On Sundays, please enjoy the Retro Throwback where I share my favorite posts from some time ago.
Recently, I finished reading Lodro Rinzler’s book Walk Like a Buddha: Even if your boss sucks, your ex is torturing you, and you’re hungover again. I think the title pretty much says it all. It’s a great book about applying the principles of Buddhism to everyday life, and you don’t have to be a Buddhist to get something out of this book. This book will make you a better person. Promise.
The book is simple to read yet conceptually dense at the same time. So as I was reading it I was easily grasping the points but knew that I needed to go back and explore them on a much deeper level. This post does just that.
Today’s post is the first of a two-part series. The second part will come out on Monday. What I want to do is share with you the one big take away I got from Lodro’s book. In today’s post, I will show you how I applied a concept from his book to everyday life. Then, on Monday, I will show you how I applied the same concept to my yoga practice.
Ok – here goes nothing!
My Major Takeaway
The major takeaway I got from the book was this (in my own words): Sit with your emotions.
What does sitting with my emotions mean? For me, it means allowing them to be present, not shutting them out, and actually considering them. Where do they come from? What do they mean?
Sitting with Anger
I got the opportunity to apply this concept within a day or so of finishing the book. I’m going to fictionalize the story here to protect the innocent. The larger point will be obvious. Here’s how it went down:
Let’s say I have a neighbor, and we are best friends. My neighbor loves to cook, and she loves to share her cooking with me. However, she has this habit of banging on my door and insisting that I come over to her place and taste her cooking as she is cooking it. Sometimes this is fun, and I am happy to go. Other times I am in the middle of something. When I try to explain to her that I cannot drop everything and come at that moment she gets insistent that I come anyways. I usually oblige. Her cooking is generally very good.
Well, on this day I was cooking something and I thought it tasted pretty darn amazing. I just knew my neighbor would be into trying it. After all, she loves to share her cooking with me. Surely she would be interested in what I was cooking today.
So I went and got her. I asked her to come back to my place to try the cooking. She didn’t seem to into it, but agreed to give it a try. When we were halfway to my place she decided she wasn’t interested anymore. She turned around and started walking home.
Me: What are you doing?
Her: Eh, I’m going home. I don’t want to try your cooking right now.
Me: Are you kidding me? I always come over when you ask.
Her: I’ll try it later. Why don’t you come get me the next time you make something else?
I was floored. I thought, How rude! How dare she! I always come over when she asks, and I never ask her to come try my cooking. The one time I ask her to return the favor she can’t do it? Seriously?!?
Yep. I was angry.
I finished up my cooking, sat down with my meal and started stewing about the whole event. But then, I remembered Lodro’s book and recognized this as an opportunity to do two things: (a) be present in the moment and (b) sit with my anger.
I focused on the eating and just let the anger hang in the air and simply be. I didn’t make up elaborate stories about what I might do in the future. I didn’t replay the events in my head. I focused on the taste of my meal and just let anger continue to be.
Then I realized something. I figured out why I was angry.
Yes, I found her behavior rude, but then again, I generally found it rude when she would insist on me coming over to her house when I told her it was inconvenient. I generally liked her cooking and appreciated the invites. However, I wanted her to recognize I couldn’t always do things her way.
BUT, I always give in and go along with her no matter what (usually). So, I assumed that if I usually did what she asked when she asked it that she should behave the same way. Do you see? I was angry with her because I wanted her to behave like me. It wasn’t about if she came to my house at that moment or not. It was about my need for her to behave like me.
As soon as I was able to recognize this the anger released. It popped like a bubble and was simply no more.
It was an amazing experience that I cannot begin to describe.
I’m Nothing Special
I had no special training to sit with my anger and do what I did. That means you are also ready to sit with any emotion you may have and experience whatever it is you might experience. Heck, I’m still too lazy to get a regular meditation practice going so don’t even think I have some special Zen skills that aided me. The only thing that helped me was working on staying in the moment with my meal and allowing my emotion to be present. I don’t know how to explain it more than that, but it was a very profound experience.