I’ve been listening on repeat to a certain part of Pema Chodron’s Getting Unstuck. The section is entitled Lightening Things Up. She talks about a Tibetan word “shenpa” which translates as “getting hooked.” You may not know the word, but we’ve all experienced shenpa.
There are times when something comes up–maybe a worry or insecurity–and we’re able to notice it and let it go. Maybe your mother-in-law gives the blue streaks in your hair the fuzzy eyeball or your husband takes a bath and doesn’t clean the hair out of the drain afterwards. You notice the irritant and let it roll off your shoulders.
But then there are the other times…Your boss is short with you about a project you did or the grocery clerk is rude and it takes you over. You go over and over the event in your head. You think about what you could have said back that you didn’t. The center of your chest is a ball of tension and you’re off kilter for the next hour. That’s shenpa. It’s like our brains have been inhabited by worms of thought that take us away from any connection to the present moment of our lives.
The more we practice mindfulness, the more we increase our chances of noticing when we’ve been hooked and it’s then that we get to decide what to do next. Do we muck around in the shame or anger or worry? Do we react in an attempt to reject the feelings only to make it worse? Or can we access some lightness, some compassion, a breath, a sigh? Can we notice our habitual reaction to struggle and do something different?
What works for you? What do you catch yourself getting hooked by and what helps you “unhook?” Feel free to share in the comments section…I’ll respond to every comment posted.
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Sitting down to meditate can be like sitting down in a jungle. My butt may be on a cushion in a quiet room, but in bringing attention to my mind I notice circling tigers, screeching macaws, and the buzz of a million noisy bugs. The breath is an invaluable anchor into the moment, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little company to help you along in your practice. With guided meditation, there is a quiet, soothing voice offering wisdom and direction on the path.
This article originally published by the Huffington Post Blog:
I was sitting at a round conference table in an empty office when I called Pat to tell her the news. Pat was my mentor and a professor of Contemplative Psychotherapy at the university I’d graduated from and she’d supported me when I’d begun my relationship.
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And then she said something I hadn’t expected:
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If you’ve struggled at all with dissatisfaction or questioning what you basically think is a pretty good relationship…
“What should I have said when he asked me out?”
“What should I do on my day off?”
The word “should” is incredibly pervasive in our inner dialogues. At the heart of “should” is the belief that there’s a RIGHT way and a WRONG way. When we believe that, we are set up to struggle because our focus is outside ourselves–attempting to figure out the answer externally. Whether we learned that from critical parents, school, challenging siblings, or peers, it is our practice to UNLEARN it. We need to reconnect with the internal wisdom that is our birthright.