“Discipline is important. When we sit down to meditate, we are encouraged to stick with the technique and be faithful to the instruction, but within that container of discipline, why do we have to be so harsh? Do we meditate because we ‘should’? … How we regard what arises in meditation is training for how we regard whatever arises in the rest of our lives. So the challenge is how to develop compassion… rather than becoming more guilt-ridden and miserable.”
– Pema Chödrön in When Things Fall Apart
When we realize that we have so much power and autonomy in our everyday actions — when we know that how we feel does not need to dictate what we do — it’s easy to become almost a bit guilt-ridden and harsh with ourselves in our transgressions in the name of discipline.
Recognize this — in the same way that it’s okay to sit with a little hunger or discomfort, it’s okay to sit with a bit of guilt or embarrassment. It’s okay that we make mistakes. It’s okay to be wrong. All of these choices just serve to remind us that we’re human, with all of our strengths and our flaws.
To be sincere and make our full effort in each moment is enough. (Shunryu Suzuki) And we need to be able to find peace and tranquility in that enough. Because otherwise, that cycle never ends. The more we turn our attention to all the things we should have done in the past, the more we take ourselves away from the present, then the more difficult it is to be mindful in this moment and the next.
So it’s simple — if we are to be compassionate with ourselves, enough is enough.