Monday, April 19, 2010

Maitri (Past Revisited 3)

Recently I pulled out my journals and reread them. I started journaling when I was a junior in college, which, *gasp* was almost 20 years ago. Reading about different moments in my past was incredibly enlightening. And, because I typically journaled when I was conflicted, I read about many life-altering moments. Often I would go to the journal to organize my thoughts, put together action steps and identify my goals and dreams. Other times, I simply groused about situations and issues. As I reread these entries, I learned quite a bit about how I became who I am today. Periodically, I plan to share things I have found and learned from delving into my past.

During an especially hard time in my life I was reading a book called When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. In my journal I made a note of a concept that I learned from this book. The concept is maitri the author defines as an “unconditional friendliness to oneself.” I was trying to understand the concept, which I believe originates from Buddhists, and here is what I wrote:

“This moment in time, when my life has been pulled out from underneath me and all the feeling that go with that, I need to not run away. I need to face the feelings. To know that if I face them, I grow. In the end, I am a better defined person – I am stronger and better for it. The core of who I am stays, but I grow, change, and become more me.”

While, I had forgotten the word maitri, the concept of facing my feelings and accepting them (without judgment, self loathing, or denial), - which is truly an “unconditional friendliness” - is something I strive to do. Often I fail, and try to cover up my difficult feelings with mindless TV, a glass of wine, food, or another diversion. But there are those times when I succeed and I face the turmoil, and I feel better. Facing these challenges, and working through them, does work!  Later in that same journal, I wrote:  "I have found my strength!"

Past Revisited Life Lesson 3 – I must remember to not run away from hard feelings and turmoil. I must, unconditionally, love myself, and face the turmoil, to grow and learn.

What have you learned from your past?

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