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Sandra Pawula

When Things Fall Apart

What a relief!  The last eclipse of the year occurs today. But there’s more to come next year! 

An eclipse can trigger sudden, irrevocable change in your life that comes about due to external circumstances.

Yikes!  Unexpected change.  The kind of change that can make your head spin in disbelief and leave your knees knocking loudly.

Fortunately, every eclipse doesn’t effect every person so dramatically. 

But still, you can’t escape change forever.  There’s also the unfolding of karma - the fruition of your past actions - which can also twist your world around in abrupt and surprising ways.

Change will arrive in this lightning-like way at some point in your life.  What will you do?

My suggestion is to immediately stop on the spot and start reading When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

This thin volume, only 146 pages, is a primer on wrangling with change and winning.  As a side bonus, you receive an introduction to basic meditation, the practice of loving kindness and compassion, and the fundamental principles of Buddhism like impermanence, renunciation, egolessness and emptiness.  All in an easy to read, simple, and engaging fashion. It's not a new book.  It is a classic.

Relax into Chaos

Warning:  this is not a book for the faint of heart. 

Now Pema Chödrön - this charming yet uncompromising Western nun - will try to convince you that feeling and being groundless is the best place to be.  She’ll attempt to lure you into getting intimate with fear.  She says:

"So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky.  This is where courage comes in.  Usually we think that brave people have no fear.  The truth is that they are intimate with fear.”

“The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought.  That’s what we’re going to discover again and again and again.  Nothing is what we thought.  I can say that with great confidence.  Emptiness is not what we thought.  Neither is mindfulness or fear.  Compassion—not what we thought.  Love.  Buddha nature.  Courage. These are code words for things we don’t know in our minds, but any of us could experience them.  These are words that point to what life really is when we let things fall apart and let ourselves be nailed to the present moment.”

In these chapters, Pema Chödrön takes your hand, and shows you exactly how to lean into change, meet pain and suffering with curiosity, loosen your grip, lighten up, and relax into chaos.

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.  We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together again and fall apart again.  It’s just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen:  room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

If you've been hit over the head by sudden change - or just want to learn to surf the usual ups and downs of life with greater ease - run to your closest library and read this book right now.

P. S.  The effects of an eclipse can occur one, three, or six months later.  So you see, there really is no escape.  Change and uncertainty are here to stay.