I read Pema Chodron’s The Places That Scare You, in conjunction with a meditation class I have been taking. This book blew me away. Chodron is an American Buddhist nun and master meditater/life guide. Her book functions as an instructional manual both for meditation and our everyday life.
I’ve explored meditation on and off for the past ten years. However, this book completely altered my view of the practice. I had long thought that the purpose of meditating and bringing the focus to the moment, was that here I would discover peace, tranquility and happiness. But Chodron teaches that this is not the case. Instead, she says the purpose of the practice is to simply explore whatever we are feeling in the moment. The frustration, anger, jealousy, impatience, (insert other negative emotion here) of everyday life is actually integral to our practice. These are emotions that we will inevitable encounter and so getting to know them by meditating allows us to face them with the confidence of a warrior in life.
Now I enter my meditation without expectation of happiness or some sort of enlightenment. Prepared just to explore what is true for me in the moment. And put forth a simple wish with as much sincerity as I can muster:
May I be kind to others and myself. May I be helpful.