conscious wellbeing for ourselves & our world
by Pema Chodron
Each of us gets hooked in habitual ways of seeing the world, but how we respond to these situations will in large part determine how much peace and freedom we experience in our lives.
Once we learn to recognize when we’re caught, and our own unique styles of getting hooked, we then have the opportunity to do something different, to choose a fresh alternative.
Positive Groundlessness and the Three Difficult Practices
The first difficult practice is noticing when you get hooked, when you get caught in a habitual pattern which causes you to suffer. Pema explains that, with some practice, you can catch on to this rather quickly and begin to clearly notice when you are hooked. Further, we learn that getting hooked, in and of itself, is not actually a problem; it is quite natural and arises spontaneously in all of us. There is no suffering inherent in the hooking itself, Pema explains, but only in how we respond to it.
The second difficult practice is: do something different. This practice is much more difficult to catch on to, Pema teaches, and goes against the grain of our conditioning and habits. This practice is also referred to as “choosing a fresh alternative.” Through this practice, we begin to explore the interruption of the momentum which keeps our suffering alive. In the face of this “being hooked”, we often speak and act in ways which only serve to strengthen our habits of resentment, anger, blaming others, and so forth, which just entrench us in patterns that make us more and more unhappy.
The third and final difficult practice is making this exploration a way of life. The notion here is that this is not just a one-time thing where you notice you’re hooked, choose a fresh alternative, and then it’s all over. These patterns are something that will continue to arise in our experience, leaving us with dozens or hundreds of opportunities each week to notice the various ways we get caught in the momentum of our habitual responses to life’s challenges.
We also learn about the teaching of “positive groundlessness.” When we notice that we’ve been hooked, we find it very difficult to relax into the experience and to stay open and unbiased, simply experiencing the rawness of what is there. In this space we see that there is truly nothing to hold onto-- no bias, no preference. On the one hand, this experience is quite terrifying, this reality of no ground underneath our feet, no fixed reference point or view in which we can hang out in. But this groundlessness is also filled with “positive” qualities, such as wide open vastness, limitlessness, and extraordinary potential.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Are you aware of what it feels like to “get hooked,”? What does this look and feel like for you?
2. What is your understanding of the notion of “positive groundlessness”?
3. PRACTICE TIP: Over the next week, start to pay attention to the times you get “hooked” or caught, where you begin to feel yourself tightening up, moving into a storyline, and starting to act in habitual ways to escape discomfort.
an excerpt from the "Getting Unstuck" on-line course offered at www.dailyom.com