Don’t try to change!

Sometimes the harder I try to change the harder it is to change. If you are reading this, you probably have ridden this self-improvement rollercoaster. Self-betterment can be intoxicating, exhausting, renewing, freeing, and imprisoning. After many trips on the “change my life roller coaster” I have come to believe the first life-changing awareness is: You do not have to change.

Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodrin, says this so well:

When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It’s a bit like saying, ‘If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.’ ‘If I could only get a nicer house, I’d be a better person.’ ‘If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.’ Or the scenario may be that they find fault with others; they might say, ‘If it weren’t for my husband, I’d have a perfect marriage.’ ‘If it weren’t for the fact that my boss and I can’t get on, my job would be just great.’ And ‘If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.’

But lovingkindness — maitri — toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change ourselves. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.

The second life-changing awareness follows in the wake of the first: Now that you don’t have to change, change happens. Out of this space of freedom and calm, we can shift from chasing “should’s” to following our life-giving desires. When we relax into being okay with ourselves, we open ourselves to new thoughts and behaviors that both help us appreciate the moment we have and move toward what we love.

So, rather than working hard to change, follow Rumi’s advice and, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”

Categories Spirituality, Vitality | Tags: | Posted on November 28, 2014

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