There are countless benefits of meditation from the very physical to the spiritual. Below Pema Chödrön shares four ways meditation can help us deal with ‘difficulty’ from her path as a Buddhist.

Meditation takes us just as we are, with our confusion and our sanity. This complete acceptance of ourselves as we are is a simple, direct relationship with our being. We call this maitri, loving-kindness toward ourselves and others. There are four qualities of maitri that are cultivated when we meditate:

  1.  Steadfastness. When we practice meditation we are strengthening our ability to be steadfast with ourselves, in body as well as mind.
  2.  Clear seeing. This is another way of saying that we have less self-deception. Through the process of practicing the technique day in and day out, year after year, we begin to be very honest with ourselves.
  3. Experiencing our emotional distress. We practice dropping whatever story we are telling ourselves and leaning into the emotions and the fear. We stay with the emotion, experience it, and leave it as it is, without proliferating. Thus we train in opening the fearful heart to the restlessness of our own energy. We learn to abide with the experience of our emotions.
  4. Attention to the present moment. We make the choice, moment by moment, to be fully here. Attending to our present-moment mind and body is a way of being tender toward self, toward others, and toward the world. This quality of attention is inherent in our ability to love. These four factors not only apply to sitting meditation, but are essential to all the bodhichitta (awakened heart) practices and for relating with difficult situations in our daily lives. By cultivating them we discover for ourselves that it is bodhichitta, not confusion, that is basic.

From “Comfortable With Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion,” by Pema Chödrön, Shambhala Publications, thanks to www.lionsroar.com 

With her powerful teachings, best-selling books, and retreats attended by thousands, Pema Chödrön is today’s most popular American-born teacher of Buddhism. In The Wisdom of No Escape, The Places that Scare You, and other important books, she has helped us discover how difficulty and uncertainty can be opportunities for awakening. For more, visit: pemachodronfoundation.org , www.facebook.com/Pema.Chodron