Every week, I get an email containing a quote from one of Pema Chodron’s books. It’s called “Heart Advice.” The last part of this week’s quote said,
“Never underestimate the power of compassionately recognizing what’s going on.”
In the full quote, Pema reminds us that being aware in small moments, in small ways, counts. I love hearing this. It’s so easy for the mind to rush to judgment about all the ways—large and small—that I’m not meeting my ideal image of self. As meditator. Why was my mind so distracted for most of this morning’s meditation? As friend. Did I make clear how proud I am of the big steps my friend’s taking in her life? As therapist. Is there more I can be doing for my clients? As human. How can I live in such a world and be so ineffectual at helping improve it during this crucial time in our history?
The mind thinks. The mind judges. That’s its job. My job is to discern what content I choose to use and how I choose to use it.
- As meditator. Yes, my mind was distracted. And, I still meditated for an hour. I show up at the cushion every morning. This counts.
- As friend. My worry about expressing my feelings with this friend shows how much I care for her. We’ve known each other a long time. Even if I did not fully communicate to her today, she knows I am her cheerleader. This counts.
- As therapist. I can always be doing more to serve. And I do enough. I am thoughtful and caring. I express this directly and indirectly in the work I do. This counts.
- As human. I am one person. I am doing my internal work (meditation, contemplative practice, etc.). I am bringing that work out into the world in the way I treat others, in the opinions I share, in the ways I welcome others’ opinions. This counts.
As someone dedicated to personal growth and development, I’m wont to translate the mind’s opinion into fact. Then I am further inclined to translate its critique into criticism. Pema’s quote for the week ended with an important reminder. The things I am already doing are enough. If I choose to do more and different things in the future, those opportunities will be there. When I do them, they, too, will be enough. Everything we do counts.