No Time to Lose

“No Time to Lose” was the title of this past weekend’s teachings by Pema Chodron. It is a talk based on a portion of her book No Time to Lose which contemplates The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva. The chapter she dealt with was called Patience, which is an argument against anger. I got a lot out of the weekend, and found it personally rewarding. I also found that some of the teachings I got from it were front and center in my mind, and I was working to meditate and practice despite irritants.

The chapter that we were lead through was called Patience, and really, was an argument against anger and hatred. The schedule of the event were from 7-10 on Friday, 9-12:15 and 2-5:30 on Saturday, and 2-12:30 on Sunday. Before Ani Pema’s 2 hour long talks, there was a lesson in meditation by Karl Brunnholzl, and then some gentle stretching with local yoga teachers. Additionally, there was a request after the first night for silence to be kept in the theatre space, and “functional talking” only in the halls outside the theatre.

I found that I experienced what is called “bourgeois suffering,” that is, suffering that has nothing to do with actual suffering. During the weekend, I had the opportunity to reflect and learn how some things irritate me, and what those moments can teach me.

That being said, I’m still bewildered and a bit annoyed by a few things! For further contemplation, here’s the list. The first thing is the people who came in late, and left early. Some people seemed only interested in seeing Pema Chodron speak, but not interested in the other parts of the program, which I felt were opportunities to practice what she was teaching. They would come into the theatre late, and as soon as Pema was finished with her talk, they would get up, ignoring any announcements (or at the end, gratitude for the people who helped put on the event.) Then there was the people who would talk in the theatre, and chit-chat in the halls outside, ignoring the request for silence and functional speech.

When I drive past my own annoyance (which I know is like a child, stamping feet, knowing how to do what is right, but getting angry because other people aren’t minding the rules, and why should I, etc.?!) I realize that for some people, being present for the full weekend was hard, and for the talkers, being silent was incredibly hard. What I initially dismiss is the challenge to them – that maybe they WERE trying to be there as long as they could or WERE trying to observe silence and functional speech only. Truly, these people were in the minority – and out of 1200 people, these were the few who found it most difficult to participate fully in the program (designed by Pema Chodron, even if not led by her).

My “bourgeois suffering” gave me a great opportunity to see where I still need to do some work. I’ve had a rough couple months, and have had rough times in the past. This weekend called into focus my attachment to outcomes and rule-following. I like following reasonable rules, especially when I can see that the outcome makes following the rules worth it. Likewise, in my jobs, I’ve always tried to follow the rules, doing things exactly – or better – than expected, and all for the goal of excellent customer service, organization, wellness, community safety, personal growth in another, etc. I’ve ended up exhausted in every vocation that I’ve tried (and now find myself a bit exhausted in volunteer work!) because of my frustration that the outcomes I’ve worked so hard for, are not being achieved the way I hoped.

I found the weekend event to be a rich opportunity to learn and practice mindfulness. To watch how my mind works, and be aware of the twist and turns. I have work to do, but I also got to acknowledge that I’ve come a long way since February. Part of the reason I’ve been able to has been because of what I’ve learned from meditation, from experiencing and watching my emotions without judging, staying in the moment, and letting the moment pass instead of wrestling it to the ground.