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Daily Connect: Handling a Meltdown - Strength, Vulnerability, and Staying with the Soft Spot
Submitted by Ethan Nichtern on Tue, 3/15/2011, 2:15pm
I've been trying to follow the events in Japan while teaching a workshop on Fearlessness and emptiness up here at Karme Choling, a Shambhala meditation center in Vermont. It is amazing when reality pulls the rug out from under us. When it does it three times (earthquake, tsunami, meltdown) in such scale that we usually reserve for a Hollywood movie by Roland Emmerich, it's beyond heartbreaking. I have been doing as much metta practice as I can.
The term meltdown is interesting because we use it as an emotional metaphor so often for experiencing a level of exposure to stress, fears or feelings that overwhelms us. Lately (sadly), when we thought of this word, we may have been thinking of Charlie Sheen. A meltdown often happens when life piles on top of us, and we can't handle just how fragile and vulnerable to circumstance we truly are. We overheat because we lose the idea that vulnerability is our nature. So what about when a real meltdown happens, and just keeps on unfolding?
I just saw on David Nichtern's facebook feed this beautiful quote. It's personal for him, as his wife is making her way out of Tokyo now:
"As we watch this drama in Japan unfold, I am struck once again by the strength and also the fragility of our human life. I think that if we do not understand the one we cannot truly understand the other."
"In this way, any experiences you have, particularly very strong emotions, are doorways to bodhichitta (the mind of enlightenment). The trick is to stay with the soft spot—the bodhichitta—and not harden over it. That’s the basic bodhichitta instruction: stay with the soft spot."
The key to understanding what makes us strong is going deeper and deeper into our own vulnerability.
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