Being Kind to Yourself

Pema Chödrön
A free video tutorial from Pema Chödrön
4.7 instructor rating • 3 courses • 62,118 students

Lecture description

Questions for Reflection:

  • How has your awareness of noticing when you're “hooked” shifted, if at all, since beginning this course?
  • How have your responses to shenpa shifted, if at all, since beginning this course?

Learn more from the full course

Sounds True's Freedom to Choose Something Different, Part 2

Pema Chodron on How to Transform Your Life and Find Lasting Peace and Happiness

04:39:46 of on-demand video • Updated July 2016

  • Realize what you’re hooked to in terms of negative reactions and behaviors in your daily life
  • Access mindfulness practices and meditations that will allow you to reprogram your reactions and habits
  • Achieve greater levels of joy and freedom by understanding that you have a choice in the way that you react to circumstances in life
  • Change the way that you react by finally unhooking yourself from past patterns
English So I thought I'd begin this morning by just doing a very brief review. I understand there's a few people that have recently arrived and I'm doing this for them primarily but I think maybe it's helpful for everyone. So I began with introducing our subject on Thursday evening which is choosing a fresh alternative and introduced introduced it in terms of the mind training slogan practice the three difficulties the three difficult practices are the first is to catch when you you're hooked. And yesterday morning the talk was on shent PA which is usually translated as attachment but I was saying I didn't think that word really conveyed its meaning. And Shenpa is being hooked in it comes along with an urge or a tug or a momentum that pulls you in a certain direction and I referred to that as it sets off a chain reaction and that we always follow that chain reaction and in the process in the sincere wish to escape from the uneasiness and underlying discomfort of being hooked we are the way that we choose to get comfortable and feel better. In fact makes things worse. This chain reaction which traditionally in the Buddhist teachings is the teachings on karma of how from a small spark the whole thing escalates and becomes more and more entrenched until it's what we experience and call on a daily basis. Strong habits of mind and speech and action. So the first difficulty was actually beginning to acknowledge SHEDDEN power. So I'm simplifying it in that way and I'm noticing when we're hooked and I ask people as a general exercise for the entire retreat. I said for Friday and Saturday am I in particular. If you would do the practice of refraining from speaking which is going to become more of a challenge after all the talk today because the silence ends at the end of this talk. So refrain from speaking or acting out of negativity. And the reason for that was to gain. I was hoping that that would enable us in the course of the short time to really heighten our awareness of the shampoo. And I hope I hope it has helped to do that. And then of course if you continue this into your life with as Beta's exercise of choosing one day a week where he would actually do this seems funny you know in our culture choose one day or week. I mean usually we read Ruby recommended to live that way right. But somehow starting with smaller increments seems to be more workable in our culture. And then I think the general idea is that once you get what I've been calling on I a enthusiasm for this whole process of catching the Shantha and not following the chain reaction. And in choosing a fresh alternative once you get the enthusiasm for that one that represents to you happiness or at least you see that you don't want to any longer. So the seeds of suffering and you don't want to strengthen the anger habit the resentment habit the self-denigration habit. And so you are quite catching it and choosing a fresh alternative. You equate that with good news tremendous kindness to yourself. The best thing you could do for people what we used to say the best things from what's baked bread or sliced bread. That's right. And so you have this eagerness to do that practice of course one that clicks and then you don't just limited to one day and you want to actually you reach a stage which actually to some degree I have reached which is that when you get hooked you're actually you kind of perk up and you're sort of glad for this opportunity to actually unwind yourself from suffering. So it's a kind of a different attitude that begins to click in over the years towards the discomfort of our life as a way to like a moment of truth or a two hour three hour one week period of truth that might be that the discomfort sort of lasts quite a bit longer sometimes most often but in any case. So working with that first difficult practice of noticing when you're hooked. So if you go away from this with at least that tool that will be a big big thing then I said the second difficult practice was doing something different. And in the language of this retreat choosing a fresh alternative and and the woman yesterday asked in such a tender way it touched me greatly her asking would I give some tips on how to do that. And and I realized well you know my first response was Why haven't I been giving tips. But my almost instantaneous simultaneous response was that's the part where we have trouble hearing that's the part we have trouble hearing. In general I've found that people don't have so much problem hearing the instruction on catching the shamba and actually doing it. But then the next one of how to do something different at that point it's like catch the shrimp out she said do something different but what the hell is that. You know and I don't remember a word she said about that. That's very very common because somehow the it is like an undertow as I said the the the shen comes along with this tug with this urge with with this momentum this undertow. And the the the habit of going in that direction continuing with the angry thoughts the resentful thoughts the self denigrating thoughts whatever it might be and them manifesting in words and actions and the whole feeling of digging yourself into a hole and throwing the dirt over your head and getting deeper and deeper into the pain of it. You know you're you can't quite remember what the teaching was on what it was you were supposed to do different. But in teaching on doing something different up to this point I gave the instruction which I said was something of a distillation of me working with this over the years trying to find the simplest way to convey this. And I just said pause. The power of the pause and in a way if you've caught yourself. You're not acknowledging that you're hooked. And also if you if the next stage is already started to dawn on you a bit that you also have a deepening conviction that following the momentum it will strengthen habits that that cause you nothing but grief . So there's also already that inkling are more than an inkling that interrupting the catching it and then interrupting the momentum no matter how you do it is such a kind and loving thing that you could do for yourself and a way to unravel a kind of cycle of of unhappiness or dissatisfaction that we are in the Buddha the first teaching he gave was the teaching on that sort of universal dissatisfaction . The Sanskrit word is dukkha taught on dukha which is usually translated as the truth of suffering. But it's really the truth of dissatisfactions some kind of haunted by quality of being haunted by never feeling quite satisfied except for moments and then those moments. And so that's sad. So in any case the second difficult practice was to do something different. And the third difficult practice was to make this a way of life that it wasn't just a one shot deal something you did once ignát at realizing you were hooked and finding a method for interrupting the momentum and choosing a fresh alternative wasn't just something you did want it was something that you had. It was like you were never at a loss for opportunities to practice day in and day out hour after hour . There were just like lots and lots of chances to practice this because as I pointed out there's not just to the discomfort and the uncomfortableness of our life but also an attachment shampoo shampoo to that which is pleasing and that which we want to have. Hold on we want to hold onto and I use as an example our meditation experience that there's shen to when it goes well. Oh now I've got it. And you're sort of like I want this to last. And then Schempp too when it doesn't go well where you criticize yourself. So in terms of the second difficult practice choosing a fresh alternative or doing something different it gave the instruction to pause and then to breathe to breathe in and out and with the experience to be there with the experience and a in instruction that I've given over the years which I mentioned which is helpful at this point is what. To let the story line go and relax with the underlying energy. Another way I've given this instruction over the year which I'm now calling pause and then breathe with it relax in and out with it and keep letting the words about it go and just relax with the underlying feeling. Another instruction I've given over the years is when you meet your edge don't act out or repress but let it pierce you to the heart .