, and avoid more of the same creation.  Globally and personally we have the same choices. Choose a fresh alternative, sow seeds and over time things will shift.  Our capacity to relax with positive groundlessness needs to be encouraged and increases with our enthusiasm to do so. Release comfort and familiarity; get unstuck.

Need help releasing old habits?  Click here Hypnosis for Healing


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