some aspirations

some aspirations
Photo by Nick Page / Unsplash

Below are some aspirations that I currently pursue in my day to day life and some commentary about what each one means to me.

Be willing to curiously look into everything in my life, whether pleasant or unpleasant; it all has a lot to teach me

A book that has been a guiding star for me for a few months now is The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chödrön. This aspiration is taken pretty much verbatim from the first chapter of this book. I recommend the book wholeheartedly, it is an understatement to say it has significantly shaped my worldview for the better. The aspiration is to view everything in life with curiosity, interest and as an opportunity to learn more about myself, others and the world around us. My natural desire to seek comfort and pleasure is especially worth inquiry; the richness of life often occurs outside what is comfortable.

Practice precision and gentleness and allow letting go and opening up to occur

This aspiration is also taken verbatim from The Wisdom of No Escape. Pema describes it far better than I can hope to, but I'll try.

Aspiring to practice precision means always being fully present to whatever is occuring internally and externally. To notice thoughts, emotions, perceptions, urges and reactions arise internally and to let them pass. In my day to day it often means being fully engaged with the people I interact with. When in conversation with someone, to give them my full attention and focus. If I am focused on a task, it similarly means continually coming back to the task at hand and not getting carried away with each passing thought. And if I am in between tasks or interactions, it means staying present and in the moment as I transition between things throughout the day.

Being precise can invite a feeling of being militant or authoritarian toward yourself, which practicing gentleness helps guard against. Same as I aspire to always be "on the dot", I also aspire to be kind and gentle with myself. To come back to the present moment softly when I notice I've been lost in thought. Instead of cursing myself internally or getting frustrated and angry, to recognize I've been carried away by a thought and to begin again at being present. To quote Pema, the self-talk should look something like "Drat! You were thinking again, gosh darn it, you dummy" and not at all like "You fool, you absolute miserable meditator, you're hopeless." She is speaking here about meditation practice specifically, but I think the idea carries over to the day to day as well. If I feel completly overcome by thoughts and emotions, gentleness often also means allowing a break from effort; to relax for a bit and give myself room to breathe. And after I feel a bit more myself, to begin again.

Letting go and opening up is probably the hardest part of this aspiration for me to implement in my day to day life. Pema describes it as the fruition or result of precision and gentleness, that you naturally feel a sense of space and openness. Rather than feeling rigid and that everything has to go my way, I can let go and open up to the circumstances I find myself in day to day. I can live each day joyfully and with gratitude as a matter of choice, rather than choose to get stuck in resentment and bitterness.

Start today, no matter how small

This aspiration and the following ones predate me reading The Wisdom of No Escape, but carry similar sentiments to those expressed in that book. The aspiration to "start today, no matter how small" also shares similar ideas to those I expressed in a previous blog post. This aspiration is an antidote to my tendency to overthink and overplan and push the actual doing to another day (that somehow never seems to come). To start whatever I want to or have to do today and start off with a small goal in mind that I know I can achieve, and appreciate the small success that I am that much more likely to actually get to.

Accept, appreciate, act with courage and faith

To me, acceptance is taking things as they are, not as I wish they would be. Appreciation is being grateful for all of the good in my life, as well as the many opportunities to grow and learn. Acting with courage and faith is to live each day according to all of the aspirations here to the absolute best of my abilities.

Make friends with others and myself

Last and certainly not least is the aspiration to make friends with others and myself. To view everyone, including myself, with kindness, appreciation and respect. To treat everyone I meet like a good friend, who I know seeks joy in their life same as I do. To bring joy to those I can, both through the internet and in real life.

I hope these aspirations help inspire you in your life as they do in mine, I would be honored. Feel free to comment or reach out to me at gueejla@gmail.com, I would love to hear from you. Wish you all the best.

Take care,

– Greg