"The innocent mistake that keeps us caught in our own particular style of ignorance, unkindness, and shut-downness is that we are never encouraged to see clearly what is, with gentleness. Instead, there’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, then we would be happy...The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. The other problem is that our hang-ups, unfortunately or fortunately, contain our wealth. Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom." - Pema Chodron
There is nothing wrong with you. I spent a huge part of my life feeling there was something fundamentally flawed about who I am. This feeling overwhelmed me as a kid. I thought I saw the reality of it, reflected back to me, any time someone teased or looked at me disapprovingly. Every time I didn't fit into an expectation from the world outside, the separation between who I thought I was supposed to be and who I was got bigger and bigger. This only caused me to strive harder towards an ideal manufactured from the outside world. It created a belief that there was something that I had to do or prove to be worthy of love and acceptance.I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to improve myself. This always seemed like a good and noble thing to do. I remember being drawn to religion, spirituality and spiritual teachers because I thought these things would save me from the sense of lack, inferiority and insecurity that blanketed my feelings of being flawed. What I created was a world where I was my own worst enemy. I approached spirituality, as a way to fix what was broken and often used it to boost myself up with a false sense of righteousness and superiority. This inevitably only increased my feelings of separation both internally and with the world around me.Pema Chodron, talks about this desire to improve ourselves as a form of aggression towards who we really are. I used to meditate because I thought that it would make me a better person and for a long time it was about trying to get rid of the thoughts and feelings that made me uncomfortable. In the beginning my practice was difficult because there was always an element of resisting the things I didn't want and striving for an experience that made me feel better. I am not saying that this was a completely fruitless process because I have learned so much about who I am along the way. What I will say is that I have given up the resistance and striving and started to realize the illusion of it all.What if all we are really meant to do is return to love? My meditation practice today had become more of an opportunity to be with myself, open, curious and present with the breath as it moves in and out. I have found that we cannot stop thoughts from arising. Because we are alive and connected to the environment around us thoughts will always arise. What we do get to choose is how we relate to them. I have also found that there is nothing wrong with me. Inherently at the core of my being I am loved and I am enough, period. The separation came when I decided that there were things that I liked and didn't like and then labeled them as good and bad. I think we come about this separation innocently and then we spend the rest of our lives playing out the dramas and stories that support it.What if the truth is that all of it is love? What if, in the words of Pema Chodron, "Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material? If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom." I am just starting to wake up to this realization and discovering that I don't need to be fixed or changed. What I need and what I think we all need more than anything is just to remember that we are loved. The practice of meditation for me today is a practice of love. There are still parts of myself that I work everyday to come into a relationship of love and acceptance with. Some days are easier than others; the difference today is that all of it is ok. I am so grateful for the grace that has brought me to this place where nothing needs to be fixed and all of it can be loved.