Sometimes I just want to quit! Like right now.
The overwhelm creeps in around me, it feels like I am sinking in quicksand.
I am stuck. Frozen. Panic is coming. I feel myself shutting down.
Here it comes, the urge to run, screaming away from life.
To bury myself in a safe place where I won’t have to feel fear of failure.
That is where I have lived much of my life. Gasping, drowning and running.
I don’t run anymore.
Despite all the work we put in, despite all the hours spent breathing, crying, writing, meditating, praying, practicing yoga and running—despite all of that work, when the sh*t kicks up and the overwhelm comes, our first response is still to want to haul a** packing in the other direction.
The difference now is that I can pause, just long enough for a breath to creep in and stop me from reacting. So I don’t have to run.
I stand still.
But I stand still.
For the runners like me, this is an amazing accomplishment. To those around us pushing us to respond and act, those who may not understand what it is to operate as a runner one’s whole lives, we are sorry for frustrating the hell out of you.
We wish you could feel the effort and work it takes us to stand still and acknowledge the fear.
In that moment of breath, the practice kicks in, the teachings break through. I can stay, and I remember the ones that really broke through to me in the early days of practice. Pema Chödrön’s beautiful words that kept me still during the most challenging time of my life, and which also sparked the biggest changes of my life.
My dear runners, I want to share her words with you—the words that broke through my hardened, life-weary exterior. The words that made me pause long enough before running away again, to say to myself “maybe there is hope for me. Maybe I can change, and learn to stay and find bodhichitta.”
1. “Yet feeling emotional upheaval is not a spiritual faux-pas; it’s the place where the warrior learns compassion. It’s where we learn to stop struggling with ourselves. It’s only when we can dwell in these places that scare us that equanimity becomes unshakeable.”
I don’t know about all of you, but for a runner like me, the idea of cultivating equanimity was tantalizing. I was tired. I wanted so badly to learn to stay and be okay with whatever events and emotions occurred.
2. “Each time we can sit still with the restlessness and heat of anger, we are tamed and strengthened. Each time we react to anger or suppress it, we escalate our aggression.”
Again, when I found these words, I was exhausted of life and myself. I was tired of running and tired of my aggression. I was wound up and ready to explode. These words were like a breath of air into my spring-loaded body.
3. “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..”
See, I fancied myself as tough and strong, so the warrior thing held my attention. I was tired of wanting to just punch everyone in the face because I was so angry, so the challenge to relax and remain where i was held quite an allure for me. Plus, my ego was not about to let me walk away from a challenge. Challenge accepted. Little did I know it was going to change me profoundly.
4. “Right here in what we’d like to throw away, in what we find repulsive and frightening, we discover the warmth and clarity of bodhichitta.”
When I found these words, I wanted to give up, I was frightened, angry, closed off and I found my self repulsive. I hated myself and the world. I was discontent. I felt like nails on a chalkboard. This line gave me hope that maybe I, too, could find my bodhichitta. And I have.
These last words I want to share are by Chöngyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
5. “Meditation practice is regarded as a good and in fact excellent way to overcome warfare in the world: our own warfare as well as greater warfare.”
We run because we are scared, because we do not want to stay and fight, we doubt ourselves. This creates an inner battle that, for me, ruled my life for years. So when I read these words, they grabbed my heart, they told me that it’s okay that I have been fighting myself, so have we, and there is a solution for you.
When we are tired of running and we decide to stand and face our fears, and face life, we take a huge step out of the comfort zones in which we spent our lives.
And that, my friends, is where the magic begins to happen.
When we make that decision to stay, or even when we are able to stop and observe what it is we are doing and how we are shutting down—that is tapping into the bodhichitta magic.
Be a warrior.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Author’s own