How to Navigate this Lousy World

Pema Chödrön – if you are not familiar with the individual behind this name, then you are in for an eye-opener right now! Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist teacher, nun and author, as well as a mother and grandmother, so she draws extensively from a variety of vantage points of knowledge and real world experience.

Her writing style is so in-your-face and direct and completely speaks to me. While this approach may not be for everyone, I invite you to watch this short 2-minute video clip about how to navigate this lousy world. In true Pema style, this is a quick-witted segment that highlights how we process thoughts and interact with the annoyances of everyday life:


If you missed the video, here’s a summary: the clip is based on the analogy that you’re barefoot and walking across blazing hot sand, cut glass or a field of thorns Ouch!  Got the visual?

Understandably, this is incredibly painful and uncomfortable, so you look for a solution and brilliantly decide: I’ll cover the entire thing with leather! That way, my feet won’t burn on the sand or get cut from the sharp shards of glass and the thorns won’t prick my toes or the soles of my feet. Ahh, won’t that be nice?

“There will be no nothing that bothers me anywhere.  I am going to get rid of everything, including mosquitoes, that bothers me anywhere in the world and then I will be a very happy, content person.” – Pema Chödrön

This approach sounds logical and this is how we actually deal with many things – if we could just get rid of it or cover it, then our pain would go away. While this is one way to handle pain, there are some drawbacks, like it would take a really, really long time to cover every inch of painful ground and we don’t even know how far it stretches.

Rather than focus on covering the hot sand, cut glass and prickly thorns, there is another approach to consider – we could wrap the leather around our feet instead (i.e. shoes) and achieve the same result when we walk. The point is that if we work with our mind on the inside, instead of trying to change everything on the outside, we can more gracefully move through the world and not allow things, like mosquitoes, to annoy us and interrupt our flow and natural state of peace.

This was a real eye-opener for me personally as I realized I have chosen to cover ALOT of ground in leather in the past!!! And it often seemed to serve me well…at least in some situations. I felt more protected and safe…and also closed off and very lonely. It was a familiar pattern to me and yet, I could never find a way to cover all the ground I wanted to…so it was exhausting.

Creating shoes from leather instead sounds like a much more interesting approach today!! And even though I’d built shoes in the past, they weren’t always thorn-proof, so I quickly retreated back to my comfortable ways. I’m ready to trust and be open and receptive to infinite possibilities and that starts with choosing to make shoes again.

One of the reasons I’m more comfortable to choose this option now is because I’ve begun to surround myself with expert shoemakers and cobblers.   They will support me in how I create my shoes and can guide me to handle tough scenarios even better.  There will still be moments I feel the heat of the sand or irritation from glass and with tools, like meditation, I can respond mindfully and lovingly to these sensations instead of just reacting.  I also have more enthusiasm and energy because my focus is on walking forward, exploring this amazing vast world, my head high and my leather shoes attached…instead of working tirelessly with my head down covering all sharp ground inch-by-inch that does not yet have leather.

Are you wearing shoes or still attempting to cover all the ground?  How do your shoes fit and what can you do to make the walk across hot sand, cut glass and prickly thorns even more pleasant?  Share in the comments below!

~ Health, Happiness and Prosperity ~