It’s time to check in on my Word of the Year – Stillness. Carolyn hosts a wonderful One Little Word linkup on the last Monday of each month – please visit her and the other bloggers participating. Today’s post was inspired by my current early morning contemplative reading, New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. On page 14 he writes:
I love the idea of every challenge teaching us something – that we’re able to take those difficult moments and turn them into nuggets of wisdom to tuck away for the next challenge. Pema Chödrön teaches these skills and is one of my favorite people in the world. I started reading her books nearly a decade ago after being introduced to her by a dear friend. There are two quotes of hers that I turn over and over in my mind, especially when moments seem to be unbearable.
The first is:
I always think about this quote because there are two “big picture” lessons in parenthood that keep coming up for me, especially as autism has made itself more pertinent in our home.
+ Lesson 1: Nothing lasts forever. No meltdown, no moment of happiness. No clean floor, no dirt and toy-strewn floor. No irritating phase, no pleasing phase. What is irritating now, will be recalled fondly later. What is pleasant now, will be irritating later. Those moments of desperation? They will pass. Those moments of pure bliss? You guessed it – they’re going to pass. I can make it through any difficult moment – with my dignity intact – because it won’t last forever.
+ Lesson 2: I have absolutely no control over anything, other than learning to redirect my own thoughts. I’m not even sure that I can control my own thoughts, but I certainly have the ability, with practice, to recognize my automatic thoughts, greet them without judgement, and gently redirect them to a helpful place. And this was something I was thinking about when I chose Stillness as my word. How does one cultivate a still and quiet heart when the world is so loud and always moving? When I get angry about picking up the same toys over and over? When a child has an autism meltdown and puts yet another hole in the wall?
I’ll always experience these moments of discomfort until I can internalize these two lessons. And of course – that doesn’t mean that my life will suddenly be smooth sailing, it only means that I’ll have the skills to redirect my thoughts to a helpful place rather than one of self-defeat, and I’m certain that’s what Ani Pema intends with this quote. I’m not being punished and pummeled by the universe until I learn this lesson, but it will continue to hold me back until I find some way to navigate through it. And Stillness can get me through it.
The second Pema Chödrön quote that I think about is:
In my January OLW update, Carolyn commented on my meditation mantra (“I am still”) with some interesting ideas. To her, it called to mind, “I am still here… I am still me… I am still participating in this life.” Yes – despite the clouds that sometimes envelop me, I am still here. I still have the ability to find stillness no matter the storm raging all around and through me. And once those clouds pass, there I’ll be. Waiting for the next. Because the storms never go away; they simply find new ways to make themselves at home.
My Stillness goal in April continues to be the same — meditate for 5 minutes each day. I’m utilizing my 5 Year Journal to help me with this journey and writing at least one way Stillness showed up in my life each day. I’m hoping this will keep Stillness at the top of my thoughts throughout the day, which will make it easier to turn to in difficult moments.
Please tell me – do you have a mantra or a prayer that helps you get through your own difficult times?