Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Power of Leaning Into It

We had a little Buddhist stand up routine over at 108 Zenbooks yesterday where Genju was trying to give away her suffering and I offered to adopt it from SPCS (society for prevention of cruelty to suffering). Now this got her thinking about how she should be nicer to her suffering.

And I'm going to play off that riff. In fact it must have been out there in the ether because I woke up thinking about a couple of morsels of suffering I've been chewing on lately. Not a good morning taste to wake up to! Same old boring theme, same old suffering. You think I'd learn? You think I'd want to take a vacation from my monotonous subdivision of gripes.

And then as I was trying to plot my escape from arch enemy, suffering, the words came to me, "lean into it". A teaching I have heard more than once, but somethings take a long time to leach down into the ol' cranium. And I could see that all my imaginings of how I could improve things for myself were simply versions of "pushing my suffering away", all my worrying about things were simply not accepting what is.

That doesn't mean taking no action. No lying on the floor and shouting uncle (aunty would never approve). Think of leaning into something, there is action and initiative and strength required. And when consider a situation deeply, we find the next small step that needs to be taken (or not taken).

So as I let the feeling of "leaning into my suffering" sink in I felt empowered and heartened somehow. Strange? Maybe, but that was the experience. I gave up the mind loop of fear and got on with my day. My mind, my body both thanked me for it. I could see how the experience of pushing away the suffering was an energy sink hole. It created lethargy and inaction and a chaotic mind dashing about looking for the exit. And well, sometimes you've got to suffer and thrash a bunch, before you remember to lean into it. So sharpen up your shoulder, put on a sturdy coat and lean into it. It comes with my highest recommendation. Martial arts of the spirit.


  1. Should I say, Good Night, Gracie? Or Heyyy'Abbott? :-)

    I'd forgotten about leaning into it. Mostly I've been crumpling into my blue raincoat. Thanks for the nudge.


  2. Leaning into it sounds better than what my ACIM mentor is advising me about my illness and complaints. That it's all in my mind. As I wrap my robe around me and reach for another box of kleenex, I have a hard time convincing my mind to let go.

  3. Ah . . the circle . . above . . nice! Circles and I are very familiar. And "leaning into the fear" . . good reminder . . because when we don't run away from it, the power starts to dissolve. I'm very familiar with Buddhism. (Pema Chodron, Adyashanti are favorites)

  4. So true that sometimes our feelings aren't meant to be fought against.

    Beautiful painting and congratulations on your feature at the Altered Page blog.

  5. beautiful painting. and thanks for the words of advice about not pushing away, not indulging but leaning into. very nice.

    I know I asked you on another post if some of yr paintings had been in Shambala or other Buddhist mags and I forgot which post I asked it on and havent been able to find it to see if you answered. Do you know Robert Stillman and his wife from Colorado Boulder I believe, both painters with buddhist leanings?? They are good friends of a friend of mine.

  6. Genju - We could say Grace together? Is that the famous blue raincoat?

    Eva - The mind is a tricky customer. It seems sometimes it's like a cranky child and I feel like I pay way too much attention to it's nagging. Great talk on fear over at the Lingmincha institute that I love, talks about the sticky nature of mind.

    Jann - Yes, I noticed the circles in your work. I love Pema Chodron, so clear.

    Gallery Juana - Thanks! It's true, if we let those feelings arise and don't argue, the will dissolve eventually. A Bon teacher, Tenzin Wangyal says this is the thoughts "self liberating" I like that.

    Sukipoet - I will have to look up Robert Stillman. We were in Boulder last year and absolutely smitten (even in the snow). Yes I had some work in both Shambhala Sun and Tricycle.

  7. well said . . . "the experience of pushing away the suffering was an energy sink hole" . . . beautiful honesty . . .