Don’t Bite the Hook

On my recent road trip, in addition to all of the music I enjoyed listening to while driving, I brought along a set of CD’s I borrowed from our mindfulness center’s library: a 3-disc series of talks by Pema Chodron called Don’t Bite the Hook.

Here’s a description I found online:

Life has a way of provoking us with traffic jams and computer malfunctions, with emotionally distant partners and crying children—and before we know it, we’re upset. We feel terrible, and then we end up saying and doing things that only make matters worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Pema Chödrön. It is possible to relate constructively to the inevitable shocks, losses, and frustrations of life so that we can find true happiness. The key, Pema explains, is not biting the “hook” of our habitual responses. In this recorded weekend retreat, Pema draws on Buddhist teachings from The Way of the Bodhisattva to reveal how we can:

• stay centered in the midst of difficulty
• improve stressful relationships
• step out of the downward spiral of self-hatred
• awaken compassion for ourselves and others

I can’t say enough good things about this series. It was so chock full of insight and wisdom that I found I could only listen in 15-20 minute segments which fortunately, with how this series is set up, is very easy to do.

Here are some things I penned down whilst driving and listening (note: if it has quotation marks around it, then it’s something she said verbatim – if it doesn’t, it’s something I paraphrased, infusing my own understanding/practice into what I heard):

“We are masters of aggravating our troubles.”

If everywhere you walked was covered in sharp glass, it would make much more sense to cover your own feet with something to help protect them, verses carpet the landscape in which you found yourself upon.

There is a “seductive promise of comfort.” Especially when it comes to developing and maintaining addictions.

From inside the CD jacket

“Three Methods for Developing Patience

  • Reframing our attitude towards discomfort
  • Seeing the complex reality of every situation
  • Developing tolerance, in particular while under fire”

If you cannot have compassion for someone else who’s difficult, maybe you can instead have compassion for yourself, knowing that to get all worked up/angry/indignant, is harmful to our own selves.

To benefit others, we must work with our own minds.

“Tolerance starts with oneself and then translates to other people.”

“We are always working with our potential to be bothered.” (This was something Pema said she read somewhere.)

“Mind is really the cause, not the outer circumstance.”



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