August 12, 2015

Bliss Exists in Another State of Being.


Warning: Naughty language ahead.

Articles are all over the internet about people making radical shifts. I keep hearing people say things such as, “I quit my job and moved to Maui.” Or, “Selling my house and moving to Israel;” “Moved to Portland and live in a Tiny House.”

They make me wonder if I should be doing that? Am I selling myself short by not making a big move?

At first glance, moving sounds like the perfect escape. It’s the path to greater bliss.

Remember how in Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert awakened our secret desire to just leave it all behind to find her bliss and authenticity?

How courageous and unconventional of her to leave what wasn’t working and seek better lands. And now she has this book and she’s hangin’ with Oprah and it worked out so well for her. Sometimes I think Elizabeth and other brave seekers like her are the heroes of our society. They’re the role models who did what I imagine we all want to do: Leave this sh*t behind and reap big rewards for it.

Why don’t we all pick up and move? Why don’t we all take these chances?

It seems like the right thing to do. After all, “YOLO” and “Carpe diem” and “life is short,” and all that jazz. We must be happy. We must be comfortable. We must find and dwell in our bliss.

Or must we? And if we must, must we leave?

This morning I picked up Pema Chodron’s book When Things Fall Apart and opened to the chapter titled, “Not Causing Harm.” Pema discusses the practice of mindfulness, or noticing and refraining from responding to thoughts and feelings impulsively.

Pema shared an example of a meditation practice she was given which combined mindfulness and restraint. She was instructed to notice the physical movements that arose when she was uncomfortable. When her back was tight, she readjusted. When her nose itched, she scratched it. When her leg went numb, she moved it. Even if nothing itched, she found herself scratching.

In this meditation Pema realized that whenever she began to feel uncomfortable, she did things as expected. She reacted.

“Noticing how we try to avoid it is a way to get in touch with basic groundlessness. Refraining—not habitually acting out impulsively—has something to do with giving up entertainment mentality. Through refraining, we see that there’s something between the arising of the craving—or the aggression or the loneliness or whatever it might be—and whatever action we take as a result. There’s something there in us that we don’t want to experience, and we never do experience, because we’re so quick to act.”  ~ Pema Chodron

Okay. So. Here’s the thing. We are a culture really attached to entertainment. When we are impatient, we look at our flashy phones. When it’s quiet, we have access to any song we want to hear. When we’re bored, we have chocolate in the pantry to eat. When we’re lonely, we have Netflix. When we feel unsatisfied with our job, we can always escape to Maui.

But what if we didn’t give in to these distractions? What if we didn’t run off to Maui or Israel or Portland? 

What if we let ourselves feel the space between loneliness and the attempt to avoid it?

What if we didn’t have to ease discomfort?
What if we could just notice our experience for one second, if that’s all we can manage, before avoiding it?
What if we let ourselves f*cking feel?
What if anger was a volcano that didn’t destroy the village? What if emotions were passing clouds?

What if we followed Pema’s advice and acted as though we are mountains, allowing everything to happen around and on us, but we stayed still to just experience it all without fighting back?

What if leaving our jobs or our homes wasn’t the answer? What if leaving our feelings wasn’t the answer?

I still don’t know the answer. Perhaps the right answer is different for all of us, but for now I’m gonna stay where I am and chill with Pema for awhile and see if it comes to me.


Relephant Read:  

Why my “Restless, Roaming Spirit” got her Butt Back Home.


Author: Alyssa DiVirgilio

Apprentice Editor: Kelly Chesney/Editor: Travis May

Photo: Pixabay


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