How many times have you heard that adage that people are your best teachers?  That when something bothers you about someone else, it’s a reflection of something you don’t see in yourself?  It’s not an uncommon spiritual teaching.  Which of course doesn’t make it any less challenging to deal with. In this talk, ordained Tibetan Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, sheds light on how troublemakers can help you.

Understanding where you have work to do is a big part of any spiritual journey.  Troublemakers, as Pema calls them, will be the ones to point you toward your own neurosis.  Noticing how and when you get provoked is an important life lesson. Awareness is the first step. If you can laugh about it; so much the better. Unhook yourself and you are on the path toward personal freedom.

Awareness comes through slowing down your mind. All that chatter and noise. All the automatic response patterns – many we’re not even conscious of.  The to-do lists, the shoulda, gotta, didn’t – oh no!  Once you start the practice of noticing and slowing down your thoughts, you’ll be amazed how such a seeming simple task becomes a lifelong adventure.

Here are a few simple ways to bring more mindfulness into your day:

  • Set an alarm for 10-mintues and watch your thoughts
  • Notice what’s happening in your head when you’re at a stoplight
  • Waiting in line anywhere can be a great time to check your thoughts

Stop the incessant need to multitask.  A real challenge in this day of smart phones where all around us people are neurotically checking their phones, in cars, walking down the street, and when pushing baby carriages.  Can you just stop for moment to be in the moment? To see? Smell? Touch? Listen?

JoAnn Milivojevic

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