The Freedom to Choose Something Different by Pema Chödrön. 3rd Session.

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I just listened to the 2nd video. My reactions may be a part of my illness (bipolar d/o) or may be exacerbated by my illness, but if these techniques can help me react differently, calmly, lovingly, then I am all for them and will be so grateful! So far what I’ve learnt is to use the breath as the new way. Very Buddhist, very standard. Well I have been practicing this all day, and I have not been 100% successful at it, but any success at doing something other than getting anxious, scared, or angry is amazing! It’s funny, just the realization that you are getting hooked again is enough to change the way you react, really, just the simple realization that it is happening again can almost stop it from happening! I plan to keep on catching myself when I am getting hooked and then doing something different. One example of this from today is that I was thinking of a friend of mine who hadn’t called me back despite my calling her twice this trip. I caught myself getting hooked into the story that she hates me, doesn’t care about me, will never call me, doesn’t want to be my friend anymore! BUT, I caught myself, and consciously said to myself to try something different and actually called and left her a message saying I was sorry I didn’t connect with her, and I hope we’ll get together next time!! Well, that’s pretty sane, and not angry, not anxious, not sad, and not drama queenish. I’m pretty happy about that. I did that many times through the course of the day, whenever I started getting hooked, I consciously told myself to try something else. It’s working, I’ll keep on doing it. 🙂 I still have fear about many issues and feel sad and anxious, but I am not letting those feelings hook me into an old response which is not serving me in the least bit. I am seriously sick and tired of doing the angry/drama queen/anxious thing and I am going to learn NOT to do it anymore!

Also, she said to pick one person, or more than one person, or you pick all sentient beings and dedicate this retreat to that person or people, so that the person/ people you choose will benefit from any insight, support, connection, inner wisdom, innate openness, innate wisdom, that you gain, any tools you gain. and she said if you have a “stuckness” between you and another person would come loose. Just share the benefits of the retreat with any person you choose, or all sentient beings. Interesting and philanthropic idea! And I did think of one person with whom I am experiencing “stuckness” and dedicated this retreat and all I learn in it to them 🙂

Below are pretty much the exact word from the video.

Pema answered two questions. A woman asked “How do we find something different, as the Second Difficulty says, when we all live according to our recycled ignorance,and habituated patterns, so where does the something different come from? Where do we find this within ourselves?”

Pema said: The truth is because our fundamental nature is open and fresh, and has kindness in it, therefore almost everyone resonates with some kind of yearning that’s bigger than themselves, like a book, a piece of music, someone’s unexpected kindness, some kind of awe or wonder, or even seeing the first crocus blooming in the early spring,  we are drawn to wanting to know and to do it differently. It’s based on natural wisdom that we have and also based on being pretty fed up of our own habitual recycled ignorance. We know the habitual patterns are not working, yet when we get the phone call or letter, we still do it. So if we get some instruction of how to do something new, then we can learn.

She also said not to take the thought of “I am bad” or “Bad me” seriously. She said: We are so hard on ourselves in the West, so what? Say to ourself: I can feel it, see it, taste it. So I can stay with the feeling of “bad me” but also say that I will definitely entertain the thought that it is fiction. Bring that thought in the present moment and let the buck stop here. The fresh alternative is to breathe and let the thought stay instead of trying actively to chase the thought away.

Another person asked about his friend with heroin addiction who in rehab. They talk about being hooked and triggers in rehab. He wanted to know how he could help his friend.

Pema said: We all know the feeling of being hooked, when we get that letter and we start ranting and raving, we’re hooked, when we say “Yes, but…” we’re hooked in the moment when we are unable to refrain from saying an unkind word about someone.

We are talking about addiction, a deep seated addiction to a solid identity of ourselves, a fixed view of ourselves, the ego, and a fixed view of everything else out there. When in fact nothing is solid or fixed. This is a deep addiction, we don’t even know we’re doing it. Ingrained, unworkable, dangerous.

She also asked people to think of somebody, who they would like to dedicate this retreat to.

She said: Any insight, support, connection, inner wisdom, innate openness, innate wisdom, that you gain, any tools you gain not just doing it for yourself, but the benefit can be shared with that person or group of people or all sentient beings.

Some sense of bigger than just you, maybe you’d like some “stuckness” between you and another person would come loose. Just to share the benefits of the retreat with any person you choose, or all sentient beings.

Then she did a meditation, feeling from head to toes, your body, and keeping in the now and concentrating on your breath.

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