What should wash up on my shores of Stumbleupon this evening but a ten year old recording of the Venerable Sarah Thresher speaking in San Francisco on the topic of healing.
It sounded as though the organizers of the talk has set the topic out for her as "Healing the Pain" but she addressed the broadest ranges of individual and physical healing, all the way to healing suffering between nations. And she did so with an engaging series of stories and examples from her own life. I found her teaching style delightful and I commend the audio to you when you have time.
What I have always found compelling about Pema Chodron, Roshi Halifax and also Joko Beck is what I call their Great Grandmother Compassion. No, not that they are literally a great-gran anything, but that they pull no punches, don't sugar coat anything, and their stories are meant to help correct you. To help correct your mind. And however unpleasant it is to be corrected, it's because they love you. After hearing this talk, I now include Ven Thresher in that set of teachers as well.
So as much to get these concepts and practices more firmly in mind myself as to share them with you, here are a few of the approaches Ven Thresher raised during her talk:
Whatever is happening, I need to have happen. Whatever comes, let it come. Try to recognize exactly when we find ourselves saying "This shouldn't be happening to me!" And then say to yourself just: "Well, this is what's happening." When we find outselves thinking "This is outrageous!" then note that is resistence arising, and allow it to be. Because it is what is happening. The toughest part is that part where you say "...and I need this to happen." No I don't need this disease or car accident difficult job situation exactly, but I need to recognize where I am resisting this set of circumstances so I can let go of the resistence which is only increasing my suffering. So I need to work with it, with things as they are.
The only thing you can control is your response to what is happening. Keep asking the question: "Why don't I want to accept what is happening?" If we can recognize in moments of resistence or suffering that we don't actually have to need anything extra, we are complete. Wisdom mind says we don't have to create additional needs. Ask yourself, resisting: "What is it I think I need (that I'm not getting)?" If you can identify (correctly!) what it is you are holding on to that is causing suffering...you can begin to let go. "But that thing I'm holding onto gives me my identity!" What is it you think you are losing if you do let go? Pride. Self-importance? Sense of self? "If I let go of this, what's left?"
When I let go, things change. When I let go, what actully changes is me. Circumstances haven't changed. I have accepted them and therefore can more effectively adapt and respond to them.
View whatever arises as the teacher. Freedom is the mind that doesn't hold onto anything. Because really there is nothing to hold on to (groundlessness is reality). Once you are not trapped by the mind you can help yourself and others. "Let go of everything completely; there are no difficulties."
There is really not a lot I can add to that except to say these are things I really needed to hear right now, and hope you find them similarly compelling.