“When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It’s a bit like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” “If I could only get a nicer house, I’d be a better person.” If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.”… But lo…ving-kindness-maitri-toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means tha we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.”
I love this quote by Pema. I love Pema’s spirit, in general. She reminds us that happiness does not come “when” we get something external. We learn to be happy now. A friend of mine and I were speaking today about the way in which he gets sudden bursts of energy and then is able to accomplish chores. He made the comment that he would rather have an even flow of energy – in a manner that seemed to convey that his current method was wrong. I challenged him to accept that his ebb and flow of movement as part of who he is and rather than expending energy to criticize himself for the ebb and flow just acknowledge that and begin to work with the bursts of energy as they come. I think that is what Pema speaks of in her quote – befriend who you already are and stop trying to become someone that you are not in an effort to please societal norm, or someone else, or because you think you will be happier.
We often think we need to conform in society, though. In school, we are all taught in the same method, regardless of how we absorb information. At work, we are expected to perform certain tasks to the same standard as everyone else. In our relationships, we think they should make a certain progression or the other person needs to live up to our unrelenting expectations. In our own hearts and minds, we constantly berate ourselves if our vibration does not synchronize with those around us. Why do we waste this kind of energy? When I managed a team of people, I wanted to know what each person was good at and how they worked, so as to maximize what they did well and stop asking them to waste time and resources on the things they didn’t. Pema says to do the same thing for yourself. Know what you do well, forgive yourself for what you don’t, skip kicking yourself in the ass about it, and enjoy the bursts of freedom that come with letting go of resentment.