Well-meaning people have used that line over the course of my life and looking back I usually blew it off. I was too wrapped up in my hurt. But I’ve come to realize how much practical–and spiritual–truth is in “don’t take it personally” because it’s true, it’s not personal. The stuff that people say and do is about their state of being. When I realize that simple truth–I don’t need to take it into my state of being.
We all know the effects of holding grudges and bad feelings toward ourselves and others–it weighs us down and holds an icky place in our heart. But how do we let that stuff go? I used to be a big grudge holder. I came to find out that this was the result of my own insecurities, feeling like what other people did to me was about me instead of simply being about their own human limitation.
To let all this go, I wrote down the name of every person who I felt had wronged me on a little slip of paper. Then I held it over my sink and thanked this person for what the experience had taught me, like how to be stronger or more compassionate. Or how to take the high road, or how to trust my intuition. I found one positive thing. Even if it was just giving me the chance to practice forgiveness. Then I lit that little paper on fire while blessing this person and myself. My anger literally went up in smoke! Instead of anger I felt love for them and myself. That bundle of burdens that I had been carrying for so long was released. And my life changed profoundly.
Compassion is a big thing in Buddhism and pretty much any other religious or spiritual practice I can think of. How do we put ourselves in the frame of mind to choose compassion over feeling irritated, angry and judgmental toward another person? And how do we choose compassion over disappointment in ourselves?
For me, if I am feeling irritated or angry at someone, it helps to first make friends with the feeling (not push it away), give it a little space, and be kind and gentle to myself. As I take care of myself and this feeling of irritation, I feel my heart open a little and I’m able to soften toward the other person. It’s an opportunity to thank them, really, for giving me the chance to love myself.
Being present is a staple of Buddhism. It’s a concept you come across in all the reading and a lot of lectures and workshops. You know it’s true because you’ve experienced the beauty of being in the present–that clarity and calm and the power. Yes the power! Maybe you were in meditation or watching a sunset. But how the heck do you bring that awareness into your daily life? For me it takes guts. It takes the humility and honesty to put away my anxieties about my life and and accept who I am and what’s happening. And then I can open up to what’s really going on–something a lot bigger than me. Please share how you stay present. I think you can help yourself and others.
I’ve really enjoyed doing readings for you the last couple days, seeing what the cards had to say about your relationships, work and spiritual path. Today, I’m offering readings that leave our daily concerns aside to answer the question: What’s my soul saying? So, if you want to tune into that–comment that you would like a “soul reading.”
Recently I gave up the habit of biding on ebay. I had been addicted to the search, the bidding process and the anticipation of winning. When I dropped this habit what was left was: NOTHING in it’s place. I believe that warding off NOTHING is why I developed the habit. Maybe NOTHING is behind every compulsion and anxiety. And behind these little compulsions and anxieties are what really makes us anxious: like death being in our future and the truth that so much of life is not in our control. Being okay with those truths is scary, but liberating.
As I follow my path, sometimes I seem to take this big jump. I get insight, or I drop an old way of thinking. Sometimes, when this happens, I feel that my whole world view has changed so radically that I no longer recognize myself. And I get tired, so tired I want to sleep most of the day. Then, as I start to feel rested, I return to my daily routine: work, people and all the stuff of my life.
This happened recently. Over time, situations, conversations and awareness led me to see my grasping in a new way. I realized that I have nothing to prove or achieve. I feel radically different and I slept for most of yesterday. Today I am coming back to my activities. And although I’m doing the same stuff as before I’m less attached to it, not less interested, just less attached. I like the way it feels–free.