The bulk of my clients call me in crisis and full of fear. Fear that there is no solution to address the very difficult situation at-hand or, if there is one, they cannot afford it. They call me when their internal worlds are all stirred up because of something happening in their external world.
I suppose, eons ago, these were the situations that seeded the beginnings of religions. When there are no guaranteed outcomes, how do you respond to unbearable thoughts and feelings? There are certainly less healthy ways—alcohol, busy-ness, taking one’s feelings out on those around you, or jumping with both feet into an infinity loop of worst case scenarios.
This past week, I’ve had to ask myself a question I usually pose to my in-crisis clients, “how can I tap into my wisest self and respond from wise-Liisa-mind?”
This is not to say that Chödrön’s methods, so to speak, put a cork in the bottle of tumultuous emotions, but I will say that they offer some pretty simple ways to work with the evil genies that escape the bottle.
For example, when my mind goes to the assumption that in the next scan, they’ll surely find an insidious, fast-growing cancer which will have me underground by August, and who then is going to raise my kids or take care of my parents or pay the bills, or for that matter even take out the trash on the right day? Here, dear readers, is a behind-the-curtain glimpse of where the wild horses in my mind run to.
Chödrön, who by the way came to Buddhism through her own suffering, asks what would happen if we just noticed these kinds of thoughts? "Ah, there goes my mind again. Hm, interesting." Or what if we responded by stopping -- to quite literally smell the flowers? When I can catch myself, I’ve actually started taking my dogs on a short walk. My previous habit was listening to audiobooks or podcasts related to my profession during these walks, in attempt to be as productive as possible every single minute. Instead, now, I notice the birds and how the light hits the leaves. I notice how summer smells and the sounds of the crickets and bullfrogs.
So my internal dialogue now goes, "Is that important? Is it not?"